The Fearful And What They Fear

     Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity They seem more afraid of life than death. – James F. Byrnes

     There was no security in this world and only damn fools and mice thought there could be. – Robert A. Heinlein, Glory Road

     These past two days, I’ve encountered several articles about the proprietor of a site called Slate Star Codex. I know relatively little about that site and its proprietor, who goes by “Scott Alexander.” Apparently that’s not his full and correct name. He reserves his actual name to himself. His reason is one I’ve heard many times before: safety.

     But it doesn’t take much effort to unearth the full name, and most of the other personal particulars, of anyone who has a site on the World Wide Web. The anonymous user is “safe” only to the extent that his potential assailants are and remain lazy bums. If Jones wants to know the full and correct name of anonymous, moniker-wielding Smith, he can get it, and much else about Smith besides. What he might do with that information is a separate subject.

     However, “Scott Alexander” is unhappy that the New York Times has revealed his full and correct name. Now, in his position, I’d be irked too: not for reasons of “safety,” but because my express wishes had been violated by a low organ of yellow journalism that hopes to intimidate everyone whose perspectives and opinions it disapproves. Still, this is what the Times does. We who’ve been watching it for a while should be unsurprised, especially since Slate Star Codex appears to have attained some influence among Silicon Valley technologists and venture capitalists.

     The Times would not have been able to affect this person’s “safety” had he adopted a somewhat different posture. The first approach that comes to mind is this: he could have announced that “Scott Alexander” is his full and correct name. The misdirection implicit in doing so would frustrate many a curiosity-seeker, especially if the approach were combined with a little misinformation about locale. It wouldn’t provide a perfect shield for his identity, but it would be better than allowing the public to know that “Scott Alexander” is not his full and correct name.

     But there’s another approach that’s even better: the one I prefer and employ. My full and correct name, which is linked at many points to my home address, is associated with every word I write. Along with that I’ve let it be known that: 1) I’m well armed; 2) I shoot first and worry about the paperwork later. (I also have three large, protective dogs, and a wife who shoots as willingly and well as I. Can’t be too well prepared these days.) My willingness to “expose myself” in this fashion also increases the persuasive power of what I say. An opponent knows he cannot intimidate me into silence. Attacking me physically would probably cost him his life. Therefore, he must argue against me or retire from the field.

     Those who want to limit the reach or effectiveness of your thinking and writing have many ways to do so. They can argue against you, whether honestly or otherwise. They can slander you. They can associate you with all manner of low creatures and causes. And of course, they can attack you physically if they can find you – and if they’re willing to court the potential consequences. There’s no way to remove all those tools from an opponent’s reach, but if you’re staunch in your convictions and willing to defend yourself in the clinches, you’ll be all right.

     The one thing you must never, ever do is show fear. Just as in the animal kingdom, potential attackers are excited and emboldened by the scent of fear – and the resort to anonymity is one of the most reliable signs of fear.

     This is not a defense of “doxxing” or an exculpation of those who practice it, hoping to intimidate others out of the national discourse. He who prefers privacy and anonymity should be allowed the enjoyment thereof. But the belief that anonymity on the Web confers a significant degree of “safety” is mistaken. People who write from behind anonymizing monikers can be slandered just as effectively as those who go about with their identities in full view. As for physical safety, the 20-gauge / 9mm Parabellum approach has served me well, though each should choose his chamberings and calibers according to his tastes.


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    • Waidmann on February 15, 2021 at 8:37 AM

    I wonder if “Scott Alexander” is an old “I Spy” fan.  “Alexander Scott” was the character played by Bill Cosby opposite Robert Culp’s “Kelly Robinson”.

  1. Huh. You and I have been thinking about Fear in the last few days.

    Fear is good – it lets us know that danger is near, and can save our lives, if we pay attention to the signs around us.

    But, fear is also bad – it can paralyze our response, lead us into a trap laid down by a hunter who predicts our frightened actions, and – ultimately – lead us to live a life that is devoid of joy.

    Be Fear’s Master, not its Victim.

    • Craig on February 15, 2021 at 11:56 AM

    Well said. I prefer 230gr. 45 ACP and  12ga. Show no fear!

    1. (chuckle) Each to his tastes. I prefer my 20 gauge for “close ups” because it beats up my shoulder less than my recoil-compensated 12 gauge, which I use for longer distances. I like 9mm because a lot of different guns, short and long, are chambered for it. (I’ve never seen a .45 chambered rifle. Do they exist?)

    • enn ess on February 15, 2021 at 3:55 PM

    Yes they do exist, Most common is the venerable 45-70 Govt (as well as the 45-90, 45-110 Sharps), 454 Casull, and other’s based on the .45 cal bullet. And weight anywhere from 250 gr in lightweight 45-70 to 500 gr 45-70

    • Daniel Day on February 15, 2021 at 4:25 PM

    In addition to what enn ess mentioned above, Marlin sold a “Camp Carbine” for a few years in the 80s that was chambered in .45 ACP as well as 9 mm. The .45s took magazines made for the 1911. Basically, they were toys. I read somewhere that the BATF pressured Marlin to stop making them because the carbines were judged to be a little too easy to illegally convert to full auto.

    • Historian on February 16, 2021 at 9:17 PM


    There are all sorts of .45 ACP carbines-  here is a link to reviews of some:

    There are also carbines for .45 Colt:  I’ve seen and shot tubular magazine lever actions in .45 Colt as well as .44 Magnums and .357 magnums.  They are slow to reload, but a practiced hand can get good hits about as fast as with a self-loader as long as there are rounds in the tube.  If you want to see what can be done, do a web search on “Cowboy action” and look at the videos.

    There is much to be said for having a carbine in your pistol caliber;  most people are not Elmer Keith or Ed McGivern, and a long gun will significantly extend the effective range of pistol rounds.  A 9mm carbine that takes the same magazine as your defense pistol is a good choice as long as good quality self-defense ammunition is available.  Once that becomes unavailable, however, there is much to be said for calibers that are accurate and effective with cast projectiles.  I have never had much luck with casting bullets for 9mm; I suspect that the chamber pressures are too high, plus some arms, like the Glock, cannot use lead bullets.  A heavy for caliber SWC projectile loaded for .45 Colt or .44 Magnum at near maximum levels will do, if you will do.  Such a carbine fitted with good peep sights is easily effective to at least 150 yards.

    With regard to all who seek the Light,


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