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A few days ago, I came across a classic book from my childhood: “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” by Elizabeth George Speare. The book was published in 1958 and won a Newbery Medal.

The story takes place in 1687 in Weathersfield, Conn. A 16-year-old orphan named Kit leaves her native Barbados and travels to Puritan New England to live with her austere aunt and uncle, which turns out to be a difficult adjustment. Kit befriends an elderly outcast Quaker woman named Hannah living on the edge of a swamp. When illness strikes the village and children start dying, a lynch mob blames Hannah and storms to her house to string her up. Kit spirits Hannah to safety, but then she herself is accused of sorcery until a dramatic trial proves her innocence.

It was a great story when I was a kid, and it has lost none of its merit after I re-read it this week. It was an interesting reminder of how far we’ve advanced from the ignorance and superstitions of our past.

Or have we? It seems witch trials are alive and well in 2011 America. I refer, of course, to the absurd and almost comical attempts to blame the tragic shootings in Tucson on anyone and anything that isn’t progressive.

It didn’t take long – maybe 15 minutes or so – for the mob to start assembling in front of microphones, screaming invectives and rousing the rabble to string up anyone whose name they could spit out of froth-foamed mouths. Rush Limbaugh, Joseph Farah, Glenn Beck, the tea party in general and of course the ever-popular Sarah Palin were blamed for the insanity lurking in the killer’s head. This is just about as logical as blaming a harmless old woman for the fever deaths of children.

What IS it with this predilection of the left to pin unwarranted blame on the right despite a total lack of evidence? It’s apparent Loughner acted alone. His history and behavior suggests that he is insane and capable of twisting anything around in his sick head to justify his actions. Yet I’ve watched the progressive talking heads go through the most amazing verbal gymnastics and linguistic contortions in an effort to ignore Loughner’s apparent leftist inclinations and blame … Sarah Palin. Huh?

I don’t know about you, but it would never cross my mind – not in a million years – to take a lone madman’s attack on innocent people and blame Barack Obama or Al Franken or Rosie O’Donnell. Never.

In the eyes of the progressives, it’s not just the conservatives in this country who are to blame for Loughner’s actions. It’s the existence of free speech, a free press and the right of self-protection. The left would love to use this tragedy as an excuse to further erode our Second Amendment rights.

A recent conversation on my husband’s Facebook page went something like this:

Charles: To everyone who is calling for stricter gun laws in light of the tragedy in Tucson, may I offer this little tidbit: If guns kill people, then pencils misspell words, cars drive drunk, and spoons make people fat. Remember: Hold the person accountable for their actions, not the means they chose to utilize!

Mary: I happen to agree with that AND how the hell did that guy get his hands on that gun in the first place? Bad.

Charles: The thing about passing laws is that criminals don’t follow laws.

My husband: Loughner bought the gun. Perfectly legally. One of our biggest failings as humans is thinking that we can stop all evil if we just make enough laws. It’s impossible to fill all the cracks. And trying means we must ultimately limit or destroy the rights of the good. The Founding Fathers decided it was wiser to make sure that the good folk could freely have access to the means of self-protection, even if it meant that a few nut bars would slip through the cracks. In short, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Watching the aftermath of the Tucson tragedy made me realize that if the left had their way, we would all be castrated. (That’s metaphorically castrated. I’d better specify that because the progressives apparently don’t understand metaphor.) We would have NO free speech, NO right to bear arms, NO right to peaceably assemble, NO right to worship in freedom, NO right to be free from unwanted search and seizures (TSA anyone?), and certainly NO rights for the states to decide matters on their own rather than the federal government (education, health care, light bulbs, etc.).

In other words, it appears to me that the left’s dearest wish is to systematically dismantle the Bill of Rights. They see it as little more than a troublesome set of limitations that allow the idiot masses to have some say in how they live their lives. The methodology for dismantling our rights is to instigate a witch hunt after every tragedy. Any heartbreaking event becomes “proof” that our constitutional rights are a bad thing.

When we look back at the ignorance of the 1600s, it’s hard to understand how anyone could believe a solitary old woman could cause the deaths of children. But mass hysteria is nothing new. There are thousands of instances throughout history in which mob rule takes over and horrible things result.

In the Tucson incidence, the progressives are doing their best to whip up the masses into mob rule so they can lynch (that’s a metaphor) everyone and everything they don’t like. They want to lynch talk radio and free presses and gun ownership and Alaskan hockey moms. They want to lynch, bit by bit, the entire Bill of Rights so they can replace it with whatever their Borg-like minds believe will create a perfect Stepford society.

And of course, if anyone protests against increased gun control or limitations on free speech, “it will be inferred that we are just fine with members of Congress, judges and little girls being gunned down in the street,” in the words of Erik Rush.

I thought witch trials were a thing of the past. Evidently I’m wrong.

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