In 1972, Archie Bunker had an outlandish idea to stop airplane hijackings: just give all the passengers guns! (Duh.)
In a vintage clip from “All in the Family,” spotted by Huffington Post, Carroll O’Connor’s iconic over-the-top character appears in an opinion segment on local TV news where he shares his thoughts on keeping air travel safe. (Back then, it was easier and more common for planes to be hijacked.)
“All you gotta do is arm all your passengers,” the blue-collar curmudgeon explained to laughs from the studio audience in the clip. “Then your airlines, then they wouldn’t have to search the passengers on the ground no more. They just pass out the pistols at the beginning of the trip, and they pick ’em up again at the end. Case closed.”
Check out the clip (story continues below):
As the raucous laughter from the studio audience shows, the idea of arming airline passengers back then was absurd. But series producer Norman Lear once compared Bunker’s humorous take on guns from nearly five decades ago to the NRA’s attitude on guns in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting: A good guy with a gun is what stops a bad guy with a gun. (This, to be clear, is definitely not true.)
Although the NRA hasn’t proposed arming airline passengers specifically, the idea doesn’t seem nearly as far-fetched in today’s political climate as it did in 1972.
In the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida on Feb. 14, Trump suggested arming 10-20% of teachers to help prevent gun violence in schools.
The proposal, which many teachers have slammed, has alarmed law enforcement experts. The type of intensive training it would take to adequately prepare teachers for that type of responsibility goes far beyond ensuring they’re simply a good shot at the gun range, they’ve argued.
The “All in the Family” clip further illustrates just how blurred the line’s becoming between satire and politics as usual in Trump’s Washington.
Trump has helped spark another golden era of political comedy, some have argued, but he’s also made it increasingly difficult for many Americans to know what’s real and what’s intended for laughs.
A popular subreddit dubbed Not The Onion, for instance, is routinely littered with ironic and hilarious (and maybe a bit terrifying?) Trump-centered news headlines that couldn’t possibly be real. Yet they are.
Sometimes it takes the power of satire to illustrate how badly we’re failing at protecting our own.
A satirical piece by The Onion on gun violence from 2014 goes viral again just about every time another mass shooting occurs: “No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”
After the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, gun violence hit a bit too close to home for the former Onion senior writer, Jason Roeder, who wrote the headline. “When I wrote this headline, I had no idea it would be applied to the high school a mile from my house,” he noted on Twitter.
Satirical reports may be fake news, but they often speak a lot of truth. We have to do better.
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