WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
FIFTY THOUSAND gun fanatics demand loaded firearms be permitted in a crowded arena where the Republican Party meets this summer for what promises to be a combustible presidential nominating convention.
How America Got Punk’d
Bang! Bang! You’re dead in Cleveland?
by Thomas Adcock
Copyright © 2016 – Thomas Adcock
NEW YORK CITY, near America
Over the course of seven days in late March, fifty thousand trigger-itching paranoiacs signed an internet petition demanding their “right” to carry loaded guns onto the assembly floor of the quadrennial Republican Party presidential nominating convention, set for July 18-21. The same number of Republican delegates, party operatives, elected politicians, and journalists are expected to assemble, cheek by jowl, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio for this year’s festivities.
What could possibly go wrong?
Upon receiving the petition, local police were quick to say “plenty.” They were understandably concerned that yet another American massacre was possible, and perhaps probable, given the rise of populist fascism led by the Republican Party’s most successful presidential campaigner to date—Donald J. Trump of New York, the billionaire businessman boor and Vladimir Putin fanboy who warns of convention chaos.
Should delegates fail to select him as party candidate for November’s general election, despite his long string of victories in preliminary state contests, Mr. Trump said in a CNN-Television interview, “I think you’d have riots. Riots! I’m representing a tremendous many, many millions
of people (sic).” The CNN interviewer sought reaction to The Donald’s prediction from Scottie Nell Hughes, curvaceous TV chat show diva and director of the right-wing Tea Party News Network. “Riots,” explained the ardent blonde Trumpista, “aren’t necessarily a bad thing (sic).”
For good measure, the similarly avid Trumpisti and veteran right-wing provocateur Roger Stone is busily planning what he calls a “Days of Rage” event for the streets of Cleveland. Recollecting that exact rallying cry from back in 1968—when thugs with badges and nightsticks assaulted demonstrators outside the Democratic Party convention that year in Chicago—commanders of a certain federal law agency in Washington were as suddenly jumpy as Cleveland cops.
And why shouldn’t the federals fret? A few weeks ago, the U.S. Capitol was evacuated when a sixty-six-year-old Tennessee gunman identified as Larry Dawson allegedly opened fire as he ran through the Visitor’s Center, shouting “I’m a prophet of God!” He was shot by police and hauled off to surgery. No one else was injured.
Ms. Hughes’ candidate of choice often mentions the secretly holstered pistol he packs beneath his Brioni suits, sometimes in conjunction with oaths of loyalty to his campaign manager—Corey Lewandowski, arrested March 27 in Jupiter, Florida on a charge of battering a female news reporter. (On April 14, the prosecutor in Jupiter opted against taking criminal action. Instead, Mr. Lewandowski could face civil litigation. His legal counsel in this matter is former federal government lawyer Kendall Coffey. Mr. Coffey was dismissed from his position due to allegations that he sank his teeth into the naked limb of a striptease dancer.)
Mr. Trump’s campaign rallies over the past eight months have inspired his raucous flock—Caucasians, Christianists, and unemployed Confederate flag wavers for the most part—to act out violently against those who do not share their worldview. Most recently, Trumpist goons shot pepper spray at point blank range into the face of a female adolescent whilst simultaneously jeering at a male apostate, “Get out, you nigger-loving communist.”
Meanwhile, there is Mr. Trump’s principal rival for Republican nomination—Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, scourge of what he calls “Islamism” who delights in reciting the entire 4,543-word U.S. Constitution from memory. A Harvard-educated attorney, the senator calls for carpet-bombing Syria, though such tactic is a specific violation of U.S. and international law. He also pushes for police surveillance of “Muslim areas” in American cities, though he has no idea where such areas are, exactly—nor that such police tactics amount to specifically unconstitutional religion-based persecution; nor that municipal police chiefs throughout the country are laughing at him. But Senator Cruz answers to a higher power. According to his father—the Rev. Rafael Cruz, director of the International Purifying Fire Ministries—the senator is anointed by God to become the next president
Pray tell, what would a Republican wingding be without sex?
