I wanted to post something funny, just to break up the seriousness of my posts here, and then I watched the news…
…You’ve probably noticed by now that I tend to post about things that are bugging me. Sometimes it will be nifty, joyous, humorous things. I’m sorry, but not today.
What has been itching at the base of my neck like a hellacious case of radioactive ringworm is this tiny, 45 second, thing I saw on the news Wednesday night…
…In Indiana, last week, a group of control activists called Moms Demand Action, (maybe you’ve heard of them), were protesting – outside of the capitol I think. This is not what bothered me. People availing themselves of their Constitutional rights does not get under my skin. What did get under my skin like an acid-mouthed chigger was the group that was counter protesting against them; a gaggle of armed citizens.
Now, I do not know Indiana state law, but given the location, and the fact that no arrests were reported, I’d have to say that it looks to be legal to carry a firearm, openly, in that state. Again, no skin off my back…
…But, what stuck in my craw like a volcanic bur, was the intent. I’ll get back to intent in a moment…
Being what I think passes for a rational human being, I vented for a minute, then set about to see if, perhaps, I was simply having an unwarranted visceral reaction to the scene. To wit I posted a question on Facebook, and asked my friends – (yes I have a few) – what their initial, gut reaction is to seeing someone, not generally, culturally approved to have a weapon on display, displaying one. The responses, without going into boring statistical analysis, pretty much fell on a standard distribution curve. That is to say, most of the responses expressed that the respondent felt unease.
This is what I expected, and I’ll explain why.
We, as a culture – regardless of what one sees in movies, on television, or in video games – do not generally settle our disputes with violence. We just don’t. That’s why we have laws, and that’s why the society still holds together to this day.
A weapon, of any sort, is expressly a tool of violence. To see someone – again someone not culturally approved to be carrying one openly – displaying a weapon, (and not at a shooting range or sales/ collector venue), causes unease precisely because weapons are tools for violence, the displaying of which indicates a willingness on the part of the person doing the displaying to be violent.
In short, a weapon is a threat. Period.
(It doesn’t matter if it is used for self defense purposes, the threat of violence remains inherent.)
So, back to intent.
Imagine the scene: a group of unarmed mothers, lobbying for gun control – in this case the group is, I believe, attempting to get legislators to get on board with the ban on assault weapons and with restricting magazine capacity to a maximum of ten round clips – imagine this group of determined mothers, who want to protect not just their, but all children from the kind of violence that has been happening with increasing frequency over the last two decades. Now imagine them being circled, flanked, and surrounded by armed men; men not there to ensure the protection of these mothers’ constitutional rights, but to protest their protest. Imagine that for a second. Hold that image in your head.
Now, perhaps, you will understand the incendiary nature of my outrage.
There are some who will say that these armed citizens were just out to demonstrate and assert their own rights…
…And to those who say that, I say…
…Are you so far out of your goddamn mind that you can’t see how completely full of bullshit that statement is?!
Those armed citizens weren’t out there to assert their rights, they were out there to bully, with the threat of physical harm, other citizens that hold differing views. I know this because these gun-toting idiots weren’t holding signs. They weren’t chanting slogans. They were not sitting in and refusing to move until their government heard their voices. They were armed to the fucking teeth.
I saw, in one short video clip, one man with an AR-15 clipped to his chest, his hand resting on the weapon, like he was special forces and awaiting an order to take out terrorists. There was another man with one slung across his back and a pistol in the holster at his hip. Many others were loaded down with all sorts of firearms.
This is the opposite of peaceful protest. In fact, reason dictates that if one brings a tool of violence, then one is no longer availing themselves of their constitutionally protected right to peaceably assemble. Bringing weapons pretty much does away with the “peaceable” part of the act.
What they were doing was projecting a show of force. In other words, they were being bullies. They were, in fact – whether they’d like to admit it or not – using the implicit threat of violence in an attempt to cow the people they see as the opposing side. It’s that simple. Anyone that thinks otherwise, please kindly refer to the above statement about being out of your goddamn minds and take a moment to think this through more clearly.
You see, most people, 9 out of 10 I’d say, know exactly what kind of statement carrying a weapon openly makes. The one that doesn’t is probably too far gone to respond to reason. The armed folks in Indiana, counter protesting, sure as shit knew what kind of statement they were making.
That statement, if I need to spell it out, is, “agree with me or else”. In essence it is a return to the old idea of might makes right. But we don’t ascribe to that notion in this country, and haven’t – or so we say – for more than two hundred years. And it’s a good thing too, because what these deluded fools don’t realize, what they haven’t pondered, is what happens when that ideology is taken to its logical conclusion.
What happens is – and I hope the gun brandishers are paying attention – that it gets used on you. Sure, you have a gun, but others do too. And if there are more of them than you, do you wish to capitulate to their demands simply because they have more firepower?
I didn’t think so.
There’s a line in the movie A Man for All Seasons, about the life of Sir Thomas More, that I think is instructive here:
“…And when you have cut down all the laws in pursuit of the Devil, and the Devil turns to face you, what then will you hide behind?”
What then? When the guns are turned on you and there are more of them than you, what will you do?
This point is what I think they haven’t thought out fully. We have laws, as a society, in part because we do not want certain things happening to us. It’s self preservation and there isn’t a damn thing wrong with it. As a bonus it helps to keep the society running smoothly. In this country we have decided that might does not make right. We have decided that reason and the rule of the majority is how we will conduct ourselves.
And bullying, in any form, is not part of that process. It can not be, if the process is to work.
And that’s what sent me into a stratospheric level of pissed off; these damn fools, throwing that all away because they’ve seen too many movies or listened to one too many media personalities who rail about this or that to keep their ratings up and the proceeds from ad buys rolling in.
But, if I am being honest, the bullying is what really set my engines to an escape velocity burn.
I hate bullies. Always have. And yes, I was bullied growing up, until I learned how to show the bullies that it was entirely too costly to keep up the practice.
So, yeah, I thought I might have been overreacting a bit.
But then I remember that image; mothers, peacefully protesting, circled by people that seem to consider themselves the bipedal equivalent of big, toothy sharks. I think of that image and I know that having my anger cranked up to eleven is justified.
I ask you to think of that image.
How do you feel about it?
It reminds me of the old joke: if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.
Time to start paying attention.