Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I've always been a fan of cartoonist Tony Auth, whose work appears regularly in the New York Times. I'm not a fan of humorous conclusions reached by treating hyperbole as objective truth. In fact I'm sick unto death of people who get either cynical or indignant about things they invent for the purpose by wildly distorting reality. Auth's cartoon today depicts the frieze over the portico of the Supreme Court filled with images of people shooting each other and the inscription "Wild West Justice Under Law."

Presumably, he refers to the SCOTUS having disallowed a total handgun ban in Washington DC. The decision has, of course, nothing to do with the long established human right to self defense. It's always been legal to shoot someone who is trying to kill you or your wife or kid, it's just that in Washington you had to choose between allowing death or grievous bodily harm and going to jail for keeping a handgun in your house. Auth infers incorrectly and in total defiance of fact that allowing the citizens of DC the same rights the citizens of Miami or Orlando or Palm Beach will result in a daily reenactment of the gunfight at the OK corral. We heard the same argument from much the same people when it was proposed to eliminate the 55 MPH National Speed Limit and when Florida chose to allow some people to have concealed weapons permits. In both cases the opposite occurred and the death rates went down.

When Florida courts decided that it's really not fair to require someone to jump out a third story window to flee a home invader and had the right to presume that the masked man with a weapon creeping into your bedroom at 3:00 AM isn't the tooth fairy, the hyperbolists immediately called it the "shoot the Avon Lady law." Of course not one Avon Lady has been shot since, but quite a few home invasions have been thwarted and lives saved. No apology has been heard from the "55 Stay Alive" limit advocates, or those so concerned about Avon ladies.

Facts are not part of these comical arguments except to be a springboard for deceptive fantasy and the scenario depicted in today's cartoon: guns blazing in the street, is not one related to the court's decision or to any other events in the real world. Humor, good humor always has an element of truth. Without it the effort becomes hard to distinguish from a lie.


Just this morning, at least two men tried to storm a residence in the Hialeah neighborhood of Miami, Florida. The resident made an argument for a well regulated militia of one by shooting them both. If this had happened in Washington DC or many other crime-ridden places in the US, the man would be considered a criminal. Where is the justice?

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