Saturday, April 14, 2012

Great Bores of the Modern Age: Newt Gingrich

"The right to bear arms comes from our creator, not our government . . . . A Gingrich presidency will submit to the UN a treaty that extends the right to bear arms as a human right to every person on the planet.”
    - Newt Gingrich at the NRA forum, Celebration of American Values Leadership, April 13, 2012

"Is there a Mister Newt Gingrich at home?"

Let's be clear about this: it now transpires, in the fevered logic of the American right, that a person who lacks a photo ID in this country does not have the right of franchise; none of us has the right to health care we can afford; some of our citizens (many of them aligned with Gingrich) argue that women have right of access neither to contraceptives nor to abortions; and yet every person - on the planet - has the right, endowed by the creator no less, to have and carry a gun? And more, since many states have extended "personhood" into the womb (in the case of Arizona even before fertilization occurs), it's anyone's guess how many little unnamed zygotes, cytoblasts and homunculi might qualify for concealed carry permits in this country alone. "Mommy doesn't like you playing with guns" just doesn't carry any weight in the modern age.

"I have a gun, Daddy has a gun, my zygotes have guns."

For my text today, (since someone mentioned the creator) I have chosen a passage from Genesis, chapter one: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And he gave unto each, male and female gave he unto them, a cache of automatic assault weapons, and handguns without number, that they might have dominion over the face of the earth." 

I mean, fer Chrissakes, if the creator hadn't wanted us to have dominion, then he would have made animals bulletproof - not to mention people. QED, right?

Eve, American-style

As it happens to be Gingrich we're talking about, "the planet" would also include the moon. And presumably the Afterlife, where the streets of Paradise will be littered with small-arms shell casings of gold. Heaven will be like a paintball paradise with real gunfire, where no one ever gets seriously injured (they're already dead, see?) Admittedly a little gunplay could relieve the tedium of eternal self-consciousness, but for myself I was hoping to get in a little quiet flyfishing by the rivers of Babylon or wherever we're ultimately parked.

The notion that rights are endowed by divine fiat rather than by an enlightened system of government is the sort of superstition that could find an audience only in this country and in some retrograde African kingdoms. To suggest that God has granted a universal right to own a gun is shameless delusional humbug, beneath comment, particularly in the aftermath of several noteworthy bullet-riddled episodes in the past month, which any internet search will find quickly. And why stop at small arms? By the same argument, shouldn't it be any person's right to own some rocket-powered grenade launchers, an armored tank and maybe a Mercedes Benz in the garage? This way lies madness, of course. Lifting international bans on arms dealing would, by these lights, be a form of humanitarian aid.

Gingrich is not talking about the typical American hunter, nor the gun aficionado who keeps a locked collection of firearms, some of which as artifacts can be quite nifty things, I'm told. A couple of things seem to have escaped his notice: first, the members of al Qaeda are persons on the planet who will also share in Newt's magnanimity; and second, a New York court has just ignored the creator's wish for his creatures by sentencing a Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, to 25 years for selling guns to the same al Qaeda.

No, Newt's peculiarly American vision of global human rights, which incidentally brought down the house at the NRA forum, looks more like this:

"Putting the Infant in Infantry"

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