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.


crabigail adams said...

I absolutely agree with your views on violent speech. I dislike violence and find incendiary rhetoric abhorrent. However, when you say "I don't think that this is the sort of thing we can legislate," I think you're being naive. There are already politicos trying to legislate it and legislators jockeying to make political hay out of this massacre, as though this were the fault of anyone but a mentally ill young man. Understand, I'm no Sarah Palin fan -- though I'm not sure what she's done to become the most hated woman on the planet -- but I've listened to the President saying,"If the Republicans bring a knife to the fight, we'll bring a gun," and seen a Daily Kos post from a former Giffords campaign worker last THURSDAY that says Gabby Giffords is a conservative in sheep's clothing and "she's dead to me now," and yet Sarah Palin is the "responsible party" here for using an image that I've seen for several times from the Democratic National Committee. It cuts both ways, but not in any media you're watching and reading. I keep hearing that no one's saying Palin is responsible, bu-u-u-t ... But what? If she's not responsible, she's not responsible. Just like Obama isn't responsible for the shooting because of the "knife/gun" comment.

I would love it if there were less rancor in politics, but it's been this way for 215 years -- read about the elections of 1796 and 1800. If you can figure out a way to do it while guaranteeing the first amendment rights of all citizens, I'd be happy to support it. In California, people you know have lost jobs for their political beliefs, and I don't see a lot of "I-may-disagree-with-what-you-have-to-say-but-I -will-defend-to-the-death-your-right-to-say-it" proponents standing bravely from that other side.

Obama reference: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/14/obama-we-bring-a-gun/

Daily Kos reference: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=249273

Sarah Palin reference: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2011/01/08/sarah-palin-blamed-by-bloggers-for-shooting-of-gabrielle-gifford/

Quelster said...

Being a democrat I recognize the strong position we would have if we could claim that violent metaphors are only and always the product of republicans, but alas, I know it not to be the case. I am guilty of not including more fair and balanced examples in my blog. I agree with you, it does indeed cut both ways.

I don't think I'm naive about legislation because while they may TRY to legislate some of the hate rhetoric and images, I still don't think they will actually succeed. Human nature always finds a way around it.

My hope is that people could self regulate themselves...and that IS where I'm naive. They only way that people will stop using these images is if we stop responding to them. And while I hope that people can, I have to admit, I don't have a lot of faith that they will. Like you said, 215 years. But ultimately, it's got to come from us.