It’s bad enough when someone is shot.
Make the victim a political figure, and the chatterati and the self-righteous get bent completely out of shape, and start to consider how depriving some people of their rights is a good thing.
I think it is horrible that a pathetic loser nutjob decided to reach out and touch fame by going to a Tuscon Safeway where Representative Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords was meeting with constituents.
I think it is reprehensible that a partisan eagerness to assign blame started before she entered surgery.
The Palin-Derangment Syndrome sufferers couldn’t wait to lay this at her doorstep, recalling her Facebook page on which she had “picked her targets” in the last campaign, of which Representative Giffords was one. The denouncements rang out loud and numerous, connecting the two. And then reminders that Sarah Palin, a Republican wasn’t the only one to use such a practice, but then, some reminders that the Democratic Leadership Committee had used the practice in 2004, and that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, under the leadership of Chris Van Holland had posted a similar map earlier in the same year as Palin’s map. And the denunciatory tweets slowed.
Then, we found out about the shooter’s channel on youtube, on which he posted rambling, incoherent texts about “conscious dreaming” general hatred of the government, and lists among his favorite books Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto. Now the usual suspects started to get quiet. Maybe it was because it was hard to denounce the eeeeevvvvviillll Reich Wingers for their hate-filled vitriolic speech when you’re busy scrubbing your website and pushing things down the memory hole that are so obviously hypocritical that even your regular readers would have a hard time not seeing how foolish you look. And the wave of snarky tweets slowed, and the raised hands pointing fingers were slowly and quietly lowered.
But the slow rumble continued. Discussion of “motives” and “filters” and “vitriolic speech” continued.
And when Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik finally held his presser later in the day, it was a public relations consultant’s nightmare. He was rambling, repetitive, and dismissive of those who shared the podium with him, but despite it being an ongoing investigation, one in which he claims the shooter did not act alone, the Sheriff chose not to miss an opportunity to wave the bloody shirt, and vilify those who say things he doesn’t like:
In case you missed it, here is the money shot:
“But again I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain people’s mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I believe has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
Never let a friend’s tragedy go to waste. Politicize everything.
Not surprisingly, the Sheriff is…wait for it…a Democrat. And not just any Democrat, he is one who announced that he would not enforce a law duly passed by his state’s legislature. When those charged with enforcing the law announce that they will not, the result is lawlessness. I’m not surprised he’s upset about anger toward the government. His determination that his judgement superseded that of the legislature is exactly the kind of usurpation that many Americans are fed up with. But his tactless and ill-timed rant only joins a larger chorus repeated by the chatterati and the sanctimonious hand-wringing self-appointed cognoscenti about how speech that opposes certain government policies and those who advance them is “hate speech“, and the speakers must be held accountable for what those who hear them might do.
The problem is that these people don’t stop in illustrating what they don’t like. They frequently skip past a meaningful analysis, and happily skip into the fields of their ownhate, which they frequently turn around and heap in great piles at the feet of the objects of their own scorn and derision. And in succumbing to their impulses to point fingers and delude themselves about their own innate goodness, they forget very important things.
Speech is an expression of thought. It can be saintly and inspiring. It can be venomous and painful. It can comfort. It can edify. It can cause laughter. It can educate. It can repulse. But unfortunately, our society continues to grow in the belief that among our many blessed freedoms is a freedom not to be offended, and like most pernicious lies that make some of us feel better, we not only believe in this freedom not to be offended, we believe that it trumps other freedoms.
This freedom to not be offended has been the starting point for state-sanctioned discrimination against those who exercise their freedom to perform actions consistent with their Christian faith. But the progressives, who want to believe that they really can make everyone else conform to what they believe is “better behavior” have not been happy with this application of a non-existent right. And that’s why attacking speech they don’t like is so important. They have to paint it as “hate speech”, usually in hateful terms of their own. They have to portray it as pejoratively as possible, and do their own fear mongering about the potential ill-effects, creating the mental image of grisly murders of government officials at the hands of stooge-like listeners to talk radio and viewers of FOX news, because if some weak-willed person was programmed by these “hate merchants” and did just that, then it would only highlight the need step forward, and shut down these voices of dissent, if only for the preservation of the republic. This is of course, antithetical to the very concept of personal responsibility, another concept that they dislike, and attack on many fronts with specious arguments, and meddling certainty and entitlement. But in working so hard to create at “nightmare scenario” that hasn’t yet happened, they overlook something very fundamental:
We were intended to have the right to criticize government. We were intended to have the right express discontent, anger, and yes, even rage at those who ran afoul of us while serving in our names. This right is fundamental to a free society, because a society that would criminalize speech would criminalize thought in the same act. And criminalizing thought that opposes the current government, its officials, or its policy is to kill the genius of America, because all freedoms would be forfeit to whomever was strong enough, or powerful enough to determine what thoughts and what words are criminal. Progressives cannot make better men through the enacting of laws that determine what speech, and by inevitable extension, what thoughts are correct, no more than such laws will make people more “civil”. You might force these things to be the only expression allowed, but to do so will be to foment resentment, and only lead to a boiling ugliness seeking an outlet.
People’s thoughts are the only things that they will ever be able to truly call their own. You may not like them when they are expressed in words, but they aren’t yours to restrain, chain, squelch, or suppress. If they have merit, then they will find an audience that values them. If they do not, then their value to society will be low, and they will be treated accordingly.
Tragedies often move people to action. Remember that you are dealing with people who never let a crisis go to waste and who are sensitive to all hate but their own. There is no reason to surrender freedom for security when it comes to speech, especially since one will not lead to the other. There are valid reasons why people are “anti-government’, or more accurately “anti-the-current-government” these days, and your birthright and the sanctity of your thoughts are not subject to their tender sensitivities.
UPDATE: Another voice of reason from an unexpected quarter…if they keep this up, then there might be hope for the American Left yet…Richard Roper helps with some sorely needed perspective:
UPDATE the SECOND: Congress Critter Proposes Law Curtailing Freedom of Speech He Doesn’t Like: