Bobby Kennedy’s Assassination and Gun Control Rhetoric Circa 1968

Back in the day, I read The Village Voice. Hooked on Hunter (Thompson, not Holly or Rachel), I was hungry for journalism with Gonzo-style insight, passion and wit. For the Voice, two out of three wasn’t bad. Their progressive prose had passion alright, but the paper’s political perspective was skewed as far to the left as you can get without ending up on the right. The Voice is re-running some of their old material. I find it difficult to believe that I read this piece from June 13, 1968 without yelling at the proverbial screen. Idealism has an expiration date, and I hadn’t reached mine. Make of that what you will. And this, too, from The Voice’s coverage of the Bobby Kennedy assassination. I’ll say this about Pete Hamill’s eyewitness account: at least you knew where you stood with the Voice. The mainstream media—then and today—get major demerits for hiding their bias, from themselves and their audience.

You could feel that as we drove through the empty L.A. streets, listening to the sirens screaming in the night. Nothing would change. Kennedy’s death would mean nothing. It was just another digit in the great historical pageant that includes the slaughter of Indians, the plundering of Mexico, the enslavement of black people, the humiliation of Puerto Ricans. Just another digit. Nothing would come of it.

While Kennedy’s life was ebbing out of him, Americans were dropping bombs and flaming jelly on Orientals. While the cops fingerprinted the gunmen, Senator Eastland’s Negro subjects were starving. While the cops made chalk marks on the floor of the pantry, the brave members of the National Rifle Association were already explaining that people commit crimes, guns don’t (as if Willie Mays could hit a homerun without a bat). These cowardly bums claim Constitutional rights to kill fierce deer in the forests, and besides, suppose the niggers come to the house and we don’t have anything to shoot them with? Suppose we have to fight a nigger man-to-man?

America the Beautiful: with crumby little mini-John Waynes carrying guns to the woods like surrogate penises. Yes: the kid I saw shoot Kennedy was from Jordan, was diseased with some fierce hatred for Jews. Sam Yorty, who hated Kennedy, now calls Kennedy a great American and blames the Communists. Hey Sam: you killed him too. The gun that kid carried was American. The city where he shot down a good man was run by Sam Yorty. How about keeping your fat pigstink mouth shut.

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