One often reads that “gun violence” is a unitary concept, as in a recent paper entitled “Trends and Disparities in Firearm Fatalities in the United States, 1990-2021“. Yet once you go beyond the headlines, you quickly realize that (perhaps aside from some gun-related accidents) there are two primary and very different categories: homicides and suicides.

According to the paper, in 2021 the homicide rate was highest among black men age 20-24 (141.8 fatalities/100,000 people) especially in urban areas, and the suicide rate was highest among white non-Hispanic men age 80-84 (45.2 fatalities/100,000 people) especially in rural areas (check out the “heat maps” in the paper). Aside from the fact that men were involved on both counts, young urban black men and old rural white men have very little in common with regard to their activities and their reasons for pulling the trigger.

Because calling members of both categories victims of “gun death” makes as much sense as saying that people who die in floods and people who die in boating accidents are both victims of “water death”, it’s pretty clear that the anti-concept of “gun violence” is meant to serve the agenda of those who want to outlaw firearms, not to provide any useful guidance on how to prevent homicides and suicides.

What are some other good examples of such anti-concepts?

34 thoughts on “Anti-Concepts”

  1. Almost no one needs deadly force in their hands. I wander my mountains, and have done for over 30 years. I run into Bears a lot, mothers with cubs every year and I have even tripped over a cub right beside his mother, and negotiated a retreat. ;) A halfwit with a gun would have shot her, why else would he be carrying one. Then the cub would die too.

    I run into Cougars rarely, they are pretty stealthy naturally. You smell them mostly, and my strategy is act real tough, large primate stuff, smacking logs with my stick, stuff like that. They have never bothered me.

    Wolves are stealthy too but they don’t really regard me as prey, so we go past each other.

    Elk, yes I am blessed to have Elk where I live. You really don’t understand how huge they are til you stand by a full grown female and she is almost 6′ at the shoulder, my height.

    I don’t need a gun, Why do you?

  2. The fatuous, off topic sanctimony of the first comment brought to mind the frisson between the concept of medical care and the Canadian invention of “Medical Aid In Dying” as an answer to their inability to provide timely, effective care. Newspeak at its most Orwellian.

  3. “Diversity” – a heading that can mean anything from class, interests, races, genders. Sometimes the examples of diversity aiding in problem solving that argue for the importance of its consideration are not the categories that are eventually given preference. Indeed, proponents of diversity seem to prefer the least diverse of actual outcomes.

    “Women’s health care” providers who don’t consider mammograms, ultrasounds, & even awareness of the potential for statutory rape in their examinations of “women’s health.”

    “Accurate vote counts” that consider only vote suppression while ignoring the devaluation when one vote’s worth is watered down by either vote fraud or another voter’s illegitimacy.

    “Tolerance” that doesn’t distinguish between leaving others alone, to pursue their lives and in some cases their delusions but rather full throated sympathy/agreement/engagement.

    “Violence” of word or thought equivalent to (and cause for greater social shame) than physical violence.

    The intentions are dramatically different in the two categories of gun violence, the smaller number of deaths from mishandling of guns is something else: it has neither of those intentions but might be more practically reduced (it may just be a ridiculously small number, my experience is that the number is not nonexistent).

    English is becoming more Orwellian each year. Blurring is more feature than bug to some. There’s increasing resistance to definitions, to categories, to genres, to “naming” with precision and care. Imprecision misleads. We don’t have a handle on things if we can’t name them. What is a woman? A Supreme Court nominee (now justice) waffles. But my 3-week old grandchild distinguishes between his mother and father, his parents’ dog distinguishes between his purpose in guarding an infant and his purpose in scaring off those he doesn’t categorize as family (older women apparently are not his idea of family, but his clear ability to distinguish between and act differently toward men and women means he sees differences apparently too obscure for Judge Jackson).

    In our time is chaos and part of the cause is unnaming, unrecognizing, not seeing a purpose/essence to a form of art or a person or a thing. If anyone wonders why young men took to Jordan Peterson’s urgent argument for truth telling in his guide, That helps, he implies, to straighten out your mind, to lead you to a precision necessary for understanding both ourselves and our world.. Perhaps not distinguishing intentions is what tribes do/did but the scientific revolution changed our thinking, gave us different goals. And now we don’t appreciate the gift of clarity, one we seem to be smashing and discarding..

  4. Canadian invention of “Medical Aid In Dying”

    I know two people who died and had their time ended medically. These were both people who had no chance at all of surviving and had their family around them when they went.

    Contrasting that with my father’s death from liver cancer, which dragged on for very long time with everyone suffering, I like our policy.

