Monthly Archives: October 2018


by Reid Fitzsimons

I’m pretty sure I’m not a “Gun Nut,” unless progressive lexicologists have recently redefined it to include anyone supportive of the second amendment to any degree. I was certainly not a member of the NRA when, in 2004, I heard a speech by Wayne Lapierre, a major player in the NRA. I assumed it would be similar to Arlo Guthrie’s lyrics in Alice’s Restaurant, when he was talking to the draft board psychiatrist and repeatedly declaring “I want to kill!” Disappointingly, however, it was a low-keyed and well-reasoned talk. Several years ago I did join the NRA and, though my membership has lapsed, the motivating reason was more philosophical/sympathetic than practical (no desire for a hat, t shirt, pocket knife, etc).

In June 2013 Christopher Swindell, a journalism professor at Marshall University in Huntington, W.V., posted a somewhat fanciful op-ed in the Charleston Gazette which included an assertion that “The NRA advocates armed rebellion against the duly elected government of the United States of America. That’s treason, and it’s worthy of the firing squad,” and several other similar pearls. Having been fairly confident the NRA didn’t “advocate armed rebellion” I felt it appropriate to join the NRA; what the heck, if the conservative Heritage Foundation suggested summary executions of ACLU members I might be motivated to sign up with the ACLU.

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by Reid Fitzsimons

Earlier this summer I heard a Public Service Announcement type radio ad (noted to be paid for with Pennsylvania tax dollars) pertaining to the current concern/issue of addiction. One of the themes was that an addict should not be troubled by a sense of shame. “Shame” is very much a subjective concept and I wonder if this assertion is based upon any science, such as “double-blind studies conclusively demonstrate a 35-40% better recovery rate among addicts who don’t feel shame versus those who do.” More likely I suspect it’s something that is more comfortable and marketable to believe, or perhaps one of those precepts that has become embedded in our social psychology without any known or factual basis, such as one should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day or that Public television is commercial free. I can hear too well a refrain from the 1960s, “Don’t lay a guilt trip on me, man!” underlying the shame-free mind-set

A brief amount of research suggests the following (anti-shame) paradigm: addicts are ashamed of their addictions so they therefore continue or increase their drug intake to attenuate their sense of shame. Perhaps there is a certain amount of emotional logic (somewhat incongruous words) here, but shame (and its sibling guilt) can be an enormously powerful factor to inspire people to do the right thing, and this applies to almost all aspects of human interaction. Noting a person without a conscience cannot, by definition, feel shame, active addiction reeks terrible havoc on families and society at large. Addiction cannot and should not be viewed without compassion, but it is unquestionably selfish and deserving of some degree of shame.

Increasingly our cultural dictums have become based on a self-esteem model- everything you do is good and deserving of a trophy. Of course there are some vivid exceptions so this, for example, no amount of shame is too much in regards to cigarettes, and the paradox that expressing an opinion that shame is justified, especially in matters of sexual behavior, is to be viewed as shameful. Excessive exuberance for shame and guilt are likely counterproductive, but the choice need not be between the Scarlet Letter and “everything you do is wonderful.” In general things done in moderation are more successful than things done in extremes, and a moderate amount of shame experienced by an addict is probably more therapeutically effective than none. Perhaps the officials that decide to spend tax money on PSAs should differentiate between what makes people feel good as compared to what is efficacious.