Friday, August 29, 2014

Poetry, Surrealism, and the Anti-Gun Mindset

Our good buddy "Baldr Odinson" (a.k.a. Jason Kilgore) recently posted up a poem and collage, and a preamble to both, by CeaseFire Oregon member Cynthia Jacobi. The works, collectively entitled, "Let's Explain How This Happened In Your School", were created in response to the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. They are not dated -- at least, not on the blog -- so it's unknown to me when they were created.

Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory (1931)
A depiction of the relativity, malleability, and
impermanence of memory. (source: Wikipedia)
Now, understand, I'm no expert on poetry and/or literature, so someone with a eye/ear for art might appreciate it more. That said, in my mind it evokes comparisons to surrealist* expressions of anger, frustration, and helplessness.

I won't recreate the full work here, but there are a few bits here and there that stand out (in truth, as it's a short piece, I may end up re-posting more than I originally intended, to keep the context intact).

Starting with the Preamble:
After Newtown, people asked what could you say to those parents who lost children?   
I ask what could we say to the children who we failed to
Protect?  What could we possibly give as explanation?
I'd start with the truth. The tragedy at Sandy Hook was exactly that: a tragedy. It's been covered to death (macabre pun not intended), speculated on, and explained endlessly over the past 20 months. The nation came together as one people and mourned together. E pluribus Unum. From many, one.

To the parents, I'd say: Our thoughts and prayers are with you -- we are with you.

To the children: We love and miss you. Say "hi" to God and Jesus, have fun playing with the angels, and we'll see you when we get there (adjust for religious preference). [Note: I really, truly don't mean to sound callous, but they were 6- and 7-year olds -- far too young to understand all the political-social issues surrounding the events leading up to the tragedy -- so let's try not to overthink what we'd say if we could communicate beyond the veil.]

And now, the poem:
[It happened] because the mother didn’t lock the safe or hide the key 
Which is pure speculation. We don't know -- and won't ever know -- if the mom locked the safe or whether the boy had ready access to it, overtly (i.e. with knowledge and permission) or covertly (knowledge and permission, not so much).
because America sells mega-magazines everywhere
     and Hollywood sells violence
Assuming that "mega-magazines" refers to the firearm accessory of standard capacity, this is the first instance of "blame the 'gun industry'", plus a "blame movies/video-games/music/media" -- neither of which were responsible for the boy's actions.
It happened because of Gun Luv
because we are the land of the brave and the free
     and cowboys and
Bonnie and Clyde
This is the first major miss; up until now, it's variations of normal anti-gun talking points (including this invocation of a variation of Markley's Law). But when you start bring up American history and conflating the "land of the brave and the free" and rural farmers and ranchers ("cowboys") with spree criminals.

I might add that I believe Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow would have been a minor footnote in history if their actions weren't both heinous and widely reported by the press, making them outlaws with a celebrity status that still persists today, long after their deaths. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Max Ernst, The Elephant Celebes (1921)
The surrealist elephant in the room?
(source: Wikipedia)
Because the boy didn’t need to reload much
It happened because the NRA
     loudspeakers spread dollars and fear
because there was no good guy with a gun
    to shoot the bad guy with a gun
Again with blaming the magazines and the NRA. Recall that investigators found partially-filled magazines all over; he didn't need to reload much, but he did anyway. How would a limit on magazine capacity affect that?

HOWEVER, here she makes a critical mistake: she acknowledges the NRA's point of view as valid. Remember how up-in-arms the anti-gun folks got when Wayne LaPierre acknowledged the proverbial elephant in the room by saying, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun"? She's repeating that sentiment, right there!
because hunters of quail and rabbit are silent
I'm not clear on this one.  Did you think that quail and rabbit hunters -- who traditionally use shotguns for that purpose, BTW, not ARs -- would stand up and say, "Totally our fault. Sorry 'bout that!"? Or is just this a dig at "Fudds" for not supporting additional "gun control" -- for not being "Fudds"?
Because reasonable people find no reason to be so
And THAT's a line I can agree with. I may even steal that! Otherwise reasonable people went into full histrionic blame-everything-but-the-person mode, dancing in the blood of innocent victims. Why? Because it served their purpose; they had no reason to be reasonable, and plenty of reasons not to.

And there we'll end our journey into the surreal.  There is some fact and wisdom in there, but it's buried deep within -- and juxtaposed against -- an opposing philosophy. As always, discussion is welcome in the comments, unlike on Baldr's site, where the "No Comments" policy surrealistically juxtaposes with that "national conversation on guns" we're supposed to be having.

* - Surrealist as in, Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst -- a grain of truth or profound thought, illogically and unnervingly set against and amidst its opposite.

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