[Rushtalk] Personification Is Not an Excuse

Carl Spitzer cwsiv at juno.com
Sun Dec 30 13:21:45 MST 2018

Personification Is Not an Excuse

By Beth Alcazar  

Personification is an effective literary tool used as a method for
describing something. It is a technique by which human characteristics,
qualities or emotions are attributed to something that is not human — or
even alive. Personification can add interest to a poem, presentation,
advertisement or story. It’s fun to read. It can bring life and
understanding to the subject at hand. For example, have you ever heard
someone say, “Traffic slowed to a crawl,” or, “The stars winked in the
night sky?” We know that cars are not literally crawling around the
asphalt like infants. We also understand that big balls of gas in space
are not human, and they do not have eyes, so they cannot wink. But we
also comprehend what is meant by both statements: Traffic was really
bad, and the starlight twinkled.

With that, I would argue that most people know that an inanimate object
does not really have feelings, needs, desires or the ability to do human
things. We get it. So that is one reason it bothers me so much that
people are allowing — and falling for — the personification of firearms.

Consider the gun owner who destroyed his AR-15 in a viral video after
the atrocious incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in
Parkland, Florida. He stated, “I can’t live knowing that my gun’s out
there, and it can one day possibly commit a horrific act like the other
day in Florida.”

See the problem?

We know that guns do not kill people. While they can certainly be used
by human beings for malicious intentions, guns are not alive. They
cannot commit crimes. They do not have emotions. They do not get angry.
They cannot make decisions. Guns do not choose to wound or kill. They
cannot move on their own. They do not have the ability to get up and go.

Guns are things — inanimate objects — and yet, guns are constantly
blamed for injuries. Guns are blamed for deaths. Guns are blamed for
mass shootings. This blaming is an egregious error because personifying
firearms takes away attention from the person or people who actually
committed the crime. It takes away the responsibility of the criminals
who use guns to hurt or kill others. It takes away the accountability
from the human beings at fault. And instead of people seeing these bad
guys and wanting to bring them to justice, people are seeing the guns
and wanting them either destroyed or taken away. And sadly, that’s not
the problem. And it’s certainly not the solution.

Personification is a poetic technique; it is not an excuse for terrible
people to do terrible things with guns.


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