  5. “I run into Cougars rarely, they are pretty stealthy naturally. You smell them mostly, and my strategy is act real tough, large primate stuff, smacking logs with my stick, stuff like that. They have never bothered me.”

    LOL oh sure.

  6. one of the first flags is the brady campaign is considered the first source, then the cdc which has already decided gun violence is an epidemic, I couldn’t find the funding source but I’m guessing joyce foundation or sara diamond (soros) are somewhere in the netting, then you get to the ‘apples and oranges’ problem, outlined above,

  7. The first comment is an example of the type of feeble minded argument surrounding the “gun violence” debate.
    A complete non sequitur. No one cares how many bears you’ve tripped over.
    Any Rand did some excellent work describing the topic:
    “An anti-concept is an unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept. The use of anti-concepts gives the listeners a sense of approximate understanding.”
    In the case of the first comment and in the realm of cognition, nothing is as bad as the approximate.

  8. “LOL oh sure.”

    Lets put it this way, if you ever have to deal with a Cougar, that is good advice.

    They are predators and hunt prey. If you don’t fir into the prey category they will not hunt you. As there are no doctors out there, successful predators do not take chances.

    To strain your credulity further, I have been charged by a big male Black Bear, i had named Thomas. I had run into him a few times and I’m pretty sure he was the area boss. The day before the charge I had been returning to my local area, and along that trail he was whuffling in the undergrowth, not sure why, and I startled him as he was being pretty loud and did not hear me. He levitated about 15′ on to a tree nearby and clung there looking around. I apologized and left the area … quickly. The next day I was not very far from that place and he saw me coming. He stood up and growled at me. Then he charged me. Its called a ritual charge, to see if are prey or not. Now I have clocked Black Bears at almost 40 mph through the bush, so running is suicide. So I stood there and told him he was bad bear and he stopped. I left the area. ;)

  9. In the interest of saving the Mounties from having to gather up Pengun’s scattered remains, I’ll point out that predators hunt up-wind. You won’t smell the one that’s after you until it’s too late.

  10. “Ouchies”

    Don’t discourage him. I want to hear some more mountain man stories. Like the one where a young Pengun was captured by a band of black bears while trapping near the hole in a tree where he lives. The bear stripped Pengun naked, gave him a brief head start and then chased after him as though he were wild game. Ignoring the rocks and cactus that were shredding his feet, Pengun outran most of the bears before banging a stick on the ground and scaring the rest away.

    This is why guns are bad.

  11. It is actually my plan to find my Cougar when its time for me to go. Its a Zen tradition, that when you are done, feeding a tiger is the best way to go.

    Now I doubt I’ll have either the balls, or the ability to get to one, when I am done with living, buts its an honourable tradition.

    Perhaps you have not spent much time in the bush, but the wind don’t blow there much. The scent of a Cougar can easily be mistaken for Skunk Cabbage, but I can tell the difference.

    No one will find my remains. The Mounties ain’t going up there and only another wanderer, there are not many, has a chance. The loggers might find me, but I doubt it, and as I know a lot of them, they would be sad. Anyway they will have to be quick, the bush is hungry. ;)

  12. “Perhaps you have not spent much time in the bush, but the wind don’t blow there much.”

    We have loads of cougar* here in central Arizona ‘bush’. Come April to June, the wind blows enough that building design code requires resistance to 90 mph wind loads.

    “No one will find my remains.”

    As long as you aren’t carrying a can of bear spray, no one will go poking around in cougar scat looking for the hapless owner.

    In consideration for your future dinner companion, don’t wait so long that you become all lean and stringy.

    *There is a fellow I met who owns a suspension shop in town. He lives about 10 miles north of me at the end of the pavement. He hunts cougar at the area ranches- much ranch land hereabouts. He runs 2 teams of dogs, 10 in each and hunts on horse back. The dogs smell them out, chase and tree them, and he shoots them. He shoots a lot of cougar, bless his heart.

  13. Yeah I hate that. I love the animals on my mountains and have been a vegetarian, for 60 years now, as murdering animals for my dinner just seems awful.

    Now have been a trucker for a long time and I have had to haul hanging meat from the abattoirs, so I know what that looks like. When I drove garbage truck, a quite profitable enterprise for me, I dumped the same places. The crap they threw away.

    I have no interest at all in eating any of that awfulness.

    Now I know my mountains and the animals that live there, and my favourite place on earth is way up the hill. The places humans seldom go are the finest places on earth.

