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Fame, I Wanna Live Forever

[ 151 ] December 18, 2012 |

And here’s the obligatory Glenn Reynolds attack on me for saying I wanted Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick. Evidently that means I want him assassinated. I mean really, if I said I wanted someone to kill Wayne LaPierre I would have just said it. Why would I mess with metaphor in talking about the NRA? On the other hand, metaphor is really, really hard for conservatives to understand.


Comments (151)

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  1. Derelict says:

    I think that if you look up “Facile Sophistry” in the dictionary, you’ll find Professor Corncob’s picture as part of the entry.

  2. Phil says:

    This is the same Glenn Reynolds who actually, literally, publicly called for Iranian scientists to be assassinated by the CIA, right? Just checking.

  3. Malaclypse says:

    The anti-NRA syllogism seems to work this way: (1) Something bad happened; (2) I hate you; so (3) It’s your fault.

    Yes, the connections between guns and the NRA are nothing but a figment of Loomis’ fevered, yet evil, imaginings.

  4. proverbialleadballoon says:

    You just don’t get it, do you, Loomis? When you say you want LaPierre’s head on a stick, that’s an inscrutable word construction that can only be call for violence. On the other hand, when wingnuts want to water the tree of Liberty with the blood of tyrants, while wearing a semiautomatic on their hip, it’s an obvious metaphor.

  5. J.W. Hamner says:

    Rhode Island professor’s are apparently more powerful than I imagined since it appears that by simply taking to Twitter and demanding someone’s “head on a stick” your endless legions of minions are bound to deliver it for you. Have you tried asking for money? Seems more useful than severed heads of your enemies, though admittedly the latter do spruce up the family room.

  6. Jules McWyrm says:

    Violent metaphors ought to be left out of politics. It was messed up when Palin put crosshairs on US senators; it’s messed up to call for LaPierre’s head on a stick.

    • Leeds man says:

      Yes, especially considering the increasing purchases of pikestaffs, axes and swords. Don’t even get me started on petard control laws.

    • JohnR says:

      it’s messed up to call for LaPierre’s head on a stick.

      I wouldn’t say “messed up”; I would say simply a rather appropriate recognition of Mr. LaPierre’s worldview, in which he and all his rootin’-tootin’-AR-shootin’ supporters are at constant risk of lethal attack. They live in a paranoid fantasy world in which various groups of Others are constantly lurking in ambush, prepared to do unspeakable, unspecified things at any time. The only defense is to constantly have a deadly weapon handy that just coincidentally happens to be the classic phallic symbol. If other people and their kids get killed, well it’s (a) acceptable collateral damage, and (b) their own fault for not being heavily-armed themselves.
      See, this is what happens when we decide to let the insane among us write the rules by which we live. It can get worse, as history shows, and it probably will, as history also shows.

    • Jules McWyrm says:

      Well, now. I still contend that violent metaphors have no place in politics and ought to be avoided. But sending cops to peoples houses and generally mendacious and intentionally obtuse freakouts over correct usage of a common expression is dramatically worse.

      I didn’t intend to lend support to awful people. Really.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        Good for you.

        I think we also want to distinguish:

        1) use of cliches and standard, idiomatic metaphors, and

        2) extemporaneous expressions, and

        3) people speaking personally, and

        4) speech which isn’t continuous with more naked intimidation and acts of violence

        from a range of other bits of speech.

        I’m not against trying to modulate our standard discourse. For example, I certain strive to avoid sexist or ableist (etc.) language. But I can easily distinguish between someone saying “One giant step for Mankind” and “you’re too ugly to be raped” (and the range of too common threats and slurs spewed against e.g., feminists).

  7. Lurker says:

    I disagree with Reynolds: you are not requesting the assasination of the person in question. Instead, if you are to be taken literally, you are requesting that person to be publicly beheaded and his cut-off head to be displayed at a prominent place at the end of a pointy stick.

    This would be a perfectly reasonable policy proposal, if we lived in the 15th century or in the federally administrated areas of Pakistan. In current US political climate, where public beheadings of political figures are scarce, it might be also considered a metaphor.

    • JohnR says:

      This would be a perfectly reasonable policy proposal, if we lived in the 15th century or in the federally administrated areas of Pakistan.

      Oddly enough, this is exactly the sort of place/time that Reynolds and his buddies would love to be in (in theory, and especially if it was all done in anime style). Oh, and as long as they were part of the Ruling Class.

