Rifle Smoke In Our Eyes
I have a confession to make: I have never freebased heroin. Ignorant as I may be about the details of the drug market, I nevertheless have a pretty solid idea about such a practice’s appropriateness. Some might call me a hypocrite – arguing that until I try it, I can’t really judge it – yet I feel confident in my assessment that using heroin is not a healthy life choice.
So, obviously, I don’t care whether or not President Obama has ever fired a gun.
In the wake of a series of violent firearm misuses (heavily publicized by an interested media), the President’s position on gun control has taken center of stage of the narrative that our journalists are writing. As debates about the Second Amendment and the relative effectiveness of gun control laws rage, the question of our President’s personal experience with firearms was raised. Allegations of his timidity around such weapons surfaced and, after one clearly fake picture circulated around the internet, the White House released a photograph of our Commander in Chief shooting skeet at Camp David.
Honestly: who cares?
Falling somewhere between Baudrillard and Frankfurt, this kind of discourse has no place in thoughtful conversation. President Obama’s degree of familiarity with firearms affects the accuracy of his philosophy not one iota, neither positively nor negatively. Yet as sound-bites have replaced arguments and sentences given way to pictures in the days of the non-literate, 24-hour news cycle, such a rhetorical move is powerful. The President comes off as an authority on the subject fueled solely by his first-hand experience with touching something related to the discussion. Never mind that the actual question concerns the statistical incidence of violent misuses of such things in large groups over time and the relative effectiveness of legal restrictions on their availability.
It’s like saying I know how dangerous hammers are and how best to prevent their misuse simply because I hung a picture last weekend.
Christians should hold themselves and their expectations to a higher standard than this. As people called to live with “undivided devotion to the Lord” [1 Cor. 7:35], we must continually fix our minds on Godly things [Col. 3:2, Phil. 4:8] – and this means that meaningless periphrastic tripe should not distract us from significant and true concerns. We should not allow ourselves to become distracted by red herrings and forget our responsibility to speak truth into the world simply because the President looks good behind rifle smoke.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). May this be our prayer.