18 January 2011

Arizona and things

Note to (liberal) commentators: Sarah Palin is in fact a moron. You don't get to presume she actually knows what words are coming out of her mouth just because they're suddenly correlated with something more offensive than "Sarah Palin is talking."

I have no desk or interest in defending this woman (after all, she's a moron), but get a grip. I of course still maintain, and it appears vindicated now as more facts have come forward, that we're not creating these crazy people and inciting them to act with noxious political speech (such as Palin's). That said, I don't much care for noxious political speech when it is wrong, completely wrong, on its substance. It doesn't much matter what the tone is if someone is just spouting ridiculous nonsense (such as Palin). It is this, as was pointed out yet again by Stewart last night, that needs to be called out. I don't care how someone says it, if it's legitimately and factually wrong or distorted (sometimes for ideological reasons, or sometimes for stupidity reasons), that's the core problem. We cannot have a sound political debate where different sets of facts are involved.

One other thing that ought to occur to us is to stop leaping at the conclusion that yes, some master force of hateful speech and climate has orchestrated every act of violence, be it political or otherwise. There are occasions where this link seems at least less tenuous (the example of the assassination of Rabin has come up a few times now, and that of the Governor of Punjab more recently). But not so much here.

I'm also not very convinced now that the gun control issue is well correlated with having a restriction for mental illness. There doesn't appear to be much of a link, much less a causal link between insanity and violence. This should be obvious in that we have lots of violent crime and very few people who might be considered insane.

It sounds more like we just need better resources for dealing with mental illness rather than stronger gun restrictions for the insane. That is that we need a better way to filter out the dangerously insane and identify them, park them somewhere for a bit or medicate them appropriately. I'm not sure how we do that and still preserve individual rights and especially do so without a process of mental hospitalisation becoming a source of police power or an abused system. In the absence of such a system and appropriate safeguards, restrictions on access to guns for the dangerously insane, perhaps without medical approval, would be about all we're getting. I don't at all subscribe to some system of requiring the reporting insane behavior by family or friends or authorities (like schools or police), but I do think that some means of sussing these things out collectively would work a lot better for the treatment of mental illness, and impose less restriction ultimately on not only the rest of us, but also the crazies themselves.

As for the proposals of Congress to protect itself from violent attacks... just stop it. Please just shut the hell up Peter King and friends. Firstly, we've had far more violence in our past toward elected officials (see 1960s assassinations, and 1850-80s, particularly during and after Reconstruction), some of it even performed by other elected officials. The fact that there is so little, even in a toxic political atmosphere such as we have now, and with large amounts of repression and violence engaged in by government at all levels toward citizens, should tell us that there are either plenty of protections out there already, or that there are very few people with the time and inclination to perform attacks. One such attack does not prove the existence of dozens more in waiting.

And secondly, if you have to have more protections and laws, then at least come up with things that can be sanely enforced. 1000 feet bans? Plexi-glass walls? Whatever. Get over yourselves. You're not that important, and even if you are, I'd wonder how these sorts of things could even be necessary to protect you (and could be funded in this fiscal situation).
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