Last week a special election in Montana featured television ads by the Democratic candidate, Rob Quist, who aimed his ‘old’ rifle at a television screen playing an attack ad run by his opponent, then pulled the trigger and the tv ad went away. This creative work of genius was put together by the Quist campaign to counter advertisements run by his Republican opponent, slugger Greg Gianforte, which accused Quist of being anti-gun.
I wrote a column about this ad which I found to be stupid, offensive and beyond the pale. I likened it to Sarah Palin’s Facebook page which showed target cross-hairs over the names and locations of various Democratic office-holders and candidates, one of whom happened to be Gabby the same week she was shot. I don’t care if the Democratic Party (and I’m a proud, yellow-dog Democrat, by the way) needs every Congressional seat it can get, you don’t use gun violence or an appeal to gun violence to muster up votes. You don’t do it. As in don’t do it, okay?
Because here’s what happens when you do it. The virus spreads. And now we have another political jack-off who happens in this case to be a Republican, and he’s doing the same thing in his campaign as well. I’m talking about Luther Strange from Alabama, who was appointed on February 9 to fill Jeff Sessions’ vacated Senate seat. Given the news out of Washington yesterday that Sessions appears to have forgotten several other meetings he had with his Russian buddies during the Trump campaign, maybe it would have been better to leave his Senate vacant for a couple of months so that Session could honorably resign from the Cabinet, citing the need to return home and represent Alabama in the Senate again. But the bottom line is that there’s going to be a primary in August for a special election in the Fall, so ol’ Luther has started running campaign ads promoting himself as – guess what? – a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment because he’s been endorsed by the NRA.
You can view this ad on Luther’s Facebook page, which shows him shooting a pistol with a silencer in a shooting range at a bunch of targets that are supposed to represent various schemes of the Obama Administration which Luther fought against and won. I found this ad interesting for two reasons: first, Senator Strange doesn’t bother to wear hearing protection, even though a silencer doesn’t provide total protection for your hearing but Luther after all, is a real man; second, he states that he “fought the Obama administration’s unconstitutional infringement on our gun rights all the way to the Supreme Court,” when in fact he did no such thing. Even the NRA’s endorsement doesn’t list him as ever having participated in any legal action which ever went to the Supreme Court.
The use of guns as a vehicle to symbolize any political narrative whatsoever is dangerous and wrong. Because it transforms a gun into something which it is – a mechanical device that propels a piece of lead into something at which the gun is being aimed – into something which it isn’t – a metaphor for disagreeing with a statement or position that you don’t like. And the single most upsetting thing about those Klan campaign rallies over which Trump is still presiding as a way of avoiding any real work (or discussions with lawyers about impending indictments) is his constant appeals to violence both in terms of language and physical acts.
I can certainly understand why my friends at Fairfax would be exulting when they see such political ads. After all, the one group which above all says that there’s no connection between guns and violence is the same group that endorsed good ol’ boy Luther Strange to help him retain his newly-occupied Senate seat. Which is exactly the reason that such advertising is offensive and should be condemned. Because there’s no place for appeals to violence in a country which (I hope) is still governed by laws.