Recently, in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook, the head of the National Rifle Association has proposed that the mere mention of the word “guns” in schools should be criminalized. “Such behavior in our schools should be prosecuted just as certainly as such behavior in our airports is prosecuted,” he said. Excuse me, Wayne LaPierre, but do you remember anything you were taught in school? Recently I taught “All Quiet on the Western Front” to an English class. It is a novel about World War I. Do you really imagine it is possible to bowdlerize an account of the slaughter in the trenches between 1914 and 1918 to avoid all mention of a gun?
It has been my happy responsibility to teach classes in world history and American history, as well. Shall we excise all mention of firearms from those classes? The class discussions on the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II and Korea will be awkward if we are not allowed to mention weapons.
LaPierre claims to stand for freedom. Yet he proposes an ideal of freedom based upon the state security apparatus that greets the hapless traveler at every airport. Is this what we wish to teach our children? This is our new ideal of freedom?
What LaPierre espouses is not freedom — it is Stalinism, a grim unsmiling directorate that silences everyone and calls it liberty.