Everybody's Somebody's Fringe
by Jan Baughman

The NRA is hoping that having Charlton Heston in their leadership will help with their image, portraying gun-owners as mainstream, hard-working citizens instead of fringe fanatics. Fortunately, they don't have someone like Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger to attract the youth of America. I doubt that Generation X has even seen Ben Hur.

It seems that even among the gun-toters, there are degrees of fanaticism. The mildest form is the so-called sport shooter. In the middle, you find the people who can't sleep at night without knowing there is a loaded gun in the house. At the extreme you find the group who have every God-given, constitutional right to have an AK-47 if they damn-well please because this is AMERICA:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

So why can't I have my own nuclear or chemical stockpile if I want? Arms come in all shapes and sizes. Even Trent Lott says that a "well-armed public" is necessary to scare away the criminals. If a well-armed police force can't do it, surely the public can! But they need to have bigger arms than the criminals do. And, perhaps once every single American has a gun we'll be at a stalemate and can finally get rid of them. Mutually Assured Destruction ended the Cold War, after all. Couldn't Congress simply amend the Constitution to say that Arms are no longer necessary to the security of a free State?

Equally frightening as the NRA are the Southern Baptists, who also use literal interpretations of words written in a far away time and place to defend their beliefs. At their annual meeting this week, they declared "...a wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband". Oy, will it ever end? I hope that there's a Monica Lewinsky for every Southern Baptist man.

It's hard for a Northern Californian to grasp all of this. We live in a true melting pot, surrounded by great universities, Silicon Valley and its unquantifiable intelligence, creativity and tolerance for all sorts of life styles. In the past two weeks I've received mail from two female friends - one telling me she is gay, the other that she has Gender Identity Disorder and is undergoing sex reassignment. Other than asking to see my now-male friend's new, flat chest, my reaction to both was simple: Whatever.

You see, this is the little world I live in. I forget that my reality is truly the fringe of America. I hope one day it will catch on and that the guns and the Southern Baptists and all the other people I complain about will vanish into oblivion. I've got more important things on my mind.

I woke up last night in a sort of Andy Rooney-like pseudo-philosophical state of mind, pondering two things that left me in a state of complete insomnia. The first is the use of the phrase "self storage". If you could store it yourself, you wouldn't need to rent space from someone else. The fact is, you do everything BUT store it: Load it in a truck, drive it to the storage place, pack it in. It should be referred to as non-self storage.

My second concern has to do with the menu placement at drive-thru "restaurants" such as Jack-in-the-Box, Taco Bell and McDonald's. You drive up, wait in a line of cars, and once you reach the speaker you see the menu. Of course, the instant you pull up and roll down the window, you hear "may I take your order"? Imagine sitting down at a restaurant, the waitperson hands you a menu and simultaneously asks for your order... Perhaps most Americans eat at these places often enough to have memorized the menu, however, if I owned a Taco Bell, I would place menus along the drive to the speaker, so that you can decide what you want BEFORE you get there. At least you would know what your choices are. This is freedom.

Certainly, Southern Baptists and NRA members know about freedom of choice, at least in restaurants!

Published June 13, 1998
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