A Perfect Metaphor for America in 2009

Posted: August 18, 2009 in Jeff Holland, Politics, Threat Quality
Tags: , , ,

I had recently gotten into a debate with a friend of mine who’s serving in Iraq and yet still finds time to heckle me over G-Chat about things he knows are gonna piss me off.gun at rally

The debate was on state-to-state carry permits for concealed weapons, and I won’t bore you with the intricacies of the discussion, because ultimately, as it does with most gun-control vs. gun-enthusiast arguments, it boils down to: “You don’t need to be walking around with a gun!” vs. “But I want to walk around with a gun!”

And boy, did I think that was the most I was gonna have to worry about that subject for a while. Thanks, CNN, who reported, “A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Obama’s speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken.” Oh, also he had a handgun and a clip in his back pocket.

(YESTERDAY, this was. And ain’t it just that fucked up of a country that “Unidentified man brings gun to presidential speech” isn’t an immediate top headline.)

“‘I’m exercising my rights as an American in Arizona,’ the man, who refused to give his name, told KNXV.” Apparently this man is the Lone Ranger. And indeed, giving personal information would have detracted from his message, which as far as I can gather, was “Look how many guns I can bring to a crowded public event.”

“Phoenix police said authorities monitored about a dozen people carrying weapons while peacefully demonstrating. ‘It was a group interested in exercising the right to bear arms,’ police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said.” Andy Hill, a licensed officer of the peace, who, let’s please note, is required by law to be skilled with a firearm before he is sent out in public with it.

“‘I come from another state where ‘open carry’ is legal, but no one does it, so the police don’t really know about it and they harass people, arrest people falsely,’ the [mystery] man said. ‘I think that people need to get out and do it more so that they get kind of conditioned to it.’” (Bolding mine.)

And that right there is where things get a little more frightening. The man’s message – the message of most carry-permit supporters – is “I’m gonna be walking around with guns, and if you know what’s good for you, you won’t do anything to hinder my walking around with guns.”

“The man, wearing a shirt and tie at the health care rally, added that he was unhappy with some health care reform proposals. ‘I’m absolutely, totally against health care, health care in this way, in this manner,’ he said. ‘Stealing it from people, I don’t think that’s appropriate.’” The obvious question: Uhm…what?

So here’s what we’ve got: an armed man, in a shirt and tie, wandering around in public and vehemently spouting arguments that don’t exactly make a lot of sense. This feels vaguely familiar. Ah, yes:
Falling Down

See, this is why the gun-control argument never gets a lot of movement. On one side of the table is someone whose point is that guns kill people, that statistically people with guns are going to kill people they shouldn’t, and that the framers of the constitution could not possibly have had this in mind.

On the other side of the table is a man with a gun. Who thinks he needs it.

And if that isn’t a metaphor for the country right now, I don’t know what is.

  1. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Not really opinion, just a reflection: Matters of gun control always seem to surface when the middle class is particularily stressed to carry the country financially—more than usual. Guns are expensive to have, use and carry. Very poor people who have access to guns, might’ve attained them under illegal or shady circumstances. Rich people who’d “require” guns have the option of paying someone else to carry. It’s those who follow the social rules of “1. Work 2. Pay 3. Play” most adamant to have the right; it’s the one that gives regular people the experience of feeling like invincible, cowboy gunslingers. What can the others do? Allow you the option to feel like a protected baby? Or to speak freely? BORING. Life is already boring enough for the middle class.

    Law is only a deterrent for people who give a rat’s ass about breaking it. Do you think Theodore Thug or Richie Rich cares about whether or not the government allows him (ok, or her) to carry? I don’t think so. Both those groups are likely to find their way around it, legal or not, in order to serve their own purposes. The middle class, the ones most likely to follow the rules and have the most to lose from breaking them—because rebuilding a middle-class life after a fall, is much harder than re-entering poverty or having been wealthy, with connections, all along—is feeling very powerless right now. They’re at the mercy of law-breakers (high- profile or low-profile) and are desperate to grab some power. But what gun-rights protestors are really saying is “Give us something to do. We have too much time on our hands to watch CSI and think of all the awful things that could happen to us. We also no longer want to check our anger in public and carrying a gun makes us feel like we can be assholes whenever we want to be.” It’s likely the road-ragers and grocery line huffin-puffers who feel the need to carry. Laid-back, patient folks will work around problems without being assured that they could, indeed, kill someone if they wanted to. We need to focus on distracting the huffin-puffers because I wouldn’t consider a bunch of frazzled, emotionally-broken workers walking the streets with guns, a winning scenario; however, it t beats a U.S. where the middle class no longer cares about following the rules because the rules no longer protect or support them. Revolution, mi amigo! 😉

  2. V.I.P. Referee says:

    …not that gun-owners can never be calm or level-headed. It’s just that gun laws—like all law—are something symbolic, invented to re-assure the middle class. The middle-class lives a life entirely on the idea of having or not having something; they rarely feel the concrete, material experience of something like poverty or wealth. Prisons in this country are something else borne from ideals and symbolism. Cons aren’t breaking rock or working lines, like they used to. They’re chilling in relatively pleasant U.S. facilities, while the middle-class pays for the re-assurance prisons provide. To a poor person suffering from a terminal illness, around the clock care with no expectation of re-payment can be a very attractive option. Modern gun laws function in much the same way. An angry person could just as soon run you down in their vehicle if they wanted to kill you. The consequences are very much the same. It’s the idea of carrying power that makes buttoned-up worker bees feel better about themselves. Of course, a hand-held killing machine is a pretty material thing…but so is bleach, lawnmowers, fists of steel, etc. I don’t know how I feel about it—I don’t like the topic from either position.

