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The Old Quaker strikes again

During a class in American history which Batrix teaches during her first year of her UCLA professorship, One girl puts up a hand.

“Yes – what's the question?” says Batrix.

“You said that guns were used all the time during the late 1770s and the 1800s in this country. Doesn't that prove that Amerika is fascist?”

Shaking her head at the sheer illogic and idiocy of that question, Batrix asks the girl, who looks rather like a young female Japanese animé character, with an oh-so-innocent expression that is too stupid to be feigned, “There were good reasons for having guns then – just as there are now. They are needed for hunting, to put meat on the table, and for self-protection. A great part of America is wilderness, though much less now than then. Most people were self-reliant when it came to food; they didn't dig potatoes and meat out of supermarkets, and didn't need to. So are you saying that self-defense and defense of others and hunting for food are fascist?”

“Well, no, but – well, everybody knows that anyone who picks up a gun gets drunk on power and starts killing and –“

“So you don't like having police there to help you in an emergency?”

“Well, we all knows that when they help us, they aren't fascist, but otherwise they are, and –“

“Here, let's consider the story of the old Quaker.

“This Quaker in question was probably born around 1860 or so. He lived on the outskirts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a spaceious two-story house. One night he awoke at a time when he should have been asleep. Curious, he listened to try to discover what had awakened him, and sure enough, downstairs – his bedroom was on the second floor – he heard footsteps. So, taking up his blunderbuss, he went out of the room to the top of the stairs, which gave him a view of the parlor. Sure enough, there was a shadowy figure skulking around down there, inspecting things, looking for something worthwhile to steal.

“The Quaker, quietly putting his blunderbuss to his should, called down, 'Friend, I would not harm thee for all the world – but thee is standing where I am about to shoot!'

“The Burglar dropped his swag and tore out the front door and into the night, never to be seen in that neighborhood again.”

“That's all very nice,” said the girl, smirking, “but what does that have to do with anything?”

“If, as you claim,” said Batrix, “simply picking up a gun turns men and women into monsters, then that Quaker would have shot the burglar without giving warning. Instead, he warned the burglar, who, taking the hint, left and didn't come back. According to the logic of your claims, that makes that Quaker a monster. And he wasn't.”

“Well, Quakers are Christians, aren't they? And everyone knows that Christianity is the most hateful, murderous religion in the world!”

By this time, everyone else in the class was laughing at the young woman, who had tears in her eyes, hair dripping with sweat and wildly disheveled, and an expression that strongly suggested that she would love to rip out Batrix's throat with her bare hands, Only the fact that the rest of the class wasn't sympathizing with her held her back from doing violence.

Mustering what shreds of dignity left to her now, the girl stood up and, assuming a “noble-victim expression, the girl stalked out of the classroom and down the hall and out of Batrix's life for good, save for a confused and almost incomprehensible letter of complaint about Batrix to the UCLA administrators, who strongly suggested that the girl get some much-needed counseling and/or psychotherapy and also a good civics course before coming back to the university.


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Yael Dragwyla

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