Wednesday, October 15, 2008

When rights collide 

We saw a handbill the other week that caused quite an uproar on the neighborhood listserve. What had happened is that a neighbor who runs some second amendment rights group (and lists the same in his e-mail sig) talked about starting up a sort of citizen patrol--basically a group of neighbors strolling about and hopefully spoiling the general inner-city atmosphere for those loitering with criminal intent. Because of his e-mail signature, some of the other folks on the mail list started freaking, imagining that he was calling out an armed posse to start mowing down Beacon Hill's criminal element or something. It even got press in the Seattle Weekly. But, as listserve frenzy is bound to do, things soon settled down to normalcy. Then after a few weeks, the controversy suddenly flared up again with the posting of the handbill pictured above. In case you don't feel like venturing to Flickr to look closer at the pic, I'll reproduce the text here. And since the Jedi council governing html hasn't yet approved the <sarcasm> tag, I'll enclose my comments in italics.

(Concealed? I can see that sucker right there in his right hand!)

Beacon Hill needs less guns, not more. (Um, this guy has been living here for years. Where do you think he's been keeping his weapons? Ballard?) A vigilante group (You mean like the "Safety Walkers" who strolled the neighborhood a few years back with their dogs and cameras?) has taken up walking the streets of Beacon Hill armed with concealed weapons.

We love our neighborhood and want to feel safe, not under attack. (Why would he attack me? I wasn't planning on threatening him or anything. Were you?)

Our parks, stores, coffee shops, schools and streets are safer when we know our neighbors. (So next time you see someone dealing drugs on 14th Ave, go up and introduce yourself!) Safety comes from conversation and building community (As long as you avoid the controversial topics that lead to fist-fights.); it is our right to know when guns are present. (Yeah! Make your choice, gun-boy: right to bear arms or right to privacy.)

Concealed weapons do not belong on Beacon Hill!
(Unlike anonymous, muckraking posters of questionable veracity that might be violating copyright.)

Hmmmmm. Then again, I wonder if maybe the Mad Poster-er hasn't got something here. I mean, with a laser printer and a bucket of glue, one could make a strike against all sorts of inappropriate behaviors: "THIS MAN CARRIES A PACK OF SMOKES." or "Beacon Hill needs less dogs barking in the middle of the night, not more." or "Poorly landscaped lawns do not belong on Beacon Hill." Visualize a neighborhood where people care. A place where neighbors take their concerns to the streets. A community where all are respected and included... providing they adhere to the established standards and declare their firearms at the door. It would be a neighborhood that truly lives up to the name "BeHi".

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