Subjective Objectivity – The Blog of The Reasonable Man

January 11, 2011

When is a political killing apolitical? When it’s a white guy afraid of government

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 11:59 am

By now, anyone inclined to read this blog will probably be acquainted with the facts of the mass murder surrounding the attempted assasination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) . There’s not much to say beyond what has already been established, so I’ll not give a narrative breakdown here.

It’s a grand habit of humanity when confronted with great tragedy to attempt to derive some meanining out of it all. A meaningless and capricious universe in which we have limited control over our own destinies is terrifying and it’s perfectly understandable to look for something beyond the bare facts (Exhibit A: Religion).

In America, this sentiment is turned up to 11, and so there was an almost immediate rush to judgment when a liberal Congresswoman was targetted for violence for the second time in less than a year. My Twitter feed was filled with Sarah Palin’s name in an instant, and again it’s understandable (though not necessarily correct) when you see this graphic:

and watch this video clip:

and here talk of “Second Amendment solutions” and “taking back our country” and “government tyranny” and so on and you get the idea.

The pushback from the right has been holier than thou, and there’s has been an epidemic of the vapours as they retire to the fainting couches to protest those nasty mean liberals, and in some cases, blame them. “Serious” commentators have restorted to the lazy “both sides do it” canard, as they crib off a five year old for their talking points. The better, but still disappointing response has been “this America man”; essentially, shit happens. True sociopaths have tried to paint the suspect, Jared Lee Loughton, as a liberal. Mostly though, he’s just a lone nut.

All of this causes me to idly wonder what happen if Giffords was a Republican and the shooter an ethnic minority or a muslim, but sadly they closed down the Department of Counterfactuals the other week, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

I could write about 5,000 words on all this, so I’ll get to the point: is Sarah Palin, or Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh, or Michelle Bachmann, or Sharron Angle or this guy to blame? Are the modern day fire-eaters in anyway culpable?

If you’ll permit a metaphor, I’d say that, at best, each of these individuals, or any combination thereof, are about as much to blame for this specific incident as Tony Hayward was for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In other words, you’re unlikely to find any definitive evidence linking the two all the way down the chain of causation to establish any moral culpability. And in the immediate reaction of those people, there has been a wilfull insensitivity and a complete abrogation of any sense of larger responsibility to the events and circumstances surrounding the incident. Similarly, the, violent, paranoid and, at times, virulent rhetoric deployed by the individuals I named, didn’t create, but certainly fed a tinderbox of resentment in which a resort to violence was all but inevitable in a state where a man can be considered mentally unfit to join the army, but perfectly in his rights to buy an assault weapon.

Of course, there is one point at which this metaphor falls down. The BP management did try, however slowly and sloppily at first, to stop and clean up the mess for which they were ultimately responsible. As far as the rogues’ gallery above is concerned, they have absolutely no civic duty in this regard. It all reminds of me of this quote from the Great Gatsby:

“”They were careless people… they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Trying to appeal to their humanity is a fruitless task. Loughner’s insanity defence will be their insanity defence.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable


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