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World > Politics and Prejudices

Untimely thoughts

An armed society is a polite society.

 

Published 5/5/1999

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With great sorrow and disbelief I must report that my rather mild column last week ("Death to the NRA") did not meet with universal approval.

This was deeply distressing to me, as a white, middle-aged liberal.

As you may recall, with my normal restraint I opined that our current system, in which any psycho or teenage Nazi wannabe nut can get all the murder machines (aka guns) she or (usually) he wants without difficulty, might be worthy of reconsideration.

Naturally, I was horribly wrong. And my public, except for one or two depraved, twisted commies like me, let me know. "You, Jack and a shit-load of people just like you need to stop blaming things like guns and associations like the NRA who have nothing to do with this (the Colorado massacre)," said one of my more moderate critics.

Thanks to my famous intellectual shallowness, I had thought since bullets killed all 15 victims, guns did play some minor role in the murders, but as another writer, Mark Koester, noted, "Guns are not the problem now and they never have been ... it would have been actually easier for them to obtain enough chemicals to put in the water supply or in the ventilation system ... to kill the whole school."

Whatever. Curiously, I had a couple letters from pseudoliberals who sounded like parodies of themselves. Yes, guns are wrong, but that is not what we should be talking about here, one said; it is the deeper sickness in society, the alienation; the decline of certainty and the callous nature of the post-Western civilization, etc., etc.

Well, yes. I once owned a beret, and read some Simone de Beauvoir, and know the helpless and overpowering rage that comes when girls ignore your coffeehouse poetry. However, my callow thought was: Had the little bastards not had access to an arsenal, they probably couldn’t have killed so many people. Most of their bombs never went off.

I don’t know whether the zoned-out idiot principal in Columbine ("Trenchcoat Mafia? Never heard of them? They’re in the yearbook? Duh.") might have noticed a spirited attempt to poison the water. He did seem blissfully unaware of attempts to install huge bombs in the kitchen. But across America and Detroit today, there would be, under my dictatorship, far fewer guns laying around for an enraged spouse or errant toddler to snatch up and, in an instant, create a tragedy beyond repair.

There was some criticism that I thought perfectly valid. As Joseph Holbert put it, not enough emphasis was put on "their fucking parents!!!!"

Well, yes. Time was when Ward and June noticed pipe bombs and sawed-off shotguns lying on top of the Beav’s dresser, and when Wally would be aroused by muffled explosions from the garage. The Klebolds and Harrises should bear some responsibility for the mess.

But I now realize that nothing I said has any validity. "The NRA laughs at pathetic little fat uneducated whining morons like you," one worthy Aryan crowed.

That resonated. So I am recanting all my heresies, and I realize that the only hope is to arm everybody; an armed society is a polite society, and a few daily school yard shootouts are a small price to pay for freedom. Next week’s topic: How long will we allow President Clinton to block our constitutional right to own private nuclear weapons?

Prison Daze: Everyone was ecstatic last weekend over the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s success at winning release of our three prisoners of war, one of whom, was, as is always the case, from Michigan. For the last month, there had been much gnashing of teeth at the dastardly Slobodan Milosevic. The press made the prisoner-taking seem the worst war crime since My Lai.

But guess what. This may get me a mortar round, but ... Yugoslavia had every right to take them prisoner. Hello! We are making war on that nation, remember? Not only that, they apparently blundered across the Serb border. Fifty-five years ago, the immortal Sonny Eliot, then aka Marvin Schlossberg, had his plane shot down over Germany, and spent more than a year in a rough POW camp.

Sonny didn’t have an especially good time, and would have escaped if he could, but it never occurred to him that the country he was bombing didn’t have a right to lock him up. Incidentally, we also seem to have forgotten they were all soldiers, who voluntarily enlisted. They knew the risk; these weren’t tourists on holiday.

Let me hasten to add that I am entirely on the side of the Kosovar Albanians, and think the world would be better off if Milosevic were dead. But we need a reality check here. Yugoslavia was perfectly within its rights to have held them.

School Daze: Having gotten in position for perhaps the most necessary educational revolution in this state’s history, the reform Detroit school board has stalled. What they need to do – now – is appoint a temporary czar to come up with a plan while the board finds a permanent CEO to run the schools.

That’s what the law requires, and they have fallen behind schedule, when they can least afford to. Why? Everyone knows that, despite his reluctance, former Wayne State President David Adamany is the only man for the job. What’s the sticking point? This is one of those rare cases where there really is no time to lose.

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