Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You Know What Really Grinds My Gears

So I've decided to put off lesson planning by ranting talking about current events and politics. It's going to be one of those, "You Know What Really Grinds My Gears" moments. 

I'm sure you all know about what happened in Tucson on Saturday and I've been waiting on further information before I've decided whether or not I wanted to comment on anything. Here are a few things.
First: Some people have suggested that this incident was fueled by political rhetoric. I even saw someone on Facebook (because that's where we all get our daily political discourse) liken some of the things coming out of politicians mouths to yelling "fire" in a cinema (which, just in case you've been living under a rock, is illegal). I get that metaphor, but if this is suggesting we outlaw certain political speech because it may incite violence, well, I have a few words.

While I don't agree that people should incite violence, it also comes down to the fact that people in their right minds are able to comprehend this type of speech for what it is, rhetoric. It's just words and people like you or me know that.

The problem in this case is that Jared Loughner was not mentally well. But do we start censoring ourselves because of the mentally unwell? A lot of things like this become a slippery slope. If you start censoring (even just yourself) because of something like this, then where does it stop?

I'm not a strict constructionist by any means. But I value the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and adding statutes that make are too broad can really start to damper people's everyday rights more than they've given thought to. 

So next time you think about political rhetoric inciting violence or even something like Wikileaks, beware of what changes you're asking for and how they may be interpreted even just a few years down the line. We still don't know what the founding fathers meant with half the stuff they wrote and a lot of it has been reinterpreted (again and again) to fit our needs in a modern society. 

One day our society will be archaic. (Nooooooo!) Then what?

That all being said, I do think that there are clearer and better ways for people in the public sphere to express themselves and their views. It's kind of like when you use a swear word when you could have just as easily not. I use swear words all the time (you'd never now judging by my writing, right?) and sometimes I realize that it's more habit than anything. I hope violent speech isn't a habit. That said, making reference to war in politics totally makes sense.

Second: It seriously frustrates me to no end when something like this happens and then everyone and their mom who knew the offender comes out of the woodwork to say something along the lines of, "Oh yeah, I always knew he was crazy" or "He seemed to be a very violent person even when we were kids."

Like this girl who was mentioned in a column in the Washington Post today: A classmate found him so terrifyingly mentally disturbed that, she e-mailed friends and family, she expected to find his picture on TV after his perpetrating a mass murder. This was no idle speculation: In class "I sit by the door with my purse handy" so that she could get out fast when the shooting began. 

Uhm, did terrible events like Columbine not teach you people anything? When you think someone probably isn't in their right mind and especially if you then they have a tendency toward violence, you speak up! Tell someone official be it a cop, a guidance counselor, your principal. 

They will be ushered to the person who can best help them (though they may resist at first, sure).

People who are mentally unwell are rarely going to seek advice or help and they will eventually appreciate that you were the one person who finally spoke up for them, because that's what you're doing. You're not a tattle-tale.

Our society is so reserved that we think we're tattling when in reality we're trying to help someone get better. Sure there are lines to be drawn, but I think it's safe to say that most people would prefer to be sane and in control of their lives rather than a slave to whatever it is going on in their uncontrollable minds. 

If these people had spoken up sooner, maybe Jared Loughner wouldn't have attempted the assassination of a congresswoman and killed several other people (including a child and a federal judge) in the process.

I know there's way more to it than just this but these are just a couple of things that have really stood out to me. Discuss.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Jimmie! And thanks for your comment on my blog (and the nomination). Looks like you are having an incredible adventure abroad while nurturing your awesome writing talent. Good for you!


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