The anti-gun left embraces the idea of being cowardly. They revel in it. The anti-gun left wallows in cowardice.

I know, now you’re offended. How dare I? And what the hell am I even talking about?

Look, it’s not to say that a person who refuses to own a gun is a coward, or even that it is cowardly to be anti-gun. It instead means what it says, which is that the anti-gun left embraces being cowardly. They indulge in it.

Before you run off to prove me right on Twitter, at least me explain what I’m saying.

It is frequently the case in life, and particularly so online, that in opposition to something or support of it, people will take up certain rhetorical standards to represent their cause, or that they think help sell it. Likewise, people have a deeply ingrained tendency to revel in the satisfaction one gets from taking something to its extreme, particularly in the face of opposition.

To put it more succinctly, people have a tendency to want to the most thing of whatever thing they’re part of. If one is a Patriot’s fan, one strives to be the most Patriot’s fannest fan of all fans. A geek to be the Platonic geek ideal. Even when the most of something means the worst version of that thing.

I am sure you can think of political movements in this country today where that tendency is regularly on display.

In the case of the anti-gun left, the refrain that guns are inherently dangerous in and of themselves, that they exist as an entity of evil notwithstanding the nature of their possessor, is incredibly pervasive.

I’m sure somewhere in the recesses there is dimly a recognition that this absurd anthropomorphizing of an inanimate object is an extreme overreaction or affected political pose, but only very dimly. In practice, the embrace gets only more extreme and cartoonish as time goes on and peer-feedback remains positive.

So it is that we see irrational reactions to perfectly innocuous behavior. A woman poses for a photo with a handgun safely tucked away, not brandished, and it becomes a national news story as people melt down over it.

An actress (who plays a law enforcement officer) poses with a gun and it becomes a national “shame” moment as people melt down.

A Senator supports the Second Amendment and is called a mass murderer on a CNN townhall.

And now people are melting down over this:

Former NFL kicker and current CBS sportscaster Jay Feely posted this on Twitter.

This is an utterly recognizable trope, a long-standing, exaggerated joke about the protectiveness of daughter by father. The kids, in on the joke, smile. The gun, pointed down and held at arm’s length, to make it more subtle and maybe delay your chuckle when first seeing the picture. Nicely done. Cute, even.

BUT OH LORDA MERCY THAT GUN IS A GUN! CALL EVERYONE! THIS IS NOT A DRILL, TWITTER!!!

A sampling:

The only surprise in this inane pseudo-feminist take is she didn’t use the hippest word in the English language right now, “agency.”

OH WAIT THERE WE GO.

Look I could post these all day, (be patient, I’m getting to the coward bit.), but I’m sure some of you are gnashing at the bit to dismiss tweets as irrelevant. It’s a pretty nonsense argument on its face, especially if it comes from the left. Obviously they think tweets matter a great deal as you can see if you’ve ever read the replies to a Trump tweet or heard the threats of lawsuits over being blocked by him. And national movements that are recognized on lists of the most influential leaders survive largely on Twitter buzz.

Our natural Luddite inclinations aside, the tweets obviously do matter, both as a barometer and a form of mass communication. More so than the inherent noteworthiness is the fact that, thanks to the replies, this photo in turn becomes a national story.

USA Today has it. Deadspin spins it. WaPo runs it.

The story travels. And as it travels, and people see the reactions, they feed off of them. The people who defend him defend the most. The people “offended” by him are offended the most. The anti-gun left, which must see a gun as a force of evil irrespective of the nature of him to whom it belongs, whose argument against that object is inherently one of extremes, who establish the emotional appeal of their entire movement on the singular basis of fearing that object, must become the most afraid.

Thus, the coward.

There are many examples, but this one you’re about to see is absolutely pristine in its wantonly guttural primal scream qualities, and fantastically compact in its journey from offended to afraid to preposterously overblown reaction. A true gem of the art form.

JUST LOOK AT THIS BEAUTY.

So, again, the phenomenon of embracing the most absurd caricature of oneself is neither new nor unique to the anti-gun left, but in their case it is particularly striking because of the dark and stupid place it takes them. Being the most Patrioty Patriots fan may be extreme, but it’s not craven. The race to be the most insanely unsettled flower in the garden is objectively more galling and less appealing than almost any other extreme self-caricature. (Relax, I said almost).

Here is a story, because I don’t think I’ve belabored the point enough. I used to work with a guy here in North Carolina who was pretty … rural. I don’t want to dwell too much on the visuals here, but he was from a place called “Booger Swamp” so you get the picture. One afternoon he earnestly tried to convince us that he didn’t know the alphabet. Had never learned it. “I can read I just don’t know the alphabet,” he kept saying. It was a point of pride for him, you see. He was calling himself “Deplorable”, embracing the worst aspect of the stereotype. Not in defiance, either. In self-indulgence. He wanted to be that stereotype.

I have thousands of examples I could give you along these lines. And in reply to Feely we see the same thing. They want to be terrified of that inanimate object held without menace or malice in Feely’s hand.

It does not matter that he has no ill-will, that it is not only a readily apparent joke based on the visible elements of the photo, but it’s a well-known joke that’s as old as dirt and has been recreated literally thousands of times by fathers everywhere. They know that. They can read. They just want you to think they don’t know the alphabet.

They don’t have any actual fear of Feely shooting a kid. If they did, what kind of monsters would they be simply whimpering about it on Twitter for attention instead of intervening on behalf of those poor kids? Complicit monsters.

“Oh my God he’s threatening to murder a child and holding his daughter against her will like a piece of property. Anyhoo, The Voice is on so I gotta run.” What kind of person is that?

But of course, that’s not what’s happening here. As with most cases of the Twitter mob taking offense, they aren’t actually offended. They’ve merely spotted an opportunity to take offense. To act offended. To embrace the coward.

They’re the online version of sending a child home from school because he bit his sandwich in the shape of a gun.

It’s a shame what we’ve come to. Social media does amplify some of our worst impulses, but they are still our impulse. Our crappy, stupid humanity. And we should try to overcome it.

Be better than a coward. Admit you know the alphabet. Don’t perform the “I’m offended” circus show just because you can. Don’t wallow.

Your first test is to read this and then not whine on Twitter about being called a coward. I expect most of you will fail. Until that changes, expect the polarized atmosphere you sometimes pretend to lament to continue uninterrupted, and resolution for the actual problems society faces to remain unsolved, unresolved and, for the most part, not even rationally or honestly discussed.

Feely, by the way, eventually apologized for taking a humorous photo with his daughter.

What a shame that they shamed him.

As a species, we are being the most worst we can be. The most. The worst. Us.



Oh yeah, also Shania Twain. I almost forgot. Same deal.