Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ENOUGH POLITICS!

I am extremely fed up with all of our political "elites," the media, and frankly anyone who plays politics with disasters.  Those on the right (Drudge in this case) are quick to post links supporting the claim that he was a "left wing pothead."  Those on the left were quick to blame Republicans and the Tea Party.  All of this gets posted and reported, and when it happens, there is no proof either way.  Let's ignore the fact that he was known to be one scary, completely insane individual who had a skull shrine in his back yard.  This guy is frankly just a sick, twisted, paranoid schizophrenic.  Might there be political motives?  Certainly...I'd be foolish to deny the possibility.  However, I find it offensive that people on both sides of the aisle would rather blame their political "opposition" for a tragedy by an unstable thug than bother searching for facts.  Is this what we've really come to???  This is a tragedy of epic proportions...There was an assassination attempt (I hope I never see another in my lifetime), and six people were murdered in cold blood.  Can we leave the political sideshow behind...at least for a week?

Apparently not.  Now, those in government are pushing to ban "incendiary symbols" and for the FCC to crack down on radio broadcasts and tv shows that "could incite violence."  In this video, Congressman Brad Sherman, mentions how we should crack down on magazine size (although he notes it may not solve everything).  (Flashback to my post on our anti-terror policies).  I say again...Crazy people will find a way to do the destructive things if they want.  We have to stop the person, not the weapon.  That said, where were the people who support cracking down on this sort of speech when President Obama said this?  Is that not "incendiary?"  It would have been insanely rash to bar that speech, just as it would be to do so in reaction to this.  The way I see it, this unspeakably tragic event is being used as a way to control speech and toughen gun control laws (something that has long been a goal of people pushing so hard for it now).  Call me crazy, but I think that's playing politics.  In a period where we ought still be grieving, we're using this unspeakable tragedy to advance policy?  Oh wait...I recall Rahm Emanuel saying a few years ago, "Never let a good crisis go to waste."  Again, give me a damn break.

Just for kicks, let's contrast the immediate reaction of this event to that of the the Fort Hood Massacre where we were urged to refrain from drawing rash conclusions based on the fact that Nadir Hassan yelled "Allahu Akbar."  Why, New York Times, I ask can we jump to conclusions now to demonize an entire group of people (at least in strong implication) but needed to refrain then?  I do give the New York Times and many of those in politics credit because they were right in one of these instances.  We should have refrained from drawing rash conclusions to implicate a larger group of innocent people after the Fort Hood Massacre.  Where they seem to have gone wrong is not practicing what was preached then in this case.

My challenge to you and to all of our media and politicians is simple.  Do NOT jump to conclusions that you "want" to be true because it jives with what your politics are.  More importantly, and sometimes more difficultly, don't generalize and impute beliefs and actions on a mass for the actions of an extreme outlier.

I would like to close with the most important point.  My thoughts and prayers are with, and have been since the atrocity, the victims and their families and friends.  May you have speedy recoveries and rest in peace.


-FSG

6 comments:

  1. http://www.theospark.net/2011/01/reason-tv-5-rules-for-coping-with.html

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  2. Well put, anonymous. Thanks.

    -FSG

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  3. I would challenge the conflation between a policy proposal and "blaming" a tragedy on a political opponent. Proponents for gun control believe in gun control precisely because gun tragedies happen and they want to prevent them. While some politicians may see opportunity in this horrible tragedy, others may merely be trying to make something good come out of the chaos. As Heather MacDonald wrote for the National Review blog "it is a salutary human instinct after a tragedy of this dimension to search for any possible collective responsibility, even if that collectivity rarely includes oneself." Actually read the whole article, it's quite good.
    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/256725/no-easy-answer-heather-mac-donald

    For my money, the political change that I would most likely to see come out of this is a better system of identifying and providing aid to sincerely mentally disturbed people. Everyone fricking knew Loughner was crazy, and no-one said anything, nor was there any way to really make him get help. Perhaps mandatory institutionalization is simply to sinister to allow, but I find myself dissatisfied with the way we treat the sincerely mentally ill in our society.

    I would also like to assert that Congressman Bob Brady is an idiot, and living proof that Gerrymandering is hurting our country. No way he gets consistently reelected in a D+8 district. He represents a D+35.

    And yes, while I find Sarah Palin's crosshairs map disturbing, the idea that it makes her responsible for what happened is absurd. But that doesn't make me stop wishing for a change in rhetorical style, like Jon Stewart does here.
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-10-2011/arizona-shootings-reaction

    Kenny

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  4. I'm not saying that the furthering of policy proposal and blaming something on a political opponent go hand in hand. I am however asserting that both are happening in this case.

    That said, I agree with you on the policy proposal you note. That's probably not surprising since I've gone on record several times saying that we need to direct our attention to the "people" who may commit acts like those noted above instead of the more obvious "tools" used to carry out such treachery. While I'm also against mandatory institutionalization, if we would focus on this sort of thing with a much more intense scope, we can not only help those in need but also reduce the chances of a repeat of the above. Unfortunately, our society has proven to be far more eager to blame and react to a particular event rather than focusing on the cause and the solutions that address the real underlying cause.

    I don't know enough about Bob Brady, but you'll never get an argument from me in defense or support of Gerrymandering. Anyone who knows me at all knows I'm not a fan of the notion of a "career politician," so anything that facilitates such a thing is not generally something I support.

    Lastly, I agree with you that I would prefer to see less incendiary rhetoric on all sides. However, I wouldn't go so far as to try to abridge such speech (with stare decisis exceptions such as clear and present danger and some others).

    -FSG

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  5. Both are happening, and I think one (policy proposals) is perfectly fine and the other should really be avoided. It's part of the human condition to try to make something positive come out of tragedy. I don't really buy that stricter gun control laws would make our country much stronger (although serially tagged bullets seem like a pretty good idea, for example), but there is little doubt in my mind that gun control advocates very much do (which is kind of the point of the MacDonald article). That a tragedy spurs them to try to make the world better through policy really does not bother me.

    I mentioned Bob Brady because he's the one who wrote and sponsored the bill restricting speech about violence against politicians. I saw him on MSNBC defending it and he sounded like a complete idiot. No way that's constitutional and it's also not something that's really even worth doing. I don't really object to career politicians, but I strongly object to uncontested politicians. A politician that consistently wins, despite having to deal with a strong opposition, must be doing something to impress his constituents. When you live in a district that gives 90% of the vote to Democrats (as Brady does) it is very difficult for anyone to form an opposition against him and so he isn't accountable for what he says and does with the power that he has.

    And obviously, that means I don't believe in abridging such speech. And while I do believe the right is more responsible for violent rhetoric than the left, this is not so much a moral superiority issue as the fact that the right tends to have constituents that really enjoy guns, so they benefit from using gun imagery, while the left has a number of pacifist constituents and advocates, where violent imagery does not really serve them well. The left will happily call a Republican a Nazi, which is repugnant on it's own, but it's contradictory to the pacifist principles that underlie liberalism to say someone should be shot. There are of course exceptions.

    K

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  6. Unfortunately, our society has proven to be far more eager to blame and react to a particular event rather than focusing on the cause and the solutions that address the real underlying cause.


    Well Said.

    Anon #1

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