Sermons Against Memes and Guns

All this talk about guns is getting to me.

We’ve all, I’m sure, been bombarded in our news feeds and Twitter worlds with memes that hastily point out the bad logic of NRA reps or the naivete of liberals.  I got this one in my news feed this morning:


The meme is a response to a comment made by a Colorado Representative, Democrat Joe Salazar, about recent gun control measures passed in his state that include a law making college campuses gun-free zones.  He argued that the possibility of rape should not justify a woman’s right to carry a handgun in her purse.  He added, “It’s why we have call boxes; it’s why we have safe zones; it’s why we have whistles.”

I guess the creator of the meme is making an argument that whistles don’t prevent rape as well as guns. It’s an argument about as emotionally mature as an Aerosmith song.  Still, I found myself unable to ignore it or tsk-tsk my way out of thinking about the implications of such a meme and people’s willingness to pass it around as a solid argument.

Let me use a real rhetorical device here (as opposed to a meme) and appeal to my own authority.

I am a woman.

I am not naive.

I am a woman who feels endangered.   I am a survivor of sexual assault.  If I go through a list in my head of my 10 closest female friends, at least 6 of them have survived rape or sexual abuse, in some cases severe abuse. Those numbers match up with national statistics.

I am a woman who also feels rage more often that I care to admit.   Last week I even had a dream that I shot someone.  A pregnant woman.  In her stomach.  When I woke up I didn’t feel guilty or horrified.  I felt relieved.  Then I went about my day, a day that included me writing a joyful letter to a pregnant friend expressing my sincere, genuine happiness about her new baby.

I am a woman who understands the all-too-human instinct toward violence, revenge, anger.  My psyche  is capable of violence too.

I am a woman who knows the difference between dreams and reality.

I do not want to carry a gun in my purse.  I do not want guns anywhere near my home, my school, my family, or my person.

Let me say that again: I do not want to carry a gun in my purse.  Or mace.  Or a whistle.

I want to live in a world where women are safe.

I want to live in a world where my option isn’t whistle or gun, victim or perpetrator, passive resistor or co-conspirator to a culture that accepts violence as its modus operandi.

I want to live in a world where people have the intelligence to recognize that rape and gun violence stem from the same sickness, and that arming women against male violence doesn’t solve male violence so much as quietly assent to its existence.

I don’t want to see your stupid memes, because they are violent too.  Memes are a huge part of the problem here.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the occasional purely humorous meme, those aimed at nobody.   But politicized memes are a bastardized form of rhetoric and logic, only persuasive in the basest sense, and they lend themselves to all kinds of fallacious reasoning.  Politics or activism on the cheap, memes oversimplify and are the psychosocial equivalent of poking someone in the ribs again and again and again or flexing ones own muscles in the mirror.  Posting a meme onto your Facebook page is a passive, pathetic attempt at real dialogue, a convenient way to avoid dealing with complexity and gray area, a great way to feel safe inside your own smugness.  Never mind other people’s safety.

I want to live in a world where we arm women and men with the weapons of love, gentleness, and respect.

As Galatians 5:22 reminds us, ” The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”

Or, wait.  Let me get a woman here.  Bell Hooks says it best:

“It is not easy for males, young or old, to reject the codes of patriarchal masculinity. Men who choose against violence are simultaneously choosing against patriarchy, wherther they can articulate that choice or not….

Ultimately, the men who choose agaisnt violence, against death, do so because they want to live fully and well, because they want to know love. These men who are true heroes.”


5 thoughts on “Sermons Against Memes and Guns”

  1. “I want to live in a world where women are safe.”

    I remember an old saying some years ago that perfectly illustrates the futility of demanding the universe unconditionally recognize your wants.

    “Shit in one hand, and wish in the other and see which fills up first.”

    Yea, crude it is, but also unadulterated truth.

    Many thousands of years of human experience point to one inescapable conclusion. There are those among us who will not listen to reason, who will not argue with you, but who will use violence against you if that suits their momentary desires and they think they can. The only successful strategy against such people is the threat of violence against their person.

    Sometimes the only successful strategy is to kill them.

    “I want to live in a world where people have the intelligence to recognize that rape and gun violence stem from the same sickness, …”

    The fact is that some small percentage of human beings are sociopaths and the only thing that will stop them is either a) incarceration, b) the threat of violence, or c) killing.

    There is no psychological “sickness” here which we have a cure for. None.

    “I do not want to carry a gun in my purse. I do not want guns anywhere near my home, my school, my family, or my person.”

    In many states you have no choice. Many states now have laws that allow qualified citizens (non felons, drug use, etc.) to obtain a concealed carry license. So if you were to be sitting next to me in church today you would be setting very close to a Glock 9mm pistol and be clueless to its existence.

    And yes, I have no respect for your desire for a gun free world. No more respect than I have for any other irrational demand by children.


    1. Hi lwk,

      I’m approving you comment because I think some of your responses, and especially their tone, make for interesting discussion. I’m not sure ending by comparing me to a child is the best way to convince me of anything–an expression of desire and an expression of sadness do not equate, necessarily, to an erroneous idea about the reality of violence in the world–but I’d love to hear what other readers have to say.

        1. I don’t understand why “taking measures to protect yourself” only means owning a gun. Isn’t trying to talk about the culture of gun violence one way of trying to protect myself and others? My post, if you read it carefully, isn’t about gun control laws. I’m not writing about laws at all or trying to makes choices for others. I want to have a discussion about why we have so much gun violence–where does it come from, etc. You and your guns are not being persecuted here.

  2. Casey- there is a difference between a concept and an idea. this person doesn’t get the gist of what you are saying- its knee jerk extremism.. re-reading this sermon made me think of another article i read around this time- maybe you saw it… but this guy “gets” the concept of changing the root of what is wrong with society.. just another guy’s idea.. but its awesome that you entertained this person’s differing opinion.. maybe it will sink it if they give it the air to do so.

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