When you think of Vietnam War protests, you probably think of hippies. Grass. LSD. Woodstock. Marches. Tear gas. Police beatings. The Kent State massacre. And no wonder: the peace movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s was almost entirely defined by its “extreme” elements. Less well known: the anti-war efforts of lawyers, journalists and gainfully-employed peace activists who worked tirelessly to sway public opinion against the war. In fact, there’s a school of thought that says hippies damaged the anti-war movement by alienating mainstream Americans, sending them straight into Richard Nixon’s loving embrace. See where I’m going with this?
Ted Nugent is not wrong in his defense of America’s Second Amendment rights. When the the NRA board member sits down with a journalist to talk about gun control issues, he’s intelligent, coherent, charming and persuasive. But this? This doesn’t help the fight for gun rights. It makes freedom-loving gun owners seem like belligerent gun nuts spoiling for a fight.
I’m sure Nugent doesn’t get it. For the Motor City Madman, a no-holds-barred assault on gun control advocates from a guitar-shaped bully pulpit makes perfect sense. It reflects deeply held patriotic beliefs. Equally important, it answers the question Marlon Brando posed when an angry white citizen asked what he was rebelling against. “Whaddaya got?”
Gun control is what Nugent’s got. At this point, Ted is WAY too old to rail against parents, teachers or adults in general. He can’t bitch against restrictive sexual or social morays (those are long gone). He certainly can’t play the hate the rich guy routine. Mayor Daley and the Gun Grabbers are all that’s left for a rebel with a cause.
I’m not sure Ted Nugent knows—or cares—that his infantile, middle-finger waving, gun-waving rants are damaging the cause. First Amendment, Second Amendment, Kiss My Glock. Done. (Except for cashing the checks.)
But Nugent IS hurting the gun rights movements. His “case” against gun control is all about killing and eating Bambi (ha!), defending freedom against commie bastards and shooting the shit out of stuff just for the redneck hell of it. As you can see in this video, this “message” is a big hit with his fist-pumping fans. And?
It’s hard to believe that Nugent’s on the same side of the gun control debate as the Chicago resident who quietly and patiently spoke up for his right to defend himself against neighborhood thugs. And yet the two are connected in the minds of their opponents.
That’s not a good thing.
Does gun owner Nugent have a responsibility to tone it down? To make gun ownership more politically palatable for the silent majority by de-ratcheting his rhetoric?
Even though any such diminution of his pro-gun ammunition would work against his well-established not-to-say-lucrative balls-to-the-wall public persona, I say yes. All gun owners should do what they can to de-demonize and normalize gun ownership. It’s in their best interests to do so.
The best way to do that? Walk softly and carry a big caliber.
Obviously, Ted Nugent has the right to say whatever he wants to say about guns and gun control advocates however he wants to say it. But he has a responsibility to speak less stridently. Otherwise, he’s prolonging the fight for Second Amendment rights currently being waged—and won—by cooler heads.
“Freedom. Don’t you just love it? I love it so much I can’t stand myself.”
Join the club.