Why I Carry
Cretinous rightist, No. 19, 22 July, 2001
by Paul Hager © 2001, 2002IC Title 35, Article 47, Chapter 2. Regulation of Handguns Article I, Section 32, Indiana Constitution
My wife called me at work this past Friday (19 July). She said that she had a couple of items that I'd find interesting. One of them definitely was: I was the subject of a political cartoon.
The publication is the Bloominton Independent. The cartoonist is a fellow named Joe Lee. [Since I wrote this, the Bloomington Independent has ceased publication and Joe Lee has become the cartoonist of the Bloomington Herald-Times - cph, 02/23/02.]. The Independent is a free weekly that is the communitarian voice in Bloomington. I think that's a fair characterization, and I'm sure the folks who work at the Independent would agree with me. They have paid me the great honor to attack me in their pages on two previous occasions (both just before election day). This latest offering is, by far, the best. You know you've arrived when you're the subject of a political cartoon.
I don't know whether Joe Lee is a genius or a hack. If he wanted to capture the picture of gun-phobic prejudice, he couldn't have done a better job. Here, for all to see, is the quintessential gun owner: microcephalic, lumbering, with a huge gun-phallus. And a right-winger, to boot. Here is the cartoon, for your perusal.
Thus, the question: Is Joe Lee lampooning the way his communitarian friends at the Independent think, or is he just innocently baring to us the communitarian soul?
I tend to the latter view.
Obviously, I'm the one being lampooned and the image perfectly serves my purpose. The depiction says that I'm not dangerous; I'm just a clown! In their dim little Freudian unconscious minds, they've processed the fact that it's safe to make fun of one of those micro-cephalic gun owners. We'll of course it is you ninnies!! That is the point of the exercise I'm engaged in, and you clearly agree with me. You have proven it by your actions!
I'm sure that the Independent's response would be to acknowledge that I'm safe but the "great unwashed" are not. I'm the "exception that proves the rule". (Actually, the correct translation of the Latin source phrase is "the exception that tests the rule," a very important distinction. A serious disconfirming instance can alone be sufficient to reject a hypothesis or invalidate a theory.) As we know, the best evidence from science doesn't support their view of the average gun owning citizen. However, for people who only know things anecdotally, and don't grasp scientific principles, the only way to dispel their prejudice is to continually "test" it with more examples until it crumbles. So, I again urge my fellow gun owning "cretins" to join me (and a few others) and carry openly. I'd particularly like to see some female "cretins" get involved - that will really twist the gun haters' Freudian paradigm. Will they buy into Freud's misogyny and describe a woman carrying a gun as engaging in symbolic penis envy? One can only hope.
Thus far, the Glock has generated a little discussion, all of it favorable. My family's last Sunday outing to the Uptown is a case it point. As we came into the restaurant, we encountered a local M.D. I know. He was sitting in the foyer waiting to meet a couple of friends. We exchanged greetings and I saw that he was reading a book about great blunders of World War II. I made some comment about being interested in history too. Before we could get into a discussion, the host(ess) arrived to take us to a table. A short period after getting settled, the doctor came back and sat at an adjoining table, saying that he figured he should reserve a spot and wait for his friends there. We resumed our discussion about great WW II blunders, and for a few minutes shared our mutual interest in military history. At some point, he went back to his book and I focused on familial interaction. After some time had elapsed, he appeared next to me and said something like, "so you're packing heat", and "is that the Glock?" It transpired that he had read the stuff in the Herald-Times and wondered if it was the Paul Hager he knew. He said that he was very supportive of what I was doing. He pulled out his wallet and showed me his personal protection license saying that he had been considering carrying his pistol for self-defense outside the home. We talked about some of the considerations involved in deciding to carry and I gave him one of my cards, inviting him to visit my site.
A short while later, his two friends showed up. I was still pretty much focused on the immediate family environment. At some point, I thought I overheard my name being mentioned and discovered I was the topic of the doctor's and his friends' conversation. I think it was when I looked up that we had some sort of exchange in which I was told that the friends knew about me and admired what I was doing. I thanked them and passed out a couple of more cards.
I got pretty much the same favorable reaction at the barbershop yesterday. However, since the guys at the shop know all about the carry campaign, I devoted the bulk of my important chair time to talking about the Secretary of State race.
Earlier in the week, when I stopped for gas at a convenience store, the female attendant asked me if I was a cop. This is the sort of thing I've been told to expect from other people who have carried openly. When I told her I was just a private citizen with a license to carry, she said that she wished she could get a gun because she is often alone at the store at night and has no way to protect herself. As I was telling her how easy it was to get a license, another woman, who was in line behind me chimed in and said something like, "Yes, a Personal Protection license - you have the right to defend yourself." After I gave the clerk some additional information about getting a license, I gave both her and the woman customer my cards and went on my way. Convenience store clerks have very dangerous jobs, and fear of being a crime victim is perfectly reasonable (see Bye, Bye Billy for a similar encounter). Were I a clerk, I'd carry concealed whether the company I worked for allowed it or not. There is at least one story of a pizza delivery person who foiled a robbery with his gun and then was fired for violating company policy. Putting employees at risk by not allowing them to defend themselves constitutes having an unsafe work environment and is probably actionable. What's needed is the right plaintiff (a pregnant woman would be good) and the right fact pattern to turn the tables on the prohibitionists.
As a final note before I close this journal entry, my daughter Liana says that she will make me a t-shirt with Joe Lee's cartoon on it. The t-shirt will be a great conversation piece and illustrate the sort of prejudice coming from the other side much more effectively than anything I might say.