Malcolm dissents

Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses and a capital- F Friend of Q, was so appalled by an Adam Gopnik anti- gun rant in the New Yorker that he wrote the furious and sometimes even funny riposte below.

Turns out he was “baited” with an old essay, but the truth remains. Apparently no one at the NYRKR has yet realized that not only is Gopnik’s statement that it is almost impossible to own a gun in Canada wrong (or as we say, a “lie”), but Canada’s only move on guns in recent years was to abandon its flawed, useless, and ruinously expensive long gun registration scheme.

There are dangers to living in a bubble; I am remembering Pauline Kael’s statement that Nixon must have stolen the election because nobody she knew had voted for him.

In Berkeley.


 I don’t regard myself to be on “the right,” whatever that means in this Fantasia of a current political climate, but I own a pile of guns and have been shooting and hunting with them since childhood. True, certain European countries have stringent gun laws, and some or possibly all of them likely have lower homicide rates than our own experiment-in-progress. On the other hand, it’s not “impossible” to own a gun in Scotland, which still ushers in the Glorious Twelfth in traditional fashion with a lot of booming double-guns and dead grouse in the heather. Meanwhile, following the Velvet Revolution the Czech Republic quickly moved to reverse draconian Soviet regulations designed to keep guns out of the hands of anyone who might pose a threat to the regime, and Czechs are currently about as armed to the teeth as the Swiss, with similarly little trouble. America is a unique situation, with a degree of class and racial and regional diversity that might be described as unprecedented in the history of the world. Frankly, for a heterogeneous, even polyglot nation of 300 million with an estimated one gun per person, it’s somewhat astonishing that gun violence is as rare as it is on a per capita basis, despite the best efforts of a sensationalizing media to portray statistically rare (if undeniably tragic) mass shooting events as some sort of social pandemic. As far as straight gun homicides go, the vast majority are demonstrably related to black market drug trafficking, which itself is a product of foolish, draconian, and totally paternalistic state policy rife with corruption at every level and probably knowingly engineered to prop up excessively militarized domestic law enforcement departments, privatized penal institutions, and for all I know the GDP of Mexico. Don’t even get me going on Big Pharma and whatever barrage of untested drugs-du-jour it wants to ram down the throats of Americans at the earliest possible age, except to say I’d far rather see both legal and illegal drug policy reform than squads of the aforementioned LEO’s coming around to confiscate the guns of American citizens, be they Bobby Seale, Dennis Banks, the Pink Pistols, or myself. And frankly, essays and punditry such as the above, in which some air-conditioned wonk blathers on about sixty or so million American gun owners as though their collective character is somehow flawed, retrograde, inbred, gap-toothed, or otherwise unevolved enough EVEN TO NOTICE THE BLATHER, let alone have a change of heart and whistle kumbaya whilst agreeably handing over the artifacts of their own enthusiasms, are about as insulting as it gets. Let’s not forget that we are talking about people who keep the electrical grid up and the toilets flushing and the trash hauled off and the food magically appearing in the grocery store; stop having this conversation as though it’s solely the purview of a self-congratulatory intellectual class, because that isn’t what stands to have its pastimes and ways of life criminalized. And honestly, I’d love to see one-fiftieth the ire out of the left over Snowden’s current straits as it seems endlessly to have over legally owned firearms in a free nation. So basically, this: if you or Adam Gopnik or Barack Obama want my prized 1924 Mannlicher-Schoenauer, or the 1955 Czech BRNO my son shot his first two elk with, or anything else in the safe, you are all welcome to go purchase your own. You can’t have mine. Get the picture?

Steve again: one more thing I have always wondered about: since most military people and cops I know are firmly pro- gun, just who is going to take our guns away?

And Cat’s Sheep!

Also just out: Cat Urbigkit’s Shepherds of Coyote Rocks, her first adult book, a distillation and amplification of what you have come to love here and a leap forward for her.

This is the most nuanced and intelligent defense of the traditional pastoral life in print, by a writer who lives it and has heard all the dug- in uninformed arguments. I don’t need to tell readers here about her; suffice to say she can work, and observe, and read, and think, and WRITE. I spent a few days on the ground with her and Jim last fall, and we killed a bottle at their trailer house; I heard more political complexity, diversity, and spirited debate and discussion in one night there than in a week in Jackson Hole, not to mention hearing many scientific papers on early domestication and the evolution of our commensals quoted by self- described “redneck” Jim!

I assume readers of this blog will love it; if they need a quote to pique the curiosity of others, try just this one, in defense of transhumance pastoralism: “As satellite images clearly revealed, both socialism and privatization are associated with worse long term outcomes than those observed in traditional group- based governance.”

Many more like that, and stories, and characters, and Cat’s photos!

