Friday, January 14, 2011

A centrist assessment of the Tuscon massacre

I'm guessing 40-50% of the public is centrist, with the rest divided between Left and Right, with a bit more on the Right out of that slice of the pie. I think there have been some legitimate polls on how people identify themselves and it turned out that way.

However, such results skew right due to the relentless, well-financed right wing propaganda campaign aimed at people who are less educated and/or more likely to see the world in black/white terms. People always claim they arrive at their political views through personal reflection--they they parrot the best-financed talking points they've heard in the media that week.

The case of the Tuscon shooting is a good litmus test. Right and Left wingers each blame the other side 100%. Yet to me it was clearly a confluence of both sides' worst traits.

The Left decided no one's insane. Just "differently mentally enabled." Plus a near-pathological fixation on individual rights, courtesy of us still reacting reflexively to the Nazis and the Communists, means we can't institutionalize plainly crazy people until they commit a crime--and then we put them in prison, because...

The Right decided no one's insane either. Just "good" or "evil." So if a plainly crazy person kills someone it's because they sat down one morning and decided to be evil. The prison guard unions favor this approach strongly, of course, and they're the most right wing union in American.

Plus the Right decided to throw all the crazy people out on the street, because then they'll straighten up and fly right and get a job and a home with a picket fence (in between bouts of howling at the moon). Besides, it's so-shul-ism to take care of crazy people. That's what their families are for. Or their churches. Or neighbors.

That doesn't happen, of course, so they just roam around using the bushes for their toilets until they break a law. That's why nearly a third of prisoners in America are actually crazy.

So the Tuscon shooter was out loose due to a for-different-reasons conspiracy of Left and Right.

But if we changed the laws so that you could lock up crazy people before they commit a crime, both the Right and Left would go into a fury, with lawsuits ensuing, because both extremes are fanatics about individual rights--not about individual responsibility, even though both pay lip service to the latter...just not in practice.

And then there was the matter of the semi-automatic the Tuscon shooter used--with the optional 30 round clip. There have been a fair number of assassinations in American history. But nearly all the attempts and successes were of just one man until modern times. Now a Colonel Hassan or a Tuscon Shooter can mow down a crowd before they're stopped because the new weaponry fires so quickly and with so much "stopping power." Here it's purely the fault of the Right. The 2nd Amendment, from an originalist perspective, guarantees all state militia members the right to carry a flintlock that takes a minute to reload each time you fire it. Everything else is modern interpretation. Currently the interpretation is that individuals don't get to carry shoulder-mounted Stingers that can shoot down a 747, or a machine gun, or a bazooka, but I don't see why not if they can have a Glock semiautomatic that can kill or wound dozens of people in seconds, even in the hands of an insane person.

Nor could an armed Representative Giffords have defended herself unless she had her own Glock in her hand, loaded and cocked, and was conducting her sidewalk session in a state of military readiness--the kind of hyperalertness people with PTSD have. The problem with the "let's all have guns" NRA response is that it fails to address the problem of the shooter who doesn't care what happens to him.

So that's all the Right's fault, but the Left put him on the street and defended his right to be out loose and crazy. So they both put the Tuscon shooter in play.

So--what if we propose a national biometric ID system? The Right and the Left would both hate that, but such a system might well be able to accumulate data points about inscreasingly crazy people like the Tuscon shooter, so that with enough accumulated "crazy points" he could be taken in and put on a psychiatric hold, deemed unable to function in society, and institutionalized.

Challenge your Right and Left wing friends to endorse such a system and see how they howl.

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