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Posted at 2:25 PM ET, 01/10/2011

A civil rights official disgraces himself

By Jennifer Rubin

In response to my request for both good and bad coverage of the Arizona shootings, a reader sends in this from Michael Yaki, which reads in part:

We don't know for sure what the motives of this particular madman were. There will be many commentaries on the fact that this occurred in Arizona, an "open carry" state for firearms. There will be renewed arguments about the Second Amendment, gun control, etc. There will be a call to ensure that every Member of Congress is protected by local or Capitol police when they go back to their districts. But that is just window dressing for the real issue. And for the other innocent victims of this madman, our nation needs to understand that they are more than victims -- they are martyrs, martyrs to a culture of hate speech and violence we have done little to stop. Because whatever the reason, we cannot ignore the fact that the current political climate is toxic beyond reason.

As we move from grieving to action, this nation's political leaders and the media have to face the fact that giving national prominence to extremist speech is not an extension of liberty. Corporations who advertise on all public media -- whether commercial broadcast, cable, radio, and all aspects of the internet -- need to take a stand. Americans who believe in our Constitution, a Constitution that has stood for the peaceful transition of power for over 200 years, need to take a stand and withdraw support for programs and sites that support hate speech. Now. Because events like today seek to undermine the very republic upon which we stand.

The baseless assumptions and the willingness to throw the First and Second Amendments overboard would be bad enough. But consider this is a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In fact, he's been the primary defender of the administration on the New Black Panther Party investigation, denying that voluminous evidence demonstrates improper conduct by Obama's political appointees. Now, based on nothing at all (other than his political agenda), he's going to take a swing at conservatives.

Fellow commissioner Peter Kirsanow was not amused. He told me this morning:


This is not simply incoherent and irresponsible, but a monument to self-contradiction.

He states "[we] don't know for sure what the motives of this particular madman were," but then declares that the victims were "martyrs to a culture of hate speech" and that extremists on cable news shows and radio are somehow responsible. Never let the facts (or lack thereof) get in the way of a preferred narrative.

It does make one wonder whether he is temperamentally and intellectually fit to serve on the commission.

Roger Clegg, the head of the Center for Equal Opportunity (which opposes racial preferences and is quite supportive of immigration reform) e-mails this reaction:

He cites no evidence that links this lunatic's actions to any "hate speech" and he gives no coherent definition of "hate speech" in the first place. But the message is clear enough: If you criticize the Left too loudly, then you (somehow) share responsibility for this lunatic's actions.

Is this the face -- and the logic -- of the administration's favored mouthpiece on the commission? Maybe they need a new one.

And then there are the voices of sanity. Jonathan Chait at The New Republic writes:

Conservatives are furious that the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords is being pinned on them. Their indignation is justified. The mania of Giffords' would-be assassin may be slightly more right-wing than left-wing, but on the whole it is largely disconnected from even loosely organized extreme right-wing politics.

He acknowledges the problem of over-the-top and inappropriate political speech, but then he cautions:

But it's also a problem that has nothing, or almost nothing, to do with the tragedy in Arizona. This was not a right-wing militia member taking apocalyptic right-wing rhetoric about watering the tree of liberty too seriously. It was a random act.

Let's hope it is that strain of reasoned discourse and not Yaki's that prevails.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 10, 2011; 2:25 PM ET
Categories:  Arizona shooting  
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Comments

This event did not take place in a vacuum. While no political party is directly responsible for the actions of a madman, it is disingenuous to brush aside the current vitriol in political discourse as having no affects on society in general, or individuals on a personal level. It clearly does. And as such was the background for this event.

If an attempt on former president Bush were made during the height of liberal opposition (comparisons to Hitler and burning in effigy), then one would certainly have to say that event did not take place in a vacuum as well.

There are consequences to our actions. We are adults, time to face up to it.


Posted by: InTheCenterStill | January 10, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

in thecenterstill makes little sense here.

