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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

From Baghdad to Blacksburg

We are a nation of extremists, let's face it. My country right or wrong. My way or the highway. Use or or lose it. And that extreme, uncompromising contempt for things we disagree with is what's gotten into so much trouble in the world.

The sins of George Bush are numerous and have been repeated almost to the point of nausea: the swaggering cowboy who went AWOL on his military career putting American soldiers (and Iraqi civilians) in harm's way for a war fought on a pack of lies.

And yet today, Bush will sit next to legislative leaders and defy the will of voters who sent a loud message that we want an end to the US role in Iraq. My way or the highway, says W.

Meanwhile the tragic events in Blacksburg have the 2nd Amendment absolutists in high dudgeon, once again claiming that "they" will take their gun away only from their cold dead hands. Use it or lose it.

There's no problem, they will say, that a dark and twisted individual could use a driver's license and a credit card to purchase two guns in two months -- as allowed by Virginia law. No problem that there are more regulations on driving a car than purchasing and using a gun.

And then there's my side -- the 1st Amendment crowd -- that closes its eyes to fact our society is awash in violence from video games, movies and television series (not to mention newscasts from Baghdad) where the gun is the centerpiece.

Freedom of expression means we cannot do a thing to put a halt to the climate of message of violence that permeates our society, that starts when little kids dress up as cowboys and aim their six-shooters at friends and pull the trigger.

Where do you think the kids who pull guns on friends on Boston buses or the streets of any American city get the idea that guns are cool and simply a play thing?

So how about some effort to move back from the edges. The NRA could start by dropping their myth that people in favor of gun control want to remove all weapons for all reasons. No we don't.

But guns need to be regulated at least as much as cars. There's a reason why we don't let kids drive until the age of 16, then with supervision and with a whole lists of laws and regulations to govern their use. Why aren't we as strict about guns -- even if they kill fewer people than cars?

And my fellow liberals, particular those in Hollywood, need to recognize that our culture is awash in violence in some measure because of the horrifically violent images we condone each day in the name of freedom if expression. Mend it, don't end it. One less car chase, one less shoot-out or horrific explosion wouldn't kill you at the box office?

I'd be the last to call for all Mary Poppins all the time -- there can be good action adventure programming without blood running through the gutters. Try scaling back.

Go ahead. Make my day.

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