Magazine | March 19, 2018, Issue

Happiness Is a Warm Gub

Event goers walk to the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the site for the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston, Texas on May 3, 2013. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

At the rate boycotts and severed relationships are being announced, it’s possible that you’ll be forbidden to say the letters “N,” “R,” and “A” near a public building by the time this issue hits the stand. The Herman’s Hermits song “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am” may be banned from radio play, because the singer pronounces the name “Ennery,” which sounds a lot like “NRA.”

The NRA will be super-extra evil for a while, until the National Outrage Corps swings to something else, but guns will remain our culture’s No. 1 source for meaningless overreaction. Perhaps you’ve heard about the student who was banned from school because he threatened to cause mayhem . . . with a mathematical symbol.

News reports said it was “a poorly judged quip” brandished in a small classroom. A student drew a square-root sign, and another student noted that it “looks like a pistol.” Said in jest, no doubt. The student who drew the math-gun said, “Let’s just get to work before I shoot you with a pistol,” and then, being boys, they may have belched or broken wind, from one student to another in a math class.

Somehow this turned into a rumor that the square-root-drawing student was planning a shooting, and because this wasn’t Florida — where the “See something, do squat about it” rule has infected law enforcement — the police searched the kid’s home for weapons.

As well they should have! The Framers did not intend for people to have math guns that shoot 3.1415926 rounds per second!

It’s possible the student would have been suspended if he had said, “This math symbol looks like a Pop-Tart out of which someone has taken a bite, giving it the shape of a firearm.” In 2016, a Maryland judge upheld the suspension of a kid who brandished a thin pastry and pretended it was a gun, so that’s a whuppin’.

But what if the student had said, “This math symbol looks like a Pop Tart chewed to resemble a chicken finger”? Immediate expulsion. After all, in 2001, according to the L.A. Times, an “8-year-old boy was suspended from school for three days after pointing a breaded chicken finger at a teacher and saying ‘Pow, pow, pow.’” Presumably the school had already banned assault fish-sticks.

But what if the student were a fan of Woody Allen — his earlier, funnier work — and had said, “This math symbol looks like a Pop-Tart chewed to resemble a chicken finger used as a gub”? In Take the Money and Run, Allen’s character tries to hold up a bank by sliding a note to the teller, but his handwriting is so poor the clerk thinks the holdup note says Woody is pointing a “gub.”

The school administration would have to look at the movie and conclude that since Allen’s character said he wrote “gun,” the math symbol shaped like a Pop-Tart bitten to resemble a chicken finger was practically a fully automatic AK-47 shotgun with a bump stock, and the kid would be expelled.

But what if the student had said, “This math symbol looks like a Pop Tart chewed to resemble a chicken finger used as a gub in Take the Money and Run, where Woody Allen carves a gun out of a bar of soap”? The school administrator would have been justified in calling the police, who’d explain that citing Woody Allen was problematic these days, given the accusations and the #MeToo climate.

“We’re not saying you can’t reference Woody Allen movies,” Officer Friendly would say. “But until there’s a critical mass of opinion about whether he should be shunned or just given diminishing attention until he dies, it’s best you don’t bring him up.”

“Can I write the word ‘gub’ on a piece of paper and put it in my pocket and not tell anyone?” the student might ask.

“Not if anyone’s talking about Woody Allen.”

“Okay, great, no one ever talks about Woody Allen. So I can carry around the word ‘gub’ wherever I go?”

Worried looks between the principal and Officer Friendly. Next week, signs all over school: This is a gun- and gub-free zone.

Two weeks later, a kid throws a tater-tot at a friend after pretending to pull an imaginary grenade pin with his teeth, and leftists on Twitter are mocking those who protest the kid’s expulsion. “Guess the situation needed a good guy with a gub.”

Actually, someone was arrested for writing the word “gun” on a piece of paper. In Wisconsin a guy was buzzed into a school, walked past the office without checking in, then went to a classroom and handed them a piece of paper containing the word “gun.” He was arrested for disorderly conduct, and perhaps being an unlicensed mime.

You can infer his message: What if he’d had the real thing? Ergo? Ban guns, no doubt. The story might have been different if someone had stopped the guy the second he passed the office without checking in and handed him a note that said “bzzzzzz aeeeieiiaheiah” to indicate he’d been tasered and was now twitching on the floor with a spreading stain in his pants.

The only obvious solution to this is to ban the NRA, which used its mind-control beams to keep Florida officials from dealing with an obvious problem before it was too late and kept the cops from stopping it while they were on the scene. How do they operate those beams? Satellites? Ban the NRA from using rockets. Sign the petition! Demand that NASA cut off its support of NRA brain-controlling pro-gub space rays!

No? Then you hate kids.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Seizing the Future

Arthur Herman reviews The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World, by Charles C. Mann.




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The Week

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Your views on Delta Airlines and Hertz rental cars now correspond to how compelling you found the cable-news appearances of a survivor of the Parkland school shooting.

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