Oscar Wilde & Lord Douglas
“The love that dare not speak its name.” The expression is from a poem by Lord Alfred Douglas, published in 1894. It seems clearly to refer to same-sex relationships, specifically his with Oscar Wilde. After 1969, author Robertson Davis complained that it had become “the love that won’t shut up.”
In this post, however, I’m refurbishing the phrase to cover an altogether different desire. Here the infatuated is completely open about the object of his affection—screams it from the rooftops—but can’t admit, even to himself, the real motivation behind his ardor.
I’m talking about that rather large segment of the population who are sometimes referred to, perhaps uncharitably, as gun nuts. This category doesn’t include the average hunter. Nor does it include NRA spokespeople and their prostitute politicians, whose main motivation is getting money from gun manufacturers. Who it includes are guys like Sam Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber. His famous response to parents who had lost their children in a mass shooting was, “Your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.”
There are thousands, perhaps millions like him in this country. You read their polemics every day in the newspapers. They always give the same three arguments:
1) The Constitution gives them the right to as many guns and as much ammunition as they can buy. To carry their pieces everywhere either open or concealed; loaded and ready to fire; with or without telescopic sights, silencers, and bump stocks. And of course, their 2nd Amendment rights are absolute.
2) They (overwhelmingly white men) must be able to defend against hordes of bad guys (frequently depicted as illegal Mexican immigrants, Muslim terrorists, or ghetto blacks). No matter that FBI statistics show the violent crime rate fell 48% between 1993 and 2016.
3) They must be able to defend against a tyrannical government. No matter that they can’t conceivably stand against a federal army equipped with tanks, artillery, fighter jets, etc.
Since the gun zealots’ assertions don’t make logical sense, what is the real motivation behind such passionate intensity? It’s what they cannot say, and what we gun control advocates dare not say, either because we are too polite or too scared. We try to debate them on their own terms—in op-ed pieces in the newspapers and elsewhere—and fail, because logic, science, and statistics will never prevail against obsession.
But Mr. Trump himself let the cat out of the bag in his war of words with Kim Jong Un, when he tweeted that his own “Nuclear Button…is a much bigger & more powerful one than [Kim’s], and my Button works!” In other words, it’s all about who’s got the biggest, the strongest, the fastest. And the rest of us had better not try to get between an insecure man and his beloved stainless steel semiautomatic rapid-fire PENIS.