Monday, July 28, 2014

When freedom is mandatory

One episode of the short-lived prime-time cartoon Allen Gregory had the title character’s school hosting a gay dance, which Allen’s same-sex parents had pushed for in the name of tolerance and inclusion. Which, on this show, meant that everyone was required to go with a member of the same sex, whether or not they wanted to. It was a ridiculous caricature of gay rights, much like the whole show was a ridiculous caricature of insufferably stuffy liberals (who actually are ripe for satire, if done right).

That episode came to mind for me when I read that the NRA suggested we have “gun-required zones” and make shooting compulsory to pass grades in school. Never mind the obvious peril of putting firearms into even more hands and the insistence that target ranges are financially feasible when many schools can’t afford new books — is a right really a right if you’re forced to exercise it? I’m all for the First Amendment, but if you want to not talk, that’s fine by me. No one can force you either way. That’s why it’s a right.

Another unflattering comparison that springs to mind is the dystopian Biff’s Pleasure Paradise from Back to the Future II. It’s easy to miss, but the casino has a sign at its entrance that says, “smoking required.” Some people (not me) will insist that people have a right to smoke in public places, but I’d imagine most of them don’t favor forcing everyone to light up.

I, for one, never want to step anywhere where guns are required. I don’t visit war zones and don’t want to see America turn into one at the hands of the paranoid. But it would be nice to see these guys’ sudden interest in funding schools and expanding government subsidies used for good. Like, I don’t know, feeding the poor. And education. Real education.

No comments: