The recent flap about Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s comments on homosexuality got me thinking. While I don’t share Robertson’s belief that being gay is a sin – at all – I support his right to be wrong, in public. That said, the remarks themselves were inexcusably crass. Vagina vs. anus? Really? Robertson must have known that this comment would inflame both homosexuals and heterosexuals. To what end (so to speak)? It’s certainly not the kind of language I’d expect from a “true Christian”; someone who loves the sinner but hates the sin. Nope. The comment was needlessly, heedlessly insensitive. And it reminds me of nothing so much as the comments I’ve heard as a gun guy. Or should I say “gun nut” . . .
Fag. Gun nut. Critics use these terms to the signal the “fact” that the recipient’s behavior is unacceptable. Beyond the pale. That they’re genetically, morally and spiritually abhorrent. Both words are designed to marginalize otherwise acceptable members of society. To ostracize them. More than that, people use the terms fag and gun nut to condemn the person themselves. To make the recipient wish they’d never been born. The terms are, in short, hate speech.
I’ve been called both. The first because that’s what boys called each other at Moses Brown, the all-boys school I attended for ten years. If I did anything that didn’t fit the macho ideal I was a fag. Soccer instead of football? Fag. Cool shoes? Fag. Close friendship with someone artistic? Fag. The term didn’t bother me per se. In almost all cases, it was just a word used by bullies to put someone down, regardless of their sexual orientation. Truth be told, I used it myself more than once.
But I knew that calling someone a fag was wrong. My parents’ gay friends were funny, intellectual and creative people (just like their heterosexual friends). I never once thought of calling them—or anyone else outside of school—a fag. That would be like calling a black man a nigger or a Jew a kike. A decent person didn’t go there; using the term for real would have revealed me as intolerant, uneducated and classless. As the child of the late 60’s, I embraced society’s movement towards what’s now called diversity, what was once called tolerance and brotherhood. A trend that, eventually, included gays.
Personally, I didn’t experience much prejudice. Sure, there was some anti-Semitism. But like the fag thing, it was mostly background noise. The only time I got a real taste of what it was like to be “different” was when I hitched a ride home from Mount Hermon summer school with an all-black basketball team. It sounds silly but that was a genuinely eye-opening, sensitivity-enhancing experience. As was the February, 2013 Washington Post front page profile ‘This gun rights backer, armed with his Glock and his blog, is always on alert.’
Back home, Farago greets his daughter, Lola. His nanny calls a cab. Lola is in third grade and attends a Quaker school. That’s a bit awkward for the gun blogger, and he tries to keep his interests “on the down-low.”
Closeted? Moi? Be that as it was (before I moved to Texas), the WaPo article is fair enough; writer Joel Achenbach accurately represented my views on guns and gun control. The comments are . . . startling. At a rough guess, I’d say 80 percent of the 4108 comments are unapologetically, viciously antagonistic. Here’s beefchop423’s response, currently sitting at the top of the pile:
“Once you put a gun on, you gain situational awareness,” he says.
What a load of hooey (I wish I could use the word I want to). Once you put a gun on, you have the proverbial hammer and every problem you come across will look like a nail.
Paranoid, frightened little man. And millions like him. 10-15,000 accidental deaths and murders are on your shoulders.
That’s a relatively light-hearted example. Here’s another one from ronsattler:
It is far more likely that the house will blow up from the incorrectly installed water heater in the basement than anyone invading his house. Poster children for delusional dummies. No wonder he’s divorced twice, clearly he has mental issues that need professional help and care. Maybe his tin foil hats will protect him?
The term “gun nut” is the anti-gun equivalent of “fag.” In short-hand and in no uncertain terms it says that anyone who exercises their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is mentally defective.
American gun owners must not allow themselves to be mischaracterized as mentally ill. Just as African-Americans had to fight for their civil rights, gun owners must stand up for theirs against the antis’ ignorance, prejudice and hatred. We must counter these character attacks and embrace any and all opportunities to openly and loudly defend and extend our Second Amendment protections, and declare our determination to protect our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
More than that, gun owners cannot afford to be anything other than completely inclusive. We don’t have to agree with or even like our fellow gun owners…or non-gun owners for that matter. But our rights depend on taking the moral high ground and leaving our divisive beliefs below. Or at least voicing them with respect. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Literally.