  8. michael says:

    OK, SO WHO’S GETTING FIRED? Now that the State Department is admitting it refused to provide more security in Benghazi when asked, can we see some heads roll? Because if reckless negligence resulting in terrorism and murder isn’t a firing offense, what the hell is?

    Are rolling heads less or more dead than heads on a stick?

    • John says:

      Yeah, I was going to mention the same thing. I’d also suggest a google search for “Susan Rice” and “scalp”. Are all these mainstream figures who say the Republicans “claimed Rice’s scalp” accusing Republican politicians of brutal murder?

  9. arguingwithsignposts says:

    Erik Loomis: History’s greatest liberal monster.

    • JohnR says:

      You forgot the question mark. You have to have the question mark in order to disclaim any sort of responsibility –

      Erik Loomis: History’s greatest liberal monster

      ? Or just one of the run-of-the-mill liberal baby-killers? We report, you decide.

  10. Robert Farley says:

    And he doesn’t even throw us a link.

    Glenn Reynolds: The kind of guy that would fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamn common courtesy to give him a reach-around.

  11. misterbones says:

    As I understand it, Obama once called Sarah Palin a pig with lipstick.

  12. rea says:

    If you told these people the US faces an ocean of trouble, they would call for bombing the Atlantic.

  13. Cody says:

    DBoon’s Journal mentions Republicans in California threatening to put any Republican who votes for tax increases “head on a stick”.

    Isn’t this obvious coercion of government officials? They’re threatening to murder people if they don’t vote against taxes!!!!

    Wonder if there is a Norquist quote out there about this same thing. Probably.

    • c u n d gulag says:

      If I remember right, didn’t W request that bin Laden’s head be delivered in a cooler full of dry ice?
      Rather Medieval, that – no?

      Oh, lookie!
      One hit on teh goggle intertube machine:

      I’m going to presume that President Obama didn’t comply with that request.

      Or, maybe, since bin Laden was shot in the feckin’ head, Obama sent Bush a whole bunch of little boxes.

  14. Cherryriver says:

    I guess I live in a different world: if one of my employees took to the internet and demanded, metaphorically or literally, the beheading of any public figure, they’d be destined for the company’s front door, security at his or her sides, and a cardboard box of hasty belongings in his or her hands, in less than five minutes.
    In a sea of violent imagery and frayed nerves, there’s just no excuse for this kind of behavior in public.

  15. catclub says:

    “metaphor is really, really hard for conservatives to understand.”

    They also do not understand consent. Or Irony.
    Bathos, they have down. Sarcasm, not so much.
    Hyperbole, I think so. What were the other techniques of Doug Pirhana?

    Actually, they killed irony and put its head on a pike.

  16. djillionsmix says:

    Who could imagine glennolds being deliberately stupid?

  17. Manju says:

    They don’t think Eric wants the NRA dude dead. Its just payback for the stupid Eliminationist Rhetoric meme.

  18. bradP says:

    Far too much was made out of “violent” and “eliminationist” rhetoric following the shooting of Gabby Giffords to leave you any sort of leeway on this.

    If Wayne Lapierre is shot tomorrow at a speaking engagement, will you apologize for contributing to a cultural millieu of violence and retribution?

    • timb says:

      Can we get a list of what other common expressions you can think of?

    • Malaclypse says:

      Loomis did not even metaphorically call for him being shot. Unlike, say, a Vice-Presidential candidate of a major party drawing crosshairs on Democrats.

      Now clearly, should Lapierre get beheaded, Loomis would have some apologizin’ to do.

      • Aaron B. says:

        I think these two instances are equivalent in frivolity.

      • Manju says:

        Well, he said he was the head of a terrorist organization that murdered children. Put that with “head on a stick” and its not a long leap to “metaphorical call”.

        • xxy says:

          If you want to go down that road, he is in fact no less responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent than the French aristocracy was for starving generations of people to death. Were someone to shoot Lapierre dead it would be poetic justice. But to get someone’s head on a stick requires purposeful decapitation by a bladed weapon – a method of killing a person that hasn’t been done in several hundred years, and when it was done it was in an orderly fashion carried out by the state as a method of justice. So even if you were stupid enough to take Erik’s words literally you would either have to accept that he was calling for state-sanctioned justice or admit you are a fucking moron making up shit. Which is beside the point because Reynolds & co. know they are peddling bullshit and trying to smear Erik and the left and general because they know they don’t have a goddamn leg to stand on and they don’t want anyone who could take their precious guns away gaining momentum.

          Gabby Giffords didn’t do a damn thing to deserve the vitriolic visual aimed at her.

