Sunday, January 16, 2011

AZ: It IS Political

Just back, last night, from our trip. As I noted in my last post, online activity was almost impossible from the wilds of the Costa Rica coastline and rain forests, so I had not choice but to forgo my usual travel log entries. I did, however, keep notes along the way, so I'll be working in the next few days to piece it all together into a coherent narrative, with pictures. It may take a while..

Meantime, though, we did hear about the Tuscon shootings on board our ship, thanks to a daily abstract of news from the New York Times. It came, sadly, hardly as a surprise. We have lived through too many such senseless events in the past few years to be surprised by yet another. Since returning, I have caught up with pieces of information and opinions from a variety of sources, and it irks me to hear so many people falling all over themselves to insist that this is not political. It IS political.

I do not share the opinion of those who blame the event on overheated political rhetoric. I dislike that rhetoric as much as anyone, but I do not believe it to be a motivating factor. Indeed, I agree with Frank Rich in today's NYT opinion section, that the search for motivation is a big red herring; worse, it distracts from the real political implications. There can be no fathoming the mind of a person as crazy as this new murderous shooter, whose unendingly researched recent history leaves no doubt as to his derangement.

No. The real political issue here is almost sure to be buried by the fun and games of seeking for an explanation. And it's not hard to identify. Our representatives have simply been cowed into denial and inaction. The real political issue is that we apparently lack the plain good sense and the will to keep insanely powerful weapons and ammunition out of the hands of the criminally insane.

I know the arguments: the "right to bear arms," and so on; then there's "guns don't kill people, people do"; and the follow-up, that the laws are there, it's the lack of proper enforcement that is to blame. It takes only a grain of sanity to see these arguments for their specious mendacity.

In the first instance, I cannot bring myself to believe that such weapons-induced mayhem would have been in any way defended or condoned by those who created the constitution of which the gun lobby claims to stand in awe. Those wise and rational-minded men would surely have acted swiftly to clarify their intention, had they been able to foresee the twisted interpretation to which it has latterly been subjected. In the second, the gun-related kill rate in this country is a national disgrace, as it is a national tragedy. Children are killing children in appalling numbers on the streets of our cities.

In the third instance, is it not clear by now that such laws as we have are antiquated and wholly inadequate to the slaughter? It was, as I understand it, an entirely "legal" purchase that allowed this present madman to obtain the weapon that he used. There have been too many such legal purchases leading to the empowerment of deranged people, no matter their twisted motives.

What will it take for those we elect to legislate to stand up to bully tactics and unreason with some common sense?

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