    My Solterra will soon be in my hands, and its going up the mountain too. I know my way around them, and can get it way up the hill. I wonder what 1000 meters of regeneration will put back in my tank. ;)

  14. I love ChicagoBoyz and occasionally comment here. PenGun’s comment-spamming nearly destroys the entire experience for me. I know what he thinks and what he will say; when literally every other comment is his pointless self-aggrandizment, I am discouraged from engaging even with the other outstanding and interesting commenters and authors.

    This Christmas, I plan to give to all the great sites I appreciate for keeping the lights on. Once I have actually donated to ChicagoBoyz, of course, I might have a right to complain I am not getting my money’s worth. Until then, I will just wish things were better for all of us.

  15. Ginny, hello. Yes, the problem of language that is intended not to reveal or enlighten, but to obscure! It is an act of violence to language itself, on which point Orwell’s famous book was
    indeed pretty explicit.
    Such anti-language can still communicate, though, in a sense. If one is in the in-crowd, one picks up on jargon, for example. But it’s not really communicating on the basis of the language as such, more by implication and so on, I suppose.

  16. I’ll throw my 2 cents in here on anti-concepts and nominate democracy as in “Dobbs is anti-democratic” and “Republicans don’t believe in democracy.” I’m sure you are as bewildered as I am about what that means because after all doesn’t Dobbs mean that now the people through their elected representatives will now decide abortion issues? Joe Biden and Jim Eagle nonwithstanding, does anybody really think Republicans are trying to deprive Blacks of the vote?

    Part of it is just plain old gaslighting and deception along the lines of what Ginny and Lucretius point to, but part of it is something more than just being pernicious. Democracy in its Marxist sense is more than just a process but deals with empowerment of certain groups, say like the proletariat. That’s why a one-party state with rigged elections like East Germany could pretend to call itself the “German Democratic Republic.” For the Democrats and their mass media auxiliary to use that definition in the American context is beyond dishonest, more on the lines of declaring a cold civil war, because it’s done deliberately to deceive and demoralize in order to undermine what Americans believe what democracy is. A good example is ballot harvesting, which is publicly justified as a way of helping someone who cannot get to the polling place on election day but is really more akin to machine politics in helping favored identity groups to gain power in the political system

    As far as PenGun, why are you arguing with him? He chooses to not carry a gun and run the risk of getting eaten by wildlife. Good for him. I was back in Arizona last month and did some backcountry hiking, but since my guns were in storage and wasn’t carrying I was very careful about where I hiked. I did run into a party on horseback who as a matter of course were carrying a collection of hand and long guns but that was more out of habit and for the horses. However to paraphrase Rick Blaine there are some parts of Arizona I would advise you to not hike and camp unarmed – just like you carry an emergency kit in the car, out West you carry a gun. Then again unlike PenGun I subscribe to Troy McClure’s dictum of “Man vs. Nature, the road to victory.” To each his own. Don’t fight him, don’t debate, instead celebrate.

  17. Oh how can I forget one of the great anti-concepts, “racism.” To the vast majority of Americans racism carries both a historical sensitivity but also at the same time a definition of neutrality, the sin of any one person mistreating any other person based on the color of their skin. Our woken progressive prey on that sensitivity and the desire for most Americans to atone for racism by pushing an expressly racist policy based on power relations (as per that great huckster Ibram Kendi) A black person targeting a white person for violence cannot be racist because given how the Woke define power relations, only white people can be racist. Non-whites who adopt or promote bourgeois values or take the Constitution as it is written, such as Clarence Thomas, are white supremacists. Since they claim that “white supremacy” is part of the social superstructure, those who point to racism as a societal evil can justify the use of racism to eliminate it.


    You know Insty always points to an old David Burge tweet that shows the Left’s strategy as “1. Identify a respected institution. 2. kill it. 3. gut it. 4. wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect” While I like Pablo Gustav’s use of the Randian definition of the anti-concept I think adapting Burge’s notion of skinsuiting to anti-conceptual language has a certain charm

  18. Canada, Oh Canada…

    I know where I want to live, for the moment, at least.

    As far as gun control, why are the statistics in large US cities so horrible, with apparently no reaction, but if a crazy shoots half as many as die each weekend, it is national news?
    Somehow there seems to be no shame in the big cities with the saddest stats.

  19. Names matter. It’s not just what you call something but how you call it. It’s just a little less than 300 years ago (1735) that Carl Linnaeus started the first successful system of naming Creation.

    It wasn’t that he invented the idea of species, humans had been exploiting that for thousands of years by breading and selection. It was the genus and the other steps back up the ladder to Kingdom that was the crucial insight. The idea that, while distinct, certain species were more like each other that they were to others notwithstanding superficial similarities. This systematism underlies all of scientific progress since. The corollary is that if you get the system wrong, everything else will be wrong.

