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May 28, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: May 28, 2013

Missed chance for a hardliner’s proclamation

In “High Noon” Gary Cooper plays U.S. Marshal Will Kane, newly married to Amy Fowler, a Quaker pacifist, played by Grace Kelly. Frank Miller, who Kane brought to justice, was scheduled to hang but was released on a legal technicality. With his gang of three, he was out to wreak revenge on Kane and others in town.

At the news, Kane rushes home to his bride, tells her the bad news, falls to his knees and begs her to hide him under her skirt. (They were, as you know, quite large and floor-length at the time.)

“Amy, I’m scared!”

“Honey, don’t worry, I’ll protect you.”

“Great! Just don’t sit down. You might suffocate me.”

“Not to worry, my love.”

“And remember not to lift your skirt off the floor a little, the way you do when you walk. If they see four feet, I’m a dead duck!”

“Dearest, don’t worry about it! No chance.”

“When it’s dark, we can sneak outta town on my horse.”

“Whatever you say.”

“Loveya, Amy.”

“Loveya back, Will.”

Not exactly the way it happened in the 1952 highly acclaimed Western, winner of four Oscars. Will Kane stands alone when his deputy weasels out and the town folk are no better.

Sort of like Boston when hizzoner the mayor orders the whole town into hiding behind locked doors.

Granted the police, the FBI, the SWAT teams, and the National Guard were out in force, but shutting down the whole damn city because of a vile little misfit 19 years old?

He still had dangerous weapons after bombing the marathoners, but so did plenty of the citizens who slavishly obeyed the mayor when they should have shown some guts.

Where the hell were the hardcore NRA guys who beat back every attempt to limit their firepower? Those who spent much of their lives sharpening their shooting skills with target practice and hunting wild animals.

Like Marshal Kane, they should have faced the battle instead of the halls of Congress with bags of lobbying loot. The time had come to break out those assault weapons they’d been defending in the holy name of No. 2 in the Bill of Rights. Not like vigilantes hellbent on being superheroes and outshining the bonafide law enforcers, but simply to assert their right to be free to protect themselves and their city, no matter the weapons of the killers.

It could have been a proclamation of courage and determination not to cower and shrink in the face of evil. A vindication, as it were, for the hardliners of gun rights who choose to arm themselves as they damn well pleased, no matter the growing stridency of opponents.

In 1989, “High Noon” was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The National Film Institute included it on a list of the greatest American films. My feeling is that the classic American Western also has significance for a time after 9/11 and 4/15 when our jihadist enemies want to cripple us with fear.

The mayor of Boston was no Will Kane when it came to overcoming that emotional handicap, and the NRA stalwarts missed their chance to bloody well demonstrate they would not allow their city to be hijacked by fear of a few pathetic, cowardly punks.

— Saul Rosenthal

Terre Haute


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