Everyone has an opinion about the recent shooting/attempted assassination of Congresswoman Giffords last Saturday, so I guess I’m entitled to voice a few of my own. Take ’em or leave ’em, as you see fit. I wanted to wait a few days for the shock to die down, before I commented.
First, Does anyone see a resemblance between the shooter (at least in this mug shot with his intentionally smirky expression) and that of Uncle Fester of the Addams Family? Maybe it’s my age, but that was my first thought when I saw this. Of course, Uncle Fester was a little kookie, so maybe the expression was intentional.
I really don’t want to make fun of someone who is possibly mentally ill, but, heh, I just did. Shoot me. (Ooops, sorry. My bad).
On a more sobering note, though, there now seems to be a difference between people as to whether we should lay blame for the act solely at the feet of the shooter, or whether we are allowed to make some more broad based criticisms, by pointing fingers at those who may have either intentionally or unintentionally egged him on. Frankly, I think it is perfectly valid to do the latter, for this reason:
IF the man is mentally ill, then he very well may have been affected by outside sources in arriving at the state of his mind that put him in front of the Safeway that Saturday morning with a Glock semi-automatic in his hand. Mr. Loughner lived in society, and was bombarded, as we all are, by ideas generated by others. Some of those ideas have recently gotten very extreme in their evocations. To say that the shooter was not affected by those ideas is to claim that ideas can have no effect on the listener, that they exist in a vacuum, and that we should never worry about the effect on a listener when we say them. That may be true for most, rational folks, those that can filter out the venom from the kernel of truth. But there is a minority of people who ARE mentally ill that cannot do that, and who might be adversely affected by the words, to the point of doing exactly what happened here.
I’m not saying that Sarah Palin (to take the most notorious example) used rifle sighting graphics to incite rational people to do something irrational. I’m also not advocating placing restrictions on speech. But people like Sarah Palin should think before they speak (or before they publish) about what their words might mean to someone who isn’t thinking like them. Sarah Palin should graciously accept some of the blame for possibly inciting a mentally disturbed, clearly irrational person, to mistake her meaning and act on what he thinks she intended. In that sense, it doesn’t matter what her intention was, it only matters how it was interpreted.
Putting 20 gun rifle images on a map linked to twenty politicians who you clearly say you are targeting, coupled with repeated drumbeat gun language like “Don’t retreat, reload” was irresponsible, and she was culpable, even if unintentionally and minimally. She was pandering to her gun-hugging base, and while it is shallow, it’s understandable. She shouldn’t be ashamed of pandering to the lowest common denominator. Just own it. Words have meaning, as do graphics, and she should own up to them. The fact that she doesn’t says a lot about her character. If the roles were reversed, you can bet she’d agree with me.
Second, I think this is a great opportunity to revisit the gun control debate, and I am thoroughly dismayed to find so little in the press or in public opinion about it. It says a lot about our country where someone with clear, outward signs of mental instability not only doesn’t get the help he sorely needs, but is able to easily secure possession of weapons of mass destruction (and if you don’t think a Glock semi-automatic with a clip of 31 bullets qualifies as a WMD, you’re part of the problem.)
What is there about the Second Amendment that is so sacrosanct? The election of Senators and Congressmen is a function of government. The organization of the federal courts is a function of government. The right to impose taxes is a function of government. Exactly what function of government does the private possession of guns involve?
The answer is – today, none. Back in 1789, however, when there was no standing army, the private possession of guns was important. The government needed people with guns so that in the event of an emergency, they could call up the militia and not have the logistics or expense of providing arms to the men. This made sense when wars were fought strictly with firearms, and the occasional cannon. Nowadays, wars cannot be fought successfully if you have to rely on the militia to bring their guns.
And you cannot seriously argue that we should insure that the citizenry have unlimited access to guns in the event the government becomes tyrannical, in case the citizens have to rise up to protect themselves from their own government. That would be foolish. That cat’s out of that bag. We’ve already abrogated our rights to the armed forces and all of its weaponry to our government, because WE (THE PEOPLE, remember?) are the government. Your little Glock semi isn’t going to protect you from laser guided cruise missiles.
No. It’s time to repeal the Second Amendment. It’s an archaic holdover of history that hurts us more than it protects us. Leave it up to individual state and municipal government to regulate the possession of guns. Doing away with the Second Amendment would not mean that honest, responsible, stable people would no longer be able to own their pet hand guns or rifles, though it might mean you will no longer have the pleasure of ripping a tin can to shreds in 3.4 seconds with an automatic.
Third, and finally, is there anyone like me who has stepped back to marvel at how far women have come in one generation? I know it’s a macabre observation, but I grew up where people who were assassinated were all men, and the people who were blamed for it were all men. Today, a female Congresswoman is shot is the head, and people are pointing fingers at Sarah Palin.
You’ve come a long way, baby!