‘You’ve a gun on your T-shirt’

A “man wearing a T-shirt depicting a cartoon character holding a gun was stopped from boarding a flight by the security at Heathrow’s Terminal 5,” The BBC reported on June 1.

Brad Jayakody, from Bayswater, central London, said he was “stumped” at the objection to his Transformers T-shirt.

Mr. Jayakody, a clean-shaven young man with eyeglasses and short hair, said the incident happened in mid May, when he was challenged by an official during a pre-flight security check.

“He says, ‘We won’t be able to let you through because your T-shirt has got a gun on it’,” Mr. Jayakody told reporters.

“I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’

“(The goon’s) supervisor comes over and goes, ‘Sorry, we can’t let you through and you’ve a gun on your T-shirt.’ “

Mr. Jayakody said he had to strip and change his T-shirt before he was allowed to board his flight.

“It’s a cartoon robot — what threat is it to security or offensive to anyone at all?”

A spokesnerd for BAA — the quasi-private outfit that operates seven major British airports, owned in turn by the Spanish Grupo Ferrovial consortium — said there was no record of the incident and no “formal complaint” had been made.

“If a T-shirt had a rude word or a bomb on it, for example, a passenger may be asked to remove it,” he said. “If it’s offensive, we don’t want other passengers upset.”

Jared Diamond wrote a book a few years back called “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” The premise was for the most part trendy Green: Cultures fail because they try to support too many people on the land, causing them to ruin the soil and cut down all the forests, etc. He actually praised the societies of highland New Guinea and others of their ilk for developing “sustainable” agricultural methods.

It’s an interesting premise, but (I submit) hugely flawed. Cultures like the Maya may occasionally collapse due to a failure to develop fertilizers and crop rotation, putting them in dire straits when the inevitable drought or crop blight strikes. It’s even possible a shortage of meat protein in the peasant diet renders them smaller and less effective as warriors.

But most primitive cultures have collapsed, virtually overnight, because of the arrival of a more warlike neighbor with better weapons and tactics. Cortez did not conquer Mexico with the plow. It didn’t matter whether the Apache and the Navajo (and before them, presumably, the southbound Aztecs) had better agricultural methods than the Anasazi and other relatively peaceful agriculturalists of the Southwest; the warlike newcomers were simply willing and better able to raid them, stealing their women and corn. (Why else did they become “cliff dwellers”?)

It may be that the natives of highland New Guinea do not grow too numerous for their agricultural methods to sustain precisely because they have no modern medicine to extend life spans and reduce infant mortality. They may also have survived because no one with better weapons has yet considered their remote jungle worth taking.

The Picts fell to the Celts who fell to the Romans who withdrew and left the natives to the mercy of the Saxons, who were invaded by the Danes and eventually conquered by the Normans. Yes, agriculture sustains larger populations and thus larger armies than hunting and gathering, but you may still be better able to grasp such a course of events by studying the development of the spear, the iron sword, the shield wall, the bow and stirruped cavalry than by analyzing crop rotation.

Watch a cat kill a bird, sometime. If you intervene quickly enough, while the prey is still frantically struggling, you may still be able to set it free. But at some point the victim seems to pass into a kind of trance of resignation. At that point, even if rescued and set free, the bird seems past the point of resistance. It will often die even when its injuries appear non-life-threatening.

I submit Western culture is entering a similarly strange and suicidal reverie. Eventually, loud and angry foreigners who have grown up hungry will arrive to kill us and take our stuff, as we sit chanting in self-satisfaction at how wise we were to revert to the imagined peaceful lifestyles of our pre-coal, pre-firearm, pre-industrial, short-lived toothless ancestors.

I used to predict that our women (and young boys, I suppose) would at that point shriek and moan as they are carried off into slavery, asking what has become of the men with guns who were supposed to defend them.

I may now have to revise that. I may have to add: “assuming they even remember what a gun looked like.”

— — —

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said no plank of the Bill of Rights is inviolable, all are subject to reasonable government intrusions. His famous example — that it’s illegal to yell “Fire” in a crowded theater — surfaced again recently as our current Supreme Court embraced a similar line of disingenuous claptrap, ruling that when the Second Amendment says our right to bear arms “shall not be infringed” it really means “shall be infringed in almost limitless ways, so long as our government masters insist each new infringement is ‘reasonable’.”

Let us examine Justice Holmes’ oft-cited example.

First, the case in question involved the trial of Philadelphia Socialist leader Charles T. Schenck on charges of urging resistance to the draft in 1917 — a draft which had been barred by the 13th Amendment, by the way.

That’s right, the “great” Oliver Wendell Holmes was comparing advising a young man to avoid the draft — in some cases, by exercising his perfectly legal right to apply for Conscientious Objector status — with “yelling ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater.”

This in a series of cases where several staff members of Philadelphia’s German-language newspaper were convicted under the Espionage Acts, largely on grounds they had reinterpreted news stories “so as to bear a changed meaning which was depressing or detrimental to patriotic ardor.”

So much for the First Amendment.

Even if every young American man eligible for the draft in 1917 had heard the advice of the defendants and refused to go serve in France — a mighty far-fetched premise — what harm would have befallen America? None at all. We would have remained neutral, just as the lying professor Wilson had promised. (1916 campaign slogan: “He kept us out of war.”)

Do you think Mr. Wilson didn’t know the Germans had issued warnings about ships like the Lusitania carrying war supplies to the British? Mr. Wilson wanted into that waning war to win himself a seat at the peace table — to make a reality of his one-worlder dream of a “League of Nations.”

In fact, without our entry, the armistice might have offered the Germans better terms. Those onerous French reparation demands gave the Nazis a huge grievance on which to capitalize, helping lead to World War II.

It’s not even illegal to “Yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” in the first place. It’s only a crime if there is no fire. That’s why we punish offenders only after the fact, rather than sewing everyone’s mouth shut before they’re allowed to enter a theater, so as to prevent them from having the opportunity to misuse their right to yell “Fire” — an absurd prescription directly parallel to the notion that we should “take away everyone’s handguns” to prevent them from having the opportunity to use them unwisely, instead of simply punishing those who do so.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of “The Black Arrow.” See www.vinsuprynowicz.com/ and http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/vin/.

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