Unjustifiable Homicideby Lady Liberty
I was going to write about something entirely different this week, but that topic is going to have to wait for another time. The events that unfolded in Tucson, Arizona on January 8 take precedence.
At about 10 o'clock in the morning Tucson time, a gunman opened fire at a "Congress On Your Corner" event staged by Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). 20 people were shot; six of them died including a 9 year-old girl (ironically born on September 11, 2011) and Chief Judge John Roll of the U.S. District Court for Arizona. Representative Giffords was grievously wounded when she was shot in the head (as of this writing, she remains alive but in critical condition at an Arizona University hospital). A 22 year-old man by the name of Jared Lee Loughner has been taken into custody in the incident.
Immediately following the shooting, there was sufficient chaos that conflicting reports abounded. Some said that Giffords had died. Some reported that only a few people had been shot; most agreed that there were 14 victims though that, too, was later proved to be wrong. But the confusion didn't stop some on the left from almost immediately blaming "hate" talk radio (aka conservative talk radio) and a graphic formerly on Sarah Palin's SarahPAC Website for inciting the shooter's actions. One blogger is actually trying to take the blame game to extremes by suggesting Sarah Palin is to blame for something posted by somebody else on her pages—not an employee, not a spokesperson, not even someone loosely connected with Palin or her political efforts, but a complete stranger!
Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) has gone so far as to suggest that the reading of the Constitution on the House floor last Thursday is, at least in part, to blame for Saturday's rampage (which doesn't really put Clyburn's own opinion of the Constitution in much doubt)! Just in case the Constitution isn't enough, though, Clyburn also blamed Sharron Angle, the Nevada Republican candidate for Senate who attempted to take Harry Reid's place in Congress and who is an outspoken Second Amendment advocate. No matter. It was clear early on to some of these people that the shooter, the madman, was a member of the far right who had been incited by rhetoric coming from that same corner.
It must be pointed out, of course, that those on the right are not alone in any so-called incendiary speech. Long before most of us knew who Sarah Palin was let alone what she had on her Website, the Democrats posted a graphic on a campaign Website that featured bulls eyes on various sections of the country that were being "targeted" in the Democrat "war room" from "behind the lines" to unseat Republican office holders. Democrats have already defended their map by saying Palin's crosshairs illustration was somehow different than theirs which featured targets. Okay. Then what about the Democrat ad that quite literally put Arizona Republican J.D. Hayworth in the crosshairs of a simulated rifle scope several years ago?
Meanwhile, during the course of the George W. Bush presidency, vehement of his critics from the left and far left managed—without a hint of protest from their own side of the aisle—to make a movie that "documented" the assassination of the President, to write a novel that was centered on plans to assassinate the President, and to make a video game that would allow players to (you guessed it) shoot the President.
Criticism of the government is, of course, a long honored and well protected right in this country (especially understandable given the risks the Founders took when they criticized their government at the time). While I consider some of those criticisms (the aforementioned movie and book, for example) to be in extraordinarily poor taste, I've never suggested that they be pulled from the shelves or that those who produced them be silenced or punished. More to the point, neither has anyone from the left.
As some persist in blaming those on the right side of the political spectrum for the massacre in Tucson, let's take a look at those things that actually did inspire the accused shooter's philosophy:
According to Jared Lee Loughner's own descriptions of himself, among his favorite books were Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto and Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. (Isn't it interesting to note that at least the former seems to have offered great inspiration to many of our Democrat leaders in Washington today? Full disclosure: I also own a copy of Mein Kampf. I believe you're a whole lot more effective arguing against something when you actually know what's in it!) Of course, Loughner also listed such other favorites as Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and To Kill a Mockingbird. These, although favorites of many adults (including me) and which are considered classics of their respective genres, are now also being called "anti-government" and a further sign of Loughner's intent (although given that the source labeling these as such is the notoriously biased Southern Poverty Law Center, I'm inclined to take most of the latter with a good sized grain of salt).
Loughner has said he admires Venezuela's Communist dictator, Hugo Chavez; the Communist mass murderer, Che Guevara; radical Socialist Saul Alinsky (a hero of many in the Obama administration as well); and...President Barack Obama. He is also a self-professed atheist. And if these things aren't enough right there to convince you he's not really Tea Party material nor is he likely to be much of a Sarah Palin fan, his voter registrations made it clear he's not a member of either major party.
I'm not about to blame a book or an Internet graphic, a speech or an advertisement, and certainly not a political affiliation for such radical actions. There are those, after all, who are inspired to murder by the Bible or the Qur'an; there are, frankly, some who are mentally unhinged enough to be inspired to murder by Lord of the Rings or a television sitcom. What happened on Saturday in Tucson isn't about any of these things anyway, but rather the heinous act undertaken by one deranged man who likely would have been "inspired" by just about anything once he made up his mind to do what he was going to do.
While it's yet to be determined if Jared Lee Loughner is legitimately crazy in any kind of a clinical sense, a psychologist writing on CNN's pages is saying that the declining state of health care in this country, particularly mental health, is to blame (although he doesn't hold back on his opinion that more gun control would also be a good thing). His solution involves more government intervention (of course), more money on "prevention" (and how exactly do we prevent mental illness even with unlimited expenditures of taxpayer dollars?), and "threat assessments" (something with which I actually do agree, but which also leads to worries about forced evaluations and the like for many or all of us).
Regardless, there are those in Congress who are already taking advantage of the tragedy by proposing restrictions that would almost certainly have done nothing to avoid Saturday's events but which will surely have a dramatic effect on the rest of us. Less than 48 hours after the shootings, Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY, and a rabid anti-gunner) says she's getting ready to submit gun control legislation. Worse (if you can imagine worse), it's now being reported that Democrats are also readying legislation that would (are you ready?) outlaw "inflammatory language." Legislation or no legislation, efforts to quash free speech are already rampant in Washington and the mainstream media alike.
The truth is unpleasant, but simple: There is no way that we can catch every lunatic, foreign or domestic, in advance. We can be vigilant. We can strive for more civility in our debates. We can consider what actions might minimize the grievous damages of such attacks (in the Tucson incident, a pair of bystanders is credited with tackling the gunman before he could fire still more shots). But even if we were to give up every freedom we have in the name of security, we'd still never be entirely safe. As far as I'm concerned, it's making the attempt to be entirely safe, and all that such an attempt would entail, that presents an even greater threat to every man, woman, and child in America than a man like Jared Lee Loughner could ever have dreamed!