In defense of our fave gun-totin', sweatpants-wearin' football player

Oh, I get letters. One of them disparaged my piece a couple of weeks back about pack rats, pointing out that the primary hazard of their coexisting with us is that their nests attract kissing bugs. The bites of kissing bugs create allergic reactions in some people, a small subset of which are severe enough to make them move to other states. Ergo, pack rats should be eliminated.

This kind of boneheaded reasoning gets on my wick more than any other: Just because a so-called inferior species, pack rats, inconvenience a so-called superior species, Homo sedentarius, does not justify one exterminating the other at will. Just the other night, I had an argument with a member of the U.S. Navy whose thinking runs in a similar vein. This knothead was very happy that a federal court had overturned a ruling limiting the use of short-blast, low-frequency sonar off the California coast, regardless of the fact that it causes massive neurological damage and death to marine mammals. National security, he insisted, is much more important than untold numbers of dead whales and dolphins.

Hogwash. Whales and dolphins have as much of a right to live as we do, if not more, and blasting their brains to bits with sonar--which to a sound-oriented animal is the equivalent of punching out its eyes with knitting needles--is not only a sin, but must certainly be a crime. The fact is that if any one of us had a single moral fiber in our bodies, we'd commit suicide immediately. Hominids with big brains and opposable thumbs are a menace to the planet, and somewhere along the line, we're going to have to take responsibility for this fact and do the right thing.

However, since nobody's got the guts to do the right thing, including yours truly, I have one thing to say to pack-rat and dolphin haters: Tough titty. What, you can't handle a few bugs? What is it? Some childhood trauma? The infestation of your farina at a delicate age forever has emblazoned upon you, in the dank folds of your gray matter, a diaperload of fear that's since metastasized into indignation and terror? Well, grow up, woman. We share this planet with millions of other creatures, all of whom put up with inconveniences like bugs on a daily basis without complaining.

But enough of condemning humanity en masse for a moment; I'll get back to it in a couple of weeks. There's one person on this planet who really needs some understanding right now, and that's the New York Giants' Plaxico Burress.

For those of you too busy to follow important news stories like this, poor Plaxico is facing 3 1/2 years in prison for carrying an unlicensed handgun into a nightclub in the waistband of his sweats. Said handgun slipped down and, while reaching for it, Plaxico shot himself in the thigh.

So why are we punishing him? He already got shot in the leg; that's got to hurt like hell. What good is sticking him in prison for 3 1/2 years going to do beyond slightly increasing this country's percentage of black males behind bars? Loads of people carry concealed weapons; the PlaxMan just failed to conceal his very well. Come on, he's a professional athlete, for Christ's sake, which means he's got boffo twitch muscles, but a dearth of brains. He twitched when he should have twached.

This highly paid, well-muscled soul is, unfortunately, a standard-bearer for the latest cultural zeitgeist: Guns are positively trendy now. It used to be that hip people made fun of nonmilitary people who paraded around wearing camouflage. We thought they were a bunch of wankers and poseurs. These days, it's considered positively trendy! You can buy the shit at Abercrombie and Fitch. Army surplus stores can hardly keep it in stock. Hell, I went to Los Angeles, the city on the vanguard for trendiness, and the same people who in the '70s would have been wolfing down alfalfa sprouts and spouting vegetarianism, or in the '80s would have been boring your socks off detailing the wonders economics à la Milton Friedman, are now buying firearms and bragging about the merits of their gun safes. Gone are the days we wept about things like the Columbine shootings. Someone shoots up a shopping mall or a church every other day now, and it barely warrants a mention on CNN.

So, Plaxico, I am on your side. Good luck with your appeal, brother.

Michael Vick, however, you can still go and fuck yourself.