Monday, December 8, 2008

On Testimony

In a few short days, I and many others will be testifying against Seattle Mayor Nickels unlawful (according to the State Attorney General) gun ban. This post is at most peripheral in regards to the content of that testimony. This post addresses tactics and technique for what I've observed thus far as effective in such situations.

Primus - as a community, those of us who take an individual rights view of the Second Amendment, support individual firearms rights, and might be considered a bit..."pro-gun" to use a phrase popular among our opponents have been vilified as a group for decades in much of our nation. We have been characterized as racist, knuckle-dragging, homophobic, mouth-breathing primitives with paranoid tendencies and phallic (or pseodo-phallic in the case of the women in our community) issues by our opponents.

Somehow, that we are more law-abiding than average and more peacable than most...seems to escape the caricature.

Our President-Elect described us as a folk when he said "they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Right or wrong, when testifying (particularly in a largely liberal city) we face those prejudices when we walk into the chambers of a city or county council, or a legislative hearing, far to frequently in the United States.

Secundus, it does not serve us well to play into the stereotypes perpetrate those who oppose us, our rights, and our interests. In fact, consciously undermining those hostile stereotypes and demolishing them as ridiculous and hate-filled parodies serves us best.

Tertius, with the above firmly in mind, to quote the ever-pithy Ru Paul "We’re all born naked, and the rest is drag." The question then becomes what form of drag (or costumery, if you prefer) serves us best - be it clothing or verbiage.

When testifying, our chance of impacting a given body is enhanced when we ask our selves what attire fits the notion of "people they really respect and listen to" of the audience we seek to influence - be it a city council, a county hearing officer, a congressional hearing, or a courtroom adventure. If the group you testify to visually cues on you as "respectable", your chances of being heard (or having influence) are dramatically enhanced.

Showing up to a jousting tournament dressed as a ballerina garners neither respect nor victory, after all.

With that in mind, business semi-formal (a business suit, with a tie for men) or business casual (slacks and a good collared shirt, perhaps with a sportcoat or sweater) become a good choice both at this Seattle hearing, and most other such events in Washington - other locales may be more or less formal, but EACH will have the local "respectable critter" drag attire. Camo and denim are great for a lot of situations; not for this. And for those mired in the Disco era...give up the polyester; if you are "fashion challenged" and know it (any suit more than 5-10 years old is probably fashion-challenged), grab a buddy who knows about such things (finance allowing) and go forth and visit Men's Wearhouse for a reasonably inexpensive set of business attire (my sources for good women's attire...are limited. Macy's? )

Similarly, if you volunteer or are chosen to speak...know your time limit, and frontload your points...get the main points (the hard-hitting stuff) up front, edit down your comments to fit the local time limit (getting cut off doesn't enhance your impact), use bullet pointed 3x5 cards if you need them (most of us do), and maintain your dignity. Your effectiveness rests in your appearing more competent and knowledgeable than not just the average bear, but than your opponent - and as mentioned in the first point, the cards are stacked against us. We MUST appear calm/cool/collected regardless of what abuse our opponents throw upon us - because we start from a place of being painted in a negative light.

There are exceptions to the above, but a government hearing is rarely one of them.

Finally, or Quartius, know your facts and your playing field. Stay on topic. And don't be afraid to consult the recognized leaders in the field before you testify or plan your testimony. In Washington, and on Washington Firearms-related Law, I would suggest the Second Amendment Foundation and the inestimable Dave Workman and Joe Waldron are the acknowledged subject matter experts.

1 comment:

Drang said...

A couple of points:
WAC Gun Show at Puyallup this weekend. Dave Workman will almost certainly be there Saturday, Joe Waldron may or may not, he lives in Florida now, and I doubt he will fly out for the show. Dave will be hanging at the Second Amendment Foundation table, and he and any others of his compatriots there will be more than glad to assist in listing and rehearsing talking points.

Attire: It sucks to change your style to try and impress others. We go over that in NRA Instructor Training; again, NO CAMO! Limited amounts of black MIGHT be acceptable, but if you show up looking like a Goth, or a reject from a bad remake of Dracula, you're not going to impress anyone. Sorry, that's the way it is.

Do recommend Pink Pistols or JPFO buttons, though...