I picked out this editorial by Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post as just one example of the many articles written in the last few days. Meyerson connects the lines between the incendiary rhetoric and the use of actual violence. His thesis is that the insistence that government is out to take things away or out to do grievous harm to people makes them feel paranoid and suspicious of those who represent government. He gives many examples of those who, mostly on the right side of the spectrum, have fanned the flames of this kind of rhetoric. It's pretty clear what this means: " Last October, Glenn Beck was musing on his radio show about the prospect of the government seizing his children if he didn't give them flu vaccines. "You want to take my kids because of that?" he said. "Meet Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson.""
Back to blood, metaphors and words, this statement from Sarah Palin was lacking in sincerity. If she really wanted to convince the public that she had empathy, why bring in a code word known to the far right and the extreme religious of her supporters? " The use of the phrase "blood libel" -- a term that has its origins in anti-Semitic accusations about Jews using the blood of Christian children in their religious rituals -- is a loaded one and immediately became the central focus of a statement that spanned 1,141 words." If you read this, you will wonder what Palin was thinking when she used that terminology. Does she really think or care about if this will calm her detractors over her failure to speak about what was on her web site and then suddenly not? Instead she started the criticisms all over again. In fact, I have heard the word "perverse" to describe her violent imagery. She doesn't appear to have much in the area of common sense.
And then there's the NRA which is offering prayers and not much else right now: " "Anything other than prayers for the victims and their families at this time would be inappropriate."" Yes, prayers are good. I asked for prayers for the victims and their families and friends last Sunday at my church. I also asked for prayers that our elected leaders would do the right thing. But what else does the NRA have to offer? Prayers will not stop the shootings. We need action. Will the NRA be part of the solution or part of the divisiveness about gun laws and trot out their tired old arguments. Guns don't kill people, people do. If you pass any "gun control" laws the government will ban all of your guns. It's a slippery slope. More guns make us safer so let's push for more guns and more assault rifles and more dangerous ammunition clips and more unpermitted people carrying guns in any and all public places because that will make us all safer. Please. Can we forget all of that and move on to a serious adult-like conversation about this issue? Lives depend on it.
Have we heard anyone but the NRA say it's a good idea to allow the sale of ammunition clips that hold more than 30 bullets? Many are pretty sure that the NRA has gone too far advocating for the things they want and not the things they need. For a while, they may have cleverly convinced some in the public and many in Congress and state houses that their want list is their must have list of types of guns, ammunition, places to carry, who can carry, etc. What they think they want is just not common sense. We can't always have what we want. At some point there is a common good when it comes to saving lives and preventing death. Will the adults in the country please stand up and do the right thing?
Today, I heard one of the best conversations about the Tucson shootings and gun issues in general on Minnesota Public Radio's Morning Edition. Listen carefully as Frank Newport: Editor in Chief of Gallup, Bob Spitzer: Professor of political science at State Univeristy of New York at Corland and author of three books on gun control including "The Politics of Gun Control.", and Daniel Vice: Senior Attorney for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence field listener questions. There were many calls from gun owners and permit holders making their points but what I heard was that these folks believed in reasonable gun laws knowing that their own rights would not be taken from them. One man, a permit holder and one who teaches classes to other permit holders even agreed after some discussion that 30 round clips were just not necessary and that it was not a good idea for people with no training walking around with loaded guns in public places like they can in Arizona. Thanks to the moderator of this program, Kerri Miller, who is always fair and thorough on her program.
It is possible to have a sane and reasonable discussion about gun laws and gun issues if the adults in the room step up to the plate. They might need a good moderator, though. I know we can get to common ground and common sense if we only give it a try.