    Suppose you decide to classify organisms by their method of locomotion; bipedal, quadrupedal, etc. This would lead you to the conclusion that humans were more closely related to birds than to primates when we now know that the lines diverged very long ago indeed and that both birds and humans might be more closely related to cockroaches than to each other.

    In an even more profound way the conflation of homicide and suicide into “gun violence” gets the order wrong. There is no objective way to argue that homicide by gunshot is closer to suicide by gunshot than it is to all the other means of homicide. That the gun is more than an inanimate tool. This, in turn, renders any argument that starts from the premise of “gun violence” completely irrelevant in terms of reducing either homicide or suicide. We all recognize it as simply a rather stupidly transparent ploy to justify disarming the people.

    In the same way, “Medical Aid In Dying” is a stupidly transparent attempt for the health care system to attempt to rid themselves of their most expensive liabilities. The fact that Canadian citizens have transitioned from being patients and clients to liabilities might cause them some reflection.

    All of the other examples above share this intentional diversion of attention from what matters by some group that rightly fears open disclosure of their methods and goals.

  20. The absence of any interest on the left about black on black gun violence in cities is an interesting symptom of the racism of the left. It is as if the left considered young black males to be wild animals, best left in their wild habitat. Ignored are the adults who are under siege by those “wild animals” every day. The public schools are abysmal and black kids who try to study are bullied.

    PenGun is a fool best ignored.

  21. MCS, nicely clarified, very helpful to see this from a definitional and operational perspective. Thanks.


  22. I don’t like guns. I am likely to tell you what I think of you, and if you have a gun and I will not use one, then I am at a serious disadvantage. I’m happy to fight with you over whatever has upset you, but not with deadly force.

    Now although its obvious Trudeau is a problem for all of us, he is getting the guns out of many peoples hands in Canada, so I am pleased with that.

    I have nothing but scorn for those that will take a life, so they can hang it’s skin on the wall.

    Now I love my guns in my video games, and take all kinds of care with them. I know a lot about guns both from my interest in Military History and my silly games. Lately though. the joys of running amok with a Chainsaw has been my main game and that’s working very well. It s a bit messy, but my Jenny is very crazy indeed.

  23. One ‘concept’ that is pretty bizarre, as currently used, is ‘community’. Politicians and media rarely refer to *people* anymore, it is ‘communities’. It is never ‘this program will be good for black people’, it is ‘this program will be good for black communities.’ My bank has a slogan ‘we are inspired by our multicultural communities’, not ‘we are inspired by our customers from many cultures’ and certainly not ‘we are inspired by our customers’. The definition of communities is always either demographic or based on sexual preference. The Syrian-American family next door is supposed to be thought of as a member of ‘The Muslim Community’, rather than of our local geographical community.

  24. has an interesting take on Anti-Concepts. The authors premise being that “while casting large shadow ideas about computing power, the term “AI” does more to obscure than clarify. People who write about innovative uses of computing should probably avoid it.”
    In the applications of AI that I observed in my military time (Cyber was still just a buzzword) an agent (typically human, possibly machine) simply drew information and ideas from diverse fields to enlighten another field. Is that intelligent? Unless the AI is making useful recommendations and observations how intelligent can it be?

    In most usages, “artificial intelligence” is very much an anti-concept. It doesn’t have borders, so it doesn’t wall in or wall out different computing techniques. It doesn’t move readers toward understanding the utility or consequences of a given computing application. It may be a cover when authors don’t know enough about such applications to say what is going on.

  25. As a Canadian I find myself agreeing with PenGun on two points:

    1. I like the availability of assisted suicide. Medical Aid in Dying is kind of euphemistic, but it is accurate too, and avoids the moralizing connotations of ‘suicide’. Sue Rodriguez, whose original suit to access this help failed at the Supreme Court, lived an agonizing life and died a miserable lingering death. That a later suit succeeded in overturning our laws on the point makes me feel she didn’t suffer for nothing. Plus, you never know. Nowadays most of us will die lingering deaths in hospital or hospice, and maybe we don’t want that or even want to stick around, but will come to that decision too late to do it ourselves. Plus the means to do it ourselves can often be painful and unpleasant, and the decision is a hard one. I figure I might need MAID myself, so how shall I deny it to others.
    2. Canadian cities are safe. Any American who raises the point of gun carry by asking us how we defend ourselves is missing an important point. In any Canadian city you pretty much have to go looking for violent threats to find them, or just be among the remarkably foolish or spectacularly unlucky. The number of plausible exceptions are a handful a decade at most. Most violence in our cities is intra-banger. I don’t care. It stabilizes the number of bangers and I am not threatened. [Not that all progressive Canadians would endorse this cavalier attitude.] No ordinary citizen is in any meaningful danger at any meaningful level or frequency.

