Saturday, October 03, 2015

After Umpqua--Letter #62

Dear Governor Ducey,

I’m not entirely sure what your stance on gun control and the NRA is, but, since you side with the rightiest right on public education (we should get rid of it) and private incarceration (we should do more of it), I assume you believe that the second amendment guarantees your individual right to have as many guns as you can get, no matter what you want to do with them. Although that reading of the Second Amendment is much disputed (and can be further disputed, get to work, we non-righty rights), that reading is how you wrap yourself up in your beliefs when another school shooting happens and say things like Jeb Bush said, “stuff happens.” Shrug your shoulders. Pet your gun.

In Mockingjay, the third film based on The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, the president of District 13 and the leader of the rebellion against the capital, notes that freedom comes with a price. We see citizens of other districts pay that price. Loggers, taken to their cutting trees by security forces start to run. The forces shoot at them.  Many die but many other climb into the treetops to escape the landmines that kill the capital’s security guards. In District 5, men and women carry explosives in large wooden boxes toward men guarding a hydroelectric dam. When the guards kill the men on the front lines and drop the box, the people behind pick up the box. They charge the guards, make it inside the doors. The people run out. The bombs go off. The dam breaks. The capital loses power. The revolution gains traction.

The Hunger Games is a distinctly American movie. Revolution is all to the good. It’s the Revolutionary War kind of revolution, not the Cultural Revolution or the Russian Revolution, where we remember the right-deprived, the starving, the dead. The Revolutionary War was the revolution that worked out, in our self-congratulating cultural memory, in the end, happy for everyone, even those who died battering down dams or standing up to the king’s redcoats.

Gun advocates wrap themselves in this belief: that freedom comes with a price. It doesn’t matter who pays it, even if it’s a six-year old in kindergarten, a six-year old at the wrong end of his brother’s playacting, a six-year old at the movie theater, a six-year old wondering what this dark, metal tunnel is that weighs so much in his hand. Six year olds like to push buttons and a trigger is just a more effective button.

When the dam breaks in Mockingjay, I tear up. YES! We must fight.

One of the subtle elements of Mockingjay is that everyone uses propaganda. Even the ‘good guys.’ Even the filmmaker. I am crying for a revolution that does not even exist. Set ‘freedom’ to music. 

But, I would like to ask the gun-must-havers, what revolution are you fighting? The revolutionary war was over long ago. The redcoats went back to England. A revolution requires two things: an ‘us’ and a ‘them.’ We are a country. We are only an ‘us.’ The only ‘them’ is the six-year old that didn’t know he was a solider in a war that doesn’t exist.