At what point do people have the right to defend themselves: Paul Begala misquotes Joni Ernst and bizarrely misinterprets the rest of her quote
Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst made this statement in 2012:
"I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family -- whether it's from an intruder, or whether it's from a government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important."Paul Begala, always one to misinterpret what someone says when it serves the right political cause, has this comment:
This notion -- that the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to fire upon federal officials, or their local police, or sheriffs or even U.S. military personnel -- is common among right wingers. But it's one thing to hear, say, goofball Ted Nugent honk off that way. (The Nuge, by the way, has boasted about how he avoided taking up arms in defense of his country during Vietnam.) It is another to know that someone with those loopy views is one step away from the United States Senate.
The Washington Monthly blogger Ed Kilgore has asked the right question -- the one any Iowa voter should be putting to Ms. Ernst: "Since you brought it up, exactly what circumstances would justify you shooting a police officer or a soldier in the head?"
Good question, Ed. Is it OK to do so if, say, the Supreme Court stops the counting of votes so as to give the presidency to the candidate who got fewer votes? I don't think so.
How about segregation? If ever American citizens were oppressed by their government it was African-Americans under Jim Crow. Thank God we had Dr. King and not Ms. Ernst leading the civil rights movement. . . .Clearly, with just over a week to go before the election, we have officially entered the political silly season. First, I should note that Begala misquotes Ernst in a small but very significant way. Ernst talks about "a government" taking away her rights, not "the government" as Begala claims. Begala’s misquote makes it appear as if she is referring specifically to our government, when she is obviously referring broadly to governments (including a foreign power).
In any case, Ernst isn't just talking about one right or even some rights that people have, but all rights. She didn't say if the government takes away "one of our rights" or "some of our rights," but clearly "my rights." Presumably, Begala would be upset if Americans tried to fight back against a foreign or domestic totalitarian government that would tried to take away all their rights. But others would think that it is reasonable. Begala asks bizarre questions of whether it is OK for us to shot federal officials if they take away segregation. Seriously? Is this what Begala thinks anyone would define as all their rights?
UPDATE: Begala later acknowledged that Ernst had been misquoted and CNN changed the text of her quote.