    That said, I am not immune to criticisms of either:
    1. The cultural shift that conservative and religious critics often associate with MAID and similar measures has started. As with the already infamous Simons ad. I am only surprised it wasn’t Nordstrom. I don’t need anyone, let alone, retailers, making a joyful occasion or a secular sacrament out of suicide.
    2. That Canadian cities are safe also is a retort to those who think Canada’s pretty tight and somewhat arbitrary gun laws need to be tightened because “think of the children” and “we need to be saaaaaafe”. We are safe. None of the guns currently available to law abiding citizens pose any meaningful threat at any meaningful frequency and would do so even less if our police were not also incompetent at their day jobs. There’s a reason we still cite a massacre that happened 33 years ago so routinely.

  26. Graham, thanks for your thoughtful comments. To continue along these lines:

    1. Mercy killing has always existed regardless of laws and institutions. There are situations where it is probably justified. The problem in countries such as Canada, the Netherlands and elsewhere that have changed their rules to allow mercy killing is that by doing so they have created systemic incentives for the killing of people who are old, sick, weak, indigent, alone, demented or otherwise vulnerable. People who favor the creation of legal paths to mercy killing tend to ignore, naively or otherwise, the likelihood that the changes in rules and institutional practices that they advocate are likely to lead to unjustified killing. People who oppose the creation of legal paths to mercy killing may or may not be opposed to mercy killing per se, but they tend to fear that any rule changes intended to facilitate mercy killing will lead to the murder of the vulnerable.

    2. Canada and the USA have areas that are culturally similar to each other, and other areas that are not. The parts of the USA that are culturally similar to Canada have levels of violent crime that are close to Canadian violent crime levels. Those parts of the USA tend also to have many fewer legal restrictions on gun possession than does Canada. Pengun approves of Trudeau’s efforts to take guns away from the law-abiding Canadian majority who don’t commit crimes. This appears to be an esthetic position on his part, as it seems unlikely, based on universal experience, that further restrictions on legal gun ownership will have much effect on the behavior of the criminal minority that commits most of the crimes.

  27. Graham: “Sue Rodriguez, whose original suit to access this help failed at the Supreme Court, lived an agonizing life and died a miserable lingering death.”

    That is a very real issue — and also a very difficult one to deal with. More & more of us are seeing first-hand with parents and grandparents that there is a huge gap between living and being alive. Too many of our old people have miserable undignified final years of living — often prolonged by the medical profession. There are lots of old & sick people who are literally “waiting for God”.

    I know one older man who sank a hole in one on the golf course, bowed to his fellow players, and then keeled over & died with a massive heart attack. We all might like to exit this life in that kind of fashion, but many of us will instead spend our final years neglected, unhealthy, unhappy, staring at the four walls of some institutional-type setting. Because every single one of us WILL die, somehow, sometime.

    It is a very difficult issue to address. We have seen at the other end of the life cycle that permitting abortion supposedly for good exceptional cases (“safe, legal, and rare”, to quote Billie Clinton) ends up with the mass slaughter of innocents up to the moment of birth by women who could not be bothered to use contraception. There are indeed slippery slopes in this world!

    Unfortunately, we no longer have the political mechanisms to explore possible avenues to addressing the issue of miserably deteriorating late life. And if the Democrat Establishment gets involved, we could foresee compulsory End-of-Life the day before an individual becomes eligible for Social Security.

  28. Gavin,

    With MAID I think the Canadian health system might be the first government agency to ever be able to work a P&L

  29. There was a brief article just yesterday on Instpundit about a childrens hospital in Toronto
    that is agitating for the right to terminate the life of terminally ill children, and to not tell the parents until after the child had expired. That isn’t assisted suicide when it involves a minor. That is willful murder.

  30. Well MAID went from “we will provide relief to those in extremis at their carefully considered request” to “we’ll decide” really quickly and the race now seems to toward obscuring it from outsiders and avoiding any external accountability. People with expensive to treat conditions will just die and the people who kill them will be the same ones filling out the death certificate.

    “In any Canadian city you pretty much have to go looking for violent threats to find them”
    You could have said the same about virtually every American city 50 years ago. Funny how those rare, dangerous places have spread since. By your own statement, Canadian police are; “incompetent at their day job”, it can’t be long for The Great White North. The police will become increasingly enthusiastic about enforcing the laws against the minor transgressions of the law abiding while finding it increasingly inconvenient to “attend” incidents in ever widening areas. So much safer, don’t you know.

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