There are two seperate and distinct issues under discussion: the tone and tenor of discourse in America today and the mental status of the Tucson shooter.

the point is that one has nothing to do with the other. Unless some definitive proof that political rhetoric influenced this person and that this person was otherwise rational when he embarked on the shooting spree there is no connection between the two.

you might just as well say something like "it is disingenuous to brush aside the current glut of free porn on the internet as having no impact on the divorce rate" Certainly a relationship might exist, but nothing offered by you proves it.

same here. What relationship between this madman's actions and the "vitriol" in atmosphere can you PROVE?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 10, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

His classmates(HS&College) knew he was a killer. The adults weren't listening. And even if they were,none of his "rights" including his owning a gun can be adridged until ex post facto.

Alleged killer was feared at college
http://www.theage.com.au/world/alleged-killer-was-feared-at-college-20110110-19l2x.html

Posted by: rcaruth | January 10, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

This event did not take place in a vacuum. While no political party is directly responsible for the actions of a madman, it is disingenuous to brush aside the current vitriol in political discourse as having no affects on society in general, or individuals on a personal level. It clearly does. And as such was the background for this event.

If an attempt on former president Bush were made during the height of liberal opposition (comparisons to Hitler and burning in effigy), then one would certainly have to say that event did not take place in a vacuum as well.

There are consequences to our actions. We are adults, time to face up to it.


Posted by: InTheCenterStill

------------------

No, no event takes place in a vacuum, but the point is that you simply don't know what was going on in this kid's world. Most Americans are extremely disconnected politically. How much did this shooter actually know of Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, or anything else? All we know is that he attended a Gifford event in 2007 and that acquaintances of his knew him to be a liberal with anarchic tendencies in the past. Beyond this, we don't know much.

It could well be the case that political rhetoric played into this, or it could be that he slipped into derangement for other reasons, and his meeting with Giffords way back in 2007 is what singled her out as a target. He may have needed to feel big and powerful, and so he sought a high-profile target. Why her? Why not?

Is this what happened? I don't know, but it's entirely plausible, and it's certainly more plausible than the absurd narrative that a left-leaning kid was prompted to shoot a Democratic politician because of right-wing rhetoric. There were certainly things going on in this kid's life, but those could have had more to do with friends, family, health issues, and everything else than with political rhetoric.

This contradiction of "we don't know what prompted the attack, but it's the fault of conservative political rhetoric" has got to end.

Posted by: blert | January 10, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I just heard you on NPR dismiss the observations of the Pima County Sheriff about the political and social atmosphere in Tuscon.

Is he some political hack? Or do you have a sixth sense about every county in the country?

Posted by: pnumi2 | January 10, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

teh poiint hcrruth, is that the government must have some valid reason for abridging the rights of the citizens, including the right to keep and bear arms.

I agree with you that others thought this person was not stable, but who did what about that impression?

I am reminded of the muslim fanatic who did the Ft Hood massacre. Many in the service thought he was a threat, none of them did anything about it.

Am I advocating that we become a nation of snitches? No. We cannot eliminate tragedy, no matter how hard we try so bad things will happen. We can learn from these experiences, but we will always face the need to balance our physical safety against our rights as citizens.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 10, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

In the center still - sorry, we dont need to make the leap that the consequences from political hyperbole is someone getting shot. Do we apply the same standard to Hollywood, who clearly has more "blood on their hands" based on murderers own testimony of motivation? Do we blame Jodie Foster for Reagans assisination attempt when she had nothing to do with it in the real world? Its time to stop blaming others for actions of individuals. We dont blame this on pot smokers, but why not, it was clear he was a stoner moreso then influenced by political rhetoric. Its like me arguing with my wife spending too much on credit cards even after she showed me she has spent nothing - but my response being "well its a good idea anyways, dont forget it". Poliltical hyperbole is far less dangerous on the character of our nation then is MTV or Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and yet the chattering class would have none of this argument about pop culture - why is that?

Posted by: belmontbob | January 10, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

teh poiint hcrruth
Part of my point is that people have the right to defend themselves,like his fellow students who knew he was dangerous,the government should had a way to communicate with those students who obviously were at risk,and protect them,as a parent,had I been aware of the emails about this guy,my kid would not have gone to school with the shooter.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 10, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

This guy was likely to blow up sooner or later. The political rhetoric may have made a difference and so he went after Giffords rather than, say, the algebra teacher.

