mardi, janvier 11, 2011

Un-American Elizabeth

"How could you?" asked the heroic woman who reached out and stopped alleged mass murderer Jared Loughner from killing or wounding another 20 people. Grabbing the new magazine out of his hand, she asked him, according to bystanders, "how could you?"

And as I look out my window at the quiet landscape of exurban Philadelphia, in which many of my neighbors are hunters and NRA-affiliated, I wonder -- how can they?

And I wonder -- is it my inability to understand? My judgmentalism? Or is it something else?

I have friends who are hunters. I have friends who butcher their own deers, slice them up and package them. It's not my thing, at all, but I don't judge them, or believe that they are going to turn into mass murderers. Nor so for my pals who like to hang out at shooting ranges and bring down clay pigeons. Keep your guns. I trust that you know when and where to use them.

But on one issue, I part company with many of them -- their support for the American gun culture. Why is it OK for crazy (or maybe not) 22-year olds to have access to assault weapons? Why can't we ban the kind of high-capacity magazine that Loughner used to maim or kill his victims? Why, in certain states, are you allowed to bring your gun into church or restaurants?

Why, when little girls are shot at grocery stores and teenagers in churches, as happened in 1999, do you justify it by wanting to bring in more weapons?

I don't feel safer. I feel threatened. And I reject the assertion that by raising the questions, I am "dancing in the blood of the victims." This isn't a fascist state, where you aren't allowed to ask questions.

We gun-control advocates are toothless tigers -- and rarely, in this country, have I personally felt more alone on an issue.

Call me a traitor. Frankly, I don't give a hoot. On this issue, and this issue alone, I'm proud to be un-American.

lundi, janvier 10, 2011

Second Amendment blues

Depressed and overwhelmed, as are so many of us, by the horror that happened in Tucson this past week, I'm also getting royally pissed at the poseurs on both sides who attempt to score linguistic advantage from the murders. In part it's because I suspect that this is all that may flow from Tucson -- not a real attempt to listen to others, not new desire for compromise, not any constructive attempt to deal with immigration or unemployment or the issues that burden that part of our country.

I long for more sane gun-laws -- but right now I'm just hoping Arizona Second Amendment liberty doesn't come to Pennsylvania.

As in so many cases, I can appreciate both sides of the debate.

Yes, words matter -- when they are stand-ins for malign intent. Maybe it's better to challenge the intent than the language.

And metaphors and the images they suggest are also engrained in our culture -- sometimes used carelessly, sometimes to enrich, sometimes to shock, sometimes to enlighten. They are double-edged swords.

Yesterday my daughter told me that she had lost a friend -- someone with whom she was in constant contact. When her girlfriend told the DQ she wanted to put another girl "up against the wall and kill her" my child objected. In no uncertain terms.

I told her that she had done just the right thing -- the gutsy thing. There's enough violence in our world. Why contribute to more?

I'll leave the warlike metaphors, the macho images to those of you who like to indulge. Just take a look around you, ponder a moment when you speak -- or post.

You never know who may be listening.