James Yeager, A Demonstration of Emotional Argumentation

Linoge at Walls of the City brought James Yeager’s recent shenanigans to light. For those of you who don’t know him, James Yeager is a Tennessee firearms instructor that is extremely opinionated. He’s passionately argued in favor of putting cameramen downrange during live fire exercises and believes all guns should be Glocks. Now he’s trying to prove his manliness by challenging online individuals to duels. As Linoge points out in his post dueling is prohibited by the Tennessee constitution so Yeager is doing a marvelous job of disregarding the law. Disregarding the state’s laws is not something I care much about but it is interesting to see a firearms instructor doing it so blatantly. Generally firearms enthusiasts argue that law-abiding citizens should be granted the right to keep and bear arms but will often support prohibiting criminals from owing firearms.

I usually care little about ongoing drama regarding “celebrities” (Yeager is a kind of celebrity in the firearms community) but Yeager’s actions are a great demonstration of a personality trait I find annoying. Yeager is one of those individuals who accepts what he believes unconditionally and is willing to go so far as to challenge individuals to duels in order to prove his devotion. This is a trait commonly found in gun control advocates. Regardless of the amount of evidence showing the futility and dangers of gun control, advocates for restricting gun rights will refuse to change their stance. Big government advocates are another group that generally rely on emotional arguments. When you attempt to explain the damage big government programs do to an economy, how the constant creation of new laws leads to the imprisonment of nonviolent individuals, or the inherently violent nature of the state they merely ignore you and write you off as a kook. I generally attribute such staunch devotion to a lack of knowledge (either intentional or unintentional) of deductive logic.

When people call Yeager a coward it strikes an emotional nerve. Instead of reviewing his actions to determine whether or not they may appear cowardly to a third-party he attempts to bully his opponents with threats of violence. Seeing his reaction to those who criticized him for allowing a cameraman to be downrange during a live fire exercise further demonstrates his reliance on emotional argumentation. He didn’t acknowledge that putting a cameraman downrange during a live fire exercise is extremely dangerous and entirely unnecessary, he merely attempt to justify why he was right and everybody else was wrong without presenting any logical justification for why putting a cameraman was downrange during a live fire exercise was either safe or necessary.

The gun rights movement has succeeded because it has primarily relied on deductive logic instead of appealing to emotions. People in the gun rights movement have done an amazing job of combing through homicide data, self-defense data, and other data related in any way to firearms and presented the implications of that data. Ultimately this has lead to a change in opinion of guns in the United States. We no longer face attacks against gun rights from the majority, instead it is only a handful of extremely devoted gun control advocates who still continue to make any real effort to restrict gun rights. In the end deductive logic leads to success while emotional appeals, when they work, are only effective for a short period of time.

Ironically Yeager has displayed the primary characteristics of the people he claims to oppose. When he believes something he refuses to be swayed or even consider the arguments against what he believes. Instead of giving logical reasons for why he supports his beliefs he resorts of threats of violence in the hopes it will shut his opposition up.