Monday, January 10, 2011

The Fine Line of Politics

Politics is just another form of conflict.  The difference between politics and war is that politics is socialized conflict.  What this means is that primarily, politics involves words rather than violence.  The risk of politics is that there is a fine line between words and actions.  While words are innocuous and generally are used to convey ideas, there are cases where the conflict escalates and violence ensues.  This is where politics ends.

With the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) by the deranged Jared Loughner, we see the ugly side of politics.  I don’t know for certain what political persuasion Jared Loughner was, but that really doesn’t matter a whole lot.  Whatever his political ideology was, it was probably secondary to the terrible actions he took.  Given what has been found in the backyard of where he lived, it’s quite clear to me that he was a disturbed individual more so than a political ideologue.  How many people adhere to one political persuasion or another compared to how many actually shoot politicians?

This reminds me of the Columbine shooting incident where MTV hosts reported on the massacre as if they were going to take the blame for it.  When a couple of kids shoot up their peers in a school, MTV usually does get blamed by one loon or another.  And the sad fact is, those loons get more media airtime than rational analysts because it bring them ratings.

Right now, there are pundits on the Left blaming Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, the repeal of Obamacare, and just about everything else that is currently associated with the right-wing.  On the Right, they are largely pointing out the hypocrisy of the Left in their own calls for death and destruction of certain enemies and some are stating that Jared Loughner was a radical left-wing ideologue.  Frankly, I don’t care what this sick individual’s political ideology was.  He clearly targeted a political figure, but the reasons need not be political, especially if he is insane.

Currently, I’m looking at all the people who are trying to pigeonhole Loughner’s politics into a particular ideology as nothing more than deranged and sick individuals themselves.  For them, life is nothing more than a series of political gains and losses.  It doesn’t matter that a 9-year-old girl was killed by Jared Loughner’s indiscriminate shooting at the crowd.  It doesn’t matter that six random people are dead.  All that matters to these wackjobs is that they score political points against their political enemies.

Yes, words do mean things and words can inspire actions that are good or bad.  And while we all have the shared responsibility of taking responsibility for what we say and to say things with measured discipline, that doesn’t mean that our words can held responsible for the actions of others.  To do so means that people’s behavior can be controlled and induced based on certain stimuli, which is never the case most of the time.  In truth, between the stimulus and the response to said stimulus lies the choice.

And that is what this all comes down to: it is up to the individual to make the right choices for him or herself.  Don’t blame the people who spout hatred and violence, in whatever form, because the individual is still free to choose.  This is why I refuse to accept that Jared Loughner had any political ideology right now because what he did has nothing to do politics.  It had everything to do with an ideology of war.


  1. the Left in their own calls for death and destruction of certain enemies

    What calls would that be, please?

  2. uzza, don't you see... the narrative of conservatives is that both sides are equal, that both sides are corrupt, that both sides are violent... therefore it's okay that they do it. Don't try to question it, just play along with the illusion of parity.

  3. uzza, re-read the surrounding words and you'll note that I didn't say that, I was just repeating what right-wing pundits are claiming.

  4. Bret,

    Even if you count Hitler as right-wing (he wasn't), you'd still find that Left-wing movements have killed more people than right-wing movements have ever since the left and right divide was defined by the French.

    And since body count equals moral superiority on this site, that means that right-wing movements are morally superior to left-wing ones.

  5. See uzza, a few lone nuts on the left equals the establishment on the right.

    Show me a leftie running for office who talks about second amendment remedies or holding guns up at rallies talking about how our forefathers gave us alternative means of changing the government. The right is in a league all its own when it comes to violent rhetoric.

  6. Also, there's no point in history mining in this discussion. We're talking about today, the way two distinct political groups in a particular place and time are acting. I don't give a shit if Alric the Red was a murderous left winger in the 5th century. Who gives a flying fuck. I'm talking about Democrats as left and Republicans as right, today.

    No one is arguing there is something inherently non-violent about left-wing ideology, people are pointing out that left leaning politicians are not using violent rhetoric in today's political campaigns. Why is this so difficult to comprehend?

  7. talking about how our forefathers gave us alternative means of changing the government.

    Didn't they? I guess I don't know my history as well as Bret, cause I thought this country was founded by means of a violent revolution spurred on by a bunch of radicals like Thomas Paine, Sam Adams, Thomas "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants" Jefferson and a lot of others.

