December 28, 1998 (Ira Pilgrim)

Unnatural Death

Television is the first truly democratic culture -the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what the people do want.

Clive Barnes, 1969

Of the movies and TV shows that I have seen, death is often a major element. However it is rarely a natural death. Mostly it is death by shooting, stabbing etc. Occasionally it is death from cancer of some kind. Rarely, if ever, does anyone simply grow old and die. I assume that there is little drama in a natural death and the public is not likely to be interested. Unlike murder, which can start the adrenaline flowing for a few seconds, a natural death is something that most people would probably find boring.

I recently attended a scientific meeting, during which I got to watch more TV in the hotel than I usually do at home. At home, I always ask myself if the program is worth the electricity. Usually the answer is "No." In one TV movie, there were three people shot,one impaled with a pitchfork, and a women who fell on one edge of a double-bladed axe. It also included a bedroom scene in which two naked people were obviously engaged in sexual intercourse, which they referred to as "fucking," a word that is not permitted in this newspaper.

It is commonplace for film previews on TV to have people and vehicles blown up, people being decapitated and otherwise mutilated. I have to avoid those films before bedtime because they give me nightmares. I suspect that our children have seen so much of it that it may leave them no more emotionally affected than Bugs Bunny; but I doubt it.

When a couple of kids, age 11 and 13, machine gunned a bunch of their female school mates and one female teacher, everyone on the news seemed shocked. Where could these kids have even gotten the idea? Well, I have no doubt whatever where they got the idea.

Where did the kids get their arsenal of weapons? They "took" them from one of the kid's grandfather's extensive gun collection. Grandpa says that the mass murderer is a "good kid." Grandpa is a moron. Calling that murderer a good kid is like saying that Joseph Stalin was good to his mother.

Now some people want to restrict gun ownership and the National Rifle Association is resisting with great force. Would it do any good? Would it do any good to incarcerate for life or execute that 13 year old who was just doing what he has undoubtedly seen adults do on the tube? I doubt it.

I would like to see a law that would say that anyone who permits a gun of his to fall into the hands of a child be punished as follows:

1. Impound all of his guns.

2. Sentence him to thirty years in prison. The sentence should be suspended, and the suspension lifted if at any time that person is caught in posession of a gun, or with a gun in his home.

3. Make him financially liable for damage inflicted on the victims of the shooting.

I have said this before, and I will say it again: Posession of automatic weapons should be illegal, with substantial penalties for their posession. There is no possible use for these weapons other than the killing of many people at one time. As a self-defense weapon, you can't beat a shotgun loaded with 00buckshot. Don't take my word for it; ask any cop.

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