Saturday, January 19, 2013

No, he would have died in a hail of gunfire

When I was a (much) younger man, with higher tolerance for headaches, heartburn, and stupidity, I studied the fairly new phenomenon that was Rush Limbaugh with intense interest. I spent hours of downtime during my freshman year at college listening to him, all in the name of "opposition research." This was before the drugs addled his brain, or perhaps I should say before the drugs made his brain-addling permanent, and I was entertained even though I agreed with nothing the man said.

I even bought his megalomaniacally titled books--"The Way Things Ought to Be" and "See, I Told You So"--in hardcover, an extravagance I justified by buying them at a warehouse club for as little money as possible.

Somewhere along the way, my days filled up with more consequential and urgent matters, and I stopped being entertained.  But every once in a while, when I'm in my car alone between noon and three Eastern, I tune the dial to the Middle Aged White Guy Radio station in whatever city, town, or hamlet I find myself in, just to see if the old Nazi gasbag is still holding forth with specious logic.

(At 37, I am now dangerously close to those stations' core demographic, so I have to limit myself to no more than 10 minutes or so, lest I get tricked into buying a Select Comfort mattress, signing up for a Quicken Loan, or hiring a company to put granite veneers on my countertops or install helical piers to shore up my sagging house.)

I was not listening yesterday (January 18, 2013), but Media Matters was. (For the record, I do not envy the Media Matters operative whose job it is to categorize all of the outrageous things Limbaugh says each day. It must be like working in the Special Victims Unit in a major metropolitan police force--you can only do it for so long before they make you transfer for your own good.)

From the Media Matters transcript:
If a lot of African-Americans back in the '60s had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense, you think they would have needed Selma? I don't know, I'm just asking. If John Lewis, who says he was beat upside the head, if John Lewis had had a gun, would he have been beat upside the head on the bridge?
 That remarkable grouping of words probably would have escaped my scrutiny if I had not that very day watched a rerun of the Daily Show in which Jon Stewart recounted that some NRA-affiliated idiot had claimed that Martin Luther King, Jr.--who was of course slain by a Remington 760 Gamemaster .30-06 rifle--would have supported the NRA's efforts to eliminate the regulation of firearms.

Now, I'm in agreement with Al Franken:  Rush Limbaugh is, indeed, a big fat idiot.  (I admit to being a hypocrite about the fat part.)  But pens-and-pencils-down this takes the cake.

Let's unpack this a bit.  John Lewis is a genuine American hero who was indeed beaten severely on more than one occasion, and most notably at Selma in 1965, at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. This is not John Lewis "saying" he was beat upside the head. It actually happened.  You can still see the scars on his head.

But let's suppose for a moment that John Lewis, in the midst of his nonviolent protest of racial segregation laws, decided that what would make his experience safer was a gun.  So, when the Alabama State Police were descending on the praying protestors that day, having fired tear gas and charging on horses, and were approaching John Lewis with a nightstick to inflict those injuries, what do you think would have happened when John Lewis drew his hypothetical gun?

Before you answer, bear in mind that the Alabama State Police were armed with guns themselves.

Do those troopers just turn around and say "never mind"?

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