January 10th, 2011

Just Me

On Gun-Toting Crazies, Inflammatory Language, and Metaphors.

Like much of the world, I've been following with horror the news story of the clearly mentally-ill young man who shot 18 people in Tuscon, Arizona this past weekend, killing 6 of them, and like many, I see it as a clarion call for those who are trading in hateful, violent rhetoric in American politics to take a look at themselves, and the atmosphere they're creating. Yes, I'm talking to you, Sarah Palin, with your crosshairs -- no, it's a not an innocent surveyor's mark, it's a gunsight, and nobody in America doesn't know it -- on the Congresswoman who was shot, and your "Don't retreat-- Reload!" Yes, I'm talking to you, Sharon Angle, with your "Second Amendment Remedies."

Listening to news coverage of the story, there seem to be a lot of angry conservatives saying, "There's no evidence that Loughner saw that Palin website, or heard Angle's 'Second Amendment Remedies' talk! This is an irresponsible attempt to censor the right!"

I think it misses the point entirely, but the best I can do by way of explanation is an analogy.

A guy starts to spend his night drinking in a bar then driving himself home. Every night, he drinks more, then climbs into his red 1987 Chevy Nova, drives 13 miles to his house, staggers in the door, and collapses on his bed.

After awhile, he gets where, when he wakes up in the morning, he doesn't even remember driving home. He remembers leaving work, and going into the bar, and starting in, and then, BAM! He's waking up collapsed on his bed.

One morning, when he wakes up, he hears that there was a hit-and-run accident at about three in the morning, a red 1987 Chevy Nova, driving erratically, plowed through a line of pedestrians, killing six of them and injuring another 12. His eyes go wide! Good God, did HE do that!?!?!? He struggles out of bed, shambles through his house, his head full of nightmare visions of the dead and the wounded, and of lawsuits and prison time and infamy. He opens his door, and there, in his driveway, is his Nova, completely undamaged. He runs out and looks it over, and, NO, his wasn't the car, HE wasn't the rampaging drunk driver who killed six and injured a dozen.

Now, we would hope his response to this would be that it's a wake-up call. Cool, he didn't kill anybody -- YET! Time to stop drinking and driving, before he does, right? Time to stop being irresponsible, and a danger to himself and others.

Of course, the reaction of the Right-Wing Nutbags, the Teabaggers and their ilk, represents the other possible response: The worst possible response: "See, I'm fine, no harm done, so I'm cool to keep driving drunk."

And that's today's editorial.