Friday, January 14, 2011

Stop the Blame Game

Obama Palin Dancing With the StarsImage by BrianWestChest via FlickrWhen the shootings happened at Virginia Tech, the liberals were quick to point to all the ways Conservatives and gun laws were at fault.  I refrained from writing about that for a long time not wanting to make political hay of an unspeakable and unthinkable tragedy.  I finally did weigh in.  This week, in the wake of the killings in Tucson, I also wanted to avoid jumping into the fray of finger pointing.

Instead of just accepting the fact that some things are beyond our control, we human beings (myself included) like to think we can control everything.  The fact of the matter is we cannot.  While Buddhism teaches every effect has a cause and I truly believe that is the case- everything is dependent on what came before; we live in a world of almost infinite causes and some are extremely subtle.  We cannot know exactly what causes what, even though we can look at contributing factors.  Who knows what goes on in the mind of someone who thinks a political "opponent" deserves to die for daring to disagree with him?  When a mind has gone far  enough around the bend to gun down old people and little girls for the sake of "glory", can we really claim to know how that mind works and what we might have done to keep the man who is obviously insane somehow in check?

No, I don't blame Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or any of the the other right wing crazies for the deaths of those people in Tucson.  While I have called for a more civil political discourse (before and after this tragedy), it's not just to keep the nutjobs in check.  It's because it's the best thing for our country.  One can hardly compromise (the word John Boehner hates) or even find common ground (the term he prefers) with someone that one is purporting to be intentionally destroying the country.  It's almost impossible to get anything productive done in an environment where people portray their colleagues who disagree with them as mortal enemies.  Does such talk contribute to the fantasies like this crazy?  Maybe... Probably...  But, do we really need the threat of crazies taking to the streets with guns to convince us that toning down the rhetoric is a good idea?  Can't we be civil for the sake of being more fully human and for the sake of being able to work together more effectively?

In the wake of this, we're hearing renewed calls for gun control.  We all know that guns don't kill people.  People kill people.  But, guns sure make it a lot easier and faster.  While we can't know exactly what was going on in this guy's mind and we probably couldn't have stopped him from firing a single shot that day, we do know that he was able to fire 30 rounds before reloading. I do want to review and reinstate the ban on assault weapons.  There isn't a single good reason why anyone, crazy or not, needs a gun that can shoot thirty rounds before being reloaded.  Having a ban on extended clips wouldn't have made the outcome for the first couple of people shot in Tucson.  But, it might have saved the last wounded or the last two or three killed.  Make crazies reload sooner to give people an opportunity to take them down sooner.

So, instead of the left blaming the right for this tragedy and the right saying this guy was some sort of lefty because of his reading list and saying "Well, you use violent speech too"  why don't we just stop it?  Maybe the rhetoric contributed to this tragedy.  Maybe it didn't.  But, what are we going to lose by knocking it off and acting like grown ups.  As President Obama said, I'd like to make our democracy as good as it appears in the eyes of our children.  They are watching us, they are learning from us.  Let's not let them down.
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Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I'd love to see an end to the blame game, whether it is played by the left or the right.

In my opinion banning extended clips would just shift their sale to the black market.

Brian said...

Yes, Mike. I'm sure there would be a black market for existing clips. But, we have to start somewhere. Over time, there would be less and less on the black market, as we stopped the production of new clips. And, it would at least make it a little more difficult to get an extended clip.

Just to be clear. I'm not blaming the extended clip or the legal firearm for this tragedy. But, some weapons there is no legitimate use for, not even for a law abiding citizen. Banning assault weapons would, without a doubt, save some lives and cost us nothing in return.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

It would make it a little more difficult, Glock manufactures their pistols in Austria, but the extended magazines are manufactured by other companies, so I'm sure some of them are in the US. There would still be market for them, and if it's big enough they would just move their manufacturing to another country.

Cocaine is illegal, I don't know anyone who does it, but I'll bet I could find a source in less than 24 hours.

kc bob said...

I so agree that there isn't a single good reason why anyone, crazy or not, needs a gun that can shoot thirty rounds before being reloaded. I am hoping that the leaders on both sides of the aisle can reign in their followers and call them out when they refuse to be civil.

okiedragon said...

I was working in my greenhouse yesterday and the radio was on - I tuned it to some talk news - then all of a sudden I get Rush Limbaugh - I do not listen to this man and I think this is the first time I found him on the radio.

I know you don't want to blame those who use words to stir hatred - but this is the very thing that Hitler did in Germany. Speeches can stir one to any kind of action just as King and his I have a Dream Speech became a part of good, these fools words stir up hatred. When words find the minds of those who are already unstable, we do have problem. Private speech is free - but public speakers need to be held to a higher standard and those who speak in front of frenzied crowds should be held accountable. If we don't stand up for that which is right, eventually there will be no one standing up for anyone.

Donna - aka okiedragon

Brian said...


I don't disagree with you. I think blow hards like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck should be held accountable for their words. I don't hesitate to call them the fear mongering people they are. Personally, I doubt that either Beck or Limbaugh believes more than a small percentage of what they put out over the air and I think either would say anything to turn a buck.

My point was not that that their words don't have consequences but that we cannot draw a straight from their speech to what every nutjob in the country decides to do. The left is saying this guy was stirred up by Palin. The right is saying he was a communist and one of us lefties. The reality is no one knows exactly what drove this guy and making our political opponents scapegoats doesn't solve anything.