The Tucson tragedy

In the dazed aftermath of the mayhem in Tucson, there has been much digital ink spilled measuring out the blame for the attack on the indiscriminate rhetoric of America's permanent campaign culture as if specific percentages of culpability could be affixed to the loose and unpleasant lips of a Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. I am not about to defend the lazy and toxic hyperbole of the prevailing political culture, certainly there has been far too much talk of tyranny, treason, and "second amendment" responses in recent cultural-political "debates." I do think words matter and can move people in unpredictable and potentially tragic ways. But it is virtually impossible to know were to draw a line on speech if you hope to achieve a certainty that any speech will not affect unbalanced minds.

To me a more important problem related to the Tucson attack has drawn far less attention than it merits--perhaps after so many similar incidents we have simply grown inured to the problem or weary of the fight. But firearms remain far too easy to acquire in American daily life and mental health services remain too weak and their institution too haphazard. There will be inflammatory rhetoric on the right and left in the United States; there will also be any number of potential Travis Bickles out there who may be affected by such rhetoric ... or maybe not. Maybe they will commit violent acts for reasons, as it appears in this case, that will never make sense because it is their illness that is the agent of their behavior, not the individuals themselves. Jared Lee Loughner bought his weapon a little more than a month ago without apparent difficulty. Owing to his clearly troubled demeanor, however, it did take two trips to separate Walmarts before he was able to acquire bullets for his overloaded magazine. In a sensible society, you would make every effort to keep people with mental illness from acquiring handguns. Can we be satisfied that we approach this problem sensibly after this parade of carnage from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Tucson?

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Sad to say, it is a hardship to even raise the matter of improving controls on firearms sales in our culture, as self-evident as this event and a catalog of others make that need appear. Loughner has been broadcasting his mental illness for months, perhaps years before this awful attack. As a mentally ill person it was not his responsibility to find and map out his own treatment plan, that was our job (I've no doubt that has family was put through a ringer trying to get help for their son; that's an old story). We failed. As a mentally ill person he should never have been allowed to get his hands on a gun. We failed again. What happened in Tucson on Saturday was horrible and tragic and ghastly, but no one should be truly shocked. Spectacles like Tucson are the inevitable, occasional horror that we appear willing to tolerate in American society in order to limit to the absolute minimum our spending on mental health services and extend to the maximum the intentions of the second amendment. Frankly, and I hate to write this, I'm surprised such tragedies don't happen more often.

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Marie Rehbein
6 years 9 months ago
Tom, I don't speak for any Catholics, since I am not Catholic.  The "we" I referred to in my comment was those of us who criticize Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, etc., as we are tired of them.  From now on, whenever the mood strikes, I will be saying that I think they are jerks. 

Certainly, if you enjoy listening to them and enjoy having your emotions, rather than your intellect, aroused, please go ahead and continue to enjoy them.  However, it would be my preference if, like the author of the article cited by Jim, above, the mainstream media would treat all utterances that sound mentally disturbed the same, as in not broadcasting them just because they come out of a famous person.

In my opinion, Beck, and Limbaugh, for sure, have mental problems or they would not come up with the ideas that they do.  I'm sorry but I do not have a political agenda when I say I dislike the sound of Sarah Palin and that she should keep doing travelogues about life in Alaska if she wants to make a positive contribution to life in the country.

We'll see if Scott Brown lasts in Massachusetts the way Kennedy did.  I lived in Massachusetts for a lot of years, and people there might just have voted for him because he was good looking, sorry to say.

