Book: Gun Fag Manifesto
Author: Edited by Hollister Kopp, foreword by Jim Goad
Type of Book: Non-fiction, ‘zines
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Because it made me remember with fondness the old Loompanics Catalogue.
Availability: Published by Nine Banded Books in 2013, you can get a copy here:
Comments: So, I read this a long time ago and somehow forgot to discuss it, which is a shame because I found it to be a funny and at times uncomfortable blast from the past. I never read this ‘zine in its original format so this was entirely new to me even as it reminded me of the more humorous excesses of the old Loompanics catalogue and a bit of Paladin Press’ more gunnish releases. God, I really miss the old days sometimes, wherein if you wanted to obtain and read really fucked up books you had to peruse a paper list of books that got mailed to your house and really alarmed postal officials. I mean, I don’t miss it over much because it’s nice to hear about a book and be able to buy it immediately but sometimes I realize half the people reading here have only ever ordered outre books online and don’t remember the heady thrill of renting a post office box at a mail drop and ordering books that Focus on the Family insisted were occult and Satanic and also evil. (Remind me to tell you all my “James Dobson mistook me for someone else and touched my arm twitch” story some day.)
Back to the book. 1994. What a time for all of us who were alive! I graduated from college and started dating Mr Oddbooks. OJ Simpson captivated us all as he engaged in a low speed chase in that white Ford Bronco. Nancy Kerrigan got hit in the knee. And Hollister Kopp edited this ‘zine. This is a messed up ‘zine – completely politically incorrect, verging into outright sociopathy, and, in its own bizarre way, it is glorious.
Don’t get me wrong. You all know that I am so liberal I should probably go straight to jail for stealing all your tax money to give to lesbian welfare crack babies. I don’t get into racist propaganda and racial epithets make me nervous because I’m not wholly sure what my own ethnic background contains and what I do know is Irish and that’s almost never a good sign amongst Americans. But I am also a pro-2A liberal. We are rare, like white tigers, but unlike unicorns we really do exist. I’m not a gun fag, like the editor of the ‘zine. And I really don’t miss the days when Mr Oddbooks would drag me to gun shows and I would end up listening to John Birchers explain to me why it is that blacks and women should never have been permitted to vote and that things went straight to hell after we started putting fluoride in the water, but there is something refreshing reading something so utterly unimpressed by basically everything that makes me who I am.
As we all know, Internet killed the Xerox-zine star. I know the world seems really nuts because we have access to so much insanity online, but back in the old days you had to seek it out and when you found it you were less inclined to complain about it. Were these zines online, the comments would have to be disabled. I think part of the refreshing element of reading this zine compilation was the realization that I would not be expected, culturally, to engage in an argument when I was finished. That having been said, this is an extremely hyperbolic collection. A lot of really offensive content got crammed into three editions, and if you can’t embrace the weird when it is offensive, you will want to give this book and the rest of my discussion a miss.
So basically this is a dogpatch Julius Evola-esque rage against a modern, soft, leftist machine with lots and lots of specialized information about guns. It is utterly hilarious in the way that your insane racist Uncle Jack can get after he’s had a few too many beers – drunk enough to be willing to say all sorts of horrible things with interesting comedic timing but not so drunk you’re in danger of getting your ass beat. Or shot. There is a lot of dark humor in this collection, very dark humor, but very funny nonetheless. At times my inner prig reared her head, and sometimes she was sorely provoked, but if you keep in mind context, time and authorial frame of mind, it’s clear that even the most ardent Commie-hating, feminist-loathing, Congress-despising gun-toter would see this as satire, not an accurate look at right-wing reactions to a changing and at times degenerate culture.
In the article “Gadfly Gun Fags”, I admit I laughed at the following.