The irony being that Jennifer sneers at Gibbs while tarring him with the same word.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 10, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

The Second Amendment begins with the words, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...” In what way does the right of individuals to bear arms have anything to do with a militia, or with its being well regulated? The Second Amendment must have meant something in 1791, when it was passed, but today it is gibberish.

New York City has the lowest crime rate of all the major cities in the United States. One of the reasons is that New York State has strict gun-control laws. On the other hand, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Huntsville—and most recently, Tucson--were places where tragedies occurred because of inadequate gun control.

Posted by: laoqiao | January 10, 2011 8:07 PM | Report abuse

For those who discount my initial post, Im not quite sure what your point is. I did not propose that this guy watched TV and ran out and killed someone because of it. I am not attempting to "PROVE" anything. If that is the argument you are making then I can easily ask you to PROVE that political discourse had no bearing at all on the actions in question.

What people (myself included) are saying is that it is of no surprise that in this time of million-dollar-earning, rating-centric talking heads intentionally spreading fear, that something like this happens. And yes, I do believe that it could very well have been a contributing factor.

It my not be the case, however for someone to say that it had no bearing at all does so with equal lack of "proof." It is rather telling that so many would rush to say 'Oh no! It had Nothing to do with it!. No way!"

My guess is that we may never know. What if he says that was his motivation? What if he says it had no bearing? Can we trust a madman?

We dont have to look far to see what divisive rhetoric and "us vs. them mentality" does to a society. Just pay attention to any hard-lined theological country.

And for the record, I do think that movies, tv, gaming,etc have have a negative affect as well. Have I read a peer-reviewed study published in a reputable and appropriate scientific journal to backup that belief? No, but im just going to go out on a limb with that one. Additionally, I personally find political discourse "more dangerous" (if you are going to use those terms) only because of the current rhetoric being used. When McCain himself was shocked to hear those in his crowd shouting 'Kill him!" in reference to Obama, well you know you have taken a step in the wrong direction.

For those of us standing in the middle, both sides look glaringly comical at times.

Posted by: InTheCenterStill | January 10, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

From what I have read - what people who know this guy say, besides suffering from at the very least a garden variety schizophrenia, he was looking to create chaos and MAKE A NAME FOR HIMSELF...which is why I will never refer to him by name.

Acquaintances know, as he did, that it makes a bigger splash to SHOOT AND KILL a politician of any stripe rather than just some ordinary, unknown teacher. In his sick scenario, more is better...hence spraying everybody there as well.

The closest politician to where he lived happened to be the Congresswoman, and the opportunity presented itself, and presto, he was all over it. I doubt it was even that personal to him. If his congressperson were a Republican, it still would have served his insane purpose.

This guy was a mostly apolitical nutjob. He didn't even vote in the last election. This is just his sick way to get famous.

Posted by: marybel9999 | January 10, 2011 9:29 PM | Report abuse

"For those who discount my initial post, Im not quite sure what your point is. I did not propose that this guy watched TV and ran out and killed someone because of it. I am not attempting to "PROVE" anything. If that is the argument you are making then I can easily ask you to PROVE that political discourse had no bearing at all on the actions in question."

InTheCenterStill, Your line from the first post was "it is disingenuous to brush aside the current vitriol in political discourse as having no affects on society in general, or individuals on a personal level. It clearly does. And as such was the background for this event." One could ask, which is it? Is the heated political discourse the "background" of this event, or is it not? If not, then why even mention it in the first place here? If you think it is, then it's fair when someone asks you to prove it. And it's not on the other person to prove otherwise.

I may make a comment to a post such as this one that there are lots of angry people out there this time of year because their football teams just got knocked out of the playoffs and we shouldn't discount this anger when it comes to mass murder. When someone asks me to show some connection between the Tucson killer and losing NFL playoff teams and their fans, it's a pretty fair question. And I don't think you'd suggest that rather than for me to prove my stipulation, the other person should prove that losing NFL playoff teams *don't* have anything to do with the killings.

If you're going to make the "poisoned political discourse" assertion in this context, it's incumbent upon you to back it up with some facts. Especially when it's just one side (conservatives) that's being unfairly blamed for this alleged inflammatory speech.

