Losing His Cool

You remember Alex Jones, the man who wanted CNN’s Piers Morgan deported because he had the audacity to suggest that the United States needs tighter gun control laws. If we keep turning rocks over and idiots like Jones continue to crawl out it will eventually give conservatives a bad name. Assuming he ever had “it,” Alex Jones recently went on Piers Morgan’s TV show and lost it, as the following Yahoo News story tells us:

Alex Jones, the conservative talk radio host who launched a petition to deport CNN prime-time host Piers Morgan over the British citizen’s views on gun control, had what you might conservatively call a wee bit of a meltdown during an interview on Morgan’s show Monday night.

Jones, whose petition has generated more than 100,000 signatures since being posted last month on the White House’s “We The People” website, lashed out at Morgan over his public calls for tighter gun regulations in the wake of last month’s shootings in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people—including 20 children—were killed by a gunman at an elementary school.

“The Second Amendment isn’t there for duck hunting,” a relatively calm Jones said at the beginning of a two-part, 15-minute interview. “It’s there to protect us from tyrannical government and street thugs.”

This is interesting for a number of reasons. To begin with, the fact that Jones later in the interview lost his cool and started to blather suggests that he knew deep-down he is on very thin ice. The thinness of the ice is demonstrated by his ignorance of the second amendment to the Constitution. The amendment was not written to protect us from “tyrannical government and street thugs.” It was written to protect us from standing armies, including our own. It was intended to guarantee that every American male would have arms and could be called upon to protect his country from armed invaders. There weren’t many “street thugs” about in those days — and very few conservative radio talk-show hosts (lucky Colonials!).  And the tyrants had already been sent back to England, though there was always the possibility that their armies might return. Hence the need for a militia.

The depth of ignorance among the gun-rights movement is staggering but not really surprising, given the fact that Americans are generally ignorant about their own history. One wonders how many of those who rant about the second amendment have ever read it. It’s not that long and has few, if any, big words. As I have mentioned in previous blogs (for example, this one), the right to bear arms is connected logically with the need for a militia and the desire NOT to have a standing army. It says, in effect: because we don’t want to be an occupied country we require a militia and therefore insist on the right to bear arms. No need for a militia, no need for arms.

But on a deeper level, it is disturbing that a man like Jones who professes to be an opinion-maker in this country cannot carry on a civil discussion with a person who disagrees with him. Related to this concern is the notion that he would have Morgan deported rather than defend the man’s right to have a different opinion than his about gun control. What happened to the first amendment? That amendment guarantees our right to have opinions even if they are outrageous and even stupid — witness the radio and TV talk shows. Read the Bill of Rights, people.

But in the end, it’s all about civil discourse and our inability to carry it on without watching it degenerate into a shouting match. We take our clue from TV. We are indeed a violent people, as Jones says later in that interview, and we seem to be perfectly happy to admit it and even demonstrate it with disturbing frequency.