Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Does Speech Become Less Civil When the Government is Larger?

The odd and continuing discussion about the shootings in Arizona have become bizarre.  But one voice, not from the US seems to have caught the real substance of the issues which started when the left began to try to connect a lunatic with their political opponents.

The Economist commented "Mere minutes after the identity of the alleged Tucson gunman hit the wires, partisans began a reprehensible scramble to out Jared Loughner as ideological kin to their political opponents. Actually, well before that time, some left-leaning opinionators began suggesting that Sarah Palin's now-infamous crosshairs map probably had something to do with the shootings. At the very least, intemperately fiery right-wing rhetoric probably had something to do with creating a cultural "climate" unusually encouraging to would-be assassins. Before anybody really knew anything, some people seemed to have become convinced that if not for the heavy weather of partisan antagonism summoned by intemperate tea-party types, Gabrielle Giffords would not have got a bullet through the brain."

The politicization of events is not new.  When the NY bombing suspect was identified the Mayor of New York speculated ""somebody with a political agenda that doesn't like the health-care bill or something."  Robert Dryfuss, writing for the Nation commented "It may be that the Pakistan-based Taliban, the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has quietly established a Connecticut franchise while we weren't looking. That's possible. But it seems far more likely to me that the perpetrator of the bungled Times Square bomb plot was either a lone nut job or a member of some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-government far right. Which actually exists in Connecticut, where, it seems, the car's license plates were stolen."

When government makes up such a high percentage of our economy - the left especially, although not exclusively believes our entire lives are political and normal bounds of discourse are let down.   But part also comes from political correctness.   That manifests itself in two ways.  First, in ignoring the obvious. When Fort Hood happened the NYT and others on the left asked us not to leap to judgment about the perpetrator.   But secondly as a way to reinvigorate  on-going political disputes.   A lot of the discussion on Arizona has been whether anyone should possess a firearm.   In my mind the more essential questions we should be addressing is why even after repeated incidences that the Sheriff of Pima County, who is in part responsible for starting this discussion, failed to exercise his legal authority to restrain a lunatic.  That kind of question should be answered by the voters of Pima County.

That notwithstanding there are legitimate reasons to disagree with one's political opponents.  We do have significant differences in philosophy.   That should not offer license to incite violence.  

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