I'm tired of beating around the bush arguing about evidence of whether Jared Loughner was or wasn't motivated to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last Saturday by far-right-wing craziness. Of course the Republicans can disavow him -- his being "crazy" and a "lone wolf" and all -- as quickly as they like.
My interest is: can they disavow his actions -- categorically? Is what he did fundamentally wrong, in their eyes? Or did he just choose the wrong target? The wrong time? The wrong place -- what with all those people around? They're sorry, they're sorry, they're incensed at being presented as in some way sympathetic to these actions -- but why?
If you want to keep a rifle in your house in case the oppressive government comes after you, then I think I understand what you mean by a "Second Amendment remedy." But we're not talking about home defense here; we're talking about guns in public, about shows of force. What I want to hear from Republicans (and others who favor the NRA line) is: why in their opinion was what Jared Loughner did not a legitimate appeal to a "Second Amendment remedy"?
That's a question I'd love to see answered.
Is it because "it's polling poorly"?
Due to work, I've missed full coverage for the past two days of the festering counter-reaction to this weekend's righteous rejection of the rhetoric of death, so maybe others have already started asking this pointed question: why is what Jared Loughlin did wrong?
It's not because it's murder. A "Second Amendment remedy" will inherently involve murder -- or at least killing someone, under an attenuated theory of self-defense. It's not even because bystanders were killed as well -- these things happen in a revolution. Had he shot Rep. Giffords and then threw down his gun, does anyone want to say that their reaction would be otherwise? (Let him or her speak up, if so. I'd like to be forewarned.)
In fact, the problem with "Second Amendment remedies" is that this is what they look like.
Here, listen to Sharron Angle:
You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.
I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.
Well, wasn't Jared Loughner fighting against a "tyrannical government," as represented by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- who at a similar 2007 event had had the temerity to reply to his question about the government's using language for mind control by replying to him in Spanish?
Don't we get to decide for ourselves what constitutes "tyranny," under this theory? Surely we don't have to wait for the government to say "we're officially tyrannical now, so as a matter of constitutional law it's OK to start shooting at us."
Well, Jared Loughner was more convinced that the government was tyrannical than most of us will ever be convinced of anything! So, why was his acting on that belief illegitimate, Second Amendment supporters from the Republican and Tea Parties? Because we disagreed with his judgment?
Did he look around and say "my goodness, what can we do to turn this country around?" Well, he probably didn't say "my goodness." But let me ask you, those of you who think that this wasn't "political" -- do you think he would have shot Gabrielle Giffords and all these others if she had lost rather than won this past election by 1% of the vote? Do you think he would have gone to find her at her old family tire store and shot her there? I highly doubt it (and not just because they sold it to Goodyear.)
"I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out," is what Sharron Angle said -- and the first thing Loughner thought he needed to do was to take Gabrielle Giffords out.
Isn't this what it's all about, fans of violent rhetoric? In what sense was his action not legitimate -- by the standards of what those who blather about being "armed and dangerous" and who shoot up pictures rather than people and who pointedly remark about murder as a conceivable alternative to political victory?
Please explain! Please do explain -- the children are listening. I'm sure they'd like to understand the distinction.
I don't have to explain why I think what he did was morally repulsive. I don't talk about "Second Amendment Remedies" because I know that when we enter the arena in which logic and civility are no longer the means to victory, I've lost my advantage. I'll fight in the gutter if dragged into the gutter, but the gutter is not where I want to be.
Is the real problem that Republicans and Tea Partiers have with Jared Loughner is that he, unlike them, turned out not to be a poseur? That he actually went and did something that was only supposed to be threatened?
If so, then they need to do a better job of explaining "the rules" to those whom they influence with this sort of talk.
So in the meantime, if no one has already had the chance to do so, I'd really like to see someone ask Sharron Angle and Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann and whoever else why Jared Loughner's "Second Amendment remedy" -- his attempt, frankly, to overturn the results of an election with the bullet when the ballot didn't work -- is illegitimate.
I don't even want to hear it -- assuming they'll have a coherent answer -- for my own benefit. But I sure would like the alienated 22-year-olds -- who are watching Jared Loughner, head like a clenched fist, in the wake of this massacre and silently thinking "well, he sure went and did it. He had the courage of what he believed, what I say I believe" -- to hear it.
Explain to them, please why -- believing in Second Amendment remedies in a political culture such as ours, as opposed to that of Nazi Germany or Communist Czechoslovakia or such -- why what Jared Loughner did was wrong.
I know what I think it was wrong, but those sorts of kids won't listen to me.
They'll listen to you, maybe. So please, Sharron Angle and others, explain why this "Second Amendment remedy" was wrong.
Update: if you didn't see Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center on Saturday's Countdown talking about the influences on Loughner's thinking, ferallike reminds me that you can do so at this link. That's not what this diary is about, but everyone should watch it.