When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

14 February 2006

An open letter to Andrew Sullivan


Like you, I am a lifelong conservative and Republican who is, all in all, fairly horrified by the pack of mooks we've currently got in the White House, and I've been following the Cheney-shoots-his-buddy story with much dark amusement.

I wanted to advise you of a terminology problem, however: you (and many other commentators) keep referring to the pellets that hit Mr. Whittington as "buckshot." No. If Mr. Whittington had taken a load of buckshot (the individual pellets of which are the approximate size of small industrial ball-bearings) in the face, he'd likely be dead now; buckshot is designed to take down large animals, like, well, buck deer.

Instead, as Mr. Whittington is no doubt thanking whatever gods he holds dear (deer?), the Veep was toting a small-bore (28-gauge) shotgun, which was loaded with *birdshot* (they were, after all, hunting birds.) Birdshot comes in various sizes, but in its common form, the pellets are about the size of BBs or peppercorns, and even though the pellets are travelling pretty fast, a large animal, such as a Texas corporate attorney, can be struck by quite a few of them without sustaining a whole lot of damage.

As a product of the Southern gun culture (I went hunting on many occasions as a boy and never managed to shoot a companion, a bird dog, or in fact anything other than an unimpressively small number of doves and quail) I couldn't resist reaching out to you with this correction. Otherwise, please keep up the fine work.


Barry Campbell

Update, Tuesday night: This letter is, of course, both a little less accurate and a lot less amusing, now that we know that some birdshot pellets lodged themselves in or near Mr. Whittington's heart, and that he had "a mild heart attack" as a result.

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