The swine are gaining momentum. Their cowardly attacks on you and me and on American culture in general have reached fever pitch. Can you believe that the fuckers are going to start suing the manufacturers of firearms whenever someone gets hurt? Since when do you sue the manufacturer of a product because it worked perfectly? (The wife of one of the lawyers shot by patriot and gun fag supermartyr Gian-Luigi Ferri is behind this hare-brained scheme.) We’re living in a weird world. What can you do?
Aside from a violent overthrow of the United States government (a tough job, but someone has to do it), there really doesn’t seem to be much we can do. An assassination here and there is good for keeping our spirits up, but it’s illegal, and like a lizard losing its tail, the media-government just regenerates another politician, and the pathetic zombie constituents vote him or her into office.
WE MUST AT EVERY TURN BE A THORN IN THEIR SIDES.
BE AS IRRITATING TO THEM AS POSSIBLE.
Call your congressman on a daily basis. They hate that. The 29th district (California) congressman is the geek Henry Waxman, and his number is [redacted because this is 2015, not 1993 and I actually had to go to Wikipedia and see if Waxman is still alive – he is, FOR NOW]. Or send him a polaroid of yourself standing naked with your gun collection (it’s a good idea to blank out your face). If you’re shy or feeling “inadequate,” just draw a swastika over your private parts.
A quick course: “How to Translate Socially Difficult Material.” Though the author of this piece praised as a martyr a mass murderer and mentioned complete government overthrow, the real call to action is to call one’s congressman and complain. A lot. It’s a call to arms and the arms are being completely annoying, not shooting the president or killing all the lawyers. See, remember earlier I mentioned that comment sections on a website devoted to material like this would have to be closed – they would have to be closed because those in my camp would see the mention of a swastika and completely ignore the sentences with active verbs.
As an aside, I am so tired of a world wherein we fall all over ourselves to avoid offending each other. Being offended is the least of my worries as a white, middle-class woman, and if you look and live like me they should be the least of yours, too. When they really come for you and strip you of your civil rights and force you to carry an assault rifle under penalty of law and The Handmaid’s Tale becomes a documentary shot in real time, you’re going to be too tired to fight because you will have spent all your time being really upset because there was once a subreddit that was really mean to fat people.
The best parts of this collection were “RED’S LAST WORDS” – profanity-laden, stream-of-consciousness rants that didn’t even try to be coherent. Jesus, I am old. It hits me every now and then, but yeah, in a few years I won’t even be technically middle-aged because my sprig of the family tree is short-lived. Red’s diatribes made me long, and I mean long, for the days when I would receive insane conspiracy theory tracts in the mail, sent with no margins, in all caps, produced on a type-writer because only NASA had word processing programs, written almost exclusively by men with very tenuous grasps on reality and a tendency to go off on a tangent and never be seen again. Actually, Mr Oddbooks was the worst offender where these lunatic tracts were concerned but then one day he accidentally knocked himself unconscious trying to use a motorized post-hole digger in Central Texas clay and when he recovered he had lost most of his interest in this sort of thing. He even started voting. (This is actually a true story – I recall almost crying, begging him to let me take him to the ER as he stood staring at himself in the bathroom mirror trying to remember the word for “salt.”)
I cannot offer context for the following quote – you can pretty much land anywhere in a Red Rant and it will make as much or little sense as reading from beginning to end. Just roll with it (errors in original):
ABOUT THIS TIME I DECIDED TO FUCKING BAIL BECAUSE I WAS GETTING REALLY SICK TO MY STOMACH . . . I SAW A PACK OF DESEASE-RIDDEN MEXICAN CHIHUAHUAS DIGGING UP OLD DIAPERS WITH LITTLE MONTE CARLOS AND COORS LIGHT LOGOS ON THEM . . . THERE WERE THREE SPENT SHELLS IN THE BED OF MY TRUCK AND TWO LIVE ROUNDS IN THE GUN . . NOT ENOUGH SHOULD THE NATIVES BECOME RESTLESS . . . TOO STUPID AND FUCKING LAZY ANYWAY . . . WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER THREE ROUNDS WAS A MYSTERY . . . I CRAWLED THROUGH THE SLIDING GLASS REAR WINDOW SALUTING THE NRA STICKER AND PLANTED MY GRIZZLED FACE INTO SPANKY THE DANCER’S TITS . . .
