Home > Uncategorized > The Threat Posed by the Tuscon Tragedy

The Threat Posed by the Tuscon Tragedy

It didn’t take long for the tragedy in Tuscon to become fodder for the political class. The bodies of the dead weren’t even cold before Carolyn McCarthy(D-NY) went public claiming she would introduce a new gun control bill within a week. She was followed by Peter King(R-NY), proving that a disregard for the constitution has become a truly “bi-partisan” effort. McCarthy plans to propose a bill that would ban the sale of ammunition clips that hold more than 15 rounds, like the one authorities said was used by alleged gunman Jared Loughner on Saturday. King said his bill would make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within a thousand feet of “certain high-profile” government officials. Bob Brady(D-PA) joined the fray, although his attack was on the first amendment.

Others calling for some sort of legislation restricting free speech include Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-ranking Democrat in the House and father of Mignon Clyburn, a member of the FCC, who said America needs to “rethink parameters on free speech.” The Congressman thinks standards should be put in place to guarantee balanced media coverage. “You cannot yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater and call it free speech, and some of what I hear, and is being called free speech, is worse than that.” Proving that congressmen spend more time talking than thinking. Nobody thought to ask him what to yell if there were a fire in a theater.

Brady (D-Penn.) has gone on the cable news shows vowing to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use images or language that threaten public officials, like Sarah Palin’s, the Democratic Leadership Council’s, or the Daily Kos’ use of targets on a map. Not to be too proletarian about it, but one wonders why Brady is unaware of laws that already prevent threatening people, or does he believe that our employees lives are more valuable that ours?

Stopping short of advocating legislation, The National Hispanic Media Coalition is urging the FCC to open a docket to examine the extent and effects of hate speech in media. The organization also requested that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration update its 1993 report, “The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes.” Predictably, the NHMC believes that advocating enforcement of immigration laws is “hate speech.”

Furthering the notion that the government is at best disconnected from “We, the people,” and at worst, actively inimical to us, two members of congress have announce publicly that they will begin carrying firearms. Again, a bi-partisan effort, since one is a democrat and one a republican. They both proudly announce their exercise of a right denied to many of us, especially those in Illinois, New York, and New Jersey, among others.

The problem with all of this nattering is that it has become a substitute for serious thought. Serious thought takes time, and shooting off one’s mouth before the crisis has even cooled is proof of the absence of thought. The sheriff of Pima county has been an excellent example of this. So just what does this shooting teach us, and how should we respond?

Oddly enough, I believe that this shooting presents us with a parallel to what atheists call the problem of pain. Succinctly, that is whether a God that is good can countenance the existence of pain. It’s a sophistic problem that any serious philosopher can overcome in a few minutes, and has no more application than the question “what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?” The answer to the problem of pain, surprisingly, is the same as the answers to eliminating our constitutional rights. Both revolve around the intrinsic nature of man, and the answer is the same.

Man is a creature endowed with, among other things like life and liberty, a free will. And because of that free will or liberty, we need to deal with the problems it causes. The Tuscon shooter had liberty, and with it, he purchased, loaded, and fired a handgun into a crowd of people. If some analysts are correct and he is mentally ill, he hasn’t any free will; at least to the extent that his illness precludes it. So some congressmen decide to jump into the midst of the problem, and solve it. However, incorrectly diagnosing the illness, they offer an incorrect cure. The problem in this case is not one of too much liberty, but not enough free will. The cure is not to restrict my rights, but to aid the mentally ill and restore their free will.

Carolyn McCarthy asks why anyone needs a high capacity magazine. Some ask why anyone needs a gun? Brady and Clyburn ask why do we need free speech? They ask the wrong question. The question isn’t why we need our rights, but why we have those rights. The constitution is silent about what we need, like housing, food, and medicine. It speaks volumes about what we have, like rights and responsibilities. It does this because necessities are a given, we cannot exist without them. Rights, on the other hand, were something novel that no government had been forced to acknowledge before. The beauty of our system is that it recognizes that these rights are inherent in each person, and cannot be defeased unless we allow it.

Man without free will is worthless to God, a mere golem, of no more import than a pet fish is to a human. Man without liberty is worthless to a republic, no more than a slave, an asset to the state. Only man, free willed and full of liberty, in full possession of the rights endowed by his creator, can be of any value to either himself, God, or society.

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