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5 Awesome Things With Inexplicably Bad Reputations

#2. Assault Weapons

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These days, you can't throw a rock in a political discussion without hitting an argument about "assault weapons" (or you could try throwing an assault weapon. That might stir up debate a bit). And this is nothing new: Controversy over assault-weapon bans has been around since before the Clinton administration. Assault weapons get flak from both sides: Anti-gun people speak of them like some sort of terrifying demon-possessed super rifle, while pro-gunners insist that the term "assault weapon" was invented by the liberal media to make law-abiding Firearm-Americans sound scary.

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They prefer to be called "deer softeners."

The Reality:

Both sides are wrong. "Assault weapon" was the name given to a military rifle developed in World War II that could switch between automatic and semiautomatic modes of firing. During the '80s, when American gun sales were slow, manufacturers started introducing these new weapons to the public, with one difference: The guns were missing the automatic-fire mode, because automatic weapons have been highly restricted in America since 1934. With that distinction gone, the only difference left between an assault weapon and a normal rifle is that one looks vaguely newer and could be marketed as more modern. Basically, assault weapons were a clever rebranding exercise done to boost sales, like when manufacturers rename prunes "dried plums" to make us stop associating them with grandmas.

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The next step is rebooting adult diapers as "twerking safety aids."

My point here isn't whether semiautomatic rifles should be available to every lost soul who wanders into a gun store. It's that any gun-related argument that relies on scapegoating "assault weapons" is entirely useless, because a normal non-assault rifle without a scary name can shoot you in the face in exactly the same way. This explains why the previous federal assault-weapon ban mostly targeted rifles with entirely cosmetic features like pistol grips and barrel heat shields. It's like believing that babies should not consume alcohol, but then focusing all your time and energy on preventing them from drinking it out of those cool vodka bottles shaped like skulls.

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Not even a single sip. Welcome to Obama's America.

#1. Fedoras

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Unless you've been hiding from the Internet for the last few years because you're trying to avoid Breaking Bad spoilers, you probably know that the word "fedora" means far more than just a hat. It's a shorthand way of depicting a species of Internet dweller whose main trait consists of being an awful person. Fedora-related characteristics include obnoxiously militant atheism, men's rights activism, and a tendency to blame one's involuntary celibacy on "feminists" who don't like "nice guys." The guy spamming your grandmother's Facebook with Richard Dawkins quotes because she mentioned praying for you? Probably wearing a fedora. The man with week-old Tostitos crumbs in his unwashed beard complaining that the only reason model-hot women won't date him is because girls only like jerks? The fedora has made its way inside him.

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"Fool. There is no more him. There is only us."

The Reality:

You could be forgiven for believing that the fedora just materialized on a dude's head one day, perhaps after he successfully inserted 12 separate "get me a sandwich" jokes into a single piece of My Little Pony erotic fan fiction. But the hat's real origin was entirely unrelated to Applejack and Gilda discovering their repressed love: It got its name from the 19th century play Fedora, in which actress Sarah Bernhardt wore a stylish, narrow-brimmed women's hat while playing the lead, Princess Fedora. Female fans of Bernhardt picked up the style, which soon became an early symbol of women's liberation. Only later did fedoras become associated with menswear. In other words, like those Satanists who unknowingly wear an ancient Christian symbol around their necks, MRAs have picked the wrong symbol for their movement and should try adopting something new.

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Maybe the bicorn? No one else is using the bicorn.


C. Coville's Twitter is here.

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