Friday, January 14, 2011

Use some common sense and "chillax"

We're all saddened by the events in Arizona last Saturday when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (pictured right) and others were targeted by a shooter, Jared Loughner. I've listened to the pundits, so-called experts, and the media express their opinions on TV, the internet, and blogs. I've heard people on the Left blame folks on the Right, such as Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others. Then, I've listened to the Right turn around and blame the Left. I've seen the reports that some members of Congress want to pass new gun control laws and restrict speech because of the shooting. However, it's apparent to me that what we really need is for everyone to take a deep breath, use some common sense, and just relax instead of having knee jerk reactions that help no one. After listening to all of it, I'd like to add my two cents in hopes of bringing a little common sense to all the madness.

According to Merriam-Websters online dictionary, common sense is "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts." Common sense has been rare in the U.S. in the last several years, and it's been nearly nonexistent in the week since the Giffords shooting. While the blame game was going on, we heard cries from Congress that free speech needed to be regulated due to all the "heated rhetoric" in the media. Any speech that could incite someone to violence should be banned they said. So, let's take a look at what that might look like :
  • The word "bat" would be banned. The word has many different uses and a few of them could offend someone or incite them to violence. For instance, are you talking about a "baseball bat," a "ding-bat," a "vampire bat," or an "old bat ?" Are baseball bats gonna be used as sports equipment or weapons ? Plus, we have to be careful about offending the "vampire bats," "ding bats," and "old bats." They're very sensitive you know. Everybody got it ?
  • The word "knife" would be banned because it could be an eating utenstil, weapon, or tool used for cleaning and processing game and other meat products. We sure don't want to offend the animals or incite anyone to violence by talking about "knives."
  • The word "kill" would be banned. Hunters now have to talk about "harvesting" their game. Also, when we kill, oops, I mean end a bug or other pest's life, we would use the word "terminate." Once again, we don't won't to offend the pests or incite a person to hurt anyone by using the "k-word." Lastly, whenever Congress doesn't pass a bill, they can't say, "We killed the bill." They have to say, "The bill failed." Is everyone straight on this ?
I probably went a little overboard on the sarcasm, but I think I made my point about how silly the proposed "speech ban" is. Even sillier have been the cries for more gun control. Some would like to reinstate the failed so-called Assault Weapons Ban and institute restrictions on magazine capacity due to the Giffords shooting. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has said he will introduce a new bill that will prohibit anyone from possessing a firearm within 1000 feet of a federal official, including the President, Vice-President, members of Congress, and Federal judges. The problem with these additional gun control measures include the following :
  • The so-called Assault Weapons Ban passed during the Clinton Administration was a failure. The original reason for the unconstitutional bill, according to it's supporters, was that it would reduce crime. However, the ATF reported seeing no evidence that crime actually decreased due to the bill's passage.
  • Rep. King's 1000-ft. perimeter gun ban bill would NOT have stopped the tragic shooting in Arizona. Anyone intent on breaking laws prohibiting murder to shoot a federal official is not gonna be concerned about breaking a law saying "NO guns within 1000 feet of a federal official." They could care less. If you actually think that would deter them, then I've got a great deal on some ocean front property here in Middle Tennessee for you. When would you like to come look at it ??
  • Rep. King's proposed "1000 foot law" could have unintended and tragic consequences. For instance, let's say that a member of Congress is at event where they are accompanied by a spouse or friend with a concealed carry permit. The member is attacked and severely injured or killed. The spouse or friend could have defended them, but they had to leave their lawfully owned and carried firearm at home or in their vehicle because of this silly law. Is Rep. King really gonna try to pass such a law which would prohibit a Congressperson's spouse from defending them ?
Knee-jerk reactions never accomplish anything positive after tragedies. They can actually have unintended consequences. More government control over firearms and free speech is not the answer to the Giffords tragedy. Such free speech regulation was tried once before. It was called The Fairness Doctrine which was introduced in 1949 and then abolished by an executive order from President Reagan in 1987. During the term of the fairness doctrine, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated, President Ronald Reagan was shot, and President Gerald Ford was shot twice. The Fairness Doctrine did nothing to curb violence against federal officials. So, why does Congress think that new regulation on speech would be successful ?

In conclusion, I believe we all just need to "chillax" - chill-out and relax. The blame game that's been going on for a week is not accomplishing anything positive. It's not bringing the country together. Instead, it's just polarizing it even more. There is no one to blame for the tragedy except the young man, Jared Loughner, who chose to stalk Rep. Giffords and then solve his differences with her with a gun. If he had an issue with her, he could have chosen a peaceful resolution by simply having an intelligent conversation with her. He chose violence instead. The entire tragedy is on him and him alone. The rest of us need to take a step back, pray for the recovery of Congresswoman Giffords and the others injured, and use some common sense for a change and act like reasonable adults. Is that too much to ask ?   
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