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | January 10, 2011 10:35 PM | Report abuse

@Ritchie - Given the content of Right Turn today, item after item pilloring "the left", it would seem that there is an equally unseemly effort by "the right" to flip the blame.

I'd love to hear Jennifer explain what "a second amendment solution" is other than using a gun. Or show the slightest bit of introspection about rhetoric from right-wingers. Nah. Using straw men is much more fun.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 10, 2011 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Well, FairlingtonBlade, who is being accused in the MSM? What is the fair way to respond to such accusations? It is a good objective to have a fair & reasoned debate about controversial events. But, how is such a fair debate ever going to happen? The truth is that it is not happening, because it is being suppressed for ideological reasons by the MSM.

Posted by: RoscoeMB | January 10, 2011 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Despite many accusations, there is so far no evidence at all that any political rhetoric, angry or not, had a significant role in this shooter's act. The only known connection, so far, is to a question the shooter apparently asked Rep Giffords at a forum in 2007: he apparently asked her "what is government if words have no meaning" and according to a friend was and remained angry at the apparently unsatisfying answer she gave. (No doubt, he should have been talking not to a congressman but to a therapist).

And yet supposedly responsible journalists and politicians are blaming the tea party, sarah palin, a "climate of anger", etc.

No doubt many liberals dislike the tea party, hate Sarah Palin, despise Fox News, and think all of these are guilty of fomenting anger. But even if conservatives did encourage an angry tone, (something I'm not conceding) it doesn't follow that this alleged anger had anything to do with the deadly anger and madness in the heart of this young man. We don't know. Many people do not live their lives obsessed with politics. People can be unhappy about their lack of success, their loss of a girl friend, their "bad luck", their isolation, and these thoughts may well have nothing whatever to do with the vote (formnerly) scheduled for tomorrow on repealing Obamacare.

But if you don't care about the truth, of course you can just claim that of course it was this vote that ticked him off.

(Bob Kerry apparently actually made this claim, as baseless as so many others).

Posted by: mikem23 | January 11, 2011 12:36 AM | Report abuse

From article: What about students who persistently disrupt classes but are simply jerks—or nonviolent nutcases?

Why didn't PCC have policies directing its staffers/police on specific- CONSTRUCTIVE- steps to be taken when dealing with someone who is exhibiting signs of serious mental illness and who is, apparently as a result of mental illness, disrupting class(es) or other college processes?

PCC staffers and police ought to have, at the least:

1) been trained/instructed in how to discern whether persons that they are in contact with are suffering from a major mental illness or similar-symptom problem such as drug-induced mania or psychosis;

2) had state or federal laws in place supporting them that would have enabled PCC staffers/police to proactively contact a local (State) health authority's 'mental health department' or similar public service structure about the problemmed person who is exhibiting mental illness-caused disruptive conduct.

The local (State) health authority's 'mental health department', if it existed, should have had as part of its mandate an obligation to proactively work with other state and locally funded services- such as college staffers, police and the like- to engage persons that are reported to them as exhibiting serious mental illnesses.

Also, the local (State) health authority's 'mental health department', if it existed, should have the right, if necessary, to bill the state/local/federal govt for what would be in effect- providing services to persons who had not requested such services and who may be adverse to accepting such...

______________
Roderick V. Louis
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Posted by: mrrodericklouis | January 11, 2011 5:55 AM | Report abuse

"Why was it so hard to kick Loughner out of Pima Community College?", 10_01-2011:
http://www.slate.com/id/2280704/

From article: What about students who persistently disrupt classes but are simply jerks—or nonviolent nutcases?

Why didn't PCC have policies directing its staffers/police on specific- CONSTRUCTIVE- steps to be taken when dealing with someone who is exhibiting signs of serious mental illness and who is, apparently as a result of mental illness, disrupting class(es) or other college processes?

PCC staffers and police ought to have, at the least:

1) been trained/instructed in how to discern whether persons that they are in contact with are suffering from a major mental illness or similar-symptom problem such as drug-induced mania or psychosis;

2) had state or federal laws in place supporting them that would have enabled PCC staffers/police to proactively contact a local (State) health authority's 'mental health department' or similar public service structure about the problemmed person who is exhibiting mental illness-caused disruptive conduct.