        • DrDick says:

          Dear sweet Chtulhu! Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Erik Erikcson, Ann Coulter and the rest of the rightwing gasbags say far more violent things every single day and actually call for the killing of people they disagree with. Go fuck yourself and crawl back under your rock. There is no comparison here.

      • bradP says:

        Well obviously Sarah Palin should have used metaphorical nooses instead of gunsights, correct?

        As long as guns aren’t referenced.

    • rea says:

      If Wayne Lapierre is shot tomorrow at a speaking engagement, will you apologize for contributing to a cultural millieu of violence and retribution?

      Only if someone puts his head on a stick . . .

    • Malaclypse says:

      Also, Lapierre will be packing, so it will be logically unpossible for harm to befall him.

    • Caepan says:

      If Wayne LaPierre is shot tomorrow at a speaking engagement, I would not expect an apology from Prof. Reynolds.

      I, however, would relish the irony.

  19. Manju says:

    Also, if you look at the “head on a stick” quote in the context of Erik’s other tweets:

    Looks like the National Rifle Association has murdered some more children.

    Can we define NRA membership dues as contributing to a terrorist organization?

    it looks more like hyperbolic.

    • timb says:

      the irony of you taking something symbolic or metaphorical and running with it to idiocy is so rich and creamy that I am trouble finishing it

      • bradP says:

        symbolic and metaphorical like gunsights?

        • spencer says:

          No. Different.

          I’m not SEK and am not really accustomed to dissecting the details of rhetoric, but here’s why I see it that way:

          The use of gunsights as a symbol of intimidation is much more troubling. For one thing, it’s not easy for someone to chop off your head and put it on a stick when they don’t even have to get within 100 yards of you. Gunsights imply, among other things, sniping – and the one scary thing about that is that you will never, ever ever know when and where a sniper is drawing a bead on you. That’s a big part of the intimidation factor.

          Second, guns are so readily and easily available (moreso than even Sudafed) and concealed carry laws are so common that it’s possible that just about anyone you meet might have a gun. If you’ve been threatened on a website by having some mouthbreathing snowbilly gun freak draw a set of crosshairs over your picture – and if you feel like there’s any credibility to the threat – you are now living in constant fear of everyone you meet.

          How easy is it to carry a giant axe or a guillotine around with you? How easy is it to hide something that could conceivably result in literally losing your head? Not very. So no, not the same there either.

          The fact of the matter is that the insane and creepy gun culture of this country puts those kinds of comments on a different plane than “I want his head on a stick.” Guns are everywhere, making it easy to act on any incitement, whether it’s real or perceived. And gun violence is exceedingly common, making the fear of such a threat very real and tangible.

          So yeah, the idea that Erik’s comment is exactly the same as Palin’s gunsight graphic is, to me, a transparent attempt to change the subject and focus on something stupid instead of the larger issue, which is: why the fuck are we such a gun crazy country, and what can we do about it?

        • rea says:

          See, here’s the difference, Brad. When the right was putting all that stuff out with the gunsights and targets, they did so in the actual context of recent gun attacks on left and pro-choice figures.

          If there had been a bunch of incidents over the last decade or so in which pro-gun or rightwing political figures had their heads cut off and displayed on sticks, you might have a point. Otherwise, no.

        • wengler says:

          Veiled threats and then showing up at protests fully armed. If Loomis gets out his pike and axe then I will play the equivalence game.

      • Manju says:

        No fair. After reading your comments I feel like I just ate a vegan biscuit and downed it with some vodka-flavored water.

    • DrDick says:

      When there is a marked rise in violent incidents involving those on the left, then we can talk. That is clearly rightwing territory.

  20. calling all toasters says:

    I understand the Right’s sensitivity on this issue. Ever since Game of Thrones assassinated George W. Bush, no jokes about heads on pikes have been given a pass. Our nation is still healing from his death.

  21. Manju says:

    The real villian here is Jackie Kennedy. You heard right.

    You see, she is the one who commissioned this stupid-ass book called “Death of a President”. The Eliminationist Rhetoric meme was born. And it wasn’t Communist hyperbole that got stuck with the blame.

  22. Matt_L says:

    Dr. Loomis you should show more discretion. Asking for someone’s head on a stick is tacky and unhygienic. Instead the head should be delivered to your chambers in a cask of honey, like when the Ottoman Sultans deposed a cantankerous vassal.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Also, Erik should really have done Salome’s Dance before asking. That would have shown Culture.

