Editorial Auction to the Moon: RECOIL NFT for Charity BJ Campbell October 9, 2021 Join the Conversation Congratulations from the future. You just bid on the Non Fungible Token (NFT) auction of Top Shot winner Chris Cheng’s RECOIL #56 cover on October 19th, 2021. You won it. Your bid just went to fund three gun rights organizations: Firearms Policy Coalition, the Pink Pistols / Operation Blazing Sword, and the Asian Pacific American Gun Owners Association. You won, on the surface, “ownership” of a digital internet image, no different than any other image you could Google up. You don’t own the copyright, you can’t sue anyone with it, and it’s an image that anyone in the world with a smart phone can look at. You can’t hold it, can’t hang it on your wall, and everyone else who bought Issue #56 has the exact same thing you have for a few bucks. What an asshole you must be for spending all this money on whatever the hell an “NFT” is. Well. Perhaps you are indeed an asshole, but perhaps not. Your name is now enshrined in “the blockchain” as owning this thing across a global distributed ledger of computers that spans a network broader than any Ham Radio ever has. No government can remove your name from this ledger, because the ledger exists simultaneously in a million places and no place at all. Your ownership of this collectible resides in a digital wallet, but the wallet is distributed across the internet itself. The wallet will outlive RECOIL magazine, will outlive the United States Government, and will even outlive the government that follows it, because it’s spread across millions of computers and will continue to spread in perpetuity. It’s like the digital version of a statue on the moon that nobody can tear down, nobody can cancel. And it’s not a statue of the RECOIL cover, it’s a statue of you holding the RECOIL cover. The only way this monument to your charitable effort could be censored, removed, or destroyed, is a worldwide Carrington Event frying the internet with solar flares, or a multi-nation nuclear war. The evidence of your act of charity is impervious to all but the most egregious acts of God. A meteor strike couldn’t get rid of it. That’s the power of an NFT. They ignore censorship. They end-run government control, corporate control, or influence by any elite do-gooder who wants to use his power, money, and connections to impose his narrative on the national or global zeitgeist. They can’t be hacked. The NFT you bought is ultimately controlled by you and you alone. You can however sell it if you want, to someone else in a decade who perhaps wants to be the new guy in the statue on the virtual moon holding up the virtual Chris Cheng RECOIL #56 cover. Further, if you do sell it, you keep most of the cash from the sale and Cheng’s charities get a new cut. Also, if the article you’re reading right now does well, maybe the value of the NFT goes up because of the traffic alone. Funny thing, that. Are you an asshole for buying this NFT? Perhaps. But if you are, you are an immortal god of an asshole whose name is permanently engraved into the fabric of the internet itself. There’s value in that. And in the very worst case, you donated some money to three gun rights charities in a way so epic that it scores you bragging rights far exceeding that of your buddy’s Cerakoted Kriss Vector he’s trying to show off at the range. Maybe when gun rights win, and this cover is looked at as a watershed moment in that fight, someone else will buy that NFT off you and you can pay off your boat. Watershed Moment We at Open Source Defense think a lot about culture wars, the media, the modern social landscape, and the ten pounds of confusing technological crap shoved into the five-pound bag known as the modern internet. We built a model for all these things, and we apply it to gun rights. This model is powerful, predictive, and it tells us that gun rights are on the verge of permanently winning. This model says Chris Cheng may be the most important person on the planet right now for gun rights. Here’s how the model works. The medicine, psychiatry, and culture blogger Scott Alexander wrote a highly trafficked article in 2014 called the “Toxoplasma of Rage,” wherein he analyzed his own blog’s traffic numbers and discovered that he accrued the most traffic from the articles which were most useful in culture war arguments. Some of the founding documents for Open Source Defense discovered a similar pattern related to media around gun policy. Scott rightly claims that the highest traffic is generated by articles with a thesis that creates as close to a 50/50 split of agreement and disagreement among its readers as possible. This causes the article to be shared across social media, argued about, and re-linked. “Clickbait.” This is the juice behind media virility, and every media company in the country constantly chases this juice. Photo by Samantha Lauraina When they all chase the 50/50 juice, the country parcels off into 50/50 tribes. The longer the media chases this juice, the tighter and more xenophobic these 50/50 tribes get. We know these tribes today as the Reds and the Blues. Understanding this is very important to gun rights, because as long as gun rights remain a fixture of one tribe, but not the other, the best gun rights can hope for is to be in power half the time. But given how “winner take all, first-past-the-post” voting systems work, a 60/40 split would be a blowout. Reagan didn’t even get to 60% in 1980. Gun rights are poised to bank that blowout. Here’s why. Gun rights have the Red Tribe in the bank. The media systems outlined above are going to maintain that tribe at around 50%, because they need the argument traffic. This is the wall, and the gun control groups cannot break that wall. If gun rights can turn just one in five people on the other side of the wall to our side we have our blowout win. 2020 As National African American Gun Association (NAAGA) vice president Douglas Jefferson quipped last year, 2020 was “one giant advertisement for gun ownership.” First the toilet paper hoarders bought guns at the beginning of the Covid lockdowns. Then the black community bought guns during the initial Floyd protests. Then the suburbanites bought guns because of “defund the police” rhetoric during the mostly peaceful protests that occasionally weren’t. Then the Democrats bought guns because Trump might win, and the Republicans bought guns because Biden might win. Then the Democrats bought guns again because of the January 6th 2021 protest. Every single month across 2020 set the all-time record for gun sales that month, and that trend spilled staunchly into 2021. And the story across the nation’s gun shops was the same. New owners, many of whom were liberal. Blue Tribers crossing the wall, locking hands with the rest of the gun rights crowd on that one issue if no others. Chris Cheng is the tip of the spear for this. It’s not just that he’s a fantastic competition shooter, a famous TV personality in gun spaces, a great speaker, and a smart dude. He’s gay. He’s Asian. He lives in San Francisco, the belly of the beast for gun control power. I only met Chris once, at SHOT Show 2020 in Las Vegas for drinks. It was a long ranging conversation about the future of the organization on whose board of directors he now sits: a nationwide gay gun rights organization called the “Pink Pistols.” Across the several hour meeting, one thing stood out above all the others. He told me that being a gun guy in San Francisco in 2020 was like being gay in the 1980s. You had to stay in “the closet,” or else get the brunt of social castigation, ostracizion, potentially even losing your job. As a heterosexual dude I would never purport to make that comparison, but I heard him make it, and I don’t think he made it lightly. Chris Cheng is the tip of the spear. He is on the very front of the front lines, deep in enemy territory, speaking to Congress about violence against Asians, about the rights of armed self-defense, and doing so bravely and with honor. And when gun rights win, he will be there, standing over the battlefield surveying his work, planting a flag on captured territory that perhaps looks a bit like his shirt on the cover of RECOIL #56. That NFT, that you could own, would be the digital gun rights version of having your name stamped into the Iwo Jima Memorial. I’m not sure how much that’s worth, but I think I’ll bid on it. Want In? 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