I purposely delayed writing about the recent tragedy in Tucson, because I wanted to give myself time to get all the facts and observe the media reaction and political fallout.
Unfortunately, mass slayings are not a new phenomenon to the U.S. Two previous massacres that immediately come to mind are Charles Whitman’s killing of 16 people at the University of Texas in 1966 and Seung-Hui Cho’s murdering of 32 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech in 2007. In both cases, the perpetrator suffered from severe mental illness, as is almost certainly true of Jared Loughner, the Tucson killer.
Unfortunately, as was expected, within hours after the Tucson tragedy, those on the left started revving up their hate rhetoric. They quickly zeroed in on the “vitriol” of conservative talk radio, Fox News, Sarah Palin and the tea-party movement. As polls show, however, most people realize that these claims are bogus, since all evidence indicates that Loughner had no political connections of any kind. End of discussion.
However, I’d like to make a couple of points that, to the best of my knowledge, no one has addressed.
The first is that even if the killer had been a tea-party person or a member of a right-wing paramilitary outfit … or had openly stated that he was a rabid Rush Limbaugh fan … or, yes, even if he had claimed that Sarah Palin’s target map inspired him to commit murder, it would have been irrelevant.
The fact is that Loughner is a mentally ill person, and just about anything can set off someone who has severe mental problems. Take, for example, the Hollywood film about the assassination of George W. Bush! Or movies that glorify the most gruesome violence imaginable. I would guess that such films have pushed far more lunatics over the edge than the most vile political rhetoric.
So, when conservatives argue that the murderer had no connection to conservative politics, they are allowing themselves to once again be sucked into the liberals’ false-premise trap. It’s the wrong argument. Both liberals and conservatives have a right to say whatever they please, because it’s (supposed to be) a free country.
If an insane person killed someone and told the police he was motivated by the political rhetoric of Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, or Joe Klein, none of these hateful individuals would be at fault. They have a perfect right to be hateful so long as it’s OK with their employers.
Sane people cannot be muzzled in an effort to keep their words from affecting the mentally ill, so it isn’t necessary to argue that it was not conservative talk radio, Sarah Palin, Fox News, et al. that motivated Jared Loughner.
Again, whatever the motivation, it would be irrelevant. The fact is that whether on the right or the left, it’s absurd to believe that people should base their words and actions on how they might affect a mentally unstable person whom they have never even met.
The second point I’d like to address is a bit ancillary, but important. It’s the accusation that Sharron Angle’s remark about the possibility that citizens may have to consider their Second Amendment right to bear arms as a defense against an oppressive government also qualifies as dangerous rhetoric. I disagree. The natural right of an individual to bear arms was considered so important to the Founding Fathers that they took the trouble to amend the Constitution to underscore it.
The truth is that few people want to face up to the reality that the way things are going in this country, it may someday get down to a choice between servitude and taking up arms. I hope it never comes to that, but it’s something every rational, liberty-loving individual needs to think about – before it happens.
We should never forget that a group of pretty peaceful guys (the Founding Fathers), after being oppressed by their government for years, reluctantly put their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor on the line and resorted to violence to win their freedom. And they made their feelings about it clear in the Declaration of Independence when they said:
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty [my emphasis], to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
When it comes to guns, let’s stop humoring those who want to fundamentally transform America into a nation of sheep whose main function would be to obediently serve their rulers. The fact is that the Second Amendment is not intended to protect the rights of hunters. It is to confirm the natural right of every citizen to protect himself from a tyrannical government. That is not vitriol. It’s a Constitutional fact.
The actions of a deranged gunman in Tucson was a terrible tragedy, but we should not allow it to sidetrack us. Quiet submission to an oppressive government would lead to a far greater tragedy – the enslavement of more than 300 million people.
In the words of Thomas Paine, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” Given that our government is becoming increasingly intolerable, “anti-government rhetoric” does not make one an “extremist.”
I would fully support a government whose role was limited to those functions set forth in the Constitution. But every American should be anti-big government, anti-unconstitutional government, and anti-oppressive government.
May God bless Gabrielle Giffords and all those who lost their lives or were injured in Tucson by a wretchedly deranged soul who was destined to kill at some point in his life. It was a sad day for all of us, but let us not confuse this tragedy with what needs to be done to rein in an oppressive government and thus prevent the far-greater tragedy of America being fundamentally transformed into an authoritarian police state.