  8. The freedom to start a bloody, violent conflict is there for all humans in all places at all times. It is not a constitutionally defended concept, it is simply a possible course of action, and it is one that should literally be the last choice. It is being invoked by alarmist whiners who are afraid of having to pay for poor people's healthcare. Fucking pathetic.

  9. Nice try to with the bait Bret, but I'm not biting. The focus of my post was that it doesn't matter which side Jared Loughner falls on, but that it was his twisted actions alone. You can blame the right all you want and others can blame the left all you want, but I'm not buying either because percentage of homicidal nuts on both sides is slime to none.

  10. The focus of my post was that it doesn't matter which side Jared Loughner falls on, but that it was his twisted actions alone.

    I don't blame the right, I'm saying the right shouldn't act all butt-hurt when people use their freedom of speech to point out their incitements to violence are not without consequences, one of them being criticism from people who oppose violence.

  11. Also, I'm sick of people saying, "He's insane/crazy/deranged/evil/bad." He's mentally ill, and while he's responsible for answering for his actions, there is plenty of blame to go around. Blame on those who know him for not helping hi, blame on his school or simply dismissing him instead of getting him the help he needed, his family for evidently not providing the support he clearly needed... there's plenty of blame. What those around him and society as a whole did isn't criminal in the same sense as the shooting itself, but it's still a shame.

  12. Wow. I got what I asked for; examples of violent rhetoric from lefties. What it all means is complicated, but before anyone voices an opinion they should be very familiar with Philip Zimbardo's work, the Milgram Experiment, BBC Prison Study and the rest.

  13. I second uzza, the Milgram Experiment sort of throws libertarianism and anarchy out the window, imo. Too many people are simply sheep, and they aren't made that way, they're born that way. We aren't born strong and independent, we're born crying and wanting our mommies. Humans are very easily led to do horrible things, which sucks.

    Also, if you look in the link nikk posted, some of those are the same few people... guy with goatee, for example.

  14. I'm surprised MSNBC hasn't offered you a job yet, Bret.

    Yes, there can be plenty of blame (the institutions and persons you point out more so than, say, Palin) but it ultimately falls on the killer (mental state included) and I tend to agree it's beyond politics.

    Good luck connecting Palin = rhetoric = Loughner. Doesn't anyone watch Law & Order anymore?

    And for a guy who rails (rightly in my opinion) against historical ignorance, I'm surprised you choose to ignore it (at your will when it suits you). Yeah, we should argue based on "today" but liberal pundits are constantly using the past to make a point in the present.

    Read Sullivan and the like.

    I say history matters - it matters a lot. The vitriol is present and has been present on both sides - I fully, unapologetically, reject outright that one side is "worse." Frankly, if you take that position, it's a fool's errand game.

    Jesus, just friggin' google "liberal vitriol." There have been plenty of dangerous liberal quotes during the Bush years. Who called Lincoln a "mindless monkey" back when again? And then whack!

    I heard with my own ears over the years how nonsensical they can be too.

    It's all part of the democatic process I reckon. Even "polite" Canada has problems:

    Though I have to say, there's some merit in your argument with the notion that conservatives think it's fine since the other side does it. Tit for tat is foolish.

  15. As for Milgram, I don't know if it throws anything out the window but assuming it does, can it not be asserted, then, liberalism (in its sad, pathetic current state) capitalizes on this condition and purposely keeps people in bondage since it advocates strong state interventionism?

    Just asking.

  16. TC, I said this before and I question whether saying it again will help, but I'm a sucker for lost causes... so again, I don't blame Palin now or in any of my posts. I find it amusing that she or a staffer of hers felt guilty enough about the map with the crosshairs to take it down the day of the shooting, but that's just an indication of them at least realizing what they were doing was not appropriate. Maybe it's a step in the right direction, who knows.

    If I had to blame a distant, nebulous source, I would blame media as a whole, not the politicians alone. The media has given a stage and even hyped the extremist rhetoric. The politicians could tone it down at any time, the media could stop focusing on the violent messages, or even those Loughner knew could have intervened in his life.

    I wish you would believe me when I say: if it was Democrats talking about or implying their opponents should be shot, I would think they were barbaric. I might finally vote for them... but they would be savages.


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