Christina Taylor Green’s Death Should Not Be In Vain

Saturday when Jared Loughner opened fire in Tucson at an event hosted by Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, he not only seriously injured Giffords (who is still fighting for her life), but in all killed at least six people and injured 18 more.  One of the dead was nine year old Christina Taylor Green, who was born on September 11, 2001.

When an event like this occurs, as a political scientist my first thought concerns what this says about our political culture.  Ultimately, governments reflect the political culture they are built upon.   Democracies cannot function without a public willing to tolerate diverse opinions, accept the legitimacy and necessity of an effective opposition, accept electoral defeat, and hand over power when necessary.    There must be an understanding that almost everyone agrees on some core values and ideals of the society, the disagreement is how best to achieve them.   Thus democracies require an essential unity of purpose, even if there are disagreements on what achieving that purpose means, and the means on how to do so.

The shooting spree is the latest in a series of events that cause some to think the political culture of the United States is drifting away from stable acceptance of democracy to one poisoned by angry and virulent rhetoric, where the two sides see each other as “the enemy,” unwilling to compromise, yet eager to demonize.   If this is the case, it’s a more dangerous threat to stability than any of the other problems we face.  If our political culture frays, then democracy can perish.

For example, Sarah Palin had a “target” on Giffords, one of twenty districts identified as being in the “crosshairs.”   Talk from the tea party movement often uses the rhetoric of revolution and “hunting down” and “taking out” Democrats.  Derision of “liberals” by talk radio hosts caricature the left and mock them, often suggesting that they are dangerous to America’s liberty and core interests.   The call to “take back” or even “save” America gets made frequently, as President Obama is even labeled a Keynan born Muslim who wants to destroy America.   Glenn Beck sheds tears talking about how the country may be in its last days of liberty and prosperity.   He wants “real” Americans to rise up and take it back from the “liberals” whose values are foreign and strange.

Yet President Bush and the Republicans got similar treatment five years ago.   President Bush was a fascist, a vampire sucking the blood out of the Republic (cover art for The New Yorker magazine),  a criminal President leading us into wars out of a lust for oil profits and expanding the reach of corporations.   Calls to “take back” and even “save” America were as common then, but common from the left rather than the right.   Our freedom and liberty was in danger from corporate America, whose manipulation through campaign contributions and advertising threatened the essence of our democratic values.

Clearly, there has been an edge to American political rhetoric lately.   Yes, one can find numerous examples in US history of campaigns fighting dirty, but the depth and emotional power of the media has made this recent bout seem like there are two visions of America, and no room to compromise.   Rather than the focus on personal attacks (which was very common in the past) whole sections of the population have been attacked and demonized because of their perspective on the issues of the day.

Yet for all the fear that we might be slipping into an abyss, with our political culture deteriorating, there is hope.   The public is not as politicized as it seems.   The extremes may wage ideological jihad, but average folk just want the politicians to come up with some common sense solutions to problems.   They may veer left (like they did in 2006 and 2008) and then right (like in 2010), but the extremes of each party are rather small.   The tea party movement, in fact, already seems to be petering out.   Fox and MSNBC may be yelling at teach other, but even the people who watch them deep down don’t see the other side as “evil.”  Politics has become like professional wrestling — we expect the trash talk, but know it’s spectacle.

Still, things can get out of control.    When President Clinton was elected in 1992, there was a strong anti-Clinton backlash on the right, as militia movements, “survivalists” and gun rights advocates proliferated.  Their rhetoric was extreme, often talking about open revolt or civil war.   Yet when one man acted on these ideas, Timothy McVeigh, the “movement” folded.   McVeigh’s attack on the Oklahoma Federal Building, killing 168 people including 19 children, caused people to pause.   The idea of killing Americans and having a real civil war is not what anyone outside the fringe of the fringe wants!

I suspect the act of Jared Loughner, arrested for the killings, may be the impetus for another such “let’s pause and settle down” moment.   Republicans will have to admit that warnings about domestic terror and violence were legitimate, they can no longer mock those.  But Democrats should admit that however irresponsible Sarah Palin’s rhetoric may have been, neither she nor the tea party can be blamed for the attack.   People of Loughner’s ilk are driven by deeper demons.   The intense rhetoric and anger on both sides creates the conditions that can influence a McVeigh or Loughner to act.

So far, the political reaction has been good.  Both President Obama and House Speaker Boehner spoke out unequivocally against such violence, and more importantly, in favor of unity.  As Boehner said, an attack on one who serves in Congress is an attack on all.   At base Republicans and Democrats are united in wanting to do what’s best for America, even if they have stark disagreements about what that means.   As the human stories come out, people will realize that political passions are not worth violence or pain.   We’ll remember we’re really on the same side in important matters.

We are 300 million people trying to create a society that is at peace and prosperous.     Perhaps this event will bring back some of what the country felt after 9-11-01, recognition that united we stand, divided we fall.   And maybe we’ll rethink the ease in which we talk about violence as legitimate political action.

That is why Christina Taylor Green’s death has a symbolism that can unite.   She was born on our most tragic day in recent times, and died on what was arguably the most tragic day for US politics since then.   Our country unified around the acts that took place the day she was born, but the difficult and trying years since have divided us.  Many have forgotten that sense of unity of purpose that we had after 9-11.  Perhaps her tragic death can bring us back together, and push aside the anger and animosity of recent years.   Maybe then we can start solving the problems facing us, and make sure her death was not in vain.

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  1. #1 by plainlyspoken on January 10, 2011 - 4:14 am

    Excellent post Scott!

    Let us hope that in the quiet of their homes our citizens can let their hearts call out to them to stop the harsh hatred for others that is being expressed just because of their political beliefs and philosophy.

    We can hope that within our inner selves we continually see this nine year old and realize she has unknowingly sacrificed herself for this nation just as much as any soldier on a battlefield. We do her honor to insure we learn that hatefulness has no place in our, hopefully peaceful and respectful, political life and society.

  2. #2 by Black Flag on January 10, 2011 - 9:06 pm

    I agree – it is a lens focused on the American core of its politics and its people – and it demonstrates a growing evil.

    The larger the force of government = the more of savagery in the subjects under government.

    It is no surprise to see those subject to the increase in legitimized savagery to choose to engage in equal behavior.

  3. #3 by classicliberal2 on January 11, 2011 - 8:39 am

    It’s offensive and ludicrously inaccurate to present an equivalence in this matter of super-heated rhetoric. The right side of the political spectrum is made up of, on the one hand, professional outrage merchants who traffic in this sort of bald hatred and vitriol on a minute-by-minute basis, every day, and, on the other, the outrage junkies who suck it up like a sponge. There’s nothing on the left that even remotely approximates it, which is why you strain to find examples. I was as critical of George Bush Jr. as anyone could be, and I constantly lobbed rhetorical bombs at his administration, but the facts I used were real, and the conclusions I drew from them were, in my view, reasonable. People could disagree with the latter, of course, and I was always happy to go a few rounds with them over it. Among the American conservative