The local (State) health authority's 'mental health department', if it existed, should have had as part of its mandate an obligation to proactively work with other state and locally funded services- such as college staffers, police and the like- to engage persons that are reported to them as exhibiting serious mental illnesses.

Also, the local (State) health authority's 'mental health department', if it existed, should have the right, if necessary, to bill the state/local/federal govt for what would be in effect- providing services to persons who had not requested such services and who may be adverse to accepting such...

___________________
Mr. Roderick V. Louis
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Posted by: mrrodericklouis | January 11, 2011 6:00 AM | Report abuse

If by "random," people mean "non-ideological," then this can be called a random act.

But that is not really what "random" means. Apparently the shooter has had an imagined grievance against Ms. giffords for several years and he went after quite specifically.

The only random here is the other victims.

Posted by: IsraelP | January 11, 2011 6:48 AM | Report abuse

The Left is laying the groundwork for a blood libel which they hope to use for years to come. I don't think it has much chance of succeeding, but it's easy to underestimate the power of even the dying and discredited MSM when they have a single, very simplistic narrative and pound away at it relentlessly. The point is that no concessions can be made to that blood libel, even when it gets repeated enough times so that it comes to seem like a premise that must be conceded ("well, yes, Palin's rhetoric was a bit overheated..."). The tables must be turned immediately and incessantly, through counter-attack and ridicule. There is no political meaning in this attack--zero--and it is those who try to assert one who are lying, poisoning public discourse, demonizing opponents and plotting against our rights, in this case both First and Second Amendment rights. No lesser response against the opinion climatologists will be effective.

Posted by: adam62 | January 11, 2011 7:38 AM | Report abuse

“Watering the tree of liberty?” Oh please, Ms. Rubin. Surely you don't think THAT's the kind of rhetoric anyone’s objecting to. At least be honest in your discourse. Forget about Loughner for a minute. What do you think about the tone of Sharon Angle's rhetoric (brought to our attention by Tim Egan at the NY Times). "She speculated on whether people frustrated with politicians would turn to 'Second Amendment privileges,' which is not even code for assasination. It can only mean one thing." Unless of course she was confused and meant First Amendment privileges? NOT. Just like Sarah Palin who now claims the gun crosshairs she put over Congresswoman Giffords picture was a geographical survey symbol. NOT. Apparently, tragically, Congresswoman herself knew exactly what Palin meant and cautioned against using such rhetoric months ago. I'm sure similar examples could be culled from rhetoric on the left (though I haven't found any). That's not the point. ALL parties need to tone down the rhetoric. It's hard to understand how anyone could responsibly defend statements like Angle's -- not her basic Constitutional right to say it, but the basic lack of wisdom in saying it.

Posted by: CarolynRodham | January 11, 2011 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Yes, these events don't take place in a vacuum. Here is my modest proposal:

1) All crazy people should be locked in mental hospitals.
2) Violent video games, movies and TV shows should be banned. Instead, we are going to loop The Sound of Music 24/7.
3) Parents of mass murderers should be thrown in jail.
4) All US citizens should be given guns after passing a gun safety class.
5) Divorce will be outlawed and everyone must attend church for 4 hours on Sunday.
6) All illegal immigrants should be deported.

See how easy that is? Let's take one random act by a crazy person and impose our radical agenda.

Posted by: JohnBoy3 | January 11, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Jonathan Chait is taking a turn here as the 'voice of reason'. It's good that he knows the script. He's come a long way from his New Republic article which opens with "I hate President George W. Bush", and I hope he stays on the wagon.

Posted by: InsufficientlySensitive | January 11, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The Underpants Gnome Theory of The Arizona Shootings:


As presented by port side demagogues . . .

Phase 1: Sarah Palin publishes a map.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Gunfire.

Really, at the end of the day, they have nothing more than this to make their case that Palin is responsible for the shootings.

Posted by: Gnome1 | January 11, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

If angry political speech was the cause of this murder spree, then why aren't there more murder sprees? Especially after this brutal, vindictive election? This is a country of 300 million people owning god knows how many guns, yet only one person did this and that person appears to be insane. It isn't as if there are mass shootings at political events every other week, where we could say, "Ok, this is something new that is happening over and over again all over the country, so we need to find the cause."

