Initial Thoughts on the Giffords Shooting

21:18 Mon 10 Jan 2011
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I think it’s it’s pointless to speculate about Loughner’s motivations at this point, especially since analyzing his online imprint seems like an exercise in reading tea leaves—is he a right-winger because he likes Ayn Rand, or a leftist because he likes The Communist Manifesto?

More or less everyone will attempt to use the shootings to push their own political agenda, in just the manner that Cory Doctorow described. Two obvious examples are David Frum claiming that marijuana is to blame and Representative James Clyburn trying to exempt members of Congress from TSA screenings.

Regardless of the actual causation involved, that Palin’s aide Rebecca Mansour would claim that the sights on an electoral map Palin posted last February were “surveyor’s symbols” is appalling mendacity. It’s kind of amazing to see them trot out a story that nobody could really believe.

I understand the anger at the “violent rhetoric” from the paranoid and indignant wing of the Republican party. I can certainly see the arguments that it increases the likelihood of events like this, but it will always be possible to threaten people while remaining under the protection of the First Amendment, and laws about this will end up being used against the politically weak, not the politically strong—which is the last thing we need.

On that note, it’s unlikely that any good new laws will come from this. I’m inclined to doubt the possibility of “good new laws” in general, of course, but laws arising from events like this are almost always terrible. Unfortunately, Congress can only “do something” by making new laws, and is unlikely to be willing to do nothing here.

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