Saturday, June 20, 2015

Focus Like A Laser

Stick to your guns, Hillary- or rather, stick to the guns.

Thirteen-year National Rifle Association board member Charles Cotton said State Senator Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims of  the terrorist act in Charleston, S.C. "voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead,... Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”

Tasteless, and probably inaccurate, though an excellent answer to the question "Give an example of blaming the victim."

Nonetheless, Charles Cotton is not alone in absolving of blame the actual assailant. Interviewed Thursday (segment below) by a fixture of Nevada politics, Jon Ralston, Hillary Clinton remarked

Well, I think, look, there are a number of factors feeding into this and I thought President Obama’s statement earlier today was very moving.  We have to have a candid national conversation about race and about discrimination, prejudice, hatred.  The people who do this kind of dastardly horrible act are very small percentage, but unfortunately the public discourse is sometimes hotter and more negative than it should be, which can, in my opinion, trigger people who are less than stable to do something like what we’ve seen.

In addition to arguing that hot public discourse may "trigger people who are less than stable to" commit mass murder, Clinton stated

Well, I think we have to speak out against it, like for example a recent entry into the republican presidential campaign said some very inflammatory things about Mexicans.  Everybody should stand up and say that’s not acceptable.  You know, you don’t talk like that on talk radio.

Well, no, we should not say that's not "acceptable" (and people do talk like that on talk radio, though perhaps she meant "should not talk like that"). We should disagree with the content of the argument- but not the right of the individual to argue. The statement may not be valid but save use of the "n" word or something similar, it is legitimate.

That's what free expression is all about. It costs us nothing to permit the voicing of ideas we agree with, or which sound lovely and pleasant. Bad ideas- not their pronouncement- ought to be confronted with a stronger argument in opposition.

Clinton's remarks do not bode well for "a national conversation about race." The fear of conservatives that their comments would be not only opposed but suppressed is enhanced by individuals who advocate a candid conversation, then suggest that opposing viewpoints provoke felonies.  Comments like those of Donald Trump did not trigger the murderer in Charleston.  Ultimately, the assailant
(presumably Roof) in this incident is responsible for the act of violence he alone committed.     If a politico or talk radio host were to advocate ending the drug war, and a spike in deaths from illegal drugs were to ensue, she would not be to blame for the tragedy which unfolded.

The former Senator's remarks were no way to initiate that "candid national conversation about race and about discrimination, prejudice, hatred."  They were no way to dismantle and demolish the noxious viewpoint.  Instead, they distracted from the more constructive and valid point Clinton made when she stated

Let’s just cut to the chase.  It’s guns and we have to have a better balance and I know you’re going to have a universal background check kind of provision on the ballot here in Nevada. Apparently, the public, I can’t speak…I haven’t seen any recent polls of this state, but the national polls I’ve seen overall, gun owners support that, people who are strong proponents of the second amendment support that, but the Congress stops in the face of tremendous lobbying pressure from the gun lobby, so maybe on a local and state level we have to keep building towards some kind of more sensible balance to policy.

She should have cut immediately to the chase. Admittedly, the National Rifle Association won't be persuaded, nor will the right, except by the NRA and its political power. Nevertheless, the focus should be on reducing crime. Shutting up Donald Trump and his ilk won't do that.  Gun control- and other sensible policies- will.

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