(Also, Tom, you might want to type more slowly or proofread before you post)
Jim McCrea
6 years 9 months ago
Actually, she should be happy as a clam with all of this publicity.  She can don the Mighty and Holy Martyr mantle and wait for the donations to the "Stop Whalin' on Palin" PAC fund.
Liam Richardson
6 years 9 months ago
Well, the state of mental health care in Arizona has been going from laughable to tragic. (How do I know? My 32-severely autistic nephew has been in what passes for its system for most of the past 20 years.) Arizona, like many libertarian-inflected states, prefers to wait for violently mentally ill to commit violence and then deal with them in the criminal justice system rather than allocate sufficient resources for preventive treatment. (That’s not merely a personal opinion: my sister, who is legal guardian for my nephew, has been told that in so many words by judges in proceedings over getting certifications to continue to get my nephew’s care plans approved et cet. My nephew needs 3 to 1 staffing in a group home environment, as he has a rage disorder that is, naturally, unpredicatable - sometimes, that lands him either in prison or a mental ward of a hospital, but the latter never more than a few days at a time, because Arizona can't abide anything longer, and he has sometimes been released on the street, unmedicated, with no warning to his legal guardian. I kid thee not. This is a Live Free or DIE kind of place.) Arizonans thus can feel safe knowing that they are paying a lot more to try and imprison people rather than fall into the abyss of Commie pinko socialist mental health care schemes. That kind of virtue might be its own reward, except that negative externalities are not contained, as it were.
And it’s most definitely a system woefully inadequate from a Catholic perspective. Would be nice if a prelate in Arizona devoted some energy to this.
Liam Richardson
6 years 9 months ago
Arizona is rather extreme.
Marie Rehbein
6 years 9 months ago
Our family lived in Tucson for five years when my children were 7-12, 3-8, born-4, and unborn-2.  My oldest son who is 21 says that if we had stayed there the only thing that would have stopped him from expressing crazy ideas and acting out on them would have been that our family has nothing whatsoever to do with guns.  I'm sorry, but  Tucson is full of people who give off nastiness, even though there are many who warm and kind, and they seem to be the ones who call the shots.  They only care about themselves.  If a young person grows up in this environment, is it that unreasonable that he would become so self-involved that he would carry out such a deed?  Making the guns less accessible might help prevent such tragedies, but guns are not the real culprit.
Bill Mazzella
6 years 9 months ago
Goodness Marie! That is a blanket statement that is unfair to the people of Arizona. Sounds like you did not like it there. Perhaps your son was there at a tumultuos time of his life or it may not have been the best for your family or whatever. But such generalities are not helpful. Arizona is in tumult recently. The migration overload seems to be affecting many of them in tough economic times. There must be other factors which seem to allow some demagogues to surface. Whatever the reasons your characterization is terribly biased and unfair. 

At any rate, as far as guns are concerned  the clear fact about guns is a conflict can be life ending rather than ending up  with a bloody nose, sore ribs, jaw etc. That is the point. The fact that a rogue organization like the National Rifle Association can have so much power  is a terrible blot on the nation. I understand they have money and influence. 
Stephen SCHEWE
6 years 9 months ago
Assuming that, as Kevin says, we're dealing with maximum interpretations of the 2nd amendment, the question becomes how to do a better job of keeping the mentally ill from obtaining guns?  Some of the reporting that I've seen in the last few days suggests that mental illness has very precise definitions, which have to be determined by a court before you're barred from purchasing firearms.  That standard didn't stop sales to the Tucson or Virginia Tech shooters.  I wonder how hard it would be to set up the firearms equivalent of the "do not fly" list for adult males under 25 who've dropped out, are on academic probation, or have been kicked out of school.  These troubled young men seem in many cases to be broadcasting their intentions online for weeks before they commit these crimes; could a web-crawler issue alerts to local law enforcement when certain key words are triggered?  Maybe the list could include men who've been fired from a job or are under restraining orders for domestic violence.  Surely the 2nd amendment absolutists would see the sense of restricting sales to at least some of these people.  Their profile is becoming depressingly familiar.

My heart goes out to the victims of this tragedy and their families.  And I can only imagine the nightmare that Mr. Loughner's family is living right now.
Marie Rehbein
6 years 9 months ago
Sorry, Bill, but I stand by my statements.  It was Tucson that convinced me that demons and evil are objective realities, not just metaphors for our lowlier inclincations.  Feel the hate is how I would characterize the place.  It's Pottersville (It's a Wonderful Life), Godforsaken.  That said, we still go visit once in a while and seek out those things that we enjoyed like the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum and Cafe Poca Cosa. 