Republicans have exhausted themselves in slandering “the gay,” as they refer to many millions of Americans. And they are not presently in the mood for damning women to Perdition should they undergo medically safe and legal abortions; that is so yesterday, besides which Mr. Trump’s call for punishing such women has backfired rather badly. Adrift in their sanctimonious sea, Republicans now grasp for an answer to the burning question: Who would be the prettier First Lady in either a Trump or Cruz administration?
Eager to spur debate, The Donald employed his favorite medium of communication to provide voters with a side-by-side visual of how things stack up, missus-wise. On the one hand is his wife—Melania Knauss, a Slovenia-born ex-model famous for nude photos in a British magazine that were gleefully distributed by the Anointed One in a TV campaign commercials. On the other— Mrs. Heidi Cruz, an investment banker with a history of mental illness now under control through “Christian counseling,” as her family puts it.
Heidi (left) v. Melania
Clearly, someone besides the Cleveland cops had to do something—anything—to tamp down the tinderbox.
The usual Republican convention equation is to be expected: booze, histrionics, piety, bigotry, striptease joint patronage, and hush-hush backstage extra-marital hijinks. But this petition! Loaded guns amongst a swilling mob of partisan loudmouths, bible-thumpers, egomaniacs, and true-believers? Not a single Republican Party bureaucrat or campaigner for public office, all of whom suckle at the blood money teats of the U.S. armaments industry, saw fit to utter a single word that might effect calm.
Enter the United States Secret Service.
As stern protectors of White House hopefuls with reasonable odds of White House tenancy—a group that includes the aforementioned New York boor and the bomb-happy Christianist—the Secret Service has say-so. With all deliberate speed, the Secret Service indeed said so to Republican panjundrums: Thou shalt not allow civilian firearms at your Cleveland synod; thou shalt close thine ears to the frenzied pleadings of fifty thousand gun fanatics; thou shalt shield thine beady eyes from the golden glow of bountiful lucre bestowed upon thee by the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.).
Under Title 18 of the U.S. Code (§3056 and §1752), the Secret Service may ban weapons from wherever in America its protectees are present—damn the pols financially beholden to the N.R.A., chief lobbyist for the gun industry. The code sections apply to both private venues such as the Quicken arena and public locations throughout Ohio, where “open-carry” state law permits bullyboys to flaunt their modified machine guns and semiautomatic pistols in the streets, thrilling their gonads and terrorizing everyone else; indoors at saloons as well, so long as they keep from “gittin’ all liquored up,” as bullyboys would say.
So far as my colleagues in American mainstream media are concerned, the story ends here. But as a media infidel, I ask: Was America just punk’d?
—A wonderful coinage, that word “punk’d.” According to urbandictionary.com, it means “fooled, tricked, made the butt of a practical joke.”
As March melted into April, a nameless young man revealed himself as creator of the gun petition, posted to change.org, a website that publishes nearly any crackbrain idea that arrives over its virtual transom.
The young man released a photograph of himself, in clown mufti, and offered the world a nom de guerre—“The Hyperationalist.” He also proclaimed something of a manifesto: “Speaking truth to stupid since…Well, since now.” As homage to N.R.A. orthodoxy, The Hyperationalist penned this preamble to his eight-hundred-word imprecation:
RECOGNIZE OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CARRY OPEN CARRY AT THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION! Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals, or others who wish to threaten the American way of life. …Gun-free zones [tell] every insane killer in America [of the] safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.
Later in the petition, Republican presidential candidates were urged to lobby their party to “rectify this affront to our…freedoms and insist upon a suspension of the gun-free loophole” that allows private facilities like Quicken Loans Arena to insist on gun-free audiences at its functions. No problem for Messrs. Trump and Cruz:
- In the aftermath of last December’s massacre during a Christmas banquet at public health center in San Bernadino, California, in which fourteen people died, Mr. Cruz said, “If you’re a lunatic, ain’t nothing better than having a bunch of targets you know that are going to be unarmed.”
- Mr. Trump’s remarks in early January underscore the Republican Party/ N.R.A. unity of logic: “You know what a gun-free zone is to sickos? It’s bait. I will get rid of gun-free zones in schools…My first day as president, okay? My first day! No more gun-free zones.”
