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By The Time The Shooting Starts, Will You Even Give A Damn?

By Jeff Smith

MAY 10, 1999:  THE SCARIEST STORY that ran last week in The Arizona Daily Star was not about Columbine High School and not about Slobo the Serb. It didn't run on Page 1-A or even the front of the Metro Section: it played below the fold on 9-A.

It was about screwing.

Did you realize that despite AIDS and herpes, the genital warts that have become the tragic flaw around which dramatic new television advertising revolves...despite ominous portents and shrill warnings of every kind, humanity still is coupling, copulating and breeding with verminous fecundity. Sometime early this autumn the world's population is anticipated to hit another milestone: 6 billion.

That's a lot of disagreeable retired colonels in Winnebagos in the fast lane, keeping you from getting to work on time. A lot of sociopathic teenagers in trench coats, honing their homicidal hatred on video games. A lot of brain-dead babies on life-support, burning up a hundred grand a week in medical costs in the name of the sanctity of human life.

Do I sound a trifle cynical? Sorry, it's been a bad week. This Littleton thing has brought out the worst in the supposed best of us. I read a column by a writer who used to show common sense and uncommon wit, suggesting we repeal the Second Amendment. It pretty much punctuated what I've been wondering for years: How did so many Americans come to be so stupid, deluded and spoiled, with regard to the essential qualities that make us Americans and set us apart from the rest of the world?

I've been reading everything I can find in the popular press about the Littleton high school murders and their aftermath, and most of it is a fairytale melange of Chicken Little and the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Guns, gun merchants and the NRA! Their hands reek with the blood of innocents!

I have witnessed the nearest assault to slander and libel that the First Amendment will tolerate, against supporters of the Second Amendment and people who legally sell, own and use guns; and I have watched the demonization of an inanimate object that mimics the Salem witch trials, where Beelzebub was said to take the form of a broom.

What I have not read is a harsh word about the lads who slaughtered all those innocents in Colorado.

Aren't we civilized?

Well, hey: it says here in English Common Law that a person is innocent until proven guilty. It's "not appropriate" to criticize killers caught on film, witnessed by hundreds, confessed in their own diaries. But if you're an officer of the NRA, or a guy supporting his family in a local sporting goods store, or a target shooter, a hunter, someone who takes personal responsibility to the level of defending his life by carrying a concealed weapon, your perfectly legal behavior is subject to scorn, threat and insult by a hysteric faction of the political and public information apparatus that lives in a dream world where we all would be safe if we only beat our S&Ws into Microsoft shares and leave it to Officer O'Reilly to shield us from things that go bump in the night.

As the saying goes, next time your daughter is being raped in her own bedroom, dial 911 and then call Domino's. See which shows up first, Officer O'Reilly or your pizza.

America was settled by men and women who refused to accept the tyranny of monarchs who did not recognize their birthright to speak their minds, worship their gods, and defend themselves with arms. This includes the Indians who watched the Pilgrims come ashore. Our revolution was won not by superior armies, but by the simple truth that--unique in the world--we were a people who almost universally possessed firearms and were skilled in their use. The American common man was a hunter whose rifle fed and defended his family. His British and European counterpart could not hunt without permission from royalty, which owned the forests and the game. Permission was seldom given and commoners even less often owned arms.

The rest of the world most often does not understand the mindset of free Americans, because they have never experienced the freedom that is so much a part of our foundation and our national character. I would not trade our freedom--with all its untidiness--for the illusion of security and order under which the Old World exists.

It's fashionable in certain circles to regard Americans as violence-obsessed swine who die in disproportionate numbers by casual gunfire. Study the European experience in this century and consider how many of them die bloody. Both world wars were of European manufacture.

So what was your point about the ethical superiority of Europeans?

Hundreds of thousands of American lives, how many gallons, or if you prefer, liters, of American blood, have been spent to win and to preserve an independence that is so nearly unexampled in human history?

We are the only major world nation where humans are seen to possess rights and freedoms approaching those of, say, field mice.

Now, with 12 children and a teacher dead at the hands of two assholes, a lot of fools and knaves are crying, "This is too much. You cannot put a price on human life. Take away our guns and our freedom and make us safe!"

Well, it is not too much. Far more has been spent to earn these freedoms.

You can put a price on human life, and it is freedom and individual responsibility. In Kosovo today, in Hungary in the '50s, all over the world in almost any year you can name, people starving for freedom spend their blood and their lives seeking some small part of the freedom Americans have come to take so much for granted and too often value so cheaply.

Take away our Second Amendment and disarm the law-abiding American citizen? If this thinking had prevailed two centuries ago we'd still be subjects rather than citizens.

I do not fear my government. But neither do I imagine that we and by extension our governors are not capable, in time, of evolving into some variation on the Slobodan Milosevic theme. It is nationalistic arrogance to assume that it could not happen here. We did elect Richard Nixon.


So what do we do to prevent this? We keep our Second Amendment, our First and all the others. We keep our guns. We keep our freedom.

What do we do to make our homes, schools, cities and country less prone to outrageous lawlessness such as happened in Littleton?

We practice birth-control. Don't laugh: at the root of every ill of modern life, every timeless problem of humankind, lies overpopulation. We're back to that scary story at the bottom of Page 9-A.

It took until 1804 to put 1 billion people on this planet: until 1959 there were just 3 billion. We've doubled that in 40 years and the birthrate still is rising. And the Catholic Church, the Republican Party, the conservative religious right, the Muslims and most of the starving third-world nations still actively promote reproduction, and damn birth control and abortion as sins against God and traditional culture.

This is insane and unconscionable. Until and unless the Pope and Pat Robertson and their ilk endorse the elderly as a protein source and babies as a veal substitute, their policy on reproduction is tantamount to promoting global suicide.

Think about it. And I mean really think about it.

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