Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon, has settled into his role as the Legislature’s Don Quixote, so desperate to be seen slaying giants that windmills all around him take on threatening form.
First, there was the Boise restaurant that Christensen called to be boycotted simply because they drew a curtain to shield customers from the representative and his militia friends, who were carrying guns prominently. Now, it’s officials at the Eastern Idaho State Fair.
The central issue Christensen was working to call attention to was no issue at all. The state fair had simply posted a sign indicating that firearms cannot be carried except in compliance with state law.
Of course, under Idaho law, that means that nearly anyone can carry open or concealed. Christensen’s objection was that if someone didn’t know Idaho’s laws, the sign might discourage them from carrying. But do we really want to encourage people who haven’t taken the time to understand the relevant laws to carry a gun?
Christensen posted three videos about the encounter. In the first, he and his faithful cameraman discuss their plans to confront fair officials and see if they will be turned back at the gate.
In the second video, the battle for freedom began. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no enemy on the field. Christensen first bought a ticket with his firearm prominently displayed. He was nonchalantly issued one. Then he turned to confront fair officials in the office about the wording of their sign. They calmly explained that there are certain groups, felons and children, for example, who are not allowed to carry under state law. Christensen conceded there is nothing illegal about the sign.
In a third video, Christensen announces his triumph. He has successfully made a request for a small change in wording on the sign. And it’s a good thing he did because moments later, he spotted several members of the Salvadoran gang MS-13 driving by.
Christensen posted yet another video a few days later, this time reacting to the criticism that he was engaged in “theatrics” or was doing this for his own benefit. Christensen objected that he drew no financial benefit from his pro-Second Amendment activism as a lawmaker.
Of course, there are many ways to draw personal benefit from one’s office.
Some people crave money.
Some crave power.
And some simply crave attention.
Christensen went to the fair hoping to get illegally blocked from entering. That didn’t happen, so he confronted officials in charge of the fair. Unfortunately, the fair was fully in compliance with state law.
And when none of that worked out, he became the very first — and the only — person to spot a group of MS-13 gang members cruising around eastern Idaho. This is the perfect example of what playwrights call a deus ex machina — the sudden, out-of-the-blue arrival of some great figure who neatly ties up all the hanging plot threads. Thank God Chad was there because it turns out rural eastern Idaho is awash in terrifying gang members.
(Playwrights discourage the use of this plot device because any intelligent audience will find it contrived and unbelievable.)
Don’t expect Christensen to stop tilting at windmills any time soon. So windmills, be forewarned: Christensen’s bold displays of Facebook heroism require the production of villains, be they insidious small restaurant proprietors or plotting state fair officials or some random group of young men driving by.
The show must go on.