Keep eating the same thing and it will nauseate you. I'm getting sick of it, but Parkland's in the spotlight again after the march. You may ask why I bring it up, if I'm so tired of it — and, admittedly I'm mostly tired of the uninformed attacks against it — but it's because one of our local politicians has connected northwest Iowa to the issue. The school shooting may have taken place some 1,700 miles away, but our very own Rep. Steve King has found himself in the thick of public disgruntlement again. You might think it's just the Des Moines Register haranguing King again, but the Representative of northwest Iowa has caught the attention of Time Magazine (not to mention Mark Hamill).
This time, it all comes down to a patch job. King's campaign Facebook page shared a post commenting on Parkland figurehead Emma Gonzalez who wore a Cuban flag patch on her jacket sleeve while advocating for stricter gun laws recently. The post read, "This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don't speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self defense."
As writer, that post could have used another edit before it was posted, but oh well, such is the internet.
The King campaign team — and later King himself — categorized the post's message as pointing out an ironic situation. The campaign wrote several responses to the public's online outrage — because we need more of that these days. The team's responses often called the opposition lefties, while calling the post's content truth. At other times, the social media crew simply responded with pop-culture memes, including but not limited to a dancing Christopher Walken between the words "Too long, didn't read" in response to a 187-word (188 if you count the emoji) comment.
The campaign responses, while numerous, basically echoed one another. However, one stood out in retrospect.
"If we dare to point out the flaws of their arguments, we're 'petty' and 'mean.'" King's team said. "Well too bad - we're not going along with it."
That point, although admittedly minimal, implies the Cuban patch was a pillar of Gonzalez's message, rather than simply a token of her heritage. Now, you might say attire should be taken into consideration regardless. We think outward appearance tells us nearly everything we need to know about a person, so speakers are expected to clean up or let their clothing deliver the message. With that in mind, let's go down the rabbit hole with Team King and examine other parts of the jacket.
Gonzalez had an Apollo 11 patch on her opposite shoulder sleeve. That particular mission to the moon was under the Kennedy administration. So, applying the same assumption of support the King campaign applied to the Cuban flag, Gonzalez was somehow simultaneously supporting leaders on both sides of the Cuban Missile Crisis. She also wore a large patch depicting an image similar to the logo for HBO's Westworld — itself a reference to the iconic Renaissance work known as the Vitruvian Man — and the patch is outlined with the words, "These violent delights have violent ends." Without too much thought, one could interpret the patch as a statement of her delight in violence and a hope for future violent ends. That is, until you take the time to apply some brain power and realize the quote is from Romeo and Juliet — Shakespeare's flagship play, which culminates in the tragic death of young people. The character of the friar is explaining to Romeo that loving something too much can end badly.
Apparently, we've not strayed too far from the society the bard knew, because the friar's words could just as easily apply to us. We just love different things. We love flags. We love freedom. We love the rights we are given, and we may just continue to love them so fiercely we burst our stomachs slurping on the sweet taste of freedom. Or, as the friar explains to Romeo, "The sweetest honey is loathsome in his own deliciousness and in the taste confounds the appetite. Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so. Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow."
Shakespeare can be a bit daunting, let's put it in the vernacular: Honey's sweet, but too much will make your stomach turn. Take good things in sensible doses. That's how you make things last. If you give it everything you've got all the time, you'll wear yourself out. Too much is just as bad as too little.
I, as I've written before, am indeed sick and tired of gun violence — any violence for that matter — but it seems we are set to gorge ourselves on our freedom-honey at the continuing cost of lives. Yet, rather than resting our honey-covered spoons, some dip into the pot all the more and call for more guns to protect us from the guns we've already allowed. We dream of the days when swords will be beat into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, but until that day, we will hold tightly to our weapons. Even though we say we turn the other cheek, our impulse is to clench our fists, hold our rights above all else and squeeze the trigger.
That may be why this issue has so many on edge. The more some call for a tighter grip on where, when and how deadly weapons are available, the tighter some hold to the way things have been. And I'll admit that it's a hard thing to consider. Our government does indeed guarantee us the right to keep and bear arms. I don't think this should ever change, but I believe it is up to the people of this country to decide the manner in which we exercise that right. A call for stricter gun control is not a call to strike the Second Amendment, just as a call to end hate speech is not a call to strike the First Amendment. Our goals must meet somewhere in the middle — we must love moderately — because guaranteed freedoms are not just yours or mine. They are ours. Each of us is meant to benefit from them. Each of us is meant to be protected by them. Young people like Gonzalez surely do not want to repeat what was done in Cuba, but they also know our current situation failed to protect 14 of their classmates and three of their teachers. And when our rights and freedoms fail to benefit and protect some, they should be adjusted so they may fulfill their purpose for all.
Frankly, that's what these students are seeking. Not a communist foothold, not an end to guns, but more responsible use of our rights. But, a hint of another nation's flag can be distracting to some.