The Ethical Spectacle March 1995 (

Gun Advocates Envision the Murder of Mrs. Brady--By Knife or Injection

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.

  1. When did it become acceptable in American moral or political discourse to advocate or envision the murder of one's adversary for her beliefs?

  2. 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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.