While we lived there, the staff of a Pizza Hut were slaughtered by three young men who had nothing better to do.  A woman opening a shop for the day was stabbed to death and then the same killer murdered the guard at one of the parks before most people were up and about.  These are just a few of the many random murders that occurred while we were there. Illegal immigrants would be found dead in the desert every day, and people objected loudly when a Baptist church put out water stations.

I was approached by the guidance counselor at my son's school because she needed someone to give a ride to a little girl in kindergarten who had been adopted and whose adoptive parents were getting divorced and therefore decided to give her back up for adoption like she was a pet.  The guidance counselor also mentioned that a single father had left his children, the oldest of which was ten, alone in their apartment with food for a week and instructions to get themselves off to school.  This was in the most prestigious school system in the area.

This stuff was so unrelenting that we could not stay there.  Good luck getting them to see that they don't individually need guns to protect themselves from the threatening atmosphere of the place.
6 years 9 months ago
I have a question.  Why were Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin's names invoked.  Why not Markos Moulitsas and Barack Obama not refered to as one published comments on Giffords death and someone to be targeted a few days ago before the shooting and the other suggested the use of guns in political disputes.
6 years 9 months ago
Remember when Jackie O said that she didn't change her clothes because she wanted ''them'' to see what ''they'' had done.  Well it wasn't those racist, conservative, Southerners.  It was ''he'' who was a left-leaning communist sympathizer.  But that didn't matter because it makes more sense that it is ''them''.  What is truth anyway!
Tom Maher
6 years 9 months ago
Jared Lee Loughner alone has been arraigned in federal and state court for murder and assujlt of twenty people.  This is a overwhelming criminal act   No other person is even suspected of being involved with this massive crime by the authorities.   Only Jarad Lee Loughner is responsible for these crimes.  Not his parenst, siblings, teachers, or any social worker, priests, ministers  or physclogist he may have had.  Jarad Lee Loughner planned and exicuted the attacks on twenty people all by himself and he alone as and adult is solely responsible for and will answer for these very serious criminal actions.

Blaming anyone else for Jarad Lee Loughner's crimnal actions e is very inappropriate and or irresponsible.  Blaming other social conditions is also not acceptable.  Most people do not murder under any circumstances. 

 Like the John Kennedy assination these assination willbe endlessly exploited without basis by political opportunist.  Scores of people from Lyndon Johnson to Fidel Castro to organized crime etc were blamed for the Kennedy asscination over a twenty year period.  The same will happen with the Tuscon asscinations.

In the end this is a lone gunman with his own motives acting alone without any larger political implications.

The only thing that comes out of these experinces is public gathering require security protection.   Lack of security is a big mistake as shown in the 1960s were a dozen public figures were killed by lone gunman usually of unknown or unusual  political affiliation.   


This assination should not be turned into a politcal witch hunt against innocent people not involved with this crime.

Winifred Holloway
6 years 9 months ago
A little weirdness and incoherence on this thread this morning. 
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 9 months ago
Why is the NRA so powerful?  Why can't we pass gun laws in this country?
Molly Roach
6 years 9 months ago
Agreed:no political witch hunts. But it is sign of ignorance about mental illness when commentators dismiss social causes of these kinds of situations.  I have a nephew who is chronically mentally ill, I worked in social work for a while and I've been an educator for years and here's what I know: it is possible to agitate some people with words.  Not incite them to reflection, not challenge them to think, but rather agitate them.  On another front, one of the characteristics of some mental illness is the absolute isolation of the one suffering from it.  That means, among other things, that he/she has no network of relationships in which meanings can be worked out.  The isolated person is in a very dangerous place because of this. Finally, the mood in this country has been one of rage since President Obama has been elected.  I have long been a student of political life/culture in our country and I have never seen anything like this.  It frightens me: it's like the sophomore class is running the country and getting a charge out of the effect their words have.  Finally, in our media, things can be conveyed over many  miles almost instantly and that will impact the isolated person discussed above.  Our mentally ill people have no protection.  There are no refuges for them.
Liam Richardson
6 years 9 months ago
Molly

