Every time a mass shooting happens, I chime in with my predictable spare change:
“You can’t have an Apache helicopter or an M1 Abrams tank, so why not move that sensible line to say you can’t have [insert whatever we decide on here] either?”
“Your rights end where they infringe on my rights…including my right to live through a day at school.”
“You’re afraid of tyranny, and you plan to stop its rise with a semi-automatic rifle? I’d like to introduce you to my friends, the United States Marine Corps. They’re going to calmly and efficiently kill all of you on Day 1 of the coup.”
“You’re a bunch of fucking inbred assholes.”
“If it is indeed a ‘parenting problem,’ is your suggestion to regulate parenting? Are you daft? How on earth is that going to work?”
“We require background checks and licenses for all kinds of stuff, why not just tighten those up for guns?”
“If the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, how did those Republican congressmen get ambushed while they played baseball?”
“Have I mentioned you’re a bunch of sister-fucking assholes?”
“Oh, it’s the price of freedom? Cool, remind me about that when your family gets gunned down at the mall, Charlton.”
“Watch a football game. The defense guesses which play the offense is going to run, and the odds of being right every time are slim. If a single touchdown scored against you meant certain death, and if you wrote the rules, wouldn’t it make more sense to stack the deck against the offense scoring?”
“Okay, you think it’s a mental illness problem? Let’s fund mental illness diagnosis and treatment. No? Yeah, I didn’t think so.”
“It’s not a slippery slope if we don’t let it become one. Remember when they instituted the 55 mph speed limit? Yeah, we’re not all standing still on the freeway now, are we?”
“Hey Congress, put your money where your mouth is: disband the Capitol Police and remove all of the metal detectors. Arm yourself and be on constant guard as the Framers intended.”
“Serious, just fuck you all.”
I’m a fairly smart person, a professionally trained arguer with high emotional intelligence, and I won a contest once for being the most humble person around. I totally CRUSHED that competition. I am pretty good at getting people to see things my way.
At least I used to think I was good at it.
I’m finding that we’ve entered a universe where no one can be convinced of anything, ever. People have given up the ability to learn through each other’s experiences.
We’ve replaced that crucial secret of human evolution’s success with, “if I don’t see it with my own two eyes, it didn’t happen. Unless Sean Hannity or Alex Jones say it happened, and then I believe it sight-unseen, even if it’s patently absurd.”
A substantial minority of people today believe the Earth is flat, chemtrails are a government conspiracy to turn kids gay, and Hillary Clinton ran a sex trafficking ring out of a DC pizza restaurant.
If you prove them wrong, they’ll attack your motives, your sources, or just flat out attack you. Shit, they’ll attack kids who just survived a bloody school shooting last week.
There’s no way those kids from an affluent, well-credentialed school could possibly string together passionate, intelligent arguments. They must be paid by CNN! I ain’t never met no got-danged kid that could talk all proper-like like these kids can. DAMMIT, BUFORD JUNIOR! I’VE TOLD YOU TEN TIMES, STOP MAKING METH IN THE GOT-DANGED INSTAPOT!
But at the end of the argument, they simply won’t believe your proof. They won’t search their souls (because they lack (a) the skill to conduct meta-self-assessment, and (b) souls). They’ll never reconsider their beliefs on the matter. They’ll just block you. Or unfriend you. Or stop hanging out with you.
My misguided instinct is to write increasingly clever quips in an attempt to persuade my counterparts to reconsider their positions. My observations, however, tell me that these folks view the very act of intellectual discussion as a liberal conspiracy to force them to bake cakes for gay weddings.
Given their tendency to stick their collective fingers in their collective ears and yell (collectively), “nananananana, we can’t hear you!” whenever confronted with points of view they don’t like, I’ve come up with a different strategy:
Marginalize the ever-loving hell out of them.
Once upon a time, it was a socially acceptable point of view to believe that African-Americans and white people should attend different schools. It was completely normal to think that women were inferior in intellect and reasoning. People with mental illnesses were castrated and locked away in state facilities. Jews weren’t allowed to live in certain neighborhoods or join certain clubs. Football teams didn’t let Black men play. And then they let them play, just not quarterback. Mob “justice” was routinely—and often errantly—carried out against homosexuals and transgendered people with zero consequences to the vigilantes.
Want to hire someone to work for you? Cool, here’s a great candidate named Beauregard. He used to be an artisanal baker, mostly worked in cookies. But what if you found out his Facebook feed was full of posts touting the superior intellect of white people as an argument against racial integration? You’d probably elect to hire a different, less overtly racist elf.
Or let’s say you met a seemingly great guy, but discovered on your first date that he believed that women, by their supposed lack of intelligence, were ordained by God to be wholly subservient to men. I doubt there’d be a second date. Unless you’re into being subservient, in which case you could write a series of “novels” about it and make millions from otherwise “feminist” female readers.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but there are certain opinions that serve as disqualifiers for interaction in mainstream life.
The day is coming when your antiquated, narrow-minded, idiotic points of view will no longer be tolerated. Just like pro-segregation and lynching views are no longer tolerated today, we’ll relegate your line of thinking to the dustbin labeled “wrong side of history.”
And guess what: “being a gun nut” isn’t a protected class. We can discriminate all we want based on your shitty, malignant, openly-espoused opinions.
Here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to be this way. You’re choosing it. You’re choosing to ignore the available middle ground between “let’s take all of your guns and melt them down to make a statue of Colin Kaepernick” and “God personally spoke to me and told me to amass an arsenal to protect against people who just got emboldened by watching Black Panther.” The vast majority of us stand ready to compromise in order to improve any situation. We realize we won’t get everything we want, but we’re willing to give a little to get a little.
But if you won’t budge, then fuck your feelings. We’re going to improve society in spite of you, just like we did all those other times throughout history. We owe it to the kids that’ll inherit this mess you’re refusing to help clean up.
Bottom line: If you refuse to bend along with society’s completely foreseeable arc toward justice, don’t be surprised when the winds of change blow through and break your back.
And since you also vote against healthcare at every turn, good luck with that metaphorical spinal injury, Buford.
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