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My Favourite Planet > Blogs > Edwin Drood's Column > December 2012
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18 December 2012
The sins of the fathers at the Mysterious Edwin Drood's Column
The sins of the fathers
In which Edwin cannot mourn for the loss of innocence, nor cry for the blood of angels shed,
not while he feels that such mourning is a denial of the facts: guns were always meant to
hit the softest targets the hardest. The sins of fathers are being visited upon their children
in exactly the way they could most easily have prevented.

There will be talk, and a little action, just enough to suggest that something is being done and then everyone will go back to doing whatever it was they were doing before. No one expects meaningful legislation, no one expects real progress: just the usual soft-shoe shuffle of two steps forward, three sideways, one back and turn to shoot your partner, mother, child, neighbour, stranger, self ... it’s a dance move at best. They all know their places.

Americans like to say that we, the effete and liberal Europeans, don’t understand the importance of guns in the US, that theirs is a frontier culture. Guns took the land and held it. They are synonymous with rights of personal property and freedom. This is of course true. Guns took the land from the Indians and held it. Guns maintained a certain kind of order ... and every kind of slavery. For generations in some part of that vast land, in the Frozen North, the Far West and in the Deep South, guns were simply all the law there was. They kept some folks in power and other folks out of it. They stopped bad men in their tracks. On a Sunday they protected the widow and the orphan they had made the day before. We limp-wristed, gun-shy Europeans understand that. We may not applaud it, but we can recognize that there is a certain mystique surrounding the gun in US culture. What we – soft and delicate as we are – find somewhat difficult to grasp is why the aura of the frontier that attaches to a collector’s item like the Colt Peacemaker or the 1873 Winchester Repeater must necessarily also attach to lightweight assault rifles, semi-autos with 30 shot magazines, medium calibre machine guns that fire 24 rounds per second, rocket launchers and hollow-nosed, .44 magnum, cop-killer bullets.
Hard truths
For the effete European has known frontiers too, and has had more than a mere nodding acquaintance with armed violence. It wasn’t always Schengen in the rain. We had the German-Polish War, the Byzantine Wars, the Norman Conquest, the Great Anarchy, the Mongol Invasions, the Scottish-Norwegian War, the Thirty Years War (thirty long years of it) and the Hundred Years War for a weary century. We had the Bulgarian-Ottoman War, the War of the Two Peters (yes, back then this continent wasn’t big enough for more than one Peter), the War of the Bands (still havin’ it), the Ferdinand Wars (probably caused by too many Ferdinands. Well, there aren’t many around now, just goes to show what a war can do). Then there were the Wars of the Roses, the Friso-Drentic War (don’t ask, don’t ask) the Waldshut War (fought over a hut in a forest? Why not!), the Swabian War (motto: always-been-this-way-be-an-idiot-to-change), the Pilgrimage of Grace (which turned into a not very graceful war) and the Salt War (which was neither followed by the SALT Treaty nor the Peace of Pepper).

After all of these we had the Northern Wars, the War of the Reunions (any get-together was an excuse for a war back then), the Hungarian-Turkish War, the Austro-Turkish War, the Russo-Turkish War, the Great Turkish War (in which we ALL decided to bash the Turks once and for all ... didn’t work, they’re still here), the Kettle War (?!) and the War of Jenkin’s Ear (like, w h a t e v e r). Then there was the War of Malcontents (just for a change), the Liberal Wars (who’d have thought it possible?), the Crimean War, the war of Spanish Succession, the Franco-Prussian War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Cold War, the Cod War (well, sort of), the Chechen War, the Bosnian War, the Kosovo War ... etc. In fact we’ve had about 500 wars in Europe since the end of the first millennium. SO WE BLOODY WELL HAVE EARNED THE RIGHT TO LECTURE OUR RATHER INEXPERIENCED AND RECALCITRANT COUSINS ON THE NECESSITY OF DEFEATING GUN CULTURE AND EMASCULATING ITS LOBBY A.S.A.P.!
Soft targets
Constitutionalists, those who drape themselves in the flag to cover their worn-out arguments and the threadbare nature of their moral code, insist that if there were fewer restrictions on the sale and carriage of guns, there would actually be less, not more deaths. Well, of course, just the same way that if there were no legal age of consent, no rape legislation, no contraception, education, state of marriage, relationship counselling nor other moral imperative restricting the unfettered freedom of our sexuality ... there would doubtless be less pregnancies. Yeah, right! And how far do they want to go, a gun for every pre-schooler? After all, calibre .177 cartridges have hardly any recoil and can thus be “safely” put into the hands of a six-year-old without fear that he or she might break a wrist.

The whole world is shocked at the horrific spree that took place in Newtown Connecticut. The cry goes up: “Oh my God, why the children?” To which I must vehemently reply ... why the hell not? America doesn’t care about its kids, it cares about its guns and guns have been killing kids since the dawn of the firearms industry. That is what guns are all about: how to kill as many kids as possible as efficiently as possible. The repeating rifles, the Gatling, the belt machine gun ... were all designed to rid the landscape of people’s sons, 16 to 21 years old for the most part. And in this age where children as young as six have a major input on the choice of family car, hey, why should they be exempt?

Soft targets are the most fun. They scream the most. They are so perfectly and utterly terrified.  They burst like melons. They’re dressed in bright colours, all cute and fragile. They are, in short, a shooting arcade waiting to happen. And teachers, oh yeah, those who want you to respect your parents and value others opinions and mind your language and sit still and wait your turn and work hard and play fair and all that goody-two-shoes stuff that the average teenage gun-toting nihilist loves to mock and despise ... wow, killing teachers is a total gas! For the gun is not just any old penis substitute; it is a surrogate for rape, and raping teacher is the ultimate teenage fantasy gone bad. Rape is the violent execution of a personal policy of fertilization; destroying life by perverting its most creative force. Guns go one better by destroying the cherished product of the same phallic force they mimic. And you can wreck so many lives with just one piece of lead, it’s like having a superpower, it’s magic.
The right to bare hands
If America really cared about its kids, well, for one thing, there would be a better public education system with better paid teachers. Then there might be less of these left-to-their-own-devices whacko teens, living on the net and harbouring dreams of violent domination. If America really cared about its children, it would stop treating them like innocents and idolizing them as angels and start treating them like real kids, with passions and trajectories, the adults of a very difficult tomorrow they will too soon inherit. Yes, if America really cared for its children it would stop sacrificing them, in the schools and on the streets, for the expedient preservation of a dead letter.

Then every citizen would stand up for the “right to bear arms”. And they would be the arms of moral courage, the arms of justice and equity, the arms of political and social vision, the bow of burning gold, the arrows of desire. Jerusalem might never be built in England, but it could still be built in America, if that nation would only realize that its constitution is intended to provide for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not their sudden and definitive obliteration. No, the founding fathers did not intend Newtown, not even by omission. School may be out today, that’s a matter of respect, but tomorrow class will be resumed. And hopefully all will turn to study the constitution with new eyes. For it also enshrines the right to bare hands, the right to be shielded from violence by the power of the state.

© Edwin Drood, December 2012

Illustration by © David John, after a photo of Annie Oakley shooting over her shoulder.
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