I fully agree. The mental health system in Arizona may be characterized by an almost wanton disregard for public safety. My nephew is easily agitated into violent rages by the rhetorical overkill (in words or actions) of others he hears or witnesses.
Marie Rehbein
6 years 9 months ago
Everyone is a product of nature and nurture, and if communities do not take seriously the fact that they influence the people who grow up in them... well.
Monica Doyle
6 years 9 months ago
I would like to post your blog on my FaceBook page and it won't work. Don't know if the problem is on my end or yours. Anyone else have this problem? Thanks.
Stephen SCHEWE
6 years 9 months ago
I ran across a reference to Private Guns, Public Health on another site.  It's by David Hemenway from the Harvard School of Public Health.  I think I'm going to try to learn more about this issue by reading this book.  Regarding poster #10's caution on profiling, I agree that such a profile would need to be well-targeted, and liberty is an important value.  But we often quarantine people who pose a lethal threat to themselves or others, and identifying them with a profile (e.g., like screening for symptoms of infectious disease among a broader population) is not discriminatory or repressive; it's common sense.  The difference between screening for disease and profiling by ethnical or racial background to keep people off airplanes couldn't be clearer; the law already denies guns to people who are mentally ill or who have certain types of criminal records.  How can we make these laws more effective?  Answering this question transcends the left/right divide that sometimes gets in the way in our conversations here.

http://www.karengrepin.com/2011/01/protecting-public-health-from-private.html

6 years 9 months ago
For a different perspective on all this: 
 
http://ricochet.com/main-feed/On-the-Self-Indulgence-of-the-Tucson-Media-Orgy
 
Maybe there are much more important things to be worried about.
Monica Doyle
6 years 9 months ago
Thanks, Kevin, I got it.
Monica Doyle
6 years 9 months ago
Sorry I didn't post my full name.
Marie Rehbein
6 years 9 months ago
JR, the problem with the rhetoric is that it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish between the commentary of the mentally ill and that which comes from those who are compensated to comment.  I suppose you are hoping to deflect attention from this to the "much more important" event in Pakistan the author of the article you cited described.  We cannot judge what motivated the people in Pakistan.  Presumably it makes sense to them.  If we say nothing more about this event in Tucson because, boy, those Pakistanis sure are weird and could be dangerous, we are being stupid.
ron chandonia
6 years 9 months ago
I have no problem with a complete ban on guns of every sort.  In fact, I think it would be a great idea if the 2nd amendment were repealed.  That said, I think the big problem evident again here is our treatment of seriously mentally ill people, people who clearly pose a danger to themselves if not to others.  It's not hard to find people who look and act even crazier than this young man; they're all over the streets of our big cities and show up for free meals at our soup kitchens.  They resist treatment-and however confused they may be, they know they have a right to refuse confinement.  When we get a massacre like VA Tech or Tucson, there is some talk of re-examining privacy laws and mental-health policies, but nothing ever comes of it because nobody stands to gain politically from addressing the issue frankly.
6 years 9 months ago
I do not listen to Glenn Beck and have only watched his show in response to a post here.  I have seen Sarah Palin a few times on television and generally know what she has been saying from press reports.  I listen to Rush Limbaugh occasionally when in the car in the early afternoon.  My experience is that those who criticize these three people know little about what they say.  Maybe when someone invokes their name as the author did, they should point to the specific instances or better a series of instances.  Otherwise do not use their names as foils to express an opinion.

Now a lot of people here admire the president and he has many admirable qualities but should also he held to what he says in public.  For example, the following are quotes of President Obama either while he has been president or while campaigning.