    • Lurker says:

      Depends on your purpose:

      a) If you aim to get a definite proof of a dead vassal, honey is a pretty good way to temporarily embalm a head in warm climate so that its features can still be identified. I presume that the Turks had a lot of experience in this matter.
      b) If you aim to terrorize the local population, nothing beats a row of ugly, bloody heads on spikes, surrounded with flies and stench of rot.

    • somethingblue says:

      Or we could go with Cass Sunstein’s favorite poet:

      Beyond that ridge lived Mrs. French, and once
      When every silver candlestick or sconce
      Lit up the dark mahogany and the wine,
      A serving-man, that could divine
      That most respected lady’s every wish,
      Ran and with the garden shears
      Clipped an insolent farmer’s ears
      And brought them in a little covered dish.

  23. David B says:

    Is it really that surprising that people who take the Bible literally struggle with metaphors?

  24. Dana says:

    I think by using violent metaphors you stoop to their level and play into the “both sides do it” bs endemic public discourse. I’m not sure how calling for LaPierre’s head gets us any closer to a rational gun control policy. To me it sounds pretty much the same as the testosterone-laden fantasist bullshit definition of the “threats” against which gun nuts say they must arm themselves.

    • xxy says:

      1) Heads on sticks is not a violent threat the public is confronted with today at all. A head on a stick has historically been a method of the state to dispense justice, one that neutralizes the threat to the state and/or the public. This is the point of the metaphor.

      2) If the people who pushed so hard for a gun in every hand were held accountable for the consequences of their actions they wouldn’t do so. Neutralizing the political power of the NRA is critical to enacting rational gun control policy.

      3) The NRA is a very real threat. If you don’t think so you can take a tour of their recent handiwork over in Newtown, CT. If you think that is the same as gun-nut fantasy would you kindly go fuck yourself.

      • xxy says:

        I’m sorry, I think I read your last sentence wrong. Strike #3. But if Erik’s words “sound pretty much the same as the testosterone-laden fantasist bullshit definition of the “threats” against which gun nuts say they must arm themselves” either you think people actually live in fear of someone decapitating them and mounting their head on a spike or you think gun nuts are arguing that they should arm themselves against metaphors, which…is probably close to the truth. But we should mock them for their stupidity, not cower in fear that they might score a political point over such nonsense. They only have any hope of doing so if no one pushes back.

      • Dana says:

        1) If you want to persist with this attenuated metaphor, it seems to me the sort of justice associated with heads on sticks was that dispensed by dictators, absolute monarchs, and other legal systems modern Americans would not consider “just.”

        2) If you’re proposing we put the leaders of political action committees on trial for the crimes of their followers I don’t think you’d get very far. Particularly if you proposed the death penalty as punishment for these crimes.

        3) Not sure how “maybe we shouldn’t suggest killing people” elides to “I don’t think killing people is a problem” but may take you up on your suggestion anyway.

        • xxy says:

          Revolutionary France was also fond of the practice. The point of mounting heads on spikes was to show the public that the person was completely powerless, no longer to be feared, and as a warning to others. Simply killing them and burying them kills them physically, but parading their face is intended to kill them psychologically., since people see other’s faces as their identity. That’s really the only point to saying you want someone’s head on a spike since modern technology has made killing people much more efficient. That’s what Erik (and I and many more) want – to see the face of Wayne LaPierre (and the NRA) and know he is utterly powerless to hurt us. There are much better methods of doing this now. Literally decapitating him and mounting his head on a spike would paradoxically probably achieve the opposite by making him a martyr, as would killing him in any other sense.

          Psychological death of the NRA doesn’t necessarily come from a criminal trial (though I’d enjoy one). Maybe a civil lawsuit. Electoral defeat of lawmakers who support the NRA, making association with them a political liability. Even simply talking to friends, relatives, and coworkers about the NRA in the same manner you would tobacco lobbyists would help.

          As for 3, yeah sorry about that.

  25. mds says:

    I agree with several of the contrarian commenters above. This simply allows the scales to be evened with those who display “liberal hunting licenses,” bring rifles to appearances by Democratic politicians, and indulge in apocalyptic rhetoric about the end of liberty in America while stockpiling more firearms and ammunition. And then there’s the fevered hyperventilating over gunsights used purely as a sui generis metaphor by an ostentatiously ardent gun owner in an electoral climate where people were bringing firearms to political events, conducting fundraisers at shooting ranges, etc, etc. All of that is now indistinguishable from Professor Loomis’ rage at Wayne LaPierre. So why don’t we just dispense with the entire phony-baloney “eliminationist rhetoric” meme and go back to letting one side continue its almost ceaseless violent jingoistic diatribes while meaningfully fingering their gun collections?

