So now it has happened once more. The usual Lone Nut appears to be responsible...and absolutely nobody else. No sir! Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Glen Beck are all scrambling to clean up all of the incitements to eliminate people who don't think right in 'murika from their respective web sites. At the same time they drag out the activities of the Weather Underground 40 years ago and whine "But the left does it too. See?" That the only example of violence on the part of the Left in America that they can think of is a fringe splinter group that spun off of the SDS when Lyndon Johnson was still president ought to indicate how weak that false equivalency is. Still, it sounds much more reasonable coming from a carefully groomed talking head on the news at eleven. (By the way even the Weather Underground made a practice of calling in a warning to evacuate the buildings they bombed. Not justifying it, just saying the radical Left tends to make war on property. They know what their enemy values most)
Meanwhile, the debate on gun control is about to come back from the grave that the Bush administration had buried it in with indecent haste. (My personal views on gun control are relatively unique and will be the subject of their own column...and are far more complex and nuanced than most of you would think.) This will happen frankly because the only time the people who support gun control of even the most tepid sort can get enough votes from conservatives of either party is right after there is a lot of blood on the street somewhere in America. It is as difficult to have a meaningful discussion about handgun control as it is to have one about abortion. The subject comes up and many normally rational people suddenly retreat to speaking in slogans. To be fair, this is true of the Left as well. There are compromises to be had but good luck getting anyone to see them. Add to the mix the clout wielded by the gun lobby in Congress and what remains is a zero sum game.
In the next few months a lot of talk will hit the airwaves and a lot of ink will hit newsprint. A lot of exited electrons will hit cathode ray tubes on the TV and on the internet. None of them so far have said what to me is the central fact of this sad event. It doesn't matter that the killer shows all the signs of being a paranoid schizophrenic. It doesn't matter if he never even listened to Glen Beck or Ann Coulter. For the last ten years we have been force fed a diet of fear that has left each and every one of us in a state of constant agitation. We have had color coded states of terror alerts and anthrax warnings and body scans. We have lost our jobs, and our pensions and our health insurance. We have been told to fear and mistrust our neighbor. Is it any wonder that those among us with a tenuous hold on reality should snap and lash out in impotent rage?
If our leaders don't learn to lead through an appeal to reason rather than fear I fear we will be seeing this sort of thing again. The theme of the dramatic violent gesture runs through much of popular action film. It has become part of our culture. It is a short step to high opera.
Be seeing you.