Well, when I said yesterday that I was "sticking my neck out" with my remarks about guns, I did so advisedly. The piece came out in a slightly different version on the Huffington Post and immediately attracted a number of angry and indignant comments--20 as of this writing--several of them starting out with a derisive "Well, Pete..." Ouch! Several referred to my supposed desire to remove guns from people's hands. Though I'd be happy to do this in many cases, what I actually suggested was that we might a bit more careful about whose hands they ended up in. I also specified that I was talking about assault weapons, but this small detail seems to have gone unnoticed in the fury. I suppose this is but a trivial indication of why it is those politicians choose to skirt the subject, whilst the craziest amongst us continue to be able fairly easily to obtain the means to impose mass-slaughter on the innocent in schools and supermarkets and, yes, even churches.
My critics, I note, did not hesitate to be insulting. "Morally corrupt" was but one epithet hurled in my direction. Hmmm... Guess I need to look at that. Voicing mild opposition to easy access to assault weapons does seem, well, morally questionable to say the least. The Buddhist teachings, by the way, enjoin us to "Right Speech," which includes "abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter." (Access to Insight.) Have I resorted, in this instance, to "divisive speech," I wonder? Or "abusive speech"? I confess that did use the word "yahoo." And now I find myself resorting to sarcasm. Tsk. And, frankly, taunting. Is this another example of the paper cup and ice cube syndrome? (See The Buddha Diaries entry of 12/7.) Or have I indulged merely in "idle chatter"? All questions to be pondered. But to show the depths of my depravity, the truth is that the response simply makes me happy that I took the trouble to write about this thorny subject.
I noticed, by the way, that the third lead editorial in yesterday's New York Times addressed the same issue, and made much the same points as I did. My thanks to everyone who spoke in reasonable voices on this subject in comments on The Buddha Diaries.