I don't need another hero

>> Monday, July 30, 2012

I was involved in an exchange about gun control elsewhere on the web, and here's one of those responses that amuses you and pisses you off at the same time:

The day that men like Hitler, are no longer born will be the day we can actually give up guns and I will gladly do so. But until that day I will be the man who protects your liberal views, and your freedoms from people like that. And do not forget People with GUNS protect you when you do not have the courage to do it yourself.

This is a portion of the original; I'm leaving out the part where he says the Founding Fathers would have made phasers Constitutional if they'd had them (I'm thinking they would have stayed warmer at Valley Forge, but whatever). And the weird typography, spelling and grammar errors (though a gun-ownership advocate writing about "the gattlen gun" is kinda precious), etc. The portion that really interests me--and amuses me and pisses me off--is that portion I quoted.

Because there's something profoundly revealing in that breathtaking arrogance. Is that really how some gun owners see themselves? How some of these folks who take the text of the Second Amendment so powerfully to heart see themselves in relation to the world? And it must be. I don't suppose it's surprising, actually, that it is, it's just that it's nevertheless breathtaking in its presumptuousness.

Who died and made these guys Superman?

It doesn't even cross their minds that a bleeding heart, unarmed liberal like myself doesn't want them protecting our liberties. I don't have a lot of illusions about the actual usefulness of petitions, ranting online, going to vote, and the efficacy of the courthouses and such--I fear we've gotten to the point where money is what talks and everything else walks--but if we get to a point where we just reach the ends of our ropes, I really don't want some sad quixotic yutz charging a tank with his gun-show assault rifle and mail order body armor. That's just not good for anybody, certainly not for him when those tank treads grind him and his precious peashooter into the asphalt, not good for the citizens in uniform he thinks he's going to menace with a weapon that's only adequate for shooting up a movie audience, and it really doesn't do me any good.

I'd rather frankly prefer being a bearded, fleabitten political prisoner in a gulag, penning tracts in my own blood on the torn-off corners of stinking bedsheets that eventually get smuggled outside in the anuses of luckier cellmates. It's not that I romanticize the awful lives of history's Solzhenitsyns; I do prefer sitting up in my nice comfy townhome and not having to burn my own crap for warmth and pick lice from my pubes and so on. But if the revolution comes and they start herding the bleeding hearts into cattle cars, it's the Solzhenitsyns I identify with and respect, not the idiots who want to go out all Butch and Sundance, not even thinking that's what they're doing with their small arms because they have some dumb notion they're Wolverines (note: these guys know that movie actually ends kinda sorta the same way Butch Cassidy does, right?).

Hell, if it comes down to tanks in the streets, I'd like to be Wang Weilin. I know that's not everyone's bag of tea, I just think that guy--whether that was really his name or whoever he was--did a lot more just standing there than he could have done waving a gun around like he was Yosemite Sam on a tear. He represented man's dignity against oppression in a way that grabs the gut and holds it. Gods help me if I ever have to test my courage like that only to have some jackass spoil the whole capital-letters Great Moment In History by turning himself into a clay pigeon. Not because of my ego. And, frankly, it's very possible Wang Weilin or whoever the hell that hero was ended up in a shallow grave two weeks later, something I'd rather avoid (thanks). But because can you imagine that guy's balls-out stand (a literal stand) against tyranny, forcing his nation to face itself and holding the world's attention so the world had to say something about the whole thing, can you imagine his stand having the same power, forcing the same moment of stunned universal silence, if fucking Leeroy Jenkins came running in from the image's margin?!

I put this facetiously, but let's be serious for a moment: Wang Weilin denied the Chinese government their power for that brief moment precisely because he was unarmed. Because the Chinese government had all the weapons and all this guy had was his spine and balls made of unalloyed brass; and if he'd had a gun in his hand, they could have shot him in the street and said they were saving the public from a madman, but because he didn't, those soldiers in the tank and all the state power they represented had to consider whether they wanted to run over an unarmed man in broad daylight on international television or whether that might be really, really bad PR. And, okay, so maybe the Chinese government remains a totalitarian regime and maybe those student protests at Tiananmen Square didn't accomplish a whole lot and even had a retrogressive effect at least in the short term. But in the long term: in the long term, the Tank Man represents the idea that human dignity is a granite rock that endures for the ages, that can be chipped or pushed but still remains there forever, a sign that perhaps the human project is a rising effort, that there is a thing called human progress.

