We have to talk about it. The elephant in the room may symbolically represent Republicans more than Democrats, but when tragedy after tragedy keeps happening, we must admit that America has a serious issue that needs to be addressed. And yes, I’m talking about pun control.
People in this country go shooting their mouths off all the time, and while some might point to the constitution as evidence that puns are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, there are limits. When our nation was founded by the Declaration of Indie Pundits, we thought it self-evident that all men are created evil, unbowed by the debaters of mammalian table fights. No matter how much we mammals argue around a table, nothing would change. And so, every man (and eventually, woman) had a right to a pun.
But the Bill of Rights wanted puns to be guaranteed for the purposes of a well-regulated well-wisher. Puns in defense of the common good, like when Paul Revere once sat down for dinner at a tavern, but noticed a woman leaving the restaurant who was a known associate of a British spy. Forsaking his meal, Revere dutifully said, "I’m going to follow that chick and catch a Tory."
Citizens needed puns in those days, because there weren’t systemic structures in place. Without a national Department of Defensiveness, it was up to local groups to rifle through their vocabularies for witticisms of the highest caliber, and deploy them against the British until they took a powder. Ben Franklin famously said, "We must all hang together, or surely we will hang separately," but this was knot the carefree punnery you see on the nightly noose today. These were the words of a man at the end of his rope, who was rattled by dangers to the united colonies, and had hoisted the flag saying "Don’t Thread On Me."
Things have changed. With our national army now wielding puns being sent around the world, the puns on the home front have found more unfortunate targets. Hooligans in rural areas have begun feeding explosives to local cattle, a situation I would call abominable. Other vandals have been stealing toilets from local law enforcement agencies, and the police have nothing to go on. And last month, a man shot an unarmed teenager sitting in an SUV, presuming he was armed because his music was too loud -- an unfortunate stereo type.
Some might say that I have gone too far to joke about that last one, and they’re not necessarily wrong. These people didn’t ask to be targets of puns. And I could argue that it’s not my fault; after all, puns don’t kill people. But if anyone feels offended by my jokes, it’s clear that even if puns don’t kill, they can hurt people. They don’t do it directly, of course, but if I have an itchy snigger finger and just start firing off my puns, I can do a lot more damage than if I didn’t have them. Without puns and cheap laughs, I’d have to take time and think more before I shot out a column, and probably wouldn’t hurt as many people.
And that’s why it may be time to talk about pun control.
Seth Brown is a humor writer, the author of "It Happened In Rhode Island," and has a pun permit. His work appears weekly in the Transcript, and weakly on RisingPun.com.