Obama at a campaign rally: “They Bring a Knife…We Bring a Gun”
Obama to His Followers: “Get in Their Faces!”
Obama on ACORN: “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
Obama to His backers: “Hit Back Twice As Hard”
Obama on the private sector: “We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.
Obama to voters: Republican victory would mean “hand to hand combat
Obama to lib supporters: “It’s time to Fight for it.”
Obama to Latino supporters: “Punish your enemies.”
Obama to Democrats: “I’m itching for a fight.”

Now, do I believe this led to the Gifford shooting.  No but could it have raised the anger level in the country.  Maybe. but probably not  nearly as effectively as the way the healthcare legislation was developed which is so proud of.

Also an extremely liberal and popular blog, The Daily Kos, Published a thread two days before the shooting talking how Congressman Giffords was dead to them.  Did this have an effect on the shooting.  Probably not because the shooter was extremely wierd before this posting.
Stanley Kopacz
6 years 9 months ago
I heard only a bit of Messrs. Beck and Limbaugh years ago to see what they were about.  After hearing Limbaugh mock the homeless, I was uninterested in hearing anything else this jerk had to say.  You have to be a real right wing ideologue to be blind to what the demagogue Beck is up to.  I suppose you can search out wild rhetoric from people on the left, but their access to the media is less by over an order of magnitude.

As for Palin, her use of gun rhetoric is the peak of idiocy.  Especially since she is a gun owner.  I don't talk about guns and politicians or anyone in the same sentence because I AM a gun owner and want to demonstrate that I am NOT a danger to my fellow citizens.  That I am in control of my behaviour.  Nasty, violent rhetoric from big mouth gun owners like Palin and their organizations will eventually backfire.

I don't have any problem with gun restrictions.  And states have the right to set them as they please.  Pennsylvania has liberal gun laws with respect to New Jersey but restrictive with respect to Arizona.  Private and public establishments should not be coerced into allowing firearms to be brought on their premises.  I abide by the rules of whatever state I'm in and will continue to.  Would that access to automobiles by crazy, irresponsible people were restricted.  Every time I pull out of my driveway, I wonder how many lunatics I'll encounter on the road.
Stephen SCHEWE
6 years 9 months ago
There were lots of interesting news reports yesterday relevant to this thread.  Here are some examples you might want to check out:

"For Some Young Men, a Dangerous Age for Mental Illness"
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/01/for-young-men-a-dangerous-age-for-mental-illness.html

Interview with a retired ATF expert on how Arizona's gun laws compare to others:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/jan-june11/gunownership_01-11.html

"Mental Illness and Warning Signs"  Discussion with mental health leaders
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/jan-june11/mental_01-11.html

"The Tucson Shooter and the Case for Involuntary Commitment" - a controversial opinion piece by Bill Galston - the comments are almost as interesting as the article:
http://www.tnr.com/blog/william-galston/81228/the-tucson-shooter-and-the-case-involuntary-commitment

And just for fans of Rush Limbaugh, here's an excerpt from his show yesterday:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/11/rush-limbaugh-jared-loughner-full-support-democrat_n_807543.html
Tom Maher
6 years 9 months ago
Last year during the special election in Massachuseet for U.S. Senate, Democrat  radio  camnoaign message was "Don't vote for Scott Brownm he's a Republican." That message might have worked once upon a time long ago but it didn't last year.  Massachusetts today has a Republican enrollment of only 11% but a majority of citizens are now  "unenrolled" (independent).  Scott Brown won the "Ted Kennedy's seat" by a very substantial majority in a "liberal" state where he was solidly agasinst the healthcare bill.  

This is Sarah Palin  main probelm: she is a Republican with a very effective Republican messages which nowadays with new personal communication technologies are readily available for broadcast to the entire nation all the time. The author of the article is correct in saying we have a perpetual campaign political environment very much due to new technical advances that Sarah Palin is very adapt at using.  This communication ability give Palin hugh political power which she use to advance endorse and advances candidates across the country very effectiely which created an overwhelming Republican majority in the House of Congress.