I think the reason I felt so uncomfortable at times reading this compilation is because it reminded me not so much that I am getting old but that those in my tribe have failed. Liberalism used to be a fierce force of cultural and economic change and inclusion (and I mean fierce here in the real meaning of the word and not a synonym for sassy). Liberalism has degenerated from a lofty place where people fought for political access for all and the basic human rights of being paid for work without excessive exploitation. We went from being the sorts of people who were willing to die for political equality to being whining messes whose emotions and hurt feelings mean far more than actual political harm. The left has been largely absorbed into the centrist politics, so watered down that Obama is actually far more like Reagan than most right-wing advocates will ever admit, and those on the far left are whingers, crying children who will turn on their own in a heartbeat if someone accidentally uses the wrong pronoun for a person whose gender is visually ambiguous or admits to not knowing much about the liberal cause of the minute.
Gun Fag Manifesto reminds me of the last days of liberalism, when we were still a force to be reckoned with, willing to engage in whatever means necessary to achieve our goals, while respecting the tenets of genuine liberal thought. Now too many of us behave like broken victims who cannot engage in normal discourse, demanding special treatment that shows us for the absurd, self-absorbed, personal political children we have become. There was a recent feminist conference wherein clapping was banned because too many people were triggered by it. Say what you will about Emma Goldman but can you imagine her, or Susan B. Anthony, or Angela Davis (or Joe Hill, or any of the anti-fascist pre-WWII anarchists) cringing at the noise of people applauding? Could you imagine any of them prancing about in their underpants at Slut Walks with “riots not diets” tattoos, while men, women and children go hungry and are still exploited in this country? The liberal left in this country and indeed all over the world have become so weak that we expect our opponents to handle us with kid gloves and then we whine when that doesn’t happen. We’ve become such a parody of whining weakness that not even Hollister Kopp could have predicted how ridiculous anti-gun, anti-right forces would become.
And it’s not enough that we’re a parody now – but we are also literally the worst people ever. There are entire blogs devoted to doxxing people who have unpleasant views. We contact employers and try to deny work to those whom we find objectionable, willing to condemn an entire family to penury because we don’t like it when someone says the “n” word online. We’re not talking about people in the media who owe their livings to public reaction or public servants, like police officers – we’re talking car salesmen, college students with part time jobs, blue collar men with low-paying jobs. We want speech limited if it serves our purpose of never being uncomfortable again, as if this entire country, founded by revolution to ensure individual freedom, exists solely to make sure people never hear anything they don’t want to hear. I hate having to use “we” here but there’s no way to say, “I’m not like them.” I may not be like them but they are calling the tune of current liberalism and unless I reject the label entirely, it’s specious to draw lines between sane and insane liberalism.
In a sense, the best way to support liberalism is to read books like this and support their rights to exist. Perhaps such a stance can wrench the definition of liberal from cringing, useless ideologues who have hijacked my political identity so that they can live a life protected by social bubble wrap. Probably not.
It sucks mightily, this realization. And it’s uncomfortable to see how far adrift things have become for people like me, who remember the liberal promises of old. Things don’t have to suck this much but oh the times, oh the customs, and I’m harking back like a sad old woman.
I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are looking for hyperbolic humor, you’ll find it in this book. If you are looking for a representation of the amazing age of the ‘zine, you’ll find it here, too. If you are easily offended and find yourself triggered by every stiff wind, this is not the collection for you, and I don’t want to hear your fucking whining if you read it and end up shaking and crying. I liked the humor, enjoyed the reminder of a post office box filled with weirdness and remembering when there was an authentic liberal voice to counter some of the more excessive and genuine cultural assertions in this collection. Recommended but with those caveats.