By Evan Fackler, Guest Columnist
How should those of us who think guns are a dangerous distraction to campus life respond to armed demonstrators walking as part of the open carry event this weekend on campus? Creatively. How else to respond to an absurd situation?
Obviously many students who are made uncomfortable or uneasy by the presence of guns will opt to stay in their dorms or remain off campus during the hours of the event. That's an infinitely understandable reaction, and underlines just how serious the thought of guns on campus is. Still, it'd be a shame to let Jeffry Smith and his organization walk through campus without meeting any resistance, without meeting groups of students ready to offer alternative ideas about what life on campus should be like, and why guns aren't, and should not be, a part of how we come together in community.
Of course, Mr. Smith comes here armed, ostensibly to educate us about our campus and our values. While nothing makes a conversation more absurd than the presence of a gun, we should really try to educate him. If he can hear us beyond that gun strapped to his waist, that is.
And that's a big "if," since that gun seems to flatten and condition his entire political and social perspective.
In the April 12th edition of The Miami Student, for instance, Mr. Smith suggested that Miami students were "sitting ducks." This statement appears in harmony with other similarly paranoid statements he has made about us (and the world) in the past, like, for instance, his suggestion that the prohibition of firearms on campus creates a "victims zone."
I've already argued vehemently against this distorted view in an op-ed I wrote in that same edition of The Miami Student. In that piece I argued that far from making us victims or prey for hunters, our decision to limit the presence of guns on campus puts the majority of us (and many parents) at ease and makes the kind of reasonable and open discussions that are the bedrock of any educational community possible.
In light of this, I think we should approach articulating our own sense of ourselves and our campus values with a certain amount of playfulness. Not because we're not serious, but because our passion gives us joy. To this end, I hope student organizations and fraternities and sororities make a day of it (the event starts at 1pm at Cook Field, but protesters should get there a little earlier, or camp out along the main walks through campus) and apply their own infinitely inventive minds to the question of
how to respond.
Folks have already come up with some creative possibilities for protesting. Perhaps you decide to dress as sitting ducks to satirize that detestable image? Or maybe you open carry sex toys (and if sex toys make anyone more uncomfortable than firearms, then that says something rather mystifying about how they evaluate danger). I, for one, will be open carrying my books.
Whatever is done, I hope our visitors understand that you don't have to be afraid of guns, "anti"-second amendment, a communist (I was called "comrade" on their Facebook group, which is fine with me, even if it's inaccurate), or a hippy-liberal to think guns don't belong on college campuses (although, you can be any or all of those things). Very likely, you're just a reasonable human being. Speaking for myself, having grown up around guns, it's not that I irrationally hate or fear them, I'm just not delusional about the level of safety or comfort guns provide (to their bearers, but particularly to others), or their merit as part of life in an educational community.
So how to respond to people who really don't get it, and seem unwilling to try? How to respond to someone crassly holding a gun on a college campus? Perhaps by brandishing a dildo. At least then we're honest about the kind of exchange we'll have.