February 24, 2010

God, guns, and the flag

Three stories that have come up in recent weeks:

  • Man wants to rename a mountain
  • Teacher has kid arrested for not reciting the Pledge
  • Handguns flaunted in Starbucks
When people have a view to impose on others, they rarely stop at the line where reasonable discourse turns into insanity.  In fact, some of them already began on the far side of that line.

Here in Walnut Creek, there's a mountain.  It's only 3,849 feet tall, but more of the Earth's surface can be seen from its summit than from any other peak besides Kilimanjaro.  Thirty-five of California's 58 counties are visible from this mountaintop.  It is a key survey point for much of California.  And it's been called Mt. Diablo since as early as 1824, when San Francisco was little more than a Mexican military outpost of about 250 soldiers.

So of course a guy wants to rename it Mount Reagan.  Actually, he doesn't much care what the new name would be.  He just doesn't want to glorify Satan any more.  Apparently, God told him to file the petition.  Because, you know, God cares about this.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, a teacher had a 13-year-old girl removed from her classroom by school police when she refused to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  Oh, the humanity!  She must be a Communist, or a terrorist.  I am surprised she didn't end up at Guantanamo, labeled an enemy combatant.

Three things really bother me about this:  First, that this school has "school police."  Either this is a really tough school and the school police probably have something better to do already, or it's an insanely rich hoity-toity school where parents are worried about things like, you know, free speech.  I mean the exercise of free speech, and making sure it gets punished severely.  Second, that the teacher broke state law and violated school policy by trying to force the student to stand and recite the pledge.  Can we even call someone like that a teacher?  What, exactly, is she trying to teach?  And third, that some people actually think the teacher was doing the morally right thing.  That is scary.

We return now to the shadow of Mt. Diablo, where some kooks think it's really important to strap on handguns when buying coffee.  California has "open carry," which means that while it's illegal to carry a concealed handgun, it's not illegal to buckle one into your belt as long as it's not loaded.  The ammunition can be handy, just not loaded in the weapon.  For some reason, a group of people decided it was important to make everyone aware of this law by insisting on wearing their weapons when they got coffee.  Because you never know when there might be a firefight at the half-and-half pitcher.

It reminds me of a joke I heard in middle school:  Why does a dog lick its balls?  Because it can.

So, why does a man insist on flaunting deadly weapons in wealthy suburban coffee joints?  Apparently because he can't lick his balls.

We now return you to your regular programming of health care, global warming, foreclosures, the rotten economy, and Olympic medal counts.


fairyhedgehog said...

I do despair!

The idea of guns being legal sits oddly with me, it's so far outside of my experience. The stupidity all these people show is, however, international. Sadly.

Blogless Troll said...

I think I would start frequenting Starbucks if I could sit and watch two guys with their fingers twitching near their holsters going, "This condiment bar ain't big enough for the two of us, Sheriff..."

Laurel said...

Here in the hinterlands, nobody would bat an eye if you still had your gun in its holster in Starbucks. Starbucks is probably a county or two over anyway.

One county in Georgia actually requires, by law, that every male over the age of thirteen (I think it's thirteen) own a gun. Of course it isn't enforced and of course they aren't required to actually carry it, but in theory they own one.

So guns don't freak me out. But I do think it is a special kind of jerk who decides to make sure everyone knows he has a gun in an area where people are clearly uncomfortable with it. Not really the kind of jerk I like to picture with a gun.

I also think that as a place of business Starbucks has every right to tell him to buy his coffee elsewhere. At the least they should refuse to sell him anything but decaf. Jittery gunmen with jerk tendencies are a bad idea.

jjdebenedictis said...

I suspect the teacher was a control freak more than anything, that her fragile ego couldn't tolerate a kid refusing to submit to her will. It's a problem we teachers have to watch for in ourselves; some of us get to like authority a leeeeetle too much.

That said, the teacher wouldn't have called in the 'school police' (WTF!?) if she didn't have strong opinions about the importance of people pledging allegiance. So yes, it is about one person inflicting their views on another.

PJD said...

Fairy, I'm with you on that. While I firmly believe in the 2nd Amendment (that all citizens have the right to keep and bear arms), I think what these wingnuts are doing is no more than egotistical, macho posturing.

BT, you have a point. Sometimes unintended consequences can be good.

Laurel, agreed. I saw your comment at Sarah's about your dad cleaning his shotgun. That's a different situation altogether, of course. These guys... I wonder what kind of situation they believe they'll need their guns for on a day to day basis. What's odd is that I don't think this is a political statement by them so much as a "you can't stop me" passive aggressive type of bullying.

JJdB, that's what struck me, too. The only thing here is that we don't actually know the student's motive for sitting out the pledge. We assume it's free speech, but of course we only get part of the story. It is possible that this student's entire motivation was to get the teacher to go off the deep end and get in trouble. 13 year olds can be crafty that way. And, frankly, some middle school teachers deserve it. Since the punishment is simply an apology and not something worse, I suspect there's more here than we're seeing. But still, what a power trip.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Land of the free, home of the insane.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Oh and in Louisiana, you don't have to have them unloaded when you carry them strapped to your belt. And every good ole boy has a shotgun rack in the back of his pickup truck right where the confederate flag sticker is in the back window.

Bernita said...

I grew up w/ guns where they were seen merely as tools for specific needs,not as fashion statements or political assertions.