Driving between the old apartment and the new house, I saw a bumper sticker that made me go “Hmmm,” then “Ummm,” in about a second. (My mind works fast when I’m behind the wheel.)
The message went as follows: “If guns kill people, matches cause arson.”
Hmmm, good point.
Ummm, wait a minute!
Bad analogy, sir or ma’am. The primary purpose of a gun is to inflict harm; in fact, it’s hard to think of a purpose that doesn’t risk injury or damage—intended or not, proper handling or not. Sure, used carelessly, a match could inflict harm … but if matches and guns are truly analogous, why don’t I need a license to make S’mores?
Please understand, I’m not bashing firearms here (maybe in another column). I’m pointing out bad reasoning passed off as good sense. If guns kill people, bumper stickers kill brain cells.
I’m willing to forgive a decal where comedy is the aim … I mean target … (Blast those gun puns! I mean …). “Can we impeach for a blown job?”; “Jesus is coming. Look busy”; “Honk if my kid falls out”; “Give peas a chance”; “Tom Tancredo, President 2008.” Who’d take any of those seriously?
But I’d like to shred stickers that aspire to philosophize but are far from wise—faux koans such as:
• “I survived Roe v. Wade” (As did countless women who had abortions safely.)
• “Don’t like the cops? Next time you’re in trouble, call a crackhead!” (Hey, if you’re in a seedy neighborhood, at least one’ll be around …)
• “If you agree with Al Gore, should you really be driving right now?” (What if I’m on the way to the recycling center? In a truck burning french-fry oil?)
• “Killing for peace is like screwing for virginity” (I don’t know what to say about this one, except it’s just off.)
Back to gun rumbling. Here’s a sticker that makes sense: “Guns don’t kill people, they just make it easier.” Too much Brady Bill, not enough NRA? OK, try something I made up: “If guns kill people, cigarettes cause cancer.” Or maybe just: “If guns kill people, cigarettes kill people.” There’s some poignant parallelism.
Honk-honk; who’s there? Lest you think I’m anti-sticker, here are some good’uns I came across on CafePress.com:
• “Oh, look, honey … another pro-lifer for war”
• “Don’t talk bad about a farmer with your mouth full”
• “Democrats are sexy! Whoever heard of a great piece of elephant?”
• “Even my indifferent cat hates Vick”
• “Alcohol and calculus don’t mix; don’t drink and derive”
• “A police officer must make a decision in seconds that judges and lawyers will fight over for years”
• “Think … it’s patriotic”
• “What if the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?”
• “Don’t judge me based on your ignorance”
Poets do it lyrically: Thanks to everyone who crowded into the Crux last Saturday for A Night of Spoken Word Artistry. The poets and listeners crowned Jennie Hammett as the CN&R’s inaugural Poetry 99 slam/spoken-word champ; she, with her interpretive dance partner, edged Brad Brown and Peggy Henry. Look for Poetry 99 II (as opposed to Poetry 992) next November.