Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 11/06/02

Artist's Statement

Taking a break from bashing George and Mister Cheney this week to make cruel sport of gun owners, whom I have not insulted since the last zany fad for school and office shootings blew over a couple of years ago. Then I focused mostly on gun lobbyists, who as far as I'm concerned are several ethical rungs below both crack dealers, who are at least up-front about just trying to make a buck, and terrorists, who you have to admit genuinely believe in their cause. Their (gun lobbyists') blind, indiscriminate opposition to even the most commonsensical gun laws--waiting periods, background checks, banning assault weapons, being able to trace any bullet back to the gun that fired it--seems to me to be one of those rare instances in political life of clear-cut, indefensible Evil. To me it seems weirdly obvious that the compromise solution ought to be that rifles should be legal in rural areas where people hunt and all firearms should be illegal everywhere else. This wouldn't prevent the occasional school or workplace killing spree (and, really, who'd want to live in a world without them?) but it might decrease the number of boring everyday murders in crack-ridden cities like Baltimore.

This time, though, I thought I'd just go ahead and call all gun owners assholes. Listen: I've been a victim of violent crime (long story, and you'd think I was making it up anyway), and every once in a while over the years I've thought of maybe buying a gun and learning to use it safely, sort of like how I keep thinking I ought to learn French. But then I remember, except then I'd be an asshole. It's not like owning a gun would have protected me when I was attacked (it was in Crete, for one thing, where I don't think I could've taken a gun through customs, or carried one concealed through the back alleys of Rethymnou, and it was too dark and I was too drunk to have used it as an effective deterrent or for accurate defense, plus I never even saw the guy who stabbed me), and I can't imagine any realistic scenario in which it ever would--though I can imagine plenty of cool fantastic ones, and I think it is on these pathetic fantasies that the gun industry is founded. Like the manufacturers of any other useless product, they're selling a fantasy--in this case, a fantasy of power and security for people who feel impotent and terrified. It's the same fantasy, I think, behind the Cheney Doctrine, this idea that you can defeat all your enemies and control every other country in the world and finally no one anywhere will ever be able to hurt you again. It's insane and hopeless. The unsaleable truth is that some total stranger, some mean little loser like John Mohammed, could kill you or the people you love at any moment and there's nothing you can buy that's going to change that or make you feel any better about it, except maybe crack.

I will issue one of my rare apologies to Randy Gardner, gun owner, deer hunter, fanatical fisherman, and true redneck, who always says just the right impolitic thing you've been wishing someone would say and seems to show up with an entire bottle of  whiskey on every social occasion, traits to be prized. Paradoxically, Randy only gets an apology for the hunter cartoon because I suspect he won't be offended by it. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if he started asking "Now who's yer daddy?" of each and every deer and bigmouth bass.

"Sic Semper Tyrannis" ("thus always to tyrants"), the state motto of Virginia, is what John Wilkes Booth yelled after shooting President Lincoln. (Funny Virginia never changed their slogan. You'd think something like that would kind of taint it.) Its corrupted quotation here is intended only to illustrate the sad decline in oratorial skills among our political assassins as well as our politicians over the last century. As always, let me state for the record that I neither wish to assassinate the President nor to advocate his assassination. Hey, I don't even own a gun. But you'll take my pen away from me when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

Back to George and Mr.Cheney next week!