The real question people should be asking is, "Why wasn't he detected and stopped before he did it?" He was apparently giving off warning signs left and right, and had come to the attention of the police department after making death threats on multiple occasions.

Human nature assumes that monstrous, larger than life atrocities have giant, larger than life causes, yet often it's the simplest, smallest thing, like a sheriff who lets the child of a politically connected city worker off the hook over and over again. But that's banal and local, and isn't the giant, larger than life cause that people are looking for. So it has to be the Tea Parties, or the First or Second Amendment, or talk radio, or something equally big, important and national. Not an egotistical sheriff who didn't do his job.


Posted by: jms9 | January 11, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Obviously the people who think hearing political discourse leads to inevitable violence are as mentally unstable as Loughner, and by that standard should be confined to a mental institution.

Posted by: DonM2 | January 11, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"The Underpants Gnomes’ Theory of the Arizona Shootings" by Pejman Yousefzadeh.

Posted by: Gnome1 | January 11, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

1) been trained/instructed in how to discern whether persons that they are in contact with are suffering from a major mental illness or similar-symptom problem such as drug-induced mania or psychosis;

--------

Believe it or not, most people intuitively sense when they are in the presence of psychotic people. Every "sign" I was taught about recognizing severe mental illness was almost superfluous to the visceral reaction I have experienced when dealing with a mentally damaged person.

Many people obviously felt this about the killer, but any reports were probably too flimsy and "gut" based for the authorities to do anything meaningful vis a vis mandated treatment.

In the United States, because of patient rights, even when therapists/psychiatrists call the police and instigate a mandated mental health hospital stay, it is very difficult to keep the patient in that facility for much more than a cursory 72 hour hold. Unless it can be proven that the patient is an absolute danger to himself or society, he will be released, with or without meds which he may or may not take. Many mentally ill people roam and live on the streets of our warmer (and even colder) climate cities. There is no way to incarcerate even dangerously ill people against their will until and unless they actually do cause harm. That's just the way it is.

In this case it is appearing doubtful that the killer ever even saw a mental health practitioner of any sort. Even if he had, I doubt the course of his actions would have been much deterred.

Posted by: marybel9999 | January 11, 2011 9:58 AM | Report abuse

"The Second Amendment begins with the words, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...” In what way does the right of individuals to bear arms have anything to do with a militia..."

If that's a serious question then you're revealing how woefully uninformed you are. Here's the definition of a militia:

An army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers.

In other words, the ability of an individual to bear arms has everything to do with a militia.


"New York City has the lowest crime rate of all the major cities in the United States. One of the reasons is that New York State has strict gun-control laws."

The reason New York has a low crime rate is that Rudy Giuliani came along and made the long-overdue decision to implement effective policing and to lock up criminals. The gun laws didn't change from the era of high-crime New York to low-crime New York. What changed was law enforcement practices.

"On the other hand, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Huntsville—and most recently, Tucson--were places where tragedies occurred because of inadequate gun control."

No, tragedies occurred because mentally unstable individuals decided to harm their fellow man. Every case you list was committed by someone with known mental issues and occurred in a "gun-free" zone. They did not occur where gun-rights were protected.

To illustrate my point, you should Google "Happy Land fire". Guess what, that event occurred right there in New York City. A man, mentally disturbed but without a gun, killed 87 people and horribly injured more. Did the tragedy occur because there wasn't strict match control...or gasoline control? No, it occurred because an individual decided his personal issues were more important than someone else's life. To use an old (but true) phrase: Guns don't kill, people do.

Posted by: kcom | January 11, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

The Left's spin is starting to fall apart already (although I'm sure it will continue to be stoked on various Left websites.) Roger Ailes seems to have flinched, but not Limbaugh, who gave back a lot better than he took. Mark Penn said that Obama needs his "Oklahoma City," some other Dem "strategist" says he "deftly" needs to pin this shooting on the Tea Partiers and these vicious leftists are trying to provide it here (well, not the "deft" part). But it's absurd, and polls are starting to show that it's not getting taken seriously. As Limbaugh suggests, they'll probably start to steer it back to their perennial homilies on gun control. But if they don't, we should keep calling them the blood libelers they are. And making fun of them--according to one's mood.

