Let me be very clear, the shooting that took place on Wednesday against the Republican Members of Congress is a despicable act of violence. It should not be tolerated, normalized, minimized, or forgotten. However, it should also not be considered any more tragic than the many abhorrent mass shootings we have witnessed in this country to date. In fact, had those other shootings been taken as seriously as they should have been, perhaps this shooting would have never happened. But now that it has gotten the attention of the Right, let’s talk about how they want to be all Kumbaya and shit, shall we?
I saw that Ted Nugent has suddenly seen the light. He told Fox News yesterday that he is “toning down his ‘hateful rhetoric'” after the shooting at the GOP baseball practice, which critically wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and a lobbyist for Tyson Foods and wounding many others. My issue with this is 3-fold:
- Hypocrisy – This guy has been known to say things like: “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun” and “We need to ride onto that battlefield and chop their heads off in November” when referring to democrats. He literally talked about murdering a then sitting president Barack Obama. If someone had tried to kill Obama in the same manner as the Republican Congress members, or even by making him “suck on a machine gun,” people like Ted Nugent would be throwing a party not calling for toning down the rhetoric. But now a group of old, white, male Republicans get shot at and some are wounded, and very abruptly this guy has an attack of conscience. That’s infuriating! Suddenly the right-wingers can associate with and/or feel some connection to a violent attack on people they consider their brethren, so now everyone should “tone it down.” I’m sorry, but what the fuck is that? Most of us have been calling for the toning down of hate speech for a very long time now. Welcome to the party, asshole. You’re late.
- Actions & Desperation – The Republicans in power are actively working to pass legislation that aims to harm people they deem less worthy, which is basically everyone except the republican, male, straight, white, healthy and wealthy. The healthcare bill, the budget, rolling back regulations, removing protections, cutting assistance, I could go on, but I think you get the point. So what they say does not matter if they’re are committing acts of aggression against the vast majority of the American people. Add to that, they are doing it in a way that feels super shady and being are going to freak out. When an administration does things that will cause severe harm to the very people they swore an oath to serve, that causes fear, frustration, anger, and in many cases desperation. Desperation leads people to do things they may have never conceived of doing. I’m not excusing any violent acts that result from desperation, just stating a fact. That said chances are, the hateful rhetoric, though the equivalent of throwing gasoline on the fire, was probably not the cause of the shooting on Wednesday. The cause was more likely a combination of anger at what we see happening, a sense of desperation, some degree of mental instability, and easy access to firepower…which brings me to my last point.
- Gun Laws or Lack Thereof – We have a serious gun problem in the United States, in case you hadn’t noticed. Pretty sure you have, so I won’t beat a dead horse. I’ll just say this, even if the rhetoric is ratcheted down, which it absolutely should be, people who are mentally unstable and/or have bad intentions can still get a rifle, high capacity magazine and lots of ammo, then go shoot up a baseball field, or a school, or a nightclub, or a movie theater, or a church, or a place of business, or fill in the blank. The accessibility of high capacity weapons, lack of background checks, and multiple loopholes in the gun buying process are a huge risk to all of us…even white, male, Republican congressmen.
(Caveat: I believe in the 2nd amendment, enjoy shooting, and own a handgun. As a gun owner, I also understand the tremendous responsibility that comes with that as well as the maturity and mental clarity required. Therefore, I believe in common sense gun laws. Someone who has a history of violence and/or mental illness/instability should not be able to purchase firearms. Background checks should be essential and thorough. Limits should be placed on high capacity magazines and training should be required. Just my take.)
Anyway, while I appreciate the Right’s newly found concern about “toning down hateful rhetoric” and agree with every fiber of my being that all this hate speech crap (especially the type that incites violence) should be knocked the hell off, it feels incredibly disingenuous and completely self-serving. When the right cares enough to actually make people safer, then maybe the words they say will matter.