I rarely use the word “stupid” to characterize people. The word should be used sparingly, where appropriate and mostly to express for effect how absurd or obviously foolish someone is being. It’s a word usually directed at someone’s idea or argument, when that idea or argument is completely ridiculous.
Like saying the world is flat or that the Earth is merely a few thousand years old. At this point in our history, after all we have learned, we don’t need to waste time taking people seriously who hold such ideas. As I have said often, these ideas and the people who argue for them need to be ridiculed, not treated as if they are legitimate.
In that context, I saw something on CNN last night that made me better appreciate one of its hosts, Piers Morgan. I’m not a fan, to say the least, but he did something last night that tells me that the gun lobby in this country can be overcome, partly by ridiculing its ridiculous calls for more guns in the culture.
Since the mass slaughter of women and children at Sandy Hook, many of the reactionary laissez-faire gun advocates have been in hiding. But some have had the nerve to show up and defend the indefensible, that we need more guns in our lives. One of those was Larry Pratt, the head of Gun Owners of America.
On Piers Morgan’s show Tuesday night, Pratt offered us that peculiar we-need-more-guns argument, one that seems to be a mainstream argument among gun zealots. It goes like this: if only people in that elementary school were armed, things would have turned out much better. I am going to give Pratt the benefit of the doubt that he’s not talking about arming the children, even though yesterday a sixth grader in Utah brought a gun and ammo to school to, he said, protect himself.
And since most of us, at least right now, believe kids shouldn’t be hauling guns in their backpacks, Pratt was talking about the adults at Sandy Hook. Okay. The adults at Sandy Hook are mostly teachers. Are we now going to require teachers, in addition to their other responsibilities, to strap on pistols in the morning, as they prepare for a day at school? At least a couple of Republican governors, so far, have suggested that might be okay with them.
Now, most people fully embracing the 21st century know that idea is preposterous and should be the object of much derision. And last night, during Morgan’s interview with Larry Pratt, it was:
PRATT: …America is not the Wild West that you are depicting. We only have the problems in our cities, and unhappily, in our schools where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves.
I honestly don’t understand why you would rather have people be victims of a crime than be able to defend themselves. It’s incomprehensible.
MORGAN: You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?
PRATT: It seems to me that you’re morally obtuse. You seem to prefer being a victim to being able to prevail over the criminal element. And I don’t know why you want to be the criminal’s friend.
MORGAN: What a ridiculous argument. You have absolutely no coherent argument whatsoever. You don’t — you don’t actually give —
PRATT: You have no —
MORGAN: You don’t give a damn, do you, about the gun murder rate in America? You don’t actually care…
I submit to you that it is time that gun zealots like Larry Pratt be subjected to such ridicule, just like those who believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old because an ancient book tells them it is.
And speaking of such people, by now we have all heard former governor and current Fox man Mike Huckabee say this:
We’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools have become a place for carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, responsibility, accountability?
In a better world, Huckabee, who is suggesting here that secularization is responsible for the slaughter at Sandy Hook, would be laughed off the public stage. He would be the butt of a thousand jokes. Any appearance on television would invoke a Piers Morgan response:
You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you? What a ridiculous argument. You have absolutely no coherent argument whatsoever.
Instead, Huckabee enjoys much respect for his Iron Age religious views, as do most of the extremists who argue and lobby for fewer restrictions on guns, all in accordance with an 18th-century frontier philosophy of self-defense, a philosophy born in a time when there were no weapons that could slaughter women and children in a few insanely violent minutes.
And perhaps that tells us more than anything else what is wrong with our country. And perhaps, just perhaps, Piers Morgan’s handling of Larry Pratt on Tuesday night might be a signal that we will no longer treat with undue respect such nonsense.