Thursday, January 10, 2013

Poke-em-with-a-Stick . . . Thursday?

So, I've been following the current push for gun control with some detachment. Fewer guns wd be good; none, aside from collector's pieces, wd be ideal.* But the prospect of getting there seems hopeless, given the lock gun-crazies have on our political system. Still, yesterday I saw something that really surprised me and gives me hope.

Essentially, we've now reached the point in the current debate where the gun folks have evoked Hitler, as always. The logic (if you can call it that) goes something like this: Hitler took people's guns away! Taking guns away means you're just like Hitler, and it's only a matter of time before the concentration camps open.

Except this time, for once, it doesn't seem to be working. Trying to prevent the recurrence of a crazy shooting first graders is being "just like Hitler"? Yes to folks like the originator of the petition to deport CNN reporter Piers Morgan for having come out, bluntly and unambiguously, in favor of gun control, who didn't present his pro-gun case as well as he might:

But to the rest of us? It's all crazy talk, whether it comes from someone as over the top as this guy or the average NRA spokesman and pro-gun Congressman.

What I think may be happening is that the Hitler card is starting to lose its effect, and this is the first sign of that. After all, it's now been almost seventy years since Hitler died, his regime destroyed and his ideas more utterly discredited than that of any other leader in history. As a culture, we've made every effort to keep his memory alive and his example vivid as the ultimate in human evil. In a way, we've made a kind of cult of Hitler. But time passes. Evoking Hitler today is, more and more, like evoking Caligula, and about as relevant. I was struck this year by how perfunctory memorials to the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination were, and conclude that this sudden shock and horror is fading away. It's like cries of "Rememer the Maine!" dying out when the last people who COULD remember the Maine were gone. We're not quite there on Pearl Harbor yet, but that seems to have become ritualized, like celebrating Veteran's Day.

Which is as it shd be. Time passes. Horrors fade. We carry on.

So Saturday night I'll be playing CALL OF CTHULHU with Mr. Smokes, my Chicago gangster, carrying his tommy gun with him everywhere he goes; it's rare that a gaming session goes by without his finding a good opportunity to use it. Which is as it shd be: guns belong in movies, and roleplaying games, and museums. Not in homes, or on the streets, or (God knows) in schools.

--John R.

*I'm a pacifist, remember?