Fairly credited Palin is extremely able political power without being in office. 
This makes her a super threat to liberal Democrat who miss no opportuity to smear her in vain hopes she will marginalized.  But out of office her still audience grows.  Liberal smears are backfiring by making Palin known to even more poeple.  The  old liberal domination of media has been broken. 
Tom Maher
6 years 9 months ago
So just what is the author Mr. Clarke saying in the very first paragraph which is about political speech and political speakers? 

The author asserts in the very first sentence of this article titled the Tuscon Tragedy that many people blame what he labels the "indiscriminate rhetoric of America permanent campaign culture ... ". So we are talking about political speech i.e rhetoric which the author judgees is indicriminate as a cause for the violence in Tuscon.  He further mention disapprovingly Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin as sharing in the culpability for the tragedy.   That is pretty serious assertions that the public is blaming Gleen Beck and Sarah Palin whom he adds his own disapproval of their speech.  

The author than refuses to defend the prvailing political culture meaning it is ok with him if people want to think that political speech of the people he just mentioned are to blame for the tragedy in Tuscon which is an outrageously false proposition.  The author sets up the proposition of linkage of political speech to violence and then walks away leaving the impression that political speech is distateful and dangerous which is false.     

The author further condemns political speech by declaring that certaily there has been far too much talk ...

The author then declares his belief that words matter and can move people unpredictable and potentially tragic ways.  In other words are causes for other peoples actions. He doubles back and say in effect he not sure but Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck could be responsible for the tradegy in Tuscon at least theoretically which is giving to words super human power of control of others minds and actions.   Its metaphysical propostion very much like saying Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin words have mind controlling power which is nonsense and therefore may have caused the tragedy in Tuscon. 

The Constitution does allows free speech free of politcal accountability and political witch hunts and censorship. 
Marie Rehbein
6 years 9 months ago
Words set the tone.  If you are in an environment in which the tone is accepting of acting out one's anger, it is likely that you will absorb that as being normal if not necessarily pleasant.

The perpetrator acted on his own but might have been so distant from reality that what he did would not be something he would do in his right mind.
Liam Richardson
6 years 9 months ago
"The Constitution does allows free speech free of politcal accountability..."

No, it most certainly does not do that. You get to speak. Other people can criticize your speech just as freely. They can approve or disapprove of speech at the ballot box or through the political process. If anything, the Constitution revels in political accountability for speech.
Liam Richardson
6 years 9 months ago
However, what the Constitution permits and even revels in does not equal what is moral. The Catholic Church, of course, has taught that the Decalogue forbids the misuse of speech that betrays the truth or endanger the common good.
Marie Rehbein
6 years 9 months ago
David, I think the whole thing is far more complex than just someone reacting to even just the tone that is largely being set in political discourse.  In my opininon, as I stated above, Tucson culture in general is not warm and welcoming, particularly to children. 

If someone grows up in that environment, especially as an only child, he may either have his natural empathy destroyed or have become seriously self-involved for lack of other options.  It may not be strictly defined as mental illness but rather an antisocial mindset cultivated in him by his environment.   

Yes, I do want to lock up the mentally ill and deprive them of the voice they use when they are in the throws of their mental illness.  I want to tell people like the guy in Tucson that they are wrong.  I prefer that we be the kind of society that does not isolate people and allow them to become outcasts who resemble those whose mental illness has physical causes.

It would be unworkable to outlaw what people say, and given the freedom to speak, I think we can say that we have tired of the likes of Beck, Palin, and Limbaugh.  I think the majority of people weighing in on this are simply asking that the hostile, and frequently absurd, comments be toned down for their own sake, as the fruits of this will not be ripe for another decade or so and are likely to resemble what we see in the individual in Tucson. 

