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Time to put a lid on it.

June 15, 2017

Well. Where does a politically-themed blog go from here?  In the case of this one, it’s to the people that support it, so that’s what Musings did yesterday.

First, absolutely no one, whether left or right or center, is surprised that the shooting happened. It’s been obvious for months that the level and duration of incendiary rhetoric and yes, hate, was going to trigger some nut case to go off the deep end.

Second, the idea that this incident is going to have some sort of lasting magical healing effect is a pipe dream. There were people on social media praising the shooter from the minute the news hit the airwaves, particularly when it seemed the dirtbag was deliberately targeting Republicans.

The two losing parties immediately started a conversation, not about whether they might be at least partially responsible for the event due to their rhetoric, but, you guessed it, about gun control.

By the time the early evening talk shows aired, you had people returning immediately to themes of sexism, attacking  the President and the gun culture.

It’s fairly obvious that most of the instigation that drove this particular man came from the left.  That’s purely an observation, not a political statement, and is based upon what has been publicly revealed about his long-standing personal war with Republicans. It apparently became even more pronounced after the election.

Mostly though, this was a guy with an apparently tenuous hold on reality that just needed a little push to send him spiraling out of control.

Having said that, there are far right wackos as  well as far left ones. The danger is that this will embolden others to act out in a similar way, either as copycats or in retaliation.

If this is to have any salutatory effect it will have to come from the top down.  That means all the newsmakers, and we all know who they are, need to put a lid on the inflammatory rhetoric. That means doing more than just mouthing the expected platitudes and denouncing violence.

Less than 12 hours after the incident, there was little proof that anyone is prepared to accept that responsibility.

It’s better than an even money bet that a week from now, everyone will be back to attack politics as though nothing had happened.

It is perfectly fine to disagree with people, even strongly, on the basis of policy or behavior. That’s what a democracy is all about.

When that becomes personal attacks on heads of government departments, or people’s families, or their religious affiliations, or calling for the disappearance of whole races and economic classes, that needs to be something society as a whole condemns.

Social media bears some responsibility in this, but we need to remember that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t write the Facebook posts, nor do Messrs. Stone, Glass, Dorsey and Williams of Twitter.

They do however need to decide just how far they would want free speech to go if someone used it to incite someone to harm  them or their families.

On the other hand the shock jocks, insult comedians, TV hosts and politicians who continue to hide hate speech behind the First Amendment do bear a portion of the blame, if for no other reason than that they egg on the rest.

Unbalanced people will always find some excuse to act out. They don’t need any help or approval  to lead them on.

Remember that the next time you are tempted to stand up for a nitwit and call their hate-filled actions or speech an exercise in free speech.

From → op-ed

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