Friday, January 14, 2011

Just Another Day

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for January 14, 10

The shooting was nothing special. Just another unbalanced, angry young man with a gun. A rapid-fire Glock-9 with a 30-round clip that can kill a great many people in a very short amount of time. In this case, six people, including a 9 year-old girl. Nothing special in a country awash with gun deaths.

Except for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. That was a bit unusual. But not enough to make a real change in how easy it is for unbalanced angry young men to get rapid-fire guns. This particular shooting took place in Arizona, the Tombstone state, a state with one of the most lax gun laws in the nation, a state where armed citizens no longer even need a permit to carry concealed weapons. And Arizona likes it that way. It has even proposed a law that would allow college students to carry weapons to school. And the Congresswoman herself had a Glock-9 and noted that she was “a pretty good shot.”

Since it was a Congresswoman who was shot, the talk turned immediately to the possibility that this unbalanced young man’s anger had been fueled by the angry political rhetoric sloshing around in our polarized, angry nation. Clips and sound bites of “reload,” and being “armed and ready,” “blood of patriots,” “the Second Amendment remedy,” “if ballots don’t work, bullets will,” and Sarah Palin’s now infamous web page showing gun-sight “targets” zeroing in on various contested congressional races, including the Arizona district where Congresswoman Giffords was running for election. Indeed, a few weeks before the shooting Ms. Giffords herself was on TV complaining about Ms. Palin’s “targets,” saying that rhetoric like that was likely to result in “consequences.”

For Congresswoman Giffords, it certainly may have. A bullet through the brain. And six dead.

But Americans love their toxic talk and both sides of the political spectrum got busy pointing fingers at the other, though by sheer sound-bite numbers, the right wing won that contest. You can’t beat TV clips of armed “tea-party” folks showing up at political rallies wearing weapons and carrying signs lauding blood-spilling “patriots.” And those targets on a map, about which, Palin’s spokespeople spent a great deal of time explaining they weren’t, uh, gun sights, no, they were just “target marks” like you would use on a survey map. Thereby illustrating that the Palin camp must think Americans are truly dumb because nobody with any sense was buying that story. Not from the Moose-shooting Mama with her own “reality” show featuring her blasting away at furry animals for her cook-pot. If a person knows what a gun sight looks like, it’s Palin.

So, no, it was a lock ‘n load gun sight and part of the “armed and dangerous” right-wing rhetorical meme: We’re angry, aggrieved and armed and we’re gonna target and take “our” country back from, well, all those people, and if we have to use bullets instead of ballots, so be it. But that didn’t stop our Sarah from going on Facebook to play the appalling inappropriate “blood libel” victim card in response to left wing finger pointing. Then everyone ran for cover, pretending they knew nothing about anything.

So that discussion will soon fade from the airwaves and it’ll be back to attack-dog business as usual. Toxic, poisonous, raging talk radio is both popular and highly profitable to the sponsors and stations that carry it, and to the stations’ corporate owners. Asking people like Limbaugh or Beck to “tone it down” might cut into the bottom line, so that won’t happen. Rage sells. Fear sells. And paranoia is the American Style.

Lost in much of the partisan rhetoric was the mentally unstable young man. Speaker of the House, John Boehner has stated that America has the finest health care in the world. But I suspect that the shooter, the unstable young man with voices in his head, found that in his America, his finest health care in the world likely didn’t cover treating mental illness. Few insurance policies do and state-run mental health facilities are under-funded, or broke and failing. This is in part because in finest-health-care-America, we have the odd notion that somehow the mentally ill “choose” to be mentally ill and while completely insane have the right to refuse treatment, have the right to live under bridges, and the right to starve in the streets while talking to non-existent people. And, of course, the right to buy guns.

So there it all was. The usual suspects. Guns. A toxic, angry culture. A mentally disturbed angry young man. Lousy mental health care. Nothing special. Nothing unusual. It was just another day in America. Nothing has changed and nothing will change.

Except for six people, including a 9 year- old girl.


Sandra Gore said...

Everything you said, Ann, is scary and true. The scariest part of it all, to me anyway, is that Sarah Palin was the GOP candidate for VP and even after all her missteps, past and present, is taken seriously by many as a candidate for President.

