Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ice is Melting... Some

I guess it's time to see if the road is more or less clear.  Two days ago there were over 2,000 traffic mishaps in North Carolina.  Mine wasn't really a mishap either.  I've just been reading the continuing conversation over whether the general "tone" of right wing political discourse is relevant to the events of last Saturday.  I'd recommend Driftglass's rebuttal of David Brooks' predictable view that, no, right wing rhetoric is NOT relevant.  Roy Edroso also has an excellent post up, with many excellent comments.  But the following is worth a thought:

Palmetto Armory has apparently taken the page down because of all the publicity.  Or possibly because there's a legal problem with a Congressional Seal they used. Or because the item has sold out. Or whatever.  Fact is, they put this page up.  And the question is, I suppose, would some shooter somewhere sometime be connected to right wing rhetorical excess if he didn't use one of those "clips" (haha Mr. Gun Nut, I used that word just to be annoying). Or if he did, for that matter.  What does it take, anyway?  We're not talking about the law here, but about language and common sense.  And here's a simpler question for you.  Would you go to a political event--even a little "meet your congressperson in the parking lot" kind of deal, if you believed it likely that people would be there carrying machine pistols and assault weapons, in a "display" of their "Second Amendment Rights."  Fact is, I'd guess quite a few sensible people would rather not be anywhere near people "displaying" their supposed "Second Amendment Rights."

This has a name.  The name is intimidation.  This is how democracy is bent to the will of people who use effective intimidation tactics.  And Mr. David Brooks can get his nightly shot on the News Hour, that bastion of rationality, and complain that Loughner likely never heard of Sarah Palin's "reload" metaphor, because he was too much "in his own world."   Fact is, some of this blood might have splattered out there on the right wing ranters, and they know it.  It's not about some legal argument to be made in some trial of Loughner or anyone else.  It's about a decades long history of mischaracterization and intimidation and "culture war."  Mr. Limbaugh took offense at Clinton's speech after the Oklahoma City bombing.  McVeigh too was, in some sense, a "lone nut."  So, for that matter, are the 19 people who flew the planes into the buildings. (And the attempt to tar a billion-member world religion with those 19 is ok with Hannity, Beck, Palin, et al.--so what exactly is their problem anyway?)

Only on a blog can you end a piece with a parenthetical rhetorical question--ain't America wonderful!