  26. Alex says:

    Metaphorz iz hard.

  27. Todd says:

    Speaking of Wayne LaPierre, where’s Wayne LaPierre?

  28. I am so freaking jealous right now.

  29. It’s a good thing you didn’t say LaPierre can kiss your ass. Think of what Reynolds would be accusing you of then.

  30. GregMc says:

    Sieze the moment!

    LGM branded LaPierre-head popsicle molds!

    You’ll soon be rich enough to be considered a proper citizen.

  31. Barry Freed says:

    It’s probably been said upthread (and elsewhere by JfL) but htey’d much rather discuss this and have you defending yourself than discussing gun control and the fact tha their gun fetish led to the sacrifice of 20 first graders.

  32. Will no one consider the poor pike in this pairing? Imagine how it feels…

    Linnaeus nailed it in the other thread: Political correctness from the bunch that so often whines about political correctness (…and then attacks folks that dare hope they enjoy both Christmas AND New Year’s…or Godfo’bid, some non-christian wintertime holiday.)

  33. Roger Ailes says:

    I’m waiting for the deleted scene of Wayne LaPierre’s hend on a stick on the DVD of Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season.

    And the opening of the LaPierre Head On A Stick kiosk at the Southland Mall food court.

  34. Malaclypse says:

    Is it wrong of me to now really, really want to see the LGM store start selling coffee mugs with Lapierre’s head on a stick?

  35. Padraig Pearse says:

    Not surprising that a government murdering kids in Afghanistan and Iraq will take advantage of this Newtown issue to endorse gun control. I am not sure why exactly? They can’t honestly think it will keep this country any safer just as groups like the NRA can’t honestly believe that armed Americans can keep us safe from tyranny. America has been armed for a long time and we have had how many tyrants now? I really hope that politicians don’t plan to ban guns because they fear an armed population? That is an archaic way of thinking. Sure Mao said that revolution grows from the barrel of a gun but he belonged to the last century and I would imagine that revolution now grows from maps detailing electricity and waterlines and being able to “jumble” up the grid to disrupt “middle” America. Nothing fucks up a morning for the machine that runs this country more than having to deal with mediocre Americans pissed off they missed American Idol or couldn’t posture at Starbucks while sipping a latte. It is a shame that before the blood of innocents dried on the floor this became a gun control issue. I don’t really favor the 2nd Admendment issue as much as my more libertarian brethern in the Black Circle but the thing about defending the rights of man is defending an entire document regardless of how distasteful a portion may be. I really feel the 1st Admendment is far more important or piking the central banking heads or ending the Patriot Act but I’ll take guns because it is an emotional issue that will stir debate and action as well as create a necessary chaotic smokescreen. Most of America is stupid and will willingly give up their rights because some banker backed Dem or Repub sells an idea like a greasy snake oil man. It is hard for most of America to understand that there are people that HATE both parties of this nation. Some people are keen enough to notice that monetary and foreign policy never change regardless of the pres or elected majority, just as they notice that our aparatus will gleefully use a clumsy Autistic 20 year old to create the perfect poster event to further an agenda. I would hope that our masters actually believe they can create a more peaceful world through gun control however I really think they fear an armed population. Are they so thick that they don’t realize that any insurrectionist has to fully understand that they have guns without owning them, and that soldiers and police are caretakers of those weapons until they are needed. Some of us can’t wait for gun control because it kicks down the flood walls and invites a changing of the guard so to speak. The NRA are a bunch of fools but a useful distraction. I have personally been put in charge of funds that have paid the dues of several Bubbas just as I have paid the dues of Socialists. Fodder laid over fodder laid over fodder. Dumb Americans like those posting here don’t realize that something always creeps just out of view. However the Rights of Man extend to many and as distasteful as it is even blind sided morons deserve the right to be heard.

  36. […] Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.” The usual suspects in the conservative blogsphere soon translated this into the idea that Erik had called for […]

  37. […] treat the controversy as a joke, writing a sarcastic post at a liberal blog with the title, “Fame, I Wanna Live Forever,” remarking that “metaphor is really, really hard for conservatives to […]

  38. Matches Malone says:

    The U. of Rhode Island must be a pretty lousy school if they are willing to hire a professor who is so willing to encourage a hostile environment and a climate of hate.

  39. baraker bann says:

    This is a very great place to reside in.

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