Marie Rehbein
6 years 9 months ago
I don't listen either, David, but it's hard not to hear them given that they get so much attention from those to whom we turn to keep us informed of issues.
Tom Maher
6 years 9 months ago
All of "us" Catholics do not buy nto sheriff Clarence Dupnik's Democratic political propaganda that political rhetoric (speech ) caused the Tuscon tragedy which the author has recycled in this article.  Catholics are way too diverse to be"we'' as if we all are in the same uneducated peasant refugees that just got off the boat last week and are all working in the same mill in the big city for the same union bosses.   Come on.  Tis is the 21st century.  Blind loyalty to the Democrat party died at least a half century ago.  Most Catholics are now Republican or independent.  And we are not the poor boys and girls anymore we are accomplished professional.  All of who are filthy rich by the old poor boys standard of the 20th century.  There are tens of millions of Catholics that just are not supporter of the anti business, anti free market , anti military anti defense tax and spend hack and now anti free speech liberal Democrats anymore even in places like New York and Massachusetts.  

It is exteremely presumptious for the author and others to think we are all still loyal Democrats willing to accept Sheriff Dupnik rediculous ideas that political speech of the opposition party causes the Tuscon violence soition casues which even he admits is only his opiniion , he has no evidence that assertion.    

So the ideas that we are all tired of Palin , Beck and Limbaugh is just on the average not going to be true.  You should speak for yourself not for all Catholics.

America magazine and many Catholic collges with liberal Democrat leanings still have not got the news that the Rerpublicans sweept the Congress by a 75 year record high margin of 64 seats much of that due to tea party supporters who do not agree with the early 20th century old  liberal Democrat from Chicago, New York, Boston and San Francisco and their lack of tolerance for anyone who is not a liberal Democrat.  

And of cousrse Catholics are only 25 percent of the population so their are even bigger differences in non-Catholic circles politically, thank goodness.

 But how out of touch can a person be to not recognize the central importance of the First Amendment free speech clause of the U.S. Constitution and overwhelming American tradition to foster free speech?  The attemp to demonize political speech is just not viable outside the ever-narrowing base of the Democrat party.
ed gleason
6 years 9 months ago
We can't even outlaw imported extended Glock 33 bullet magazines that were used in Tucson and Virgina Tech because of the NRA and their gun freedom stance. No law enforcement uses the extended clips.  Will terrorists with extra extended clips be firing in a Mall in a couple of months?  and who will be able to stop them> the $11 an hour security guard with a used 6 shooter if he/she is even armed?
Liam Richardson
6 years 9 months ago
Ron,

In Arizona, it's very difficult to get confinement for more than 7-10 days at a time. The system is designed more to keep taxpayer expenses (at least on the mental health side, not the prison side....) down than to address the public safety risks. They go out of their way to spring people out before they have even stabilized, let alone treated. This has happened *many* times with my nephew. Seriously.
6 years 9 months ago
I note that msn web blog features this headline:
"Partisans already playing the victim card."  Seems true here and on other blogs.
Seems Loughner acted alone, but his action -so heinous - has raised for many the question of discouse and ugliness in it in our society, and i think that's more than reasonable.
Moderate voices, not the NRA, are calling for looking at gun  and magazines for them regulation.
That strikes me as not unreasonable.
Mental illness is a difficult fish to deal with.
Once we emptied out the "asylums" (quite properly), we were still left with how to deal with "dangerous" individuals and what that meant, and fear by professionals of litigation in case they incapacitated someone.
Which returns me to the first point about the victim card.
A lot of noise from some about rights  but very little about public safety.
How to balance them in our divisive atmosphere  strikes me as not only a reasonable but compelling question.
Tom Maher
6 years 9 months ago
Well here we go.  Witch hunting season is open again.  