Rhetoric of this variety has the American press punditry—and a dwindling number of compos mentis Republicans—imagining a Democratic landslide in November, no matter Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as their party’s nominee. As of April 2, according to the New York Times, Republican primary voters are faced with a choice between “a dangerously ignorant businessman” and “a dangerously reactionary senator.”
‘IGNORANT BUSINESSMAN’ (left) and ‘REACTIONARY SENATOR’
Most of my friends in mainstream media classify the gun petition as a satirical stunt. But not Arden Fahri of CBS News.
In a March 29 article for the TV network’s website, he recounted tracking down The Hyperationalist for a telephone interview—the only reporter to have done so. Mr. Fahri wrote:
[He] says he wrote the petition knowing it was somewhat preposterous, that law enforcement would never allow the Republican presidential candidates inside an arena with potentially thousands of armed individuals. “There were never going to be guns at the convention. Not a million signatures [could] make that happen,” he said.
But he also knew that if the Republican candidates sincerely meant what they have been saying…it would logically follow that they should support a move to allow firearms at the convention. “If they can’t live in accordance with the policies they impose upon us, they owe us that rational conversation,” he said.
“How do we square how unsafe they’re going to be with what they say makes us safe?” he continued. “I take them at their word. [Open carry is the] state law in Ohio. I don’t want them to have a terrible event happen [at the convention] and then say if it hadn’t been a gun-free zone, fewer people would have died.”
Like Arden Fahri, I sense something beyond satire in The Hyperationalist’s action: something at the juncture of hoax and instigation. He punk’d us—but good. Because the gun madness he addresses is true, he cannot rightly be termed a satirist. Nor is he himself a joker. What he has done is to make all Americans the butt of N.R.A. leader Wayne LaPierre’s mad joke.
On the morning of December 21, 2012, twenty-year-old Adam Lanza of Newtown, Connecticut crept into his mother’s bedroom with the AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle she’d given him for his birthday and shot her to death. He then drove her car to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School and mowed down twenty children, ages six and seven, along with a half-dozen teachers. One week later, at the behest of gun manufacturers dreaming of a whole new market segment for their wares, Mr. LaPierre began the ongoing campaign to introduce deadly weapons into America’s schoolhouses. Mr. LaPierre famously reasoned, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
The Republican-dominated U.S. Congress did absolutely nothing about the Sandy Hook massacre. Nor did it feel obliged to do anything about the scores of other recent massacres. And Congress is not likely to do the right thing at any point in the near future.
The Secret Service can hold off the assassination of a presidential candidate, or a president, for only so long.
Mr. LaPierre has not finished joking. His latest recruit in the “good guy” category is Amelia Hamilton, a right-wing blogger who describes herself as a “lifelong writer and patriot.” Her re-imagined classic fairy tales have become a popular feature on the organization’s website.
Following is an excerpt from “Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun),” one of many titles in Ms. Hamilton’s literary œuvre:
The wolf leaned in, jaws open wide, then stopped suddenly. Those big ears heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun’s safety being clicked off. Those big eyes looked down and saw that Grandma had a scattergun aimed right at him. He realized that Grandmother hadn’t been backing away from him; she had been moving towards her shotgun to protect herself and her home.
“I don’t think I’ll be eaten today,” said Grandma, “and you won’t be eating anyone again.” Grandma kept her gun trained on the wolf, who was too scared to move. Before long, he heard a familiar voice call, “Grandmother, I’m here!” Red peeked her head in the door. The wolf couldn’t believe his luck—he had come across two capable ladies in the same day, and they were related! Oh, how he hated when families learned how to protect themselves.
The mad beat goes on, in the form of The Donald’s latest pronunciamento: “The right of self-defense doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway. That’s why I have a concealed carry permit and why tens of millions of Americans do, too. That permit should be valid in all fifty states. A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state. If we can do that for driving—which is a privilege, not a right—then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.”
My first day as president, okay? My first day!
—Thomas Adcock is America correspondent for CulturMag