The tragedy of making heroes out of criminals

It seems many are trying to use the tragedy in Tucson to lobby for limitations on free speech or increased limits on the sale of guns and ammunition. As usual we seem to want to allow the acts of the most disturbed and antisocial members of our society to set the limits on the freedom of the most responsible.

I will admit that the rhetoric on both sides of the political debate has become overheated at times. It seems to be a reasonable expectation when entire sectors of our society are demonized and pitted against each other. But it is not the heated rhetoric that created this tragedy and allowing it to put limits on our political conversation would be a major disaster. What we need is more debate on important issues not less. And when people feel strongly about an issue, limiting their ability to express their frustration will not diffuse the tension. It will only heighten it.

There are a lot of things in our modern society that inspire violence. Its not just heated political debate. How about video games, movies and music? Many of our young people grow up with extremely violent, interactive video games. Before they are old enough to understand the complexity of the issues they are learning that killing the “bad” guys is an acceptable means of solving your problems. Why is it that no one is calling for eliminating those corrupting influences or at least limiting the violence?

The young man that committed this reprehensible act was not a conservative. His favorite books were Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto yet progressives were quick to blame his actions on the corrupting influence of conservative talk show hosts. My critics are always quick to challenge my opinions on the basis that the facts do not support my position. Clearly, this young man (I refuse to give him any more notoriety by using his name) is not a conservative or a follower of any of the conservative talk shows where the political philosophy of those books is regularly rejected.

Both sides of the political debate need to loudly and clearly reject this violence as an acceptable way to solve our political differences. The proper solution is to vigorously prosecute those who would commit such acts, not penalize the rest of us for their despicable actions.