Cold turkey on guns and sleaze?
I'm not thinking this one fully through, but the wrenching heartbreak of Blacksburg seems to be the logical conclusion to an American upbringing. At least, to the American upbringing of the last several decades, where we on the left caved in to a mind-numbing extreme of sleaze, sex and violence on TV, in video games, music, and on the radio, all in the name of free speech. And where those on the right went to an idiotic extreme of encouraging free access to all firearms, even those meant for combat, all in the name of the right to bear arms. What a volatile cocktail we've been feeding our kids. Ramble on.
Singed, perhaps, by the prudish response of our parents to the gyrating hips of Elvis, we laughed off all efforts to squelch the music of the young. Remember when Tipper Gore was the laughing stock of the left for suggesting that parents actually listen to what their kids were buying?
At the time, one of our sons was about 12, and I did listen, and was stunned at the vulgarity and violence that my friends were laughing off. I recall one lyric being something like "the bitch is screamin' louder so I shove it up her harder" and going on to make clear that this was anal rape, and that was before the next track which praised cop-killing and other healthy activity. Jokes were made that it was just suburban wannabees listening to such stuff, not really a cultural thing at all. And that somehow makes it all better? Is not Cho Seung-Hui the saddest example of a suburban wannabee?
And then there's the NRA, protectors of that other over-stretched ammendment, and their zealotry to allow us all easy access to assault weapons, including the sort used by Cho Seung-Hui in Blacksburg, despite protests from police officers all over the nation that arming the citizenry with semi-automatics made their jobs much more difficult and dangerous.
In light of Blacksburg and our de-sensitized kids, can we perhaps find common groud here?
With a few exceptions, including the late Steve Allen RIP, those fighting the sleaze mongers in the media are the Christian right, and they lump other so-called family values under the same umbrella, which makes people like me unwilling to join them.
On the other side, it's those of us on the so-called left who are leading the fight against packing heat, and we tend to lump a few moral assumptions of our own under that umbrella, making a whole chunk of reasonable people want no part of us.
So, let's see. I'll agree to much tighter restrictions (egad, censorship?) on video games, music lyrics, film, TV, and Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, if they'll agree to much tighter restrictions on firearms, starting with semi-automatic weapons. Hunters, I'm not gunning for you, so relax.
I know that the gun nuts will bash me, saying studies show that allowing everyone to pack heat actually cuts down on crime and that the free speech nuts will bash me, saying studies show there's no correlation between media violence and our disturbed and angry kids. Well, actually there are, but I'm not going to dig them up right now.
But for a long time the tobacco industry insisted that there was no correlation between smoking and lung cancer, and yet, people who smoked were getting lung cancer, and we all knew it. The gun industry and the sleaze industry are in the same sort of denial, because they make gobs of money off of it.
It's true that not everyone who smokes gets cancer, and not everyone who gets cancer, smokes, just as there are millions of decent kids who see this stuff and grow up healthy despite it.
But giving up smoking, or at least cutting back, changes the odds dramatically. And if nothing else, quitting our bad habits sets an example, and gives us some hope and a sense of control, something we desperately need in America these days.
So whaddya say, nation, let's go cold turkey -- on the toxic sleaze that poisons our children's minds, and on the lethal weapons that enable their twisted thoughts.