A few days ago, a friend sent me a link to a week-old Washington Post Sunday Magazine profile of musician and NRA board member and cheerleader, the one and only Ted Nugent -- have you seen this one?
As a pacifistic left-leaning vegan, it's not necessary to list all the ways, great and small, that Mr. Nugent and I differ in disposition, opinion and intention, but I have to give him his props when it comes to showmanship and cojones. And, as with Charlton Heston before him, I am fascinated in a car-wreck sort of way, by the heaping, steaming... alchemy of his jingoistic machismo mixed with creative and charitable tendencies, and the way he attracts and fuels the fervor of a considerable number of Americans. Ted is the de facto leader of a teeming mass (numbers unknown) of World War T Nugies advancing their gun-toting, animal slaughtering, anti social programs, take no prisoners, survival of the fittest agendas, and spewing threats and vitriol designed to intimidate or indoctrinate everyone in their path.
The WaPo article filled a few gaps in my Nugent trivia knowledge, but it was the section where Nugent talks gleefully about his love of hunting from a helicopter that caught my attention and then it showed up on HuffPost and various other blogs. I may be a lefty liberal, but I can take a joke -- even a joke in bad taste -- even a politically incorrect joke, but, it's got to be funny, and Nugent's remarks comparing wild feral hog hunting to hunting humans in South Central Los Angeles just ain't. Please don't take my word for it -- you tell me whether this excerpt from a paid speaking engagement of Ted's raises a chuckle, or raises your gorge:
'"Lots of places have a hog problem," Nugent said. "In Texas, the hogs have a Ted problem." He described the giddy joy of shooting from the open copter with an M4 machine gun. "And four hours later I had 450 dead hogs," he said to loud applause. Then he added an afterthought that produced ample laughs: "And now if they would just take me to South Central. ... Okay! I kid."'
A week ago that was already an immoral, insensitive, racist remark. Two days after the acquittal of George Zimmerman on all criminal charges related to his taking Trayvon Martin's life, it is even more obscene. I wish Ted Nugent could be laughed off as a merely a buffoon and meme for SNL and web parodies, but he can't. His followers are armed and chomping at the bit to take his cues. Who, exactly is he "kidding," (wink, wink, nod, nod) anyway? In July 2013, the concept of (helicopter) hunting of minorities sounds a lot more like Stand Your Ground than it does like stand-up comedy.
Chopper Machine Gun Hunting -- new video game? You against the varmints down on the ground. Two-legged or four, what's the difference, really, when you don't see them as human beings with stories and families and futures and value? And, if you're doing it in certain states, you may not even be penalized.
Mr. Nugent, please come visit South Central up close and personal -- come to A Place Called Home any weekday afternoon to meet a few hundred young people who were casually referenced in your punchline in that WashPo interview. Kids who would be in your scope as you aim down from your chopper. As a matter of fact, bring your guitar along so you can jam with the young musicians in our program. Get to know some of the many beautiful, talented, creative, ambitious, college and profession-bound young men and women who, like Trayvon Martin, are at daily risk from any number of predators, including you and your followers, you kidder, you. And, whether it's a bullet from above or the discontinuation of a safe after school program, the result can mean life or death. No joke.
Shoot me an email or a call to set it up. I'm not going to try to convince you of anything -- I doubt I could. I'd just honestly like to see what happens when your hyperbole meets the road. How do you interact with human beings when the cameras aren't running and how do you explain a joke about hunting humans in South Central when you're sitting in a circle of kids... in South Central?
Who are you kidding?
Jonathan Zeichner, Executive Director
A Place Called Home
2830 South Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011
Changing the world starts at home.