Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nil Carborundum Illigitimi

Providence program destroys children’s toy guns - The Boston Globe: "’Tis the season for joy, peace, and grinding up plastic, orange-tipped AK-47s.

For seven years, Providence municipal and law enforcement officials have organized the event around Christmastime as a way to raise awareness of the dangers of playing with guns, real or fake. The event is a mix of the macabre and the playful, a children’s version of the gun buyback program in which adults trade firearms for gift certificates.

Yesterday, younger children ran through a rubber obstacle course while officials told the older children the story of a 14-year-old boy who police nearly shot after they confused his air pistol with a real gun.

In exchange for their toy guns, all the children received wrapped presents that were indisputably not violent — dolls, stuffed animals, and board games like checkers."

This entire store is based on a single, if complex, premise: "Guns Are Bad!"

Diane Levin, professor of education at Wheelock College, said police and parents coming together to destroy toy guns sends a powerful message to children.

But adults should follow up with children to explain the complexities of weapons and violence so they can more efficiently counter the seductive image of guns in movies and video games.

“It’s one piece of what needs to happen around this issue,’’ said Levin, coauthor of “The War Play Dilemma.’’ “There is also this side of [children] trying to understand why are there guns there, and why do people use them? When kids are getting all kinds of other messages about guns, it’s a more complicated issue than just having one day about how guns are bad.’’ [emphasis added by editor]

Even though the author (and the interviewed participants) take the long way around the barn to present their thesis, it still ends up with the same unsupported and unsupportable premise: "Guns Are Bad!".

Interestingly, if the article is true to the message and rationale of the 'project', there is no clear explanation of WHY "Guns Are Bad!" In fact, we don't here have even so much as a clue as to HOW "Guns Are Bad!"

It's difficult to determine whether the article was edited for length by a copy-editor who just didn't have the space to include the explanation, or whether the reporter failed to record it, or even if the sponsors of the project failed to explain it. All we know is that "Guns Are Bad!", and apparently we either (a) know intuitively that "Guns Are Bad!", or (b) we are easily swayed by the argument that if these people put so much effort into taking toy guns off the mean streets of Providence, R.I., they must be right if only because they are so darn sincere!

"Gun Buy-Back" schemes are nothing new. For years, these schemes have been the premier way for gang members to dispose of their 9's after using them in a drive-by. They don't even have to file off the serial numbers ... the local police are happy to chop up the guns if only to get them off the streets.

But these are not real guns; they're toys. They are not lethal weapons, they are only icons.

Maybe that's the Liberal Message .. which is to say, the Message is the Massage, a la Marshall Mcluhan. These ... people ... are feeding their children a message which will shape their perceptions for the rest of their young lives.

It's all propaganda, it's a Skinnerism ... behavior modification by learned response to stimulus. When these children achieve adulthood, they will remember only that "Guns Are Bad!"; they won't think about why or how they are bad, only that their mommies told them so, and they won't have to think for themselves.

These nice people who took away their toys are powerful authority figures, and the children, in adulthood, will have been programmed to a very specific thought pattern.

Except, perhaps, for one little boy, named Malik, who had his own ideas:

Some children were not thrilled with the trade.

Malik Hall, a round-eyed second-grader, looked apprehensive as he stood in line with his favorite toy, a thick, blue gun with plastic sword underneath the muzzle. The 8-year-old was furious when his mother, Amanda, told him he would have to give it up. Yesterday morning, he tried to hide it under his pillow, she said.

“I’m worried,’’ she said. “He might cry.’’

But when it was his turn, Malik strode dry-eyed and with quiet dignity to the Bash-O-Matic and fed it the gun. When his mother approached, he said nothing.

“You don’t want to talk to me?’’ Hall asked. He looked at her stonily and left to retrieve his gift.

Way to go, Malik. Nil Carborundum Illigitimi.

PS: oh, by the way. Looking at the photograph which accompanied the article ... a small boy feeding his plastic gun into the "Bash-O-Matic", I wondered how a concerned parent could all their child to push a plastic toy into a mangle. Perhaps they are so concerned about the possible influence of The Evil Gun, they pay no attention to the possiblilty of a child losing a finger ... or a hand ... to the evils of the "Bash-O-Matic".

In the timeless words of Bugs Bunny: "What a bunch of Maroons!"

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