Does 12-21-2012 herald the end of mankind, perhaps due to sheer idiocy, following the dodo to extinction? Did ancient Mayans travel through the spirit world to peer into the increasingly irrational minds of their future descendants, and conclude that human evolution was a dead end?
I would like to believe that human beings can still rise above the various dysfunctions created by our inability (or unwillingness) to rely on facts and use our powers of reason to solve vexing problems rationally. But the Mayans may have been right, and it even seems that I may have become something of a prophet myself, if only by studying facts and using logic to predict the inevitable.
In my previous article I made the following observation about right-wing conservatives who insist on the unlimited right to bear arms: “Now they want guns in parks, parking lots and universities. And they’re not satisfied with Colts and Magnums. In American bigger is better. So the next logical steps, so to speak, will probably be assault weapons in high schools, grade schools, kindergartens, pre-schools, Sunday schools and maternity wards.”
Now 20 young Sandy Hook Elementary students, all age six or seven, lie dead, along with six educators, at least three of whom courageously placed their bodies in danger to shield their young charges. Perhaps their courage is only matched by the stupidity of the NRA and its political minions, who refuse to accept the fact that flooding a nation with assault weapons and ammo is something only dodos — not an intelligent species — would do.
I am utterly horrified to have been made to seem like a prophet, so quickly. But none of us can change the past, so now the question becomes whether we are doomed to keep repeating the errors of the past, because we obstinately refuse to learn from them, or whether we can finally begin to use our big brains to save our children and their teachers from needless carnage and death.
Will the Tennessee state legislature now act to protect our children? It seems quite possible that conservatives will just adamantly dig in their heels, insisting that “guns don’t kill people” and that nothing can be done but hand out weapons to teachers in the hope that they can take out would-be-serial-killers without accidentally shooting their own students (something that is nowhere near as easy as the Rambos would like us to believe).
I have no doubt that dodo-like Tennessee politicians will soon be echoing the “wisdumb” of Louis Gohmert, a Texas representative who said that if the school’s principal had been armed, she might have been able to prevent some or all of the mayhem: “I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office locked up and so when she heard gunshots ... she takes his head off before he can hurt those kids.”
The head of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence begs to differ. “There are 40 people behind me who would love to respond to that,” Brady president Dan Gross said at a press conference. “It’s insane ... Think about what that’s saying. It’s saying the only answer to violence is more violence. The only answer to guns is more guns.”
Gross said that more weapons would only make events like the one at Sandy Hook worse, as innocent people are caught in a withering crossfire. He also said, “I would hope the representative is held responsible for irresponsible statements like that.”
Are Tennessee’s assault-gun-loving Holy Rollers saints or sinners? I think Oscar Wilde may have been right when he said that the only sin is stupidity.
Note: After I wrote the first draft of this article, the right-wingers made me seem like a prophet again, because Tennessee lawmakers are, indeed, pushing ahead with “guns in trunks” legislation, and are also talking about arming teachers, professors and school administrators. According to John Harris, the executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, “Our principal goal is to remove all statutory and regulatory restrictions of firearms possession.” (Not some, but all.)
And this Monday the state’s dodo-in-chief, Gov. Bill Haslam, said that legislators should not change Tennessee’s gun control laws. Why? Guns are big business in Tennessee and the NRA is scheduled to bring around 48,000 visitors to Nashville for its 2015 convention, so perhaps money talks louder than children’s and teachers’ lives. No other industrialized nation has near as many mass murders and other acts of gun-related violence as the United States, so there is solid evidence that what we have here is an aberration, not anything inevitable. One may perhaps teach old dogs new tricks, but old dodos seem to be allergic to progress.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.