Will, who should know better, andrnMichael Gartner, who call for the repealrnof the Second Amendment, the Bill ofrnRights guarantees rights that thernFounders assumed to be natural; consequently,rna government that didn’t grantrnthem can’t repeal them.rnIncidentally, a government that monopolizesrnweaponry can, among manyrnother things, tell pundits to take their preciousrnFirst Amendment and the rights itrnguarantees and stuff them where the sunrndoesn’t shine. But I never cease to bernamazed that so many people who believernin the power of words can, when it suitsrntheir purposes, turn a blind eve to thernconsequences of words and the ideasrnthey convey.rnI am a strong supporter of all of the Billrnof Rights, First Amendment, SecondrnAmendment, and all the rest. But withrnthose rights come re.sporrsibilities. Mediarnelitists like Lyle Stuart want to take awayrnthe vital right to keep and bear arms (thernteeth of the Bill of Rights) not only fromrnthose Americans who abuse that right byrnharming innocents with their guns, butrnfrom the vast majorih” of Americans whorndon’t abuse it. But when it comes to thernFirst Amendment, Stuart and companyrnaren’t e’en willing to acknowledge thatrnthe rights to free speech and a free pressrncan be abused, let alone consider whatrnshould be done about those w ho abusernthem.rnOf course, abuse of the right to armsrnoften produces a body coiuit, while thernimpact of the abuse of the right to freernspeech and/or a free press isn’t that clearrncut. So Stuart can deplore the killing ofrninnocent blacks and Jews b gun or anrnother means at the same time that hernfeels free, or even obligated, to publishrnbooks tliat claim that killing blacks andrnJews is warranted. Men like him can decryrnviolence as thev market gangsta raprncelebrating the casual killing of cops, thernabuse of women, and antisocial behaviorrnin general. I’hev can rant and rave aboutrnthe ea.sv availabilit of guns being responsiblernfor school shootings while focusingrnnational attention on the young monstersrnwho earn’ out these shootings. And thevrncan een produce violent videogames,rnsuch as Postal, that can serve as trainingrnprograms for these monsters.rnI’m not suggesting government censorship.rnI am suggeshng that Stuart and thern’I •¥ executive who responded to Ed Kochrnshould take a good long look in the mirrorrnand assume some of the responsibilityrnfor the amoral mess that they have helpedrnto create, instead of blaming it on inanimaternobjects that they in many ways havernencouraged some people to misuse. AndrnI am suggesting that far more social damagerncan occur through widespread mediarnabuse of the rights guaranteed by thernFirst Amendment than through individualrnabuse of the rights guaranteed by thernSecond Amendment. For the widespreadrnmedia abuse of First Amendmentrnrights does much to promote the normlessnessrnand alienation responsible for,rnamong many other unpleasant things,rnmurders committed with guns. Less testingrnof the limits of the First Amendmentrnmight do more to bring about a safer societ)’rnthan woidd a repeal of the SecondrnAmendment.rnWilliam R. Tonso is professor emeritus ofrnsociology at the University ofEvansville.rnSOCIETYrnA Christmas Parablernby Marshall FishwickrnIt was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.rnThe stores were staying open untilrnmidnight, and the crowded malls werernnoisy. But all through the house, not arncreature was stirring, not even a mouse.rnWe had just settled down for a long winter’srnnap, when there was a clatter on thernroof and a stirring in the living room.rn”Call 911,” my wife murmured.rn”It’s probably just a fallen branch andrnthe dog in the living room — did you forgetrnto walk him?”rn”I walked him. You’d better take arnlook.”rnI sprang from my bed to see what wasrnthe matter. To mv surprise, the livingrnroom light was on, and an old fellow withrna white beard was sitting in my easy chair.rnA bundle of toys was flung on his back,rnand he looked like a peddler just openingrnhis pack.rn”Sorry to disturb you,” he said. “Butrnthey tell me you teach a course about ourrnnew media and technolog-. I need somernadvice.'”rnMy guest was so lively and quick, Irnknew in a moment it must be Saint Nick,rn”What’s the trouble?” I said.rn”The trouble began with the slowdownrnof children’s letters back at thernNorth Pole,” he confided. “I put myrnelves on the problem, and thev found thernanswer. Children don’t write letters anyrnmore. Most of dienr are using the Internetrn— and ordering from websites and catalogs.”rn”We’re facing a new millennimn,” Irnsaid. “To quote my students —’Get arnNew Life.'”rn”I heard that kind of talk way back atrnthe beginning of this century. Theyrncalled it the Progressive Era. ‘Day by day,rnin every way, we’re getting better and better.’rnThen we stumbled into the GreatrnDepression, a couple of world wars, and arnholocaust. But at least we kept the oldrnmythology alive. Bing Crosby dreamedrnof a wdiite Christmas, kids whisperedrntheir wish lists in my ear, everybodrnwatched Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,rnand my reindeer made their appointedrnroimds without a mishap. Last year,rnPrancer got hit bv junk from a satelliternand had to be hospitalized. The F.AArnmade Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeerrnturn off his red light, since it confusedrnlow-flving pilots. How do ou think hernfelt?”‘rn”Sorry about that —but we have tornadapt or perish. In the new Global Village,rnthere’s not much room for reindeer.rnExerything’s in Now Time. We lie onrnsilicon chips and potato chips, send JohnrnGlenn back into space, and give up naturalrnreality for virtual realit)’. Don’t yournha’e cable TA’ and WWW’ at tire NorthrnPole?”rn”Oh yes. Now the elves’ work outputrnhas dropped 40 percent. They’ve becomerncouch potatoes, watching the samernreruns and silly commercials over andrnover again. They’re beginning to soundrnlike Andy Warhol —the}’ like beingrnbored.”rn”Junk television, like much other uselessrnstuff, will fade like a fallen star. Hererntodav, gone tomorrow. Take a look inrnour attic —full of things like old plasticrnrecords, outmoded sound systems, 8mmrnnrovie projectors, reel-to-reel tapesrnrecorders, box cameras. Your elves willrnimprove.”rn”I used to be respected, even loxed.rnNow wJien kids sit on my lap, they try tornprdl my beard off. When I suggest a tendollarrntoy, they want a 50-dollar model,rnwith remote control. A baby doll thatrndoesn’t talk and wet its diapers? Forgetrnit!”rn” Thafs a different problem—affluenza.”rn44/CHRONICLESrnrnrn