O'Donnell deserves medal for jumping into gun debate

May 29, 1999|By GREGORY KANE

I COULD KISS that Rosie O'Donnell. I really could. She may have started a trend. Because of O'Donnell, television talk shows may become worth viewing again.

O'Donnell is host of a show that airs locally at 3 p.m., opposite the dreadful "Jerry Springer Show." Before last week, O'Donnell was dubbed the queen of nice. Typically, she interviews celebrities, lobs them softball questions and sits by while they promote whatever it is they've come on Rosie's show to promote.

That ended when actor Tom Selleck appeared on the show to plug his new movie. According to a New York Post report, O'Donnell "ambushed" Selleck about his appearing in a National Rifle Association ad. Bushwhacking Rosie, we can call her. After chiding Selleck, O'Donnell conceded that the Second Amendment might give hunters the right to own rifles.

"Do you really think the Second Amendment was for hunters?" Selleck rejoined.

O'Donnell then said the Second Amendment was perhaps for farmers to have rifles to protect themselves from British invaders in 1800, not to own assault rifles in the year 2000.

The repartee then deteriorated. Selleck said he thought O'Donnell was being stupid. O'Donnell apologized as if she had done something wrong. But the fact is she had done something very, very right.

She had made viewers who tune in to television talk shows think again. So far, the only one doing that is Oprah. In light of the carnage at Columbine High School last month, you'd think other talk shows would bring on celebrities and ambush them about their views on gun control. Springer might want to take a break from such intellectually stimulating topics as "My Mom Stole My Lesbian Lover" to bring on guests to participate in the Great Gun Control Debate of 1999.

The topic is so imperative that it would be an act of gross moral negligence not to talk about it. The debate should be raging on every television and radio talk show, in every classroom, hamlet and village in America. People should question what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Second Amendment. In the best of all possible Americas, folks will start reading the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers to find out exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

O'Donnell's act was so well timed, so unexpected and so bold that it doesn't even matter that she -- much like other gun control advocates -- was totally wrong in her position. The Second Amendment says what it says: "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

I read that and figure, heck, I'm a people. I have a right to bear arms. And if that right isn't covered in the Second Amendment, it's covered in the Ninth Amendment, which says I have the implicit right to defend myself. With a firearm, if necessary.

Gun control folks don't like hearing such talk, of course. It makes them nervous. It's what Selleck should have said on O'Donnell's show. He should have given it to her with both barrels and, yes, the pun is intended.

It's not gun control folks fear as much as the very idea of freedom. Free access to guns, they believe, leads to an unsafe society. It's quite the pity they're unaware that such is the very nature of freedom: It's dangerous. Free societies are more perilous than closed ones. The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to "secure the blessings of liberty" but didn't bother to tell us about the dangers of liberty.

"There's always an element of crime in freedom." Some writer once wrote that somewhere. It shouldn't surprise anyone that he was an American who wrote a novel that is considered one of the country's classics. It's too bad he can't be on O'Donnell's show. Ralph Ellison is dead now.

But others are alive. O'Donnell should bring NRA President Charlton Heston on and ambush him. She could have director Spike Lee on the show with Heston. News reports have quoted Lee as saying recently -- in jest, he claims -- that he's so passionate about gun control he wishes someone would shoot Heston. Think of the discussion those two guys would have.

Heston: Gee, Spike, I feel the same way about you after watching some of your movies.

Lee: Someone fetch me my Tech-9.

As for that O'Donnell woman, her producers should give her a raise and a 20-year contract. She deserves to be around a while.

Pub Date: 5/29/99

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