Outrageous? Absolutely, and more than a little absurd, as one headline pointed out. Wonderful in its inventiveness and the stuff of brilliant satire in its delicious obscenity but not illegally so? You bet! Effective? One can only hope.
That’s what University of Texas students came up with to protest their state Legislature’s irresponsible decision to permit concealed firearms on their Austin campus over the objections of not only thousands of enrollees but also professors, the chancellor of the system and the president of its flagship institution.
What were the lawmakers thinking? The answer is obviously they weren’t, which has been the case in too many instances of refusal to take steps to officially curb gun violence in this country by adopting common sense restraints on the distribution and venues of lethal weapons.
So instead of toting guns in their protest of another example of political insanity, the students used sex toys. They wielded dildos that are potentially illegal if they are carried openly. Not guns, mind you, but items used by many in the act of making love, not lethal mayhem. That’s the absurd part of this entire incident.
The big Austin campus is 50,000 strong and to demonstrate the overwhelming opposition by its inhabitants to the possession of weapons of mass destruction to those who support such idiocy, one only has to note, as The New York Times did, that the nationwide organization Students for Campus Carry has one member there. He was waving a sign the newspaper described as “suggesting a peaceful coexistence.”
That seems a wise position considering the disparity in numbers.
The problem, of course, is just as Brian Bensimon, the lone member of the Campus Carry crowd and its spokesman, described it to the Times. “I may be out of step with his campus,” he said, “But I’m not out of step with this state.”
This is Texas, after all, home of the Alamo and gun-slinging cowboys.
It’s also where, in 1966, a sniper positioned in the school’s tower shot 49 people, killing 16. Is he pertinent to the argument against the distinct possibility of similar tragedy?
An equally valid example might be what occurred at Virginia Tech, where a single, deranged gunman killed 32 and wounded 17 not too long ago.
But the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature, in its infinite wisdom honed by all those contributions to election and re-election campaigns from the NRA and other pro-gun shills for the firearms manufacturers, finally got its way. Now we can probably look for an eventual reenactment of the battle of San Jacinto with live ammunition one drunken night following a football game. But that’s OK. The Legislature will just blame it on boys being boys and a school administration not paying enough attention.
The university’s powers understand this perfectly but are reluctant to disobey the edict in any fashion allowing as how it would cause the lawmakers to do even more damage.
The police stood by peacefully as the students brandishing their sex toys made their political statement without breaking the law in any fashion.
According to the Times, the student protests got more notice than the letters professors have written condemning the new policy. Well, why wouldn’t they considering their choice of supplements to the usual placards waved at these events?
Once again, the internet came into play with instant recording of this satirical gem for viral distribution. Selfies with toys were taken and on and on. Obviously some may believe this is an obscene form of protest and they would be right if taken out of context. But it is certainly no more so than men and women thrusting loaded battlefield weapons in the air or swaggering around like Wilson from the movie “Shane” with pistols strapped around their waists.
What’s at stake is just too important for such an absurd act to be seen as offensive.
Dan Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers.
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