Sunday, 27 January 2013

Playwright David Mamet's brilliant contribution to the gun-control debate

David Mamet
Like everyone else, I’ve been reading an awful lot of articles about gun control recently. Whenever the subject has cropped up on TV, I’ve tended to switch over, because most of the coverage in the UK has consisted of liberals using the issue to attack every American who didn’t vote for Barack Obama, while simultaneously using Britain’s comparative lack of gun murders as the excuse for a liberal smug-fest. (I can handle this sort of self-righteous guff when it's written down, but the sound of liberals being morally superior tends to set my teeth on edge.)

Apart from featuring the odious Piers Morgan letting his country down by behaving like a nasty, gobby, ill-mannered oik on his CNN show (here), and the terrifying but wonderful Judge Jeanine Piero ripping a left-wing website a new one for (bizarrely)  publishing the addresses of registered gun-owners (here), I’ve generally kept away from the subject. It strikes me as presumptuous of someone who lives in a country with low gun ownership, where there is no right to bear arms, and where gun homicide is relatively rare to lecture Americans on how they should organise their affairs. I'm delighted gun crime is rare here - but I'm also aware that the absence of a fear of guns might account for the appallingly high levels of non-gun crime in the UK: one suspects that rapists, burglars, muggers and thugs intent on beating up innocent passers-by might reconsider their options if they had to factor in the possibility of getting their stupid heads blown off.

But any sympathy one might have entertained for gun-control fanatics has evaporated in the face of their conscienceless employment of dead children and grief-stricken parents for purposes of moral blackmail. (President Obama’s performance on this score has been particularly sickening.) Jim Goad, writing in Taki’s Magazine, made the point well:
"With the interminable recent voodoo jibber-jabber about gun rights, gun violence, saving the children, saving the children from guns, helping us save the children from guns by voluntarily turning in all our guns, snitching on other gun owners who aren’t willing to help the children by surrendering their guns, and the inevitable and final “empowerment” of the “people” as their last gun is taken away from their hands and placed in the warm bosom of the federal government, the blowtorch of media outrage seems selectively focused at the NRA types, who are presumably rural crackers, which means it’s OK to hate and mock them without feeling guilty.” 
You can read the full version of Goad's article here, and fellow-blogger and regular commenter e.f. bartlam is also interesting on the gadarene rush by Northern liberals to blame the gun culture of the South for the deaths of children in Connecticut (you can read his post - "How Do You Stop Random Shooting Up North" - here).

The best-argued case that I’ve read in recent weeks for not allowing the US government to take away law-abiding citizens’ right to own guns was produced by the distinguished playwright, screenwriter, poet, essayist and commentator, David Mamet, writing in Newsweek.

I’m certain that Mamet – who was responsible for (among many other plays and films) Glengarry Glenn Ross, House of Games and The Spanish Prisoner – is a brave and honest man. The reason I know this is that he’s that very rare thing - a highly-respected member of America’s creative elite who happens to be a conservative willing to air his deeply unfashionable political views (well, they’re unfashionable in all the areas in which Mamet is active – i.e. Hollwood, theatreland and publishing). Hell, he even urged American Jews to vote for Romney!

Now, any liberal involved in the creative arts can emote to their heart’s content about the marvellousness of Obama, or the evils of capitalism, or about the need to raise taxes, or about how wicked and racist their country is, all without the slightest fear of suffering any consequences – indeed, their reputations will be enhanced by toeing the party line. But I’m sure conservatives involved in the creative sector who voice their honest opinion are putting themselves at odds with the people who control that sector: that takes guts, and it also probably guarantees that they've actually thought about the issues they choose to discuss (unlike, say, airheads like Beyoncé or Madonna).

Mamet’s article (available here) deserves to be read in its entirety, but here - just to whet your appetite - is its conclusion:
The police do not exist to protect the individual. They exist to cordon off the crime scene and attempt to apprehend the criminal. We individuals are guaranteed by the Constitution the right to self-defense. This right is not the Government’s to “award” us. They have never been granted it. 
The so-called assault weapons ban is a hoax. It is a political appeal to the ignorant. The guns it supposedly banned have been illegal for 78 years. Did the ban make them “more” illegal?... 
Will increased cosmetic measures make anyone safer? They, like all efforts at disarmament, will put the citizenry more at risk. Disarmament rests on the assumption that all people are good, and, basically, want the same things.
But if all people were basically good, why would we, increasingly, pass more and more elaborate laws? 
The individual is not only best qualified to provide his own personal defense, he is the only one qualified to do so: and his right to do so is guaranteed by the Constitution. 
President Obama seems to understand the Constitution as a “set of suggestions.” I cannot endorse his performance in office, but he wins my respect for taking those steps he deems necessary to ensure the safety of his family. Why would he want to prohibit me from doing the same?
That kind of talk definitely earns David Mamet a place in the enormously prestigious and influential Heroes section of this blog.


  1. I am also an admirer of David Mamet. It is unfortunate that you choose a picture of him wearing a reversed peaked cap and silly glasses. It makes him look like a creative director of a third-rate advertising agency.

    1. To be fair to myself, I did it deliberately to underline the fact that he's a member of the creative community rather than a right-wing lecturer at the Heritage Institute. Given that he more usually dresses like an academic, I also assumed his hip liberal outfit here was deliberatly parodic.

      I think of everything, you know.