Enabling The Crackpots, Emotionally Infirmed & Village Idiots

by Curt Kovener

Everyone should be dismayed by the weekend shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Dismayed but not overly shocked.
Afterall, we just concluded an election cycle where the angry, the alienated, and the unstable shouted, threatened, quoted patriotic statesmen and even scripture to promote their view. Some wrote that if need be, “second amendment remedies” might be an answer to their disillusionment.
And despite the election concluding on Nov. 2, the rhetoric, rancor and stirring of stink continues. Even former Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, the darling of the rightwing, last year blogged to her disciples: “Don’t Retreat, Reload.” Much of similar kind of violence shaded rhetoric has been removed from many blog spots.
While 22-year-old Jared Loughner, the attempted assassin of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as well as killing six others including a federal judge, will undoubtedly eventually be found of unstable mind (and won’t that be a surprise) it was the vitriolic voices of other unstable minds who helped to create the environment which led to the attack.
All of those mouthpieces will be saying “nothing has been proven yet” as to Loughner’s motives or reasons but by the time that may be determined, we all will be focused on the next crisis du jour. Perhaps they accusing me of jumping to unfounded conclusions is like the pot calling the kettle black.
If you tell a lie long enough and loud enough, eventually some people will begin to believe it is the truth. And those who lack the judgment of stable minds and emotions, will react as they feel they are led. And now we can read about the results.
Since the shooting, my spam e-mail box has been diminished considerably with comments from conservative & tea-party bloggers and other straight arrow(?) opinionators. And they should lay low. While they didn’t buy the gun or the bullets and their finger wasn’t on the trigger, their rancor resulted in contributory negligence. Now that the instigators’ encouragement has resulted in widespread negative public outcry, they have run and hid like cockroaches under the sudden glare of lights shining on them.
I suspect, though, that the respite from the commentary on socialism, immigration, healthcare, gay marriage, abortion, pornography, and a return to family values (after what occurred over the weekend they must mean the Manson Family) will be short lived.
And before you think that I wish to stifle dissent, you would be wrong. But we should engage in civil, respectful discussions; the kind that our Grandmothers wouldn’t be embarrassed if they heard us talking.
My industry must take some of the responsibility for encouraging and enabling the edgy attitudes. Several other newspapers desiring to engage in a “community conversation” have allowed readers to rant and opinionate ad infinitum on any and all subjects in stories, op-ed, sometimes even obituaries. And they are allowed to do so anonymously or with a cutesy moniker.
All the anonymous commenting does is empower the village idiots who believe that their opinion has some importance to society.
If you look at the top of this column you will find my name. My real name. And that keeps a controlling hand on this weekly microphone.
Do you have any idea what a mouthy rascal I could be if I didn’t have to let you know who I was? Wow, the subjects and the people I could be writing about.
This newspaper encourages dissenting opinions and thoughts from local residents. Write us a letter, include your name, address and phone number, and we will let the Times readers know what is on your mind. We’ll even put you on the world wide web. But if you don’t want people to attach your name with your opinion, maybe you should keep it to yourself.
And should any “Concerned Citizen” be tempted to send in a letter without real identification, I use those letters as emergency toilet paper. It only seems appropriate to return your thoughts to the vicinity from whence they were derived.
If electronic commentors and opinionators lack the courage of their convictions and choose to continue to pontificate on forums, blogs, community websites and newspaper comment areas without divulging their name, they do so now at their own peril.
Now that a federal judge has been killed and a congresswoman has been victim of an attempted assassination, it could be that any future vitriolic rants suggesting or intimating harm befalling others might be considered terroristic threatening.
And since those comments are not a protected journalism source, prosecutors have ways of getting the newspapers’ cooperation in turning over your real name.