I am developing a new discipline. “Language psychology”. Since far too often people use words with bent and stretched meanings to fit their personal beliefs and settle their cognitive dissonance, it is time to quell the practice. If we cannot agree on the meanings of words, then we can’t continue to communicate effectively.
Today’s words that are often confused in the US version of the English language is “people” and “Things”. Included will also be the use of “adjectives as a noun”.
So regularly streaming across my Facebook, G+, and Twitter feed as well as in the comment sections of nearly all related news articles is a statement along the lines of, “We are told not to judge all Muslims by the actions of just one, but we are expected to judge all gun owners by the actions of just 1.” (Aside from the mathematically unsound comparison since there are 96,000 incidents of gun owners with incidents of violating other citizen’s rights compared to less than 10 by the loose definition of “Muslim” being used to assess the logic of treating a “threat”.) I would like to explore the linguistic fallacy of that statement.
What It Means To Be Muslim
So here is the first concept to understand is that “Muslim” is first an adjective. Muslim describes a set of values that make up a philosophy that is partly written down and claimed by nearly 2 billion people. Within that group there are various denominations of Muslims that believe different things and tolerate others at different levels. What is known as “Muslim Extremist” make up less than 1/100th of 1% of all who claim to be Muslims. But a “Muslim” is always a person. Logically, “not al people are Muslims, but all Muslims are people”. The one thing they all have in common is not even tangible and differ from one Muslim to the next. A person can believe that they have a complete grasp on the philosophy of “Being Muslim” and talk with another person who also believes they have a complete grasp on the “Muslim Philosophy” and they both could vehemently disagree with who is “the real Muslim” the “True believer”. The fact remains that there is a constant; there is outlineable behaviors associated with the teachings and philosophy of Mohamed, the founder of the Muslim philosophy/ religion. It is most common that two people who believe they understand a religion completely both have elements that are wrong.
For me, it would be easier to put this in terms of “Christian” which is a term exactly like “Muslim”, only a different book and a different set of people. There are people who CLAIM to be “Christian”. However, that would mean that they follow the beliefs and philosophy of its founder Jesus Christ. This would mean that they believe that there is absolutely no reason to kill and if somebody comes to kill them, they are to accept that there is a god and an afterlife where they will be greeted by family members and loved ones and enjoy the light upon death. They believe that using a weapon to protect their lives will only lead to more death. They don’t believe in stealing through physical or fraudulent means. If the government wants to increase taxes Jesus taught in his beliefs that you give them what they ask. “Christians” are taught that public prayer is considered a sign of vanity. Divorce would be adultery since man cannot separate what god had joined. They are to report to church every Sabbath. They are instructed to love their enemy as themselves. Patriotism in the form of worshiping a flag is a sin as it would be putting a false “idol” before their god. However many of the people who proclaim themselves “Christians” join military and yield their will to a government that sends them to kill. These Christians want an impossible duel role. To be seen as “Christians” when they are not doing any of the above, and to be seen as “Patriotic” when they are killing in the name of their government in complete rejection of their god. But then want buried in a “Christian” fashion. The moment a person takes a life and believes it to be righteous, that moment they story being, have varied away from being Christian. There are protocols to rejoining the ranks of Christianity after someone “sins”. However it cannot be told by looking at them if they have done it.
So as you can see, “philosophy” may be well defined and stagnant, how one perceives it is fluid. As a word, be it used as an adjective or a noun, it is an intangible concept that translates into “one who owns the philosophy of Mohamed”. What that means is that you cannot “Muslim” somebody to death. If you walk into a room and pull out your Muslim, nobody will even take note of you. Nobody will fear for their lives. Your kids can not get caught playing with you Muslim. Nobody can break into your house and steal your Muslim. It is not a tangible thing.
What It Means To Be A Gun Owner
Now compare that concept to a “gun owner”. First to address is the “gun”. A gun is a very tangible thing. It is a tool of violence. It is a tool designed to solve a problem by either killing or injuring another living being. While there are a few people who use them for the sport of target practice, none of them would consider leaving them locked in a secure building where they play their target game. They desire to have the gun on hand should then need to violently solve a problem using it. (This is despite many of them claiming to be Christians. Oh the hypocrisy.)
A “gun owner” is one who is in current possession (legally or illegally) of a gun. A person can be asked, “are you a “gun owner”, and that person can say “yes “ or “no”. But more than that, that person can prove it. They can display a gun proving that they do own one. They can be searched for a gun proving that they do not “own” one at that moment. (This is different than “Muslim”. While you can kneel down and pray like a Muslim, it doesn’t mean, and there is now way to see in one’s head to know if they are, actually believing or just acting the actions they are displaying.) Policy can be made to regulate and restrict guns. In many, in fact most societies they do it. There is actually a verb associated with launching a destructive projectile form a gun called “shooting”. Guns shoot. But this is only accomplished with the aid of a “gun owner”. If there were no “gun owners” there would be no guns shot. Again in comparison to the notion that even if there were no believers, the behaviors associated with being Muslim would still exist and still be harmless without the aid of tools of violence.
The Colonists AND The Founders Treated The Two Differently
One last thing to be noted. The people who jumped on ships from Europe came across the vast dangers of the sea to get away from religious persecution. It was a well-established philosophy that even made it into the founding documents that established the USA. The notion that anybody should be able to practice their religion and believe what they wanted to believe without fear or threat from the government. Later we would establish that no biological trait is grounds for being singled out. Being Muslim is a religious philosophy and to deny, persecute, or otherwise hamper people based solely upon their religion goes not only against the founders of the nation, but of the colonists that laid the ground work. It was stated in many different ways throughout our history that “everybody has a right to believe whatever philosophy they want to believe. To this there is no exception.” They made it very clear that there is to be no bias in the laws, not even positively respecting one religion. However, who should be a “gun owner” was also addressed. It was done so very specifically. The founding document writers could have said, “Everybody has a right to be a gun owner. “ They did not say that. They said, “If there is a militia that has strict guidelines and regulations that are followed to the extent of being called ‘well’, then those members when acting as a unit have the right to be ‘gun owners’ while performing those duties.”
As demonstrated here in this text, the differentiation in treatment and value of “Muslims” in contrast to a “gun owner” has always been part of our society and as such even suffer different regulations. So, yes the very “philosophy” that established the USA demanded that we do not treat all those who claim to be Muslims with government regulations, however, that we do treat those who wish to own guns (“gun owners”) with the restriction of government regulation.