So, about that horrible sign in Guam

By Mabel Doge Luhan

I’m finally back to Saipan after having traveled in the aeroplane over the sea to Guam and back! I was in Guam to:

  1. Attend the 2024 Guam Falcon Derby And Monster Truck Extravaganza.

  2. Hunt brown tree snakes, with my wit.

  3. Lay to rest once and for all rumors that I’m Dorothy Kilgallen in disguise.

  4. Benefit the Commonwealth.

Oh, wait! I don’t need to give any justifications to travel! After all, Marianas Visitors Authority never does!

My chauffeurs (I employ two, so I can set them against each other to keep them honest) were just rounding the bend on the road from the airport when I spotted a brilliant piece of pop art!

It was a billboard showing one person using a handgun to murder another person. I love advertising that glorifies wanton street violence, and this billboard didn’t disappoint, because next to the image of the crouching murderer and dead victim, it proclaims, “Better a meth addict than your loved one.”

There’s even a poster-within-a-poster (I love mise en abyme!) showing some more people, asking, “Hagu next?” except in English. Hagu next presumably to be gunned down! What a poignant reminder of our mortality! What a grand celebration of violence and murder! What an edgy piece of violent pop art!

How the hell did this get past the billboard censors? What billboard company will be literally promoting homicide?

Then I looked at the bottom — I mean of the billboard — and the Guam Attorney General takes credit for this billboard! Is it a false flag? A guerilla protest against the AG’s office? I asked my Guam host (between sets) and he told me that it’s a real billboard, it’s actually endorsed by the actual AG of Guam, Doug Moylan, and that it’s supposed to encourage firearms ownership!

I understand the AG wanting to have more murders and therefore more work, but really, is this the best way to go about it?

Or maybe Mr. Moylan hasn’t read any of the many, many studies in many time periods, geographic places, and social contexts that show gun ownership always leads to more homicide. (E.g., Siegel M, Ross CS, King C 3rd. The relationship between gun ownership and firearm homicide rates in the United States, 1981-2010. Am J Public Health. 2013 Nov;103(11):2098-105, where they find every 1% rise in gun ownership rates leads to a 0.9% rise in homicide rates.)

Or maybe Doug Moylan is a sociopath?

Because I can’t imagine who other than a sociopath would not just celebrate, but actively encourage, citizens gunning down the sickest, most vulnerable members of our society.

Is this some twisted Social Darwinism? Who next on Mr. Moylan’s to-kill list: maybe cancer patients? Manamko? People with disabilities? I mean, better them than us, right? Can’t be too careful.

Simone de Beauvoir (an existentialist, but one of the good ones!) came up with the concept of “other,” which over the decades turned into “otherness” and “othering.” And, well, why not gun down The Other? It’s not us, is it?

Except it is. Not only in the literal sense, because all of us either have problems with substances, or are close to people who do, but also in the metaphysical sense — because in America (including Guam) even the meth addicts are part of us, and entitled to equal protection under the law. If Mr. Moylan prefers to live in a country where people suffering from addiction are considered subhuman and ok to gun down, I’d like to warmly invite him to relocate to China, the Philippines, and quite a few other places.

That’s the false appeal of authoritarianism. Everyone imagines that in an authoritarian society, they’re going to be on the handle end of the gun or the nightstick — not on the target end. Everyone imagines the cool steel of the revolver in their fingers, not pressed to their temple.

David Lubofsky (yes, I know, but he’s one of the good ones!) had it right: there’s a visceral emotional pleasure to wanting to lock them up and throw away the key, or gun down anybody we perceive as a potential danger. But those are our worst impulses and natures, not our best ones. And more tangibly, those are impulses that, like most impulses, translate to very, very bad policy.

That horrible billboard is case in point.


Mabel Doge Luhan is a woman of loose morals. She resides in Kagman V, where she pursues her passions of crocheting, beatboxing, and falconry.


  • Russ Mason

      03/09/2024 at 3:00 PM

    A practice common to many is to be influenced by externals. The Guam sign, Joe Biden, the Hamas/Israeli conflict, and so on. These have nothing to do with me.

    My focus is usually squarely on my consciousness: to be more kind, considerate and respectful of all life. I also take umbrage with those who lie and cheat, and that occurs plenty around here. For me, being solitary is vastly preferable than to be influenced by externals.

  • I would like to agree with Mr. Mason. Unfortunately, we are all eventually touched by the externals: Biden’s policies did not make my money go far ($13 gallon of milk, etc), Israel/Hamas siphons our taxpayer money which could be used for something else, the sign influences some in my societal circle causing friction. Imho: Best we can do is share ourselves with with others and hope that they be positively touched by our beliefs and our opinions on the externals.

  • My wife and I recently got our concealed carry license. She is the best stay at home mom raising our infant son while I work the 8-5.I have seen all the signs that was put up and even some decoration and I love it. It helps spread awareness to both sides. I support it as do many. Drugs make people do crazy and horrible things to themselves and other people.

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