There’s been a lot of media attention around the healthcare town hall meetings and the contentious debate that surround them, but one thing that hasn’t gotten a whole lot of airplay is the accessorizing of some of its protesters.
Times have changed a lot since the Bush years, during which simply showing up to Presidential speech in a homemade anti-Bush T-shirt might get you arrested (and later mollified to the tune of 800 Franklins). While First Amendment Rights were those at the heart of the Bush-era public assembly fashion debate, in the Obama administration it would seem that firearms are the new black.
Indeed, the Second Amendment seems to be rearing its nickel-plated head at a variety of healthcare town hall meetings, including one in Arizona where a guy showed up with an AR-15 strapped to his back. (No word on whether this trend is courtesy a new Max Motors “Guns for Clunkers” promotion.)
It turns out that the Arizona assualt rifle incident was staged by a Libertarian talk show, but other folks who showed up in New Hampshire and Arizona with smaller, more fashionable and versatile handguns were apparently there to exercise their Second Amendment Rights. Or maybe they just attended the Plaxico Burress Institute of Fashion.
Pumping fists is the American way, but the implied threat of pumping lead has activated some conservative organizations to speak out and recommend that folks leave the firearms at home. (The NRA has been silent on the matter.) The meetings are already heated and contentious – due in part to the Right’s scripted disruption strategy, which is well-outlined in a detailed Town Hall Playbook – and with a town hall meeting in Washington State canceled due to threats of violence and one in Tampa disrupted by it, throwing guns into the mix may not create the best environment to productively discuss the future of American healthcare.
What the Second Amendment has to do with the healthcare debate is fodder for another debate, though some would argue that it’s entirely relevant given the $100 billion spent in the healthcare system annually treating gunshot wounds. But perhaps protesters might consider a Bush/Obama hybrid model, and shelve the firearms for T-shirt cannons instead. There are certainly plenty of anti-Obama T-shirts to go ’round.