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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.

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  1. I understand what you're saying, especially in our strident, polarized political climate. I wish the world were a more reasonable place, but I'm not holding my breath. For every Ted Nugent, there is a Mikeb30200 or Paul Helmke. Covering inflexability with faux-reason does not make it more palpatible. As tough as Nugent can be to take at times, his position is the reality when facing opponents who are looking for the inch to turn into the mile.

  2. IMHO, much ado about nothing Robert. Ted's been doing the sex, guns and rock & roll routine for decades and I see how he's hurt the cause of defending gun rights. Not everyone in a broad base movement is going to be clean cut and soft spoken, nor should they be. Boisterous rabble rousers should be welcome too.

    Ted is what Ted is, and I'm not ashamed of him.

  3. Aruges: Sometimes a one trick pony should learn a new trick. Nugent's old enough to mellow; a mellow Motor City Madman isn't as bad as it sounds. I think.

    • It's how he makes his living. I'm not sure a mellower Ted would put "asses in the seats."

      But we're drifting off in to subjective territory here, and there be monsters…

      • He doesn't have to mellow out on stage. Just stop with the foul-mouthed anti anti-gunner rants.

  4. Ted is an incredible guitar player with a one trick pony career. Taking a strong position on gun issues has helped keep that pony alive well past its normal lifespan.

  5. I don't know, Robert, as annoying as Nugent's tiresome schtick is, I don't think he does much damage simply because he's a has-been with a rapidly aging fan base (among which I count myself, BTW) and I don't think he's taken all that seriously by anyone. He does no more damage to the pro-gun side of things than the Alec Baldwins or James Carvilles do on the lefty/anti gun side of the political debate.

    Or, put more simply, loudmouths are loudmouths and while they may rile up extremists on both sides (pro gunners who say "YOU GO BOY!" and anti-gunners who prissily hiss that "this is the face of the pro-gun movement") they pretty much get ignored by those of us in the mushy middle, where political battles are won and lost.

  6. I've only listened to Nugent when he's talking about our civil rights as declared in the Second Amendment. His music draws people who need to be aware of the civil right to 'keep and bear' arms. His presentation method of teaching gets to people who otherwise are being taught that guns (not people) kill people and that a gun-free society is a peaceful society. Those teachers completely camouflage all of the statistics showing that an armed citizenry is relatively more safe than where the law abiders go without guns and the 'bad guys' carry.

  7. Ill just leave this here…

    *left in response to a youtube comment on a recent interview of Ted by Piers Morgan *

    @almaster666 To some extent, yes. But he is right 90% of the time and hes battling with idiots. These people (and i hate to say it for fear of sounding like a wacko) have been brainwashed into believing that guns are bad and there is no other option but to take them away from everyone. They dont use facts, statistics, or even logic. These are the same people that attack religious gun owners with facts of science but when an argument comes back at them they deteriorate to false beliefs. Just because Ted raises his voice doesnt mean hes crazy. The opposition will always attempt to change the subject, make him look like an ignorant redneck and spew lies, raising your voice when you are continually being interrupted doesnt seem to bad, especially when the things hes saying are 100% truth.

  8. Get outta here! Ted Nugent is the BEST THING that’s happened to the 2nd Amendment since President Johnson’s full-on assault on the 2nd Amendment (and all the Dems since Johnson).

    He awakened America – NOT JUST GUN OWNERS – to these anti-gun, thought policing America haters who’ve been working non-stop to censor the 1st Amendment and eradicate the 2nd Amendment.

    There’s NOTHING wrong with being as passionate Ted Nugent is. If every gun owner was as passionate, there would be NO gun laws and we would enjoy our FULL 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms without Gov’t permission, permits or fees.

    It’s been the weany, passive gunowners who’ve been standing by with their glocks in their hand since President Johnson days who’ve allowed our gun rights to be nearly eradicated. I for one, salute Ted Nugent!

  9. One somebody tells me that I have a “responsibility” that tells me they want me to do something for them. It tells me they are framing the debate and declaring themselves winner before it gets off the ground. Ted has no responsibility to present your propaganda your way to your satisfaction. It may be a good idea, wise behaviour, something we can beseech that he consider, but it is in no way his responsibility.

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