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The Right to Bear Bears

by Matthew Arnold Stern

This speech won at the Area G-5 Humorous Speech Contest on 21 September, 1999. This was one of my edgier speeches, and it was written out of the anger I felt after the Columbine massacre and the bitter political debate that followed. Sometimes, humor can help us express our feelings and cope with difficult situations. For a commentary about the Sandy Hook shooting and how leaders address national tragedies, see my article, “Speaking about the unspeakable.”

Well, this is the humorous speech contest, so tonight I’m going to talk about all the mass shootings we’ve seen in the news. Of course, we know that this is not a humorous subject. It is a serious subject, a tragic subject, and a subject over which we feel completely powerless. It seems like everyone’s a target, and no place is safe.

So, we want to do what other societies have done when there is a crisis: take away civil liberties. We have one group who says, “Guns are bad. Guns are very, very bad. So, we must repeal the Second Amendment so no one ever uses guns ever again.” And, we have another group who says, “Guns aren’t the problem; it’s all this swill coming from Hollywood! It’s those movies and TV shows that glorify violence, immorality, and the theory of evolution. So, we must repeal the First Amendment so that no one abuses the right to free speech to advocate violence or anything else.”

I also have been frustrated by the issue of violence…until I found the solution. It is so crystal clear, I’m amazed that no one has thought of it before.

I came across it while watching a beauty pageant on TV the other night. They had come to the “table topics” portion where each of the contestants is asked a question. The MC said, “Miss December, if you had a million dollars that you can use towards solving the world’s problems, how would you use it?” She replied, “Well, Donny, if I had a million dollars, I’d give everybody in the world a teddy bear. And then, they can hug that teddy bear and feel all the love that comes from hugging a teddy bear.”

And I thought, that’s it! The solution to the violence problem in America! We’ll give every man, woman, and child a teddy bear.

And, you know something? It might just work.

Because, when you think about it, who can possibly feel violent holding a cute, cuddly teddy bear like this one? And, when you’re having a bad day, you know, like you just found out you lost a half a million dollars from day trading. Or, your wife is leaving you and taking the kids because you drink too much and haven’t held a steady job in 18 months. Or, the kids at school don’t like you because you’re thin and pimply and spend all your time at home reading neo-Nazi web sites. You just take your soft, adorable teddy bear, and you do this:

(Strangle teddy bear, slam it against the lectern and knee, pound it with a gavel, etc.)

There. Now don’t you feel much better?

This approach has three main benefits:

  • Number one, no jail time. There are no laws against abusing a teddy bear.
  • Number two, no unflattering pictures of you on CNN.
  • Number three, and this is something all you conservatives will appreciate: NO WHINING LIBERAL POLITICIANS DEMANDING GUN CONTROL!!

Furthermore, teddy bears are compatible with any gun habits you already have. Let’s say you’re having a very, very bad day! You work at the Post Office, and you’ve had a very, very, very bad day!! You just take your teddy bear, and you take your AK-47, and you go to the local firing range. Two clips of ammunition later, your teddy bear is reduced to a little ball of fluff. You can — poof — blow your troubles away. And, you must agree that a teddy bear after two clips of ammo looks a whole lot more attractive than a human being after two clips of ammo.

Best of all, after you’ve inflicted all this violence on that poor, defenseless teddy bear, you can stop to think. That’s something a lot of people don’t do these days.

You might realize that other people aren’t to blame for the problems in your life. You might realize that you have to take responsibility for your own conditions, and that puts you in the place where you can do something about them.

Or, you might realize that people who have a different skin color, religion, or sexual orientation from you are still human beings. When you feel alienated and lonely, instead of hating these people, you can reach out them. They might be willing to be your friends.

So, please, if you get angry — I mean, really full-on ballistic angry — don’t exercise your right to bear arms. Exercise your right to bear bears.