As an opinion blogger, the zeitgeist obliges me to comment about the Arizona shootings (even if I have nothing especially interesting to say).
The predictable response has been “Round up the usual suspects.” While the left in particular has jumped on this to excoriate extreme political rhetoric on the right, the left refuses to realize that its own rhetoric is often no less extreme. In fact, some of the left’s rhetoric, attacking the right’s alleged extremism, has itself been quite extreme. (This includes the overdone attack on Sarah Palin for using the term “blood libel;” click here for an example.)
I have commented before against extreme political rhetoric – especially the syndrome of not just disagreeing with political opponents, but demonizing them and impugning their motives. Here again the left shares fully in the guilt. (Republicans “want to destroy Social Security” and so forth.)
But – none of this has anything to do with the Arizona shootings. Based on what we know about the shooter, it is highly unlikely that he was influenced by that notorious map with congressional districts “targeted” or by any other political blathering. He was a very disturbed misfit whose actions would not have been prevented by some imagined halcyon climate of political civility.
Next. Few people are as libertarian as me. It’s a basic principle of mine that if government wants to tell folks what to do, it had better have a darn good reason, that concerns the well-being of others. You’re not allowed to harm someone, but otherwise should be free to do as you please.
But – I don’t see why anyone should be permitted to buy the kinds of guns and ammunition used by the Arizona shooter. They have no conceivable legitimate sporting use. They’re for killing people. Preventing such killing is society’s Job One; it’s the chief reason why we implicitly agree to surrender some of our liberty to government, in the Social Contract. Society cannot prevent every murder, but surely we can at least restrict access to equipment that has no purpose other than murder.