Welcome to post-metaphor America, everybody. In the aftermath of three deadly campus shootings in just the span of a little more than a week — in Oregon, in Arizona, and in Texas — it's clear yet again that America loves its guns more than it loves just about anything, including the freedom to walk around a school setting without fear of getting shot to death by a sociopathic "beta male."
Everytown for Gun Safety reports there have 149 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. And as an "SNL" parody ad that didn't feel like a parody at all this past weekend reminded us, "Guns: We’re here to stay." But a group of University of Texas at Austin students called Campus (DILDO) Carry suggests that if you really need to carry around a penis substitute to feel secure ands strong, why not carry around a more authentic-looking one? Or, as their rallying cry commands, how about #CocksNotGlocks?
As the group — started by student Jessica Jin — explains, "On June 1, 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott signed S.B. 11, also known as the 'campus carry' law. S.B. 11 provides that license holders may carry a concealed handgun throughout university campuses, starting Aug. 1, 2016. The law gives public universities some discretion to regulate campus carry."
They add, "The State of Texas has decided that it is not at all obnoxious to allow deadly concealed weapons in classrooms, however it DOES have strict rules about free sexual expression, to protect your innocence. You would receive a citation for taking a DILDO to class before you would get in trouble for taking a gun to class. Heaven forbid the penis…. Starting on the first day of Long Session classes on August 24, 2016, we are strapping gigantic swinging dildos to our backpacks in protest of campus carry. ANYBODY can participate in solidarity: alum, non-UT students, people outside of Texas. Come one dildo, come all dildos. 'You're carrying a gun to class? Yeah well I'm carrying a HUGE DILDO.' Just about as effective at protecting us from sociopathic shooters, but much safer for recreational play."
They also warn, cheekily, "Participate at your own risk. But can you imagine the gongshow that would be UTPD/APD trying to chase down thousands of students wielding harmless dildos around campus?" So far, over four thousand people have RSVPed.
The message is lighthearted but the frustration is evident. Earlier this month, economics professor emeritus Daniel Hamermesh announced he was leaving the school after this year, saying, "With a huge group of students, my perception is that the risk that a disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me has been substantially enhanced by the concealed-carry law.… Out of self-protection I have chosen to spend part of next fall at the University of Sydney, where, among other things, this risk seems lower." And as ThinkProgress reports, "Concealed carry on campus is opposed by 95 percent of university presidents, 94 percent of university faculty and 79 percent of college students."
The University of Texas at Austin, by the way, has a very special place in the annals of mass murder. It's the site of one of the first — and still most notorious — killing sprees in modern history. In 1966, Charles Whitman climbed to the top of its distinctive clock tower carrying three rifles, two pistols and a sawed off shotgun, and began firing. He'd already killed his wife and mother earlier in the day. Before officers shot him to death, he had murdered more than a dozen people and injured 31. There are three different memorials on the campus commemorating the tragedy. And fifty years later, you'll soon be able to carry a concealed weapon around that very campus.
The #CocksNotGlocks initiative has, of course, spawned some serious trolling both on its Facebook page and on Twitter from gun lovers, who — in one of the more polite responses — wonder, "So, is a dildo going to protect you from the next crazed, unbalanced democrat to shoot up your campus?" Concealed carry fans: No.
No one thinks a dildo is going to stop a shooter. The point here is to illuminate our ridiculous notion of what constitutes true offensiveness. It's to say that a tenacious refusal to take reasonable steps to protect students and staff from that next angry young man with an arsenal, to make an honest attempt to leave fewer families grieving their children, isn't just silly. It's completely obscene.