I'm not quite as sure you do that with a gun. I guess a lot of people would point out the American Revolution, but was the really lasting influence of that effort that a bunch of guys fired bullets bought with the money they borrowed from the French and Dutch, or did the really lasting influences come from the guys armed with quill pens in Philly in 1776 and later in 1787? I realize it's hard to separate the two insofar as the guys with pens were just asking for a hanging. But I'm thinking it's the ink that made the real difference, the ink that made even the Revolution something more than just a bunch of hicks shooting at their duly-authorized protectors because they didn't want to pay for the French And Indian War, transformed colonial freeloading into the predestined and foreordained final endpoint and goal of the entire Enlightenment. Not to put to a fine a point on it.

A point! The point! The original point! The original point remains: gun owners, if you want to own a firearm for hunting, I'm down with that. Game is excellent eating, game populations frequently need reined in how that we've displaced natural predators, I have no problem with this. And if you want to own a historically-significant firearm, be it an original or replica musket or merely something of more recent vintage a family member carried into service, I like that: history is important and historic tools can educate us and provide us with tangible memory. And if you want a gun for self defense... well, actually, I think that's a pretty retarded reason for owning a firearm, but I can probably put up with it. For target shooting? I guess, why not?

But if you think you're protecting me, you arrogant fucktard?

No thanks. A million times, no thanks. You are, among other things, an idiot, and I don't want to get stuck between you and the better-armed people you think you can save me from (and believe me, that's where I'm likely to be, whether through misplaced bravery or, more likely, plain old lousy, rotten luck). And, not only that, you're cramping my style. No, seriously: I don't need you shooting up the place if I'm brave enough to enlist in the war of ideas, or to die as a martyr, trying.

Go to Hell. And take your goddamn phallic symbols with you.

(Image: "Sculpture symbole de 'Non-Violence' réalisé par Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd", by Francois Polito, via Wikimedia.)


Random Michelle K Monday, July 30, 2012 at 9:24:00 AM EDT  

One point that I don't think gets made enough in response to failure of Godwin's Law, is that most people will, in fact, go along with Hitler.

Most Germans weren't inherently evil, they just followed their leaders.

Fuck. I had more to say but I can't concentrate. You can fill in the blanks here, right?

Jeri 2.0 Monday, July 30, 2012 at 12:38:00 PM EDT  

I'm just astounded to learn that only right-wing, conservative types have ever defended our country. Bless their hearts! I really wish he would have posted some substantiating evidence proving that the military is comprised only of people who hold his world view.

But, your Ramboesque friend surely realizes he is also protecting the views of right-wing, fundie, Republican conservatives as he valiantly charges all over the world slinging bullets, bombs and missiles, right? Nope; I distinctly read that he is defending liberal people like you who lack courage. Or is he making the point that everyone who doesn't serve in the military is a coward? How odd and stupid.

I'm liberal and I own guns and know how to use them. I hope that gives your buddy great comfort.

Nathan Monday, July 30, 2012 at 2:40:00 PM EDT  

I have a few other issues with our aspiring hero. First of all, he doesn't seem to feel the need to deal with any foreign "Hitlers", since I doubt he had anything to do with taking out Bin Laden, Qadafi, or Saddam Hussein. Or maybe none of those guys were "Hitler-y" enough to deserve his personal attention.

Then we have the issue of just who decides who the next Hitler is? And when have they crossed that theoretical line? I suspect the person you quoted is keeping a much sharper - although tunnel-visioned(?)- eye on Obama than he is on Bachmann. I'd say Bachmann has much more possibility of crossing the line, but then I'm not claiming to be on standby to rescue America from tyranny.

Lastly, we get into the whole philosophical game of "if you could go back in time and kill Hitler when he was a child, would you?" (I always come down on the side of just kicking his father in the nuts to the point of impotence.) Anyway, I don't know of any proof that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't a time traveler who came back to prevent Kennedy from starting World War III, in which everything east of the Mississippi would have been nuked back to the stone age and then the Russians and the Chinese would have divided up what was left of the country. I don't know that he didn't prevent that horrible event. But lacking any evidence to the contrary, I'll go on believing that Oswald was a deluded attention-seeking loser who managed to deprive the country of a good man.

Warner Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 11:09:00 AM EDT  

Two points, you don't go back and kill Hitler, nor do you kick his father in the nuts. You keep his paternal grandfather from signing the legitimacy papers.

Heil Schicklegrubber just doesn't have the right ring.

The other, I like to think of myself as fairly liberal, progressive even; I spent three years on active duty in the Regular Army and 3 in the reserves. After that I joined the Illinois National Guard. I couldn't deal with the issues of single parent and being in the Guard, so they very kindly gave me an Honorable Discharge.

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