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Archive for Friday, October 31, 2003

Blacklist a badge of honor

October 31, 2003

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— I rarely whine about being left out. Life is not middle school, and if you don't make the A-list, hey, get over it.

I mean, I didn't even protest when I was left off the Nixon enemies list. I was young. The future stretched in front of me.

But this is too much. This hurts my feelings. The leaders of the National Rifle Assn. have put out a 19-page blacklist, a veritable Who's Who of opponents, an alphabet list of enemies, and there wasn't a Goodman to be found.

How can they do this to me? This is a leadership that has refined paranoia into an art form. The honchos of the NRA actually believe that keeping assault weapons off the streets is the first step to wresting the flintlock out of Charlton Heston's "cold, dead hands."

But the enemies are my kind of people. The American Medical Assn. The National Education Assn. The League of Women Voters, for gawdsake. The list of "anti-gun" religious groups is nothing if not ecumenical, ranging from the U.S. Catholic Conference to the B'nai B'rith to the United Methodist Church.

The corporate blacklist, for that matter, includes every one of my food groups, from Stonyfield Yogurt to Sara Lee cheesecake. As for the list of individuals in and out of Hollywood, they picked the president and first lady -- of "The West Wing" that is. They listed Harvey Weinstein, the old pacifist producer of "Kill Bill," Sean Connery, whose 007 career involved more weapons than your average weekend gun show, and Britney Spears, whose looks could kill. They listed John McEnroe, whose temper is positively ballistic and Julia Child, who wields a mean kitchen knife.

Before someone did an obit-check, the original list even included some dead people, from Herblock to Ann Landers. But Moi? They didn't even send me a greeting card, which is just as well since they also put Hallmark on their (don't) dance card.

How am I going to explain this to my grandchildren? Where did I go wrong?

Of course, I wasn't the only one left out. Even Dustin Hoffman, the star of "Runaway Jury," had to write a letter to the NRA president -- "As a supporter of comprehensive gun safety measures, I was deeply disappointed when I discovered that my name was not on this list" -- before he was included.

But what's a girl like me gotta do to make the hit parade? Should I take on the NRA's prime outrages?

Outrage One: The NRA wants to make the gun industry the only one in America that you can't sue for negligence. The families of the sniper victims, for example, couldn't even sue the infamous Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, which "lost" over 200 weapons, including the Bushmaster used in shooting 16 people.

Outrage Two: The NRA wants assault weapons back on the streets. The ban is due to expire next September, and the NRA doesn't want it renewed.

Do I qualify yet? Well, try this one: I don't even think someone should be able to shoot his wife, go to jail, get out, cross the street, buy a gun at a show and go back and take another shot. There, that should do it.

It's G-O-O-D-M-A-N.

It must be said and resaid that everyone who believes in gun control is not against hunting. As someone who's had a home in rural Maine for many years, I know the difference between a hunter and a sniper. This dog don't hunt, but she's eaten some pretty fine Maine moose, thank you.

Mike Barnes, the head of the Brady Campaign, says, "The NRA members are much more sensible than the leaders. The leadership really believes we would be safer if we were all walking around carrying AK-47s. They talk about the slippery slope. If I can't have a grenade launcher today, they'll take away my rifle tomorrow."

Alas, Mike Barnes' name was also left off the blacklist, as were Jim and Sarah Brady. Maybe that's why the Brady Campaign, in a flight of humor, put together a Web site, www.nrablacklist.com, so the other folks feeling lonely and neglected can volunteer for the blacklist. So far nearly 30,000 people have signed up to be in good company. The cranky NRA has set up an alternative "Good Guys list" -- no gals need apply? Heck, go find it yourself.

Meanwhile, I'm going to get some blacklisted Ben & Jerry's ice cream, open up my blacklisted Washington Post, log on to my computer and post my name. If my old buddies at the NRA want to keep me off, they're going to have to pry this computer mouse out of my cold, dead hands.




Ellen Goodman is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

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