Fighting Absurdity With Absurdity: Heaven Forbid the Penis

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Arguing that carrying firearms on campus will be as effective against random gun violence as carrying dildos, thousands of students at the University of Texas at Austin protested the state's insane new open carry law Wednesday by gleefully hoisting "Armed With Reason" and "Guns Do Kill People" signs along with over 4,500 donated dildos, flesh color to fluorescent, in what may prove to be the state's largest ever anti-gun rally. The #CocksNotGlocks campaign, started by one alum as a bit of "defiant nonsense" aimed at fighting absurdity with absurdity, kicked off on the first day of classes by drawing big crowds, with some inventive students juggling dildos and others hawking them with "Come get a dick!"

The campaign seeks to repeal Senate Bill 11, signed into law by GOP Gov. Gregg Abbott in June but only implemented August 1, allowing students or faculty at public universities to carry their favorite guns to class, because what could possibly go wrong? The law has been vociferously opposed at the relatively progressive Austin campus, where many spoke against it at earlier public forums, an esteemed Architecture Dean resigned rather than live with it, and three professors sought an injunction to block guns from their classrooms; a federal judge just denied their request. Campaign organizers have asked students to "open carry" or hang the sex toys on backpacks until the law is changed: "Why leave your dildos at home if other people won't leave their guns at home? Wear 'em proudly until SB11 is repealed."

Students sensibly argue they come to school to learn, not to fear for their lives, and that gun violence represents "a public health issue that affects everybody." They note the incongruity of current laws under which the state now allows deadly weapons in classrooms, but both the state and university prohibit the display of "obscene items." Since last fall when she created the Campus (DILDO) Carry movement that launched this week's event, UT alumna Jessica Jin and her supporters have been barraged by the kind of hateful online abuse often generated by this country's culture wars. They've left the references to "nasty cunts" and "college sluts" and "liberal dipshits" on view "to show the kind of aggressive hostility open carry zealots display when they find out they’re being mocked."

Jin most eloquently and thoughtfully lays out her arguments in an op-ed that references Thomas Paine's 1776 pamphlet "Common Sense," cites an America "rocked by mass shootings" and a corresponding culture "swirling with myriad references (that) connect guns and phalluses," and asks of a state that's decided the best way to prevent gun violence is to have more guns in more places, "Where is that common sense today?" In creating the "spectacle" of #CocksNotGlocks, she had to confront for the first time our "deeply broken violent American reality....(that) heated and tangled mess of history, mortality, fear, and raw human emotion" - and hopes others will too. "The dildo has provided some with a social lubricant for hard conversations," she argues. "A perfectly absurd symbol for the absurd times in which we live."

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