I found this picture on one of the “Guns Are Bad” Facebook pages that have become so popular lately. My friends share the pictures and I get a few on my newsfeed every day: Some of the pictures are witty, a lot of them spread misinformation, and many feature that stereotypical “gun crazy” that I wrote about last week.
This one made me roll my eyes… in an amused sort of way. Not because I think the picture is funny, but because I can’t help but think that the administrator of that “Guns Are Bad” Facebook page posted this picture during a moment of Not Very Deep Thinking.
The picture, as it turns out, is Chris Weyant’s, and was published not quite a month ago.
His cartoon is, of course, a nod to Rene Magriette’s Treachery of Images (1929). The words in Magriette’s painting are French, and they say “This is not a pipe.” One’s first thought might be confusion, because clearly, it is a pipe. But it isn’t really a pipe at all… it is an image of a pipe. And that, of course, was Magriette’s point.
On the other hand, perhaps the page administrator should be forgiven; Magriette’s painting caused quite a bit of drama and confusion when he first painted it, too. As Magriette said, “Ah, the famous pipe. How people reproach me for it! And, yet, could you stuff my famous pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture, ‘This is a pipe,’ I would have been lying!”
Indeed, when Chris Weyant wrote (half in French, half in English) “This is not a 2nd Amendment right,” his words rang true; it is not a Second Amendment right, it is an image of a Second Amendment right.
And the picture is a First Amendment right.
The thing is, these two rights—all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, really—should be so intertwined that it should be unthinkable that someone who supports one would not support the other. Yet, somehow, with a few exceptions—among whom I humbly include myself—this is not the case.
The supporters of the First Amendment tend to be indifferent to, or more likely working against, the supporters of the Second Amendment. The same is true of the supporters of the Second Amendment; they spend so much time and effort defending Gun Rights, that they tend to forget that there are many other rights that are being violated on a daily basis… and often work against the First Amendment’s most ardent supporters on general principle.
While some people might be very upset if, for example, a public school told a student she couldn’t wear her Christian cross to class, how many people would care (or even be pleased) if they told her she couldn’t wear her Wiccan pentacle? The answer is EVERYONE should care. Because when you deny the rights of one, you are denying not only the rights of many, but the integrity of the Whole.
In a more concrete example, last year HR 347, the innocuous-sounding Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 was passed. It wasn’t a bill about gardening, however, but another bite taken out of the First Amendment. This law, quite simply, makes it easier for the Federal government to criminalize protest. And if you happen to be exercising your Second Amendment rights along with your First Amendment rights, you could be guilty of a felony with a ten year prison sentence attached.
You might not like what the people who are protesting have to say, and that is fine. You might disagree, or even think they are wrong, and that’s fine, too. But you have to absolutely support their right to say it, for the benefit of all. The First Amendment is about the free exchange of ideas, and the Government should not be allowed to limit the exchange of ideas it doesn’t like. Especially the ideas it doesn’t like. The First Amendment must be fiercely and passionately protected by everyone who wants to live in a Free State.
You might not like guns, and that’s fine. You might not want to own a gun or even shoot one, and that’s fine, too. But you have to support the rights of those willing to keep and bear arms, for the benefit of all. The Second Amendment exists as a last-ditch protection against a Government-turned-Tyrannical. The Government should not be allowed to limit styles of guns or types of “clips” any more than it should be allowed to limit the exchange of ideas. The Second Amendment must be nurtured by anyone who wants to maintain their Free State.
We have become divided. We have allowed ourselves to become divided. We have allowed fear and hatred and sheer stubbornness to cloud the fact that our rights—all of our rights—are being attacked.
Our First Amendment rights are being attacked; our Second Amendment rights are being attacked. The Constitution is just paper. If we don’t stand together and demand that our Government follow it, it won’t. We will have no rights and no way of getting them back.
Please note: These two images were shared for the purposes of furthering discussion; no copyright infringement is intended.