  3. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Ok, one more thing: I’m pretty accurate with a long-bow and could probably kill someone or something if I felt compelled to. But I was an oddity at the range–in stark contrast to the hunters and mountain men around me; I do not look or act like what many would associate with target practice of any kind. Plus, I’d never go hunting, except under total “Doomsday” circumstances. But every honed skill brings reassurance that I’m a little less powerless under specific conditions, than I was before I trained. Target shooters and gun owners feel much the same way about carrying (although, guns have far more potential to be lethal than bows do)–they just want to know that they could if they needed to. Modern people are out of practice when it comes to protecting themselves, providing for their families or even assessing danger without totally depending upon others. The stack of skills an individual once needed—woodcarving, blacksmithing, boat-building, sailmaking, tailoring, land-to-mouth food prep—just to perform daily duties, was unreal. It would take years for most people to learn the language of total self-sufficiency, so, with all the gloom-and-doom that’s been circulating around U.S. culture over the past few years, people are now beginning to panic and don’t want to lose track of how to protect themselves. Enter, guns. One of the better ways to regulate gun carrying, would be to prevent people who have a long history of hot-headed or violent behavior—numerous public fights, domestic violence complaints—from carrying and promote less immediately-lethal weaponry as an alternative. I’m sure those silver-medal fencing dudes that have recently gained attention–Tim Morehouse and Jason Rogers–would do a promotional campaign for that ;). “Stab—not slab!” or “Cut your losses and walk away!”…needs work…

  4. braak says:

    Man, whatever. You know that guy is full of shit. First of all, how much of a sissy do you have to be to say, “Oh, I have the right to carry a gun, so I’ll walk around with this AR-15, but don’t tell anyone my name.” Really, dipshit? You are walking around with an AR-15. What are you fucking afraid of?

    But then, also: bullshit this guy walks around with that gun all the time. He doesn’t fucking take it to work with him, or leave it sitting in his car. He brought it to this rally, at this time, because he wanted people to see him with an assault rifle at a healthcare rally.

    “I’ve still got rights”–fuck, man, you’ve got a LOT of rights. All different kinds of rights. You could have shown up to a healthcare rally and made out with a dude, or pissed on a the French flag, or done a voodoo ritual where you and some chicks danced around nearly naked. You could have just painted yourself green and sang “America the Beautiful” any time a senator tried to talk.

    Why is it that the right you want to exercise is your bullshit “I need an assault rifle” right? Here’s why: it’s because you are a petty little bullshit man, who can only find power by intimidating other people. But I don’t give a shit about you, and I’m glad the Arizona police didn’t give a shit about you. Wave your gun around all you want, fuckhead. The rest of us have more important things to worry about.

  5. threatqualitypress says:

    Also: Barney Frank gets mad props for this:

  6. […] as an American in Arizona,’ the man, who refused to give his name, … Read more here: A Perfect Metaphor for America in 2009 « Threat Quality Press Share and […]

  7. Jeff Holland says:

    One of my favorite moments from “The West Wing” was when Toby – soft-spoken, caustic Toby – was assigned to speak to a town-hall meeting full of similarly bile-spewing “protesters.” He responded in another way I’d like to see more of – by sitting down, reading a paper, and refusing to acknowledge their idiotic shouting.

  8. V.I.P Referee says:

    I agree. Displaying an unecessary use of carrying isn’t going to help his “cause”. He just wanted attention…and I wonder how well he avoids confrontation in his personal life. Not the sort of dude you’d want to cut-off on the parkway. I don’t like guns and I’m going to anthromorphize here; I don’t think they’d like me very much, either; they’re capable of effectively killing me in moments. No hesitation. That guy probably really likes guns–likes the idea of being able to kill someone who pisses him off in mere milliseconds, even if he never does. The people who should be getting the attention regarding this topic are the quiet gun-owners who have thought-out explainations for wanting to own guns—-not just because “it’s my RIGHT!”

    And since my pointless inclusion of bowmanship didn’t get the enthusiastic response hoped for, I’ll just have to bring a bow to the next local “Literacy for America” convention, in order to achieve the desired effect. People will see that I have a bow and I will tell them how well I shoot it. Then, they will think I’m very cool and badass. It’s my right to be badass. Success!

  9. V.I.P Referee says:

    ..”explanations” not “explainations”…

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