Kevin Siers plays upon all the cartoons over the past week or so about the coming of the Year of the Rabbit by pointing out that, whatever traditions may prevail in other countries, of rabbits or tigers or whathaveyou, we have an unchanging tradition here:
We kill each other.
The image of the Wild West was greatly exaggerated by the writers of dime novels and by biographers who exaggerated, or simply invented, the legend. Most towns were peaceful, many had laws against open carry, and most folks went through life without experiencing gun battles, or wanting to.
The tradition of those dime novels, however, carries on, and any perusal of the TV schedule or movie offerings shows our fascination with guns and violence. Sex sells, but so does violence, and, judging by the promos on TV, nothing apparently sells better than violent cop shows starring beautiful, furious, heavily armed women.
We’ve come a long way from Adam-12, the cop show in which most calls were routine and, like real police in the real world, it was rare for an officer to even draw his gun, much less fire it.
But here we are, and RJ Matson drew that first cartoon, then had to update it to include the shootings in Monterey Park, and the ink was barely dry on the second version when updated totals and the Half Moon Bay murders made it once more out-of-date.
As I write, we are 24 days into 2023 and are already averaging more than one murder a day.
Marc Murphy offered this trenchant Tweet on the opportunities for cartoonists to sell their work to editors …
… to which Tim Campbell replied with a graphic observation from some time ago:
Their interplay describes the situation well: Murphy is ironic in suggesting a grim marketing opportunity, while Campbell suggests the challenge of coming up with anything new to say on the topic.
That’s a critical factor. I’ve complained about the proliferation of George Santos cartoons, because there is nothing new to be said. In my observations of new work this morning, I even saw one that simply compared him to Pinocchio and made no further point. My reaction was “Really? They pay you for this?”
But as others have pointed out, if you let the matter drop, it suggests that nobody cares. And whether it is rampant, blatant dishonesty in government or rampant, repetitive slaughter in the streets, we need to show we care if we want to see change.
Clay Bennett (CTFP) demonstrates that you can be effective without raising new insights.
In fact, his piece is more effective for suggesting that there is nothing new, that the NRA’s rabid opposition to sensible gun laws is such a well-established issue that we could mass-produce yellow tape with their name on it, because it is a constant factor in the crimes that have become a constant in our society.
Which similarly makes it important to remember that the National Rifle Association was founded by Civil War veterans to promote gun safety. As a kid, I was a member and shot for both awards and in competition. I grew up among hunters and have no objection to sensible, responsible gun ownership.
However, sensible, responsible NRA leadership was overthrown in 1977 by extremists at the group’s annual convention, a coup known as the Cincinnati Revolt and, as this article explains, their lobbying and fundraising efforts since have made a mockery of the phrase “Never Again.”
How much have we changed? Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, television networks began toning down or canceling westerns and cop shows that featured frequent gunfights.
But yesterday, Reliable Sources reports, California Governor Gavin Newsom came out against Fox News for refusing to come to terms with the crisis:
Meanwhile, Law and Order, once a gritty but relatively thoughtful depiction of the legal system, has morphed into spinoffs that emphasize horrifying crimes, and are joined on the major networks by additional shows that, while purporting to support the law, capitalize on our appetite for sadistic voyeurism.
Frequently, the solution to crime is a Dirty Harry rejection of legal procedure in favor of violent street justice.
In 1973, we made a cinematic hero of true-life cop Frank Serpico for standing up against corruption in the police department, and even spun it out into a TV show.
Today, he’d be a cuck, a bleeding heart libtard whose interference allows criminals to rob banks, shoplift, pass counterfeit $20 bills, sell loose cigarettes and jaywalk.
Clay Jones suggests that the rightwing is only interested in gun deaths if they can spin it into a political crusade, and only if that political crusade advances their established narrative.
It’s a harsh accusation, but coverage seems to bear it out: There appear to be far more rightwing attacks on Alec Baldwin for an accident than we see on the nearly non-existent gun laws that have permitted far more, and far more intentional, slaughter.
Jeff Stahler (AMS) may have captured the most dangerous aspect of our current situation, in which the possession of guns designed for no purpose beyond the rapid killing of large numbers of people has become so normal that we no longer find it even remarkable, much less upsetting.
Some of us were horrified when a pair of Congressional Representatives demonstrated the normalcy of being heavily armed, and not just parents prepared to protect their children against imaginary enemies, but children themselves outfitted with high-capacity, semi-automatic firearms.
Not everyone found their display distasteful.
A year later, Boebert barely squeaked through to retain her seat, but Massie had a more than landslide victory. Did their display of ammosexuality cost them votes, or did it inspire people to support them?
Hard to say, but their elections do seem to reflect current reality, and current reality not only includes the President of the United States insisting his supporters be allowed to gather on January 6 with arms, because “they’re not here to hurt me,” but the new GOP House making one of its first acts the removal of metal detectors that had been installed in the Capitol in the wake of the attempted coup, with Boebert defiantly boasting:
What could possibly go wrong?
2 thoughts on “CSotD: Our Alienable Right to Life”
Life member of the NRA here (since 1992 – and it was a very different organization then), historical re-enactor, and a person who often feels very weird as I’m one of a very few in my social group who has a fair gun collection, shoots regularly at the local range, and does not automatically knee-jerk against the suggestion of any form of firearms restrictions.
Conservatives consider me a traitor, liberals think I border on gun nut.
I would say you’re a gun nut, but not a nut. There’s a difference. Anyway, I’m in South Africa where we have strong gun laws, but no shortage of heavily armed criminals. Laws and enforcement must go together. We don’t have the latter.
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