What happened this weekend in Arizona was a tragedy. For the first time since I can remember someone attempted to murder a congressperson. Several people were killed, including a nine year old girl.
In the wake of disasters such as this, people tend to scramble to try and find answers, A lot of people toss out a lot of accusations, counter-accusations, half baked theories, manipulations, and even the occasional rumor. How was this allowed to happen? Who is to blame? What simple but shortsighted legislation can we demand before attention is pulled to the next crises?
Here are my thoughts on the subject.
Was the violent speech from Conservatives responsible for this?
No. That’s not how responsibility works.
This was the work of a crazy person. His only political alignment was to the diseased urges in his mind. Politicians and talking heads didn’t make him crazy. They didn’t buy him the gun. They didn’t prevent him from seeking psychological help. And they didn’t pull the trigger. Their speech didn’t make him do this. He wasn’t in their employ. If it wasn’t this, it could have been the Bible, or Catcher in the Rye, of Pokemon. He is a wad of paranoid emotion that found a target and went off.
Millions of people manage to listen to the same speeches, read the same web-sites, and watch the same pundits speaking, and somehow manage to not murder anyone.
Did the violent political rhetoric influence this event?
Well yes. That’s how society works.
Every action you take triggers potentially thousands of additional actions. The rhetoric was deliberately designed to influence people, that’s the whole point of communicating with people when you’re a politician. People in the public eye have the capacity to change the way other people speak, dress, think, and act. Millions of people hear the political speeches in this country. Millions heard what these politicians and pundits had to say. That changed and effected society. Which in turn exerted an influence on the shooter. People are angry and paranoid right now, I’ll leave it to you to decide if they are justifiably so. But the yelling, vague threats, not so veiled threats, demonization, and claims of victim hood that have been on the rise of late do not make for a pleasant or healthy society. At the very least it’s harder to pick out the crazies when there are people on TV that sound just as crazy. It makes it easier to blend in to the background, and easier for an insane person to find something to target as “the bad guys”.
Are people going to Politicize this?
Of course they are. That is how politics works.
Something happens, and the politicians react and adapt to it. It’s not any more morally reprehensible than any other political process that we use in this country. It’s just how things are. An event this significant is political energy, which like any other tool has no morality or consciousness. Tools require human direction to have morality. Something will happen politically. It’s up to us, this being a Democratic society, to make sure that this direction is a positive one.
Some people will try to make it about guns. It isn’t about guns. Making guns illegal doesn’t stop crazy terrorists from getting them. And everybody having guns doesn’t prevent an event like this from happening. Hell professional shooters miss all the time at close range in combat. Imagine what a group of scared amateurs are going to be like.
Some people want to make it about free speech, or the abridgment thereof. It’s really not, or at least it shouldn’t be. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to say disagreeable things during political contests, and it should. The alternative to our society tolerating speech we disagree with is far more horrifying to me than the results of Saturday’s shooting.
Maybe this should be about being seeing what political violence looks like. Maybe this should be about saying “Oh….that’s not something I want to see more of.” Maybe this should be about realizing that the media and political figures are in the business of telling people what they want to hear, and that perhaps we as a society should make it plain that we want to hear better from them.
Maybe it could be about learning to not act like you think murder or violence is a valid political strategy, so that when something happens you don’t make the cause you are dedicating your life to look like a bunch of assholes.
Maybe it should be about figuring out that there is a difference between an opponent and an enemy.
And maybe it could be about getting through one week of news without being hate-fucked in the ear by someone with with an axe to grind. Maybe this could be about political discourse being elevated above the level of a fourteen year old virgin who had a bad night of World of Warcraft.
Or maybe it’s just one of those horrible things where people get killed and it doesn’t mean anything at all. What the fuck do I know? I just write a humor blog.