The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Blood Libel

The main stream media just couldn’t help itself in the aftermath of the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and many others in Tucson, Arizona. The dominant focus of the media’s concern was not the availability of deadly weapons to people who have had mental problems, but rather, “the stridency of political discourse.” Leftist Paul Krugman of The New York Times hit a new low by suggesting that the shooting was somehow motivated by a “climate of hate” that, not surprisingly, emanates only from the Right. Other Left-leaning commentators blamed Sarah Palin. But many bloggers on the Right were no better, suggesting that Left-wing websites were culpable or that the gunman was a Leftist.

This “blood libel,” coming from both ends of the political spectrum (all to score a few political points), is despicable. As Glen Reynolds states:
To be clear, if you're using this event to criticize the "rhetoric" of Mrs. Palin or others [on the Left] with whom you disagree, then you're either: (a) asserting a connection between the "rhetoric" and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you're not, in which case you're just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?

Instead of lauding the young intern who possibly saved Giffords’ life and the retired Army Colonel who helped subdue the murderer, pundits lament the stridency in political discourse as a motivator for the murderous acts of a deranged gunman. As blogger Richard Fernandez writes: “Maybe the farther you are from the gunpowder the closer your mind is to politics.”

The real question is how to limit access to firearms for those who have been diagnosed or are suspected of mental illness. The evidence to date indicates that many suspected that the gunman, Jared Loughner, was mentally unstable. There is no easy solution to this because it collides with privacy rights, the rights of the mentally ill, and second Amendment issues. But that is the core problem and that is where the debate and commentary should be focused.