Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In the Crosshairs

I have written before about the deplorable state of political discourse in this country. In fact I'd like to start out with a paragraph from a piece I wrote a couple of months ago: 

"The real problem with this open animosity is that it allows the actual issues of the day to be pushed to the side in an all out attempt to win. You see the idea that the end of the world is nigh becomes the driving force behind all political action. Politicians use the most extreme language to describe the opposition in order to evoke a visceral reaction from their followers. The actual policies are not the important thing, the most important thing that voters take away from these demagogues is that if the opposition wins, their lives as they know it will be over. I could get into more complicated explanations about the backlash of white males and the similarities to the strategies employed by Nixon in '68 and even more forcefully in '72, but there really is no need. Both parties are guilty of overuse of hyperbole in describing the repercussions to America should their opponents be victorious in the next election."

The tragedy in Arizona over the weekend has given us all another chance to sharpen our collective rhetorical knives and start attacking the other side. The problem, once again, is that the issue, the real issue is being lost. The issue that should be at the forefront is how was this nut was able to 1) legally buy a gun and 2) buy one that held a 30 bullet clip. His attack was finally stopped when he had to reload that gun. What exactly are the gun laws in Arizona? Isn't it time to revisit the laws pertaining to what exactly is needed by a civilian in order to go hunting or to protect their home? When are we going to get serious about enforcing the assault weapons ban

I know the gun lobby was already painting the President as someone who would take their guns away when he got into office and so this issue has received no attention from this administration or this Congress. I would hope that this horrible incident will allow those in government the opportunity to discuss this problem with slightly less rhetoric than usual. The people who died and were injured should not be used as fodder for a new round of political name calling and finger pointing. There is a real issue here and while the political discourse needs to find a new level of civility, that is not the main point that we should be discussing. There are literally people's lives at stake here. You can't stop insane people from thinking insane thoughts and committing insane deeds, but perhaps our government can try a little harder to keep the instruments of mass mayhem out of their hands.
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plf said...

Looking for a sane reason for an insane action is our natural instinct. It is easier to bear, in some ways, if we can make sense of the horror, which includes searching for culpability. Whether or not the confrontational atmosphere encouraged or validated the gunman's intention is ultimately cited as the impetous for his actions, the fact remains, that he lives in a locale that allows access to a type of weapon that is only useful in the killing of people. It will be difficult to work through the raw emotion of this event... I will be interested to see if access to guns is brought into the national political conversation.

SJ said...

You're absolutely correct Mycue23.
As I've written before on this blog network, I love guns.
-I just don't think everyone should be allowed to have one. It should be ten times harder to get a gun, than it is to get licensed for driving a car as far as I'm concerned.
This lunatic passed a background check and obtained his weapon of choice with the blessings of authorities.
Waiting periods diffuse the anger of the average hot head who wants to kill somebody over a parking spot, but waiting periods do nothing for people who are crazy 24/7 or patiently premeditating and planning something violent. I'm sure any gun licensing test I could conceive of in an afternoon would have disqualified this psychotic prick.

As far as the blame goes and the casting of aspersions from "either" sides, I'm pretty sure you know how I feel about this one already, MyCue23.

A guy has crashed a plane in a IRS building, and according to the GOP I'm not supposed to hold Far Right rhetoric in the media responsible and should leave the Tea Baggers alone. A guy walked into the DC Holocaust museum and attempted to kill everyone inside and Tea Partiers don't want me to point out that Glenn Beck, Bachman and others have been openly calling for people to arm themselves in hopes of some revolution fantasy of theirs coming about; a fantasy the hold in place of reality now that their President is a Black man.
Now, some nut opens fire into a gathering of citizens and their elected representatives, in hopes of killing a Democratic Congresswoman and we're all supposed to pretend that this is because there's nastiness on all sides?

No fucking way.

The Tea Baggers, especially those devotees of Sarah Palin are not responsible for this ever increasingly violent atmosphere for their tone of voice, but for the actual substance of what they are saying and doing. Sarah Palin and Michelle Baachman are in the business of revving up paranoid, misinformed people, because they are incapable of inspiring the sane to vote for them.
Putting a target over someone's face is not an empty symbolic act. If any of these gang leaders on the Right like Palin, Beck believed it didn't mean anything concrete, they wouldn't have bothered to use language such as "Don't Retreat, Reload" for example.
They are alarmists who prefer to incite people to panic and hatred rather than go without a response from the crowd.

We're supposed to believe Palin and others had no idea things like this would happen as a result of their statements and limousine anti government ideology? Or that they believe they're not responsible or connected to it?
If that were possibly the case, then Baachman, Palin and Beck are as criminally stupid as I have feared, but they are still just as responsible in any case. It's nice of Keith Olberman, Jon stewart and others to share the blame, but I hate them for doing it. At some point, someone in the media has to stand up and point at this mob and say that the 2009 DOJ report warning us about the dangers of Far Right extremism in our own country was correct, and that it is United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano who deserves an apology from John Boehner, Eric Cantor and every other asshole who tried to downplay the danger.

Mycue23 said...

Thanks for stopping by Patty. I wish you'd make more comments. SJ as always you're comments are more eloquent than my post. And as an aside, I'd like to commend Rachel Maddow for spending a big part of her show tonight focusing on the issue of reasonable gun control options.

SJ said...

"eloquent" is a kind adjective my dear old friend. I know I'm coming off like a crackpot.
Maddow, Olberman, Stewart and many others continue to call for civility in the media, but saying they mean everybody, lets the many somebodies actually responsible for the increasing violence off the hook. It's not the same as Stewart is suggesting that we then start "blaming Heavy Metal music too." No. No heavy Metal band I ever heard of asked listeners to show up to concerts armed.

And Ditto on Maddow's continued plea for sensible, effective gun control, Mycue23.

Let's all remember this for a good long while:


Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

I would argue with SJ that guns are too easy to hold, to fire. I'd say the time has come to lay them down. I'd equally say that we need to demonstrate peaceably and make the motions of change into the political directions we think are just. Over all of it I would be holding on to the value in kindness. I can't say it enough... even though I'm one to spout off and bitch it out... I hope always to listen back.. you know? When I was a kid I saw too many caskets walk to Home. I can remember sitting in front of the tv watching the family follow the President's casket to Arlington. And then all who fell after. I read RFK jr's response on this and I think he speaks with a clarity and the kinds of values, ethics I admire, I try to walk with.
It is a time for espousing Peace. No more war.
And not use words that incite violence.
It's an impressive first paragraph, Mycue. Good job.

tnlib said...

AZ doesn't have a law prohibiting people with mental health issues from buying a gun. Automatic assault weapons are just too easy to come by no matter what part of the country a person lives in.

Very good article.