Christopher Hitchens 1949- 2011 RIP

Damn but we are losing some good ones. I hardly always agreed with “Hitch” (who could?) but AM inclined to agree with Jonathan Hanson: “The collective IQ of the planet just dropped noticeably.”

Update: hunter, man of letters, and Catholic Tom McIntyre is another not uncritical admirer. He writes:

“According to NPR, Hitch’s most important legacy is his atheism. Nothing about his support of the Iraq-Afghan wars and George W., his tremendous body of critical and literary essays, his courage to single out Islamo-Fascism as the evil it is (according to NPR, he equated all “evangelicals” with the mullahs–no difference), his devastating indictments of Kissinger and Clinton, his marvelous wit and command of English, his vast store of knowledge, no, it’s the fact that when he was nine-years old he had the brilliant insight that there is no God. Have you ever noticed that people always base their atheism on the incredible discovery they, alone, made as a child or a teen–about the same time they learn there’s no Santa Claus–and then cling to it doggedly the rest of their lives? In short, it’s a jejune inspiration that they never grow out of. It isn’t about atheism or no atheism but about putting so much “faith” in an idea you came up with when you were nine. I hope that I have at least examined some of the conclusions I arrived at at that age. According to NPR, Hitchens never wavered in his “belief.”

“Personally, I really appreciated the broad range of all of Hitchens’s prickly thought, agreeable, or comfortable, or not. A great, freewheeling yet rigorous intellect at work, hardly one solely devoted to the disbelief in a deity.”

Dennis Hopper RIP

He was never quite like anybody else— hipster visionary and “admittedly unorthodox Kansas Republican”; drug- addled loon and serious art collector; someone with more “second acts” than Scott Fitzgerald could have conceived; finally, gracefully stoic at his hard end. He was an archtypical American artist. (Rod Dreher goes a bit off- subject, but has some interesting things to say here, especially about Easy Rider; I liked it when it came out, but it took longer for me to see its (conscious) ambiguities). Incidentally, the always- original Bill Kauffman is right about Peter Fonda’s philosophical bent; we used to have the same Montana lawyer to keep us out of trouble, and Fonda was the only actor in Paradise Valley the local rednecks and cowboys liked!

Paul Domski discovered this gem, the perfect Hopper paradox piece:

a YouTube video of a young Hopper on the Johny Cash variety show, dressed like a cowboy, reading Kipling’s “If”!

A Few Thoughts on Politics

What is it with people this year? I never could get that passionate about electoral politics. Or dream of distorting facts to bolster my candidate.

Have you seen Naomi Wolfe on how “Evita” Palan is the stalking horse for the new fascism, how this will be the last election of our lifetime, and how she & McCain are going to bring in Iraqi troops to patrol our cities? (That if they did it would be a good thing to have an armed populace is not likely to penetrate her tinfoil hat.)

She also thinks that Cheney or Halliburton or something is opening her mail, and STEALING HER KIDS’ REPORT CARDS!

Reminds me of a time several years ago when I was having drinks with an old North Dakota cowboy in the bar. This mad German women who had come to town to see UFO’s (don’t ask) was ranting about various conspiracies against her, winding up with “..and then the Vatican sent a hit team to kill my dog!”

Rink turned to me, spit in his spit cup, and said: “Steve, that lady’s counterfeit. I don’t know what no Vatican is but it didn’t send no hit team after her dog.”

Relax, folks, it’s politics, not life.

And if the thought of either candidate winning scares you, recall the old anarchist joke: “”If God had meant us to vote, he would have given us candidates…”


Animal Rights proponents demand that those who want a dog go only to the “overpopulated” shelters. So why are shelters going out of the country to get thousands more dogs? “When animal shelters started going overseas to fill their emptying kennels, some worried the imported strays would bring foreign diseases and even rabies into the USA.”

Of course it will likely be people like me or my friend Vladimir, who import only one or two selected dogs, who will be prohibited from bringing them in.

As anyone knows who pays attention, the west is drying up. “You can’t call it a drought anymore, because it’s going over to a drier climate. No one says the Sahara is in drought.” And people keep on coming to the cities… (HT Annie P- H)

The Japanese truly are, as Jonathan Hanson says, “the weirdest country in the world”. I love them but– VENDING MACHINE DISGUISES??

National Geographic has a big pro- hunting article. Prepare for the ravers to come out of the woodwork!

Michael Vick and PETA make common cause. Why am I not (too) surprised? HT Gail Goodman.

Doctors in Britain want to ban pointed kitchen knives. Anthony Bourdain says “This is yet another sign of the coming apocalypse..” But a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said that people in his movement were “envious” of England for having such problems.

If you come right down to it I just don’t like politics. Neither does “Roger de Hauteville”. “When average people are required to pay close attention to the government, because the government is the source of all succor or pain in their lives, the country is doomed. No well-adjusted person should be– or should be required to be– interested in politics very much.

“Come to think of it — none are.”