The Ethical Spectacle March 1995 (www.spectacle.org)
Gun Advocates Envision the Murder of Mrs. Brady--By Knife or
Two comments about Sarah Brady caught my eye recently. Mrs.
Brady is a director of Handgun Control Inc. and wife of
former Reagan press secretary James Brady, who was
critically wounded in the asssasination attempt on his boss:
That ugly cackler. She pulls her husband around
like a pulltoy on a string. My friends and I say that if that
ever happened to one of us and our wife did that, somebody would
slip into the house one night and slit her throat. --Leroy Pyle,
NRA board member, quoted in Davidson, Under Fire: The NRA and
the Battle for Gun Control (Henry Holt & Company 1993)
You know, she ought to be put down. A humane
shot at a veterinarian's would be an easy way to do it. Because
of all her barking and complaining, she really needs to be put
down. --Bob Mohan, conservative talk show host on KFYI radio in
Phoenix, quoted in New York Times, January 1, 1995
I have a few comments of my own.
- When did it become acceptable in American moral or political
discourse to advocate or envision the murder of one's adversary for
- Its interesting that both men imagine the killing of Sarah
Brady by other means than gun violence (assuming that the "humane shot"
Mr. Mohan refers to is an injection).
- These are both prime examples of the "Will no-one rid me of this
troublesome priest" approach to moral responsibility. If an
impressionable, unhinged reader or listener now takes a shot at
Mrs. Brady, each commentator will retreat behind the First Amendment,
claim it was only rhetoric, that they didn't really intend it, etc.
- Mr. Pyle, a former police officer, was sounding off to the
press, but Mr. Mohan is presumably highly compensated for his hatred
by a radio station or syndicator that sells advertising and profits
by his demagoguery and hatred. These advertisers spend good money
to have their products associated with him and exposed to the
audience that apparently thrives on his hatred.
- If we could read Mr. Mohan's mind, would we find that it is
just "show business", that he wants ratings, that he does not
believe what he is saying?
- In any event, he is an advocate of murder, whether he is
basing his statements on belief or a hypocritical desire for
money and public attention.
- The whole thing--promotion of hatred, racism, demonization of
the "other"--is redolent of the ground in which Nazism grew.
Just one more proof that we haven't learned anything from the past.