Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Under the Gun

While Gabrielle Giffords struggles for her life and families and communities mourn the senseless loss of loved ones, we have yet to learn the true motive of shooter Jared Lee Loughner. Meanwhile, the validity of images such as gun site crosshairs, "Aim and reload" rhetoric, and other violent metaphors are now being hotly debated.

I believe if Loughner was indeed politically motivated we need to re-evaluate the use of violent metaphors in politics and if Loughner is simply crazy and not politically motivated, I believe we need to re-evaluate the use of violent metaphors in politics. In my opinion these images of threat seem to run counter to the very idea of freedom and have no place in our democracy. Isn't the idea of democracy that you are free to choose without concern of bodily harm to yourself or others.

I'd like to ask the authors of these radical images what happened to "Do unto others as you would have them do to you"? Would you honestly want to see your hometown on a map, a place where your children live, covered with the image of a gun site crosshair (or even something that looks quite similar)? Wouldn't you feel just a little nervous, knowing there are some real kooks out there, if someone suggested, even metaphorically, to shoot you? And in those cases where something horrible does happen, such as a 9 year old girl being shot to death, wouldn't it be a comfort to absolutely know it had nothing to do with you?

Look, it's a free country. People are free to say what they want and I don't know if they are to blame if some chemically imbalanced person uses that as an excuse to go on some rampage. I don't think this is the sort of thing we can legislate.

What I do think is that politicians need to be wise about the images they choose to convey and all citizens need to be even wiser about the images the choose to respond to. Because there are a lot of crazy people out there--you know that--and sometimes all it takes is a little nudge to tip them over to the psychotic side of the fence. Guns are powerful- not bad- just powerful. They can take away a life with the slightest twitch of a finger. We need to show more respect for that power and stop carelessly using its image to further our own personal or political agendas.

In a democracy your power comes from your vote, not a gun, and if we stop believing that we've got a real problem on our hands.