Posted by: adam62 | January 11, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The liberal left with its mindless and hateful attempt to place blame on conservatives is committing the political equivalent of the mindless and hateful act of the shooter, Loughner.

Posted by: Feverdown | January 11, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

People REALLY believe that "political discourse" ("poisoned" or otherwise) shapes the actions of a lunatic? Really? Welcome to bizarro-land!

That kind of irrational conclusion is proof that someone isn't operating with a full complement of functioning brain cells. Maybe we should have them evaluated to see if they're dangerous, or put them on a warning list to deny them the right to protect themselves. Puhleeze!

If speech is responsible for this, then then we better ban ALL speech, because anything can set-off the actions of a nut. Let's blame the Internet. This guy used the Internet. That MUST be why he did this, eh?

I'm not so sure that ALL the Right-Blaming has as much to do with a genuine belief that the Right is to blame, as much as people on the Left are often looking for SOMEONE to blame... someone, anyone, who can make them feel safe against the actions of a lunatic. (Hey, a group that can blame the actions of insignificant humankind for the weather can find rationale to blame anything on everything.)

The Left blamed America for Osama bin Ladin. It isn't really that much of a stretch for them to blame Sarah Palin for this. We've come to expect it. We should be taking bets on how quickly they trot out the usual canards about the Dangerous Right. (Put my marker on 20 minutes for next time.)

The truth is that there is nothing society (or the laws) can do to protect us from crazy people. We might be able to do a slightly better job of recognizing crazy people, but not all crazy people are going to act out, and I doubt our society is willing to round-up and jail all the crazies in society, anymore than we'd be willing to round-up all Muslims or Twinkie eaters (or any other group/action), if one or more crazies declared it causal.

If we're serious about eliminating the chance that we'll set off the actions of a lunatic, we should ban/restrict video games, movies, the news, political discourse, sex, sporting events, and art. All of those things, at one time or another, has been blamed as the spark for a crazy person's actions.

Crazy people don't have logical explanations for their actions. That's WHY we call them crazy.

Political speech is often hateful. It can be ugly. Political planners (Left and Right) often use battle terms to describe their strategy to defeat the opposition. There are reasons why we have the word "Hyperbole" and "Analogy" in the dictionary (and the Left accuses the Right of simplisme?). That's also the reason we have a First Amendment. If we're only going to support free political speech when it's happy, pretty, or complimentary, we wouldn't need to have a Constitutional Amendment specifically called out to protect it.

Posted by: Mrs_du_Toit | January 11, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Actually FT Hood like all military installations has very strict rules about gun possession on it. Most ban personal possession of weapons when entering the base so MAJ Nidal violated that rule. If you live on the base you need special permission to have weapons in your quarters.

Most military firearms stay locked up in an armory until issued for either training or deployment.

Posted by: Dagpotter | January 11, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

G'night(er, morning), JohnBoy3!

Posted by: aardunza | January 11, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Yes, it's a well-known fact that John Wilkes Booth was listening to Glenn Beck just before he shot Lincoln.

Good grief. Is there anyone here who would actually want to live in a society where nobody said anything they thought MIGHT provoke an insane person to do something insane? There are good reasons to be civil, but fear being the indirect cause of a psychotic break is not one of them.

Posted by: Larry3435 | January 11, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"The Second Amendment begins with the words, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...” In what way does the right of individuals to bear arms have anything to do with a militia, or with its being well regulated? "

That is the foundation and reasoning behind the individual right to bear arms, it is not an exception or a limitation, outside establishing the right of the government to "regulate" it.

This debate is over. DC vs Heller clearly defines the 2nd Amendment as an individual right that cannot be abridged by the government, only regulated.

Posted by: TheLastBrainLeft | January 11, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

"I just heard you on NPR dismiss the observations of the Pima County Sheriff about the political and social atmosphere in Tuscon.

Is he some political hack? Or do you have a sixth sense about every county in the country?

