Some days…

…it feels really difficult to be a proud American. No matter what your political views, a gunman targeting a politician is a tragedy. It’s been difficult watching from afar as the rhetoric in American politics has gotten more violent, and it’s really unclear why this is the case and what supposed good it is meant to do.

I was a student in Michigan when the link between Timothy McVeigh and the Michigan Militia was being probed after the Oklahoma City bombing. What I heard then sounds an awful lot like what I’ve been reading this morning in the quotes from “right-to-bear-arms” types speaking of forming independent militias to rise up against the government. It’s scary stuff. And unnecessary in a democracy. Our right to vote should take care of that, as it just did with the changeover in House leadership with the last election.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I don’t see how the American obsession with guns is not a big part of the problem. It is just way too easy to kill lots of people in a very short period of time. But now I have a second plank in my platform to reform America: enough with the violent rhetoric. I’m over the complete right to free speech and favor a more European-style approach that allows persecution for speech inciting violence. I like this quote on the subject:

Mr Miliband also said: “We have profound commitment to freedom of speech but there is no freedom to cry ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre and there is no freedom to stir up hate, religious and racial hatred, according to the laws of the land.”

This was uttered in the context of anti-Muslim extremism, but it works equally well if you replace “religious and racial hatred” with “political party and anti-government hatred”. So my overall view on this sunny Sunday afternoon is very well articulated in this video from Keith Olbermann last night: it’s time to both put the guns away and stop with the gun and other violent metaphors in politics.

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One response to “Some days…

  1. I agree with you on everything, except that I think you still have a lot to be proud of as an American. (See the Pond Parleys current post for some of that.)
    It bothers me that although Obama was elected fairly and squarely, some feel that there can be no compromise and no discussion, – just get him out or (god forbid) take him down. There’s very much a sentiment in some, of “my way or the highway” at the moment.

    The other thing I’m horrified at is that this whack job was able to buy a gun legally. He was rejected by the military, didn’t graduate high school and has a clear history of instability. Yet he had access to a weapon that could do this much damage so quickly. All wrong.

    There may be a right to bear arms and a right to free speech, but when they place so many people in danger we have to start to question whose right takes priority. My right not to be shot by a random nutter with a weapon, my right to live free of violent rhetoric which, it’s my firm belief, leads to a culture in which people take up a gun when they’re ticked off with someone else. Or theirs.

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