The Magazine

Young Man Control

The next step in the liberal campaign against violence.

Feb 14, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 21
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Liberals could not prove their argument that the Tucson shootings were caused by the violent words of conservatives. Liberals then changed their argument: The Tucson shootings were caused by the violent possessions of conservatives. That is, the shootings were caused by private ownership of firearms.

Young Man Control

Gary Locke

Proven, tautologically speaking. Another thing liberals say that doesn’t need saying is that America has too much criminal gun use. As opposed to what? Just the right amount? Also, the mentally disturbed should be kept away from deadly weapons. This -thesis has been, if anything, over-demonstrated by the left itself, from the French Revolution’s reign of terror to Hugo Chávez.

People must be held accountable for their actions, whether with guns, knives, fists, or votes for enormous expansion of government power. As to guns, at least, this accountability is a matter of law. The law is—in a country that probably has more guns than liberals—difficult to enforce. But most laws are. Otherwise we wouldn’t have to make them laws. So why are liberals obsessed with guns in particular? And why do liberals feel compelled to vociferously argue empty truisms about guns?

Because liberals are opposed to violence, which is very high-minded of them. Guns are a source of violence in America. Guns are not, however, the principal source. Young men are the principal source of violence in America. This is why it’s only a matter of time before liberals—being opposed to violence—propose young man control. This will entail:

• A thoroughgoing background check of criminal record and mental health status to be required before anyone is allowed to be a young man. A national masculine immaturity database will be created.

• A longer young man waiting period. The current waiting period of between 14 and 18 years (varying according to state laws) will be extended and made uniform nationwide so that the young are not legally men until 40. This will help prevent impulsive use of manhood by youths.

• The banning of concealed young men, especially if they are concealed behind Tea Party protest placards or anonymous antigovernment Internet postings. Likewise, sawed-off young men who tend to be more aggressive than their taller contemporaries; rapid-fire young men who talk back to teachers, guidance counselors, and other role model adults, and young men of the “fully automatic” type, who never need to be reminded to study, help with housework, or volunteer in their communities, and who seem so well adjusted until they plant a bomb in their high school.

• The removal from the market of certain varieties of ammunition for young men. For example, the Grand Theft Auto video game and beer.

• Federal registration of all young men. In fact, they already are registered. However, the problem with the current Selective Service system is that if young men are drafted, they’re given a gun.

To be fair to liberals, we shouldn’t suppose that they want to eliminate young men entirely. The liberal position is, rather, that young man rights must be balanced with the right of all Americans to a violence-free environment (with less of that heavy metal and rap noise and more NPR listeners).

The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution seems to imply that young men have a right to exist—assuming that we include them among “people.” But, say liberals, the Ninth Amendment shouldn’t be misconstrued as giving an unlimited right to the personal possession of manly youthfulness.

Young men are necessary, at times, even in the most progressive society. But no one can deny that young men need supervision and regulatory oversight. A move to strengthen young man control should not be seen as an attempt to curtail the use of young men for legitimate sporting or recreational purposes. America has a long-established tradition of being young and a man. Even Harry Reid is reputed to have once been both. Passage of sensible young man control laws will bring out the best aspects of this part of our national heritage.

In the future, when we Americans see a group of hulking, steroid-pumped, tattooed young men swaggering toward us on a lonely street, we will be able to feel secure in the knowledge that they are federally licensed and certified.

P. J. O’Rourke is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.

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