Mike said...

CertAnnly Sarah can be blamed for her influential role in directing the heinous killings in Tucson and of course mix in the lack of diagnosis and treatment of the mentally challenged of America, and then there is the all guns should be outlawed anyway thought, but never ever, ever consider that the shooter could be responsible for his/her own actions because they don't know what they are doing anyway...

...but then is there a parallel tie to Los Osos that would just be scoffed at, certANNly that couldn't happen in this island of paradise. But just suppose a young mentally disturbed person attacked the BOS, using a lap-top as a club to kill 6 people and left a severely injured Adam Hill... Who would we blame... certANNly Sarah would top the list, she uses a lap-top. Perhaps then our deplorable mental diagnostics and of course Bill Gates for making lap-tops...

Can't wait to read that fiery opinion column bringing the unconscious America to understand that all lap-tops should be banned... But never ever, ever consider that the lap-topper could be responsible for his own actions because he didn't know what he was doing anyway...

The forensic evidence found the lap-topper had written several rambling articles attacking the BOS and especially Adam Hill... but the disturbed young man certANNly couldn't be responsible for his own actions because he didn't know what he was doing anyway and all was forgiven, although Bill Gates was chastied in all the opinion columns and blogs around Los Osos...

Of course we all know this was just a made-up fairy tale and certANNly couldn't happen here...

TCG said...

It is clear to me that war and violence related references, whether from Sarah Pahlin or Barrack Obama (fundraising in 2008: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun" / Republicans are the "enemy") had absolutly nothing to do with the shooting in Tucson last week.

Yes, we have insufficient mental health laws and facilities, but no matter how much funding is available for those who need it, people will always be murdered as long as some mentally ill people don't take prescribed medications, reference Wade McClave killing his wonderful and supportive parents in San Luis Obispo in 1989 and, more recently, the young man from Atascadero killing the two ladies in Santa Margarita.

Spectator said...

My speculation: The frustration that Ann feels is very real and scary. She feels this way because it is very hard to realize that the world is not perfect and never can be. She also probably realizes that people will never agree on anything as long as there is some agenda. What she needs to do is read "The roots of Obama's rage" by Dinesh D'Sousa and find out what a really well documented book is about.

Hey Ann, you could be on the lop of the NY Times best selling list! You write beautifully. All you need to do is make a point with valid documentation and people will take you seriously on your political views. Otherwise, your last rant leaves a lot desired.

TCG said...

I have also read "Roots" and it really helps me understand what I am seeing in Washington.

Spectator said...

To TCG: Nice to know that someone else knows how to search for facts about very important things that could definitely spoil their life along with the kids and grand kids.

America does not deserve a person like Obama as President: Capitalist Americans would see him as undeserving and the Muslims, Africans, Hugo Chavez, and The Castro brothers would see him as too good for the US.

People that complain about the world usually have no knowledge of hard facts or the bestial nature of man which needs to be controlled by the individual.

As Ann says: another day in America. But she neglects to mention that for a country with better than 300 million, and the strongest with the best standard of living and freedom, this is VERY VERY rare. Worse than that she spouts against the freedom that the "mentally ill" enjoy to be able to live under a bridge if they so choose. Perhaps we should sweep them up depending upon someone's concept of "mentally ill"and send them to the Gulags. Ann would go screaming and yelling: "Just because sometimes I don't make sense, I do not deserve the Gulags".

By the way, mental health care is available at mental health in San Luis Obispo. Otherwise you or your family will have to pay. Pay? Who me? Let the taxpayers handle this!

Churadogs said...

Spectator sez:"My speculation: The frustration that Ann feels is very real and scary. She feels this way because it is very hard to realize that the world is not perfect and never can be."

Incorrect. The fatigue and disgust I feel at this constant wash/rinse/repeat cycle is because we CAN reduce and mitigate the death and suffering and killing, but we CHOOSE NOT TO. We CAN create a more just society, a kinder, gentler (remember that one?) society, but we CHOOSE not to. We CAN create a healthier, saner society but we CHOOSE not to. Instead, we declare that the world isn't perfect and you can't change human nature, which is just an excuse for doing nothing. Shrug. Turn away.