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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Editorial: Gun laws, restroom rhetoric and the cowardice of anonymity

On the door of the middle stall in the first floor men’s restroom at Weimer Hall, there hangs a piece of paper. Normally we wouldn’t pay much attention to bathroom scripture, for, after all, it’s usually only good for poop jokes and hastily scrawled phone numbers that promise a "good time." Bathroom graffiti and musings are eminently disposable, an artistic outlet for those who couldn’t cut it tagging overpasses on I-95. But sometimes you see something so — if you will — shitty, so awful, you can’t help but be compelled to write about it in your college newspaper.

"Dear Fellow Students," the letter begins on a polite, innocuous note. "(On Oct. 1) our fellow Americans in Oregon suffered terrible tragedy." Why, yes they did our grammatically challenged anonymous friend — what do you have to say about it?

"What was undeniably a terrible tragedy for the family and friends should be reminder to all of us: the world is a sometimes ugly place… I would implore you to not be so easy to listen to people who tell you that such ugliness is easily avoidable," the note continued.

Hmm, OK. Before we offer our strongly worded retort, here is the point our dear author was building to:

"Terrible, evil events have been present throughout the world, regardless of the availability or presence of guns… I am a proud gun owner. I’m a nice guy. I follow the rules… Wouldn’t you rather feel a little safer knowing that a fellow student sitting in your class had a gun, only to use during the most unimaginable and horrific of events?"

WHOA! Slow down there John Wayne, you’re getting a little too excitable for our liking. We believe we speak for many Gators when we say, no, we most certainly would NOT feel safer having guns in our classrooms, regardless of the intended purpose. Our libraries, lecture halls and residence halls are not goddamn saloons; they’re places of learning and enrichment, not of violence.

Following the Umpqua Community College shooting, we refrained from speaking on the matter. Many of our columnists did an excellent job of offering their perspectives last week, and we said much of what we needed to with regards to American gun violence following the Aug. 26 slaying of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. But it astounds — nay, is somewhat heartbreaking — to know a fellow Gator would use a tragedy as an opportunity to anonymously advocate for INCREASING the circulation of guns.

We’ve heard it all before: "Guns don’t kill people, people do!" "When Barack Hussein Obummer comes knocking on my door, I want to make sure that I can protect my family from his filthy communist paws!"

We get it, guys. We know you cling to your fetishized metallic phalluses in a manner akin to a groupie at a Trey Songz show; we’ve learned the hard way there’s no changing that. But we politely ask that you wear your ignorance and anger on your sleeve, not relegate it to online CNN comments and toilet texts. Let us know who you are, so we can frustratingly rattle off talking points like Australia’s gun laws before getting exasperated and going to talk to someone else. Let us know who you are, so when that mythic day comes and gun laws in this country actually change, we can be there to help you reintegrate into the world.

As much as we loathe and detest the rhetoric of this man’s letter — because, yes, it was assuredly written by a white male — we’re glad we found it in the bathroom, because that’s where it belongs.

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