Monday, January 21, 2013

Welcome to the back seat

When I watched the news footage of the two armed men strolling down the sidewalk in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland with loaded semi-automatic rifles slung over their shoulders, there was something oddly  . . . familiar about the scene. The two men claimed they were hoping to invite a dialogue about Second Amendment rights, and professed surprise and disappointment that the local residents, shoppers, and storekeepers were heading for cover and frantically dialing 9-1-1.

David Neiwert put paid to that silly self-justification in short order. But still -- what was it about the whole scene that seemed so recognizable, from another context?

Then I read Saturday's story of the Utah man who walked into a local J. C. Penney's with an unloaded semi-automatic rifle and a Glock which he generally carries, he said, against the appearance of  ”“criminals, cartels, drug lords' and other 'evil men'” -- all widely known to frequent the customer service counter at Penney's. (The idea that some people might consider someone who brings firearms into a department store to be an “evil man” himself apparently didn't occur to him.) Once again, the man claimed his purpose was to educate Penney's shoppers about the safety of firearms in the right hands.

This time I remembered. It generally goes something like this:

The family has been driving for a couple of hours, Mom and Dad in the front, little Johnnie and his younger sister Susie buckled up in the back.

Bored, looking for attention, looking for a way to torment his sister, Johnnie starts holding his finger about an inch in front of her face.

“Mom! Make Johnnie stop!”

“I'm not touching her!”

“Johnnie, stop bothering your sister.”

“But I'm not touching her!

Let's see: Childish, deliberately provocative, disingenuous, self-righteous . . . check, check, check, and check.

But at least little Johnnie wasn't packing.

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