" Witch hunt"  of course comes from the frenzied actions of the righteous and moralistic Puritans of Massachusetts in the 1690s (very much like the righeous and moralistic Catholic people of  today)  who in their zeal to protect and improve society from precieved evils officially  executed 20 innocent people - fourteen women and six men - for the imaginary crimes of "witchcraft"  and related imaginary crimes of being in league with the devil.   In their righteous zeal they accepted wild and unverifiable accusations of teenage girls who saw metaphysical implications of satanic evil in the aged appearances of elderly persons whom the girls elaborately accusations of witchcraft.  Their fantastic accusations were uncritically accepted as  true without testing their reasonableness or verifying the wildly false claims.  Mass moralizing overwhelmed reason.  Gross falsehoods were accepted as true and resulted in the execution of 20 innocent people.  

Assasinations do trigger powerful moral reactions much of which are wildly false and misdirected.   We need to be careful to do no harm to society in the name of helping society.  We need to beware of the destructive effects of moral rage where society turns in on itself and destroys innocent people and institutions .  The French Revolution would be an another example of out-of-control moral frenzy.  The moral outrage at the assaination of an Austiran king set off a chain of events that caused World War I.    

This article is an example of ill-considered moral outrage misdirected at free speech.   This article implies that America has an underlying problem with words, debate and free speech. The author fails to defend the unqualified right of free speech of all people.  Instead the author  see some free speech distasteful and potentially harmful, leading to political excesses that may encourage unstable people to violence . Word may be dangerous. Becasue of this potential danger the author see free speech as a right that needs to be more controlled rather than allowed to be unabriged as the Constitution mandates in the First Amendment.  Apparently the author thinks free speech needs to be fixed but just has not found the right formulation to limit speech and methods of implementation to enforce official limititation on speech just yet.  

Limiting or controlling free speech is censorship which is pure hell fire that should be avoided by all means.  Any suggestion of limiting anyone's speech for any purpose is an extremely poor idea that most Americans will storngly oppose. 

 American society does not have a First Amendment problem that needs to be fixed.   Words, open debate and Freedom of Speech are not problems but critically essential freedoms that make America able to distool needed to make known, discuss and correct societies problem.  Free speech available to all is essential American political instituion.   The benefits of free sppech have always far exceeded any potential risks of evil or petty annoyance from open and free debate and intense political criticism. 

The author fails the reader in his ambiguity in defending our First Amendment political rights and political environment even for Glenn Beck and Sarah Paline. 
Marie Rehbein
6 years 9 months ago
Tom, I did not get that from the article.  I got, instead, that gun control and care of the mentally ill need to be revisited.  Nevertheless, there are ways of expressing ideas that are about the idea and others that are about getting noticed.
Stephen SCHEWE
6 years 9 months ago
1st Amendment protections of speech are broader in the U.S. than anywhere else, but there are exceptions:  obscenity; defamation; breach of the peace or "fighting words"; incitement to crime; and sedition.  The exceptions have been narrowed and eroded, but they might still apply to vitriolic speech.  Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire is probably the relevant case regarding the antics of Ms. Palin and Mr. Beck, although others have argued that it's rare speech that causes anyone, even the mentally unstable, to immediately breach the peace. But there is no unqualified right of free speech for all people.

There's an interesting tendency of today's right wing (and it is almost exclusively the right wing;please don't haul out the ghosts of the 1960s) to attack with hyperbole, then claim victim status when their speech or actions are criticized (as opposed to suppressed, which has not occurred).  Limbaugh did it yesterday when he raised the specter on his radio show of the Tucson shooting becoming an excuse to suppress all political dissent; Mr. Maher did it today when he compared this comments thread to what happened during the Salem Witch Trials.

I'm mindful of the old advice not to argue with a fool in public, since passersby will be unable to tell who is who.  But it would be nice to have reasonable conversations here, even if we have to agree to disagree.
6 years 9 months ago
''I did not get that from the article.  I got, instead, that gun control and care of the mentally ill need to be revisited.''


Most of the article was about  gun control and mental health.  But then why were the names of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck brought up especially since many commentators immediately went after Sarah Palin.  A way to tone down the rhetoric would be to criticize those who attacked Palin.
Stephen SCHEWE
6 years 9 months ago
You're right, JR.  I withdraw my comments about Palin and Beck.  That was unfair of me.

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