If conservatives are looking for a hero on gun rights, behold George Young, who recently won a significant victory before the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Hawaiian taught himself law and with help from a lawyer managed to take his case into federal court, after years and years of dismissals, and won. The Ninth Circuit ruled Hawaii has to allow open carry or else try its luck at the Supreme Court.
Read Stephen Gutowski at the Free Beacon for a really good story and interview with Young. He is an Army veteran, served in Vietnam, worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, and then in airport security, where he was again armed. But then when he wanted to get a gun permit in his native Hawaii, where he’s lived all his life, he was denied, again and again.
When he started calling lawyers to get representation, none would take his case. He eventually decided to represent himself—and that was the beginning of the struggle that led to his July 24 victory, when the Ninth Circuit ruled Hawaii’s ban on open carry unconstitutional (while declaring a ban on concealed carry still constitutional).
Aside from this personal success and advancement in the cause of gun rights for all citizens of Hawaii, Young’s story is an occasion for conservatives and gun rights advocates. This is something Hollywood should love, since the man is a walking, talking embodiment of the best of diversity in America. He’s half-Japanese, a quarter Hawaiian, and a quarter Chinese, married to a Japanese woman. There’s a lot for conservatives, too, beyond gun rights, since he’s a veteran and served his country in Vietnam.
This Is the Perfect Story for the Small Screen
Young’s story would make a good drama about what 21st century America could learn from previous generations and how an aging patriot conceives of his legacy. His struggle for gun rights also has a personal meaning, since it was a promise he made to his daughter, who died in a terrible car accident before he got his lawsuit in a court.
So family love is also tied to this story of the dignity of citizenship and the pride a man can have in carrying guns. It is uniquely suited to dispel the idea that gun rights are a National Rifle Association conspiracy with crazy white people who are not fit to live in places ruled by sophisticated, defenseless liberals.
Conservatives, patriots, and friends of the Constitution should think seriously about how to tell such stories, if they are to affect our culture. This would not be a superhero blockbuster, nor a Disney princess story. No one will make a billion dollars on this. It wouldn’t likely get the press that transgressive stories usually do, nor the coverage of glamorous celebrity vehicles. It would likelier be a movie with a small budget, an interest in the festival circuit, and an eye on the prestige conferred by awards.
It would require real talent both behind and in front of the camera. It would above all require writing that’s attentive to the man’s true story, and require the wit to discern in his story how America has changed in this man’s lifetime. It would illuminate how he conceived of doing his duty, since he worked all his life to protect the public. Such a movie would provide a real example of duty and citizenship, something different than complaining that civics education has gone the way of the dinosaurs.
Moral Meaning Doesn’t Require Moralizing
Moral exhortation is necessary in all societies, and nowadays hysterical progressives have a monopoly on it. That’s not good for America, or for progressives themselves. Stories and storytelling are a better education about how to be patriotic. Young is one such example, and it’s up to us to recognize in his story so many things we need to talk about that are almost absent from our public speeches, pop culture, and education.
We all know conservatives do not have a grasp on American culture. Where they have natural allies, like the young men who love computer games, conservatives often cannot even bother to pay attention. Ask yourself: Is there any massive industry the size of gaming less discussed in conservative media than computer games, but for the occasional piece decrying men for playing them?
Conservatives do not do much better with film. They do not recognize that every year very good movies, all-American and friendly to conservatives, get made. It’s much rarer still for conservatives to try to make movies.
Telling Young’s story well would not fix this problem with the culture, of course. But there are no easy fixes, and telling this story would be a great step forward. This is a moment of serendipity, when life in America hands conservatives a true story that’s also very inspiring and fits some of the constitutional quarrels about citizenship in our times.
Citizenship, character, justice, and the Constitution are all tied up in this story. It would be worse than a shame to lose this opportunity.