Posted by: pnumi2 "

Yes, he is a hack and well known as one in Tucson. He was also muddying the waters as his own office had had many complaints about this young man and had discouraged callers from filing formal complaints, saying he was "in the mental health system" and under treatment. That was not true as far as is known at this time. The sheriff's office conduct may have been related to the fact that the boys mother worked for the county and was politically active.

Posted by: mtkennedy | January 11, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: RitchieEmmons>>"If you're going to make the "poisoned political discourse" assertion in this context, it's incumbent upon you to back it up with some facts. Especially when it's just one side (conservatives) that's being unfairly blamed for this alleged inflammatory speech."<<

Ritchie, Ritchie, Ritchie. What to do with you. Here's the deal. In case you couldnt tell from my sig, I am neither conservative nor liberal. You are apparently reading with conservative colored glasses, but thats understandable - the polarization of America is just about complete thanks to the very rhetoric we are discussing.

The political vitriol I was referring to in my post comes from both sides. You may have read somewhere that some joker is blaming Palin, but I never said that. I never blamed conservatives at all, now did I? I think you need to take off those glasses, take a deep breath, maybe have a glass of tea – and re-read my original post.

All im saying is that with so much nastiness going on right now (and it does creep into normal society in general: just look at most blogs on the web with people who apparently HATE each other now because of their beliefs, and bumper stickers like "F%#K BUSH" and "OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST" ; It does creep into individuals actions - I know of several family members and friend of family personally that now are either not on good terms, or do not even speak to each other because of what "side" they are on, if you dont see this sort of thing, then consider yourself lucky) - with all this cr@p going on it is possible that it could have an affect on a madman. I "personally" (with no evidence to back it up) think it is possible. I do.

If that is too far of a stretch for you and simply BEYOND THE RANGE of possibility - then I think there's nothing else to discuss.

Man you right-wingers are more sensitive than those teary-eyed lefties.

Posted by: InTheCenterStill | January 11, 2011 8:34 PM | Report abuse

InTheCenterStill, I wasn't being sensitive and I didn't post that comment to take a shot at what I perceived to be a mindless Lefty. However, given that you said that the current "vitriol" related to the Tucson shooting "clearly" was the "background" for it, it's hard to take away any other meaning than the Becks and the Limbaughs and the "vitriolic" right laid the groundwork for this terrible act.

You may think that the heated political rhetoric negatively affects our society and that's a perfectly fine opinion to have. However, given that the Right is getting unfairly blamed for their alleged vitriol in regards to the shooting, I'd prefer that if someone is going to posit that point of view during the time of this media firestorm, that they have more than just their opinion to back it up.

All that's probably needed to "refine" your first comment is a stronger disclaimer or perhaps some more precise wording.

Anyway, no harm, no foul.

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | January 11, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

mtkennedy:

The problem with reading the Constitution is that you need to explore the way words were used then, not how they are commonly used now.

The term "well regulated" doesn't mean (as it does in today's parlance) "heavily controlled or limited." At the time of the Founders, the term "well regulated" meant "trained and equipped." Another way of putting it is "at the ready." A "regulated" army is one that is well disciplined and skilled at soldiering.

Since the militia (meaning all able-bodied men age 17 to 45) need to practice, since it is no good showing up when you're called and not know how to use your gun, it was necessary for the militia to be "at the ready."

If you review the practice of English Lords/Barons having regular meetings with the townspeople, where the men would practice with their Long Bows (and train the boys early, starting at about age 9), you will find the history of the Second Amendment. It was the duty of the Lord/Baron to make sure that the people under his charge were able to defend themselves, or to be called into the service of the King. The Longbowmen would be at the green. That is the history of "taverns on the green" where refreshments would be available after a long day of practice. The Founders modified this practice, but only updating it to modern arms, and instead of Lords/Barons, placed the responsibility with State governors and local magistrates. At the time of the Founding, the local magistrates would call together the men of the village for musket practice, as well as visiting each home to make sure every home had at least one long gun.

By the way... the U.S. Code hasn't changed. All men, age 17 to 46, are still expected to be armed and "at the ready" when the nation calls.

Posted by: Mrs_du_Toit | January 13, 2011 6:49 AM | Report abuse

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