Another shooting, another political blame game
It is a sad trend that after every shooting in this country, there is a group of people who, without fail, rush to use it to make some political point. There’s always the perfunctory debate about gun control, with advocates stating that somehow gun sellers should predict when someone will use the weapon for evil. And when the target is political in any way, one side always uses it to make the case that the other side is “encouraging hate” and thus somehow to blame for the shooter’s actions.
We saw this clearly in the Gabby Giffords shooting, when those on the left tried to tie Jared Loughner’s actions to Tea Party rhetoric and even absurdly to Sarah Palin by posting pictures of a “target map” she had created, clearly referring to taking POLITICAL action against certain incumbents, not violence. Yet this did not stop liberals like Paul Krugman from plainly implying that she and other conservatives were partly to blame for their so-called “incendiary rhetoric”. This is not to say that the language of Palin and Bachmann is not often excessive and overheated, but it is plainly not encouraging violence.
Fast forward to this week, when a gunman decided to take out his disagreement with the Family Research Council by opening fire, wounding a security guard before being wrestled to the ground. Now, it should be known that I vehemently disagree with basically everything the FRC stands for. But never in a million years would I or any other sane person think this warranted violence. It’s clear that the main issue here was a severely imbalanced person who decided that the way to express his feelings was firing a gun at innocent people.
Yet once again, this did not stop those on the conservative side from trying to use the shooting to make political points. The shooter was found to be a volunteer at an LGBT group, so the attack was quickly framed as an assault on conservatives by gay rights supporters. Other conservatives brought out the usual complaints about alleged media bias, claiming the coverage would be different if the roles were reversed. The overall message seemed to be that conservatives are being targeted and victimized. Once again, the entire issue became about politics and not the actual shooter.
If we live in a free society, people will occassionaly take advantage of that freedom and hurt others. It is a sad fact of life that there is a small portion of humanity that sees violence as a viable method to express opinions. This doesn’t speak to the validity of whatever views they might have, nor does it incriminate others who share those views. It is a dangerous road to go down when we start trying to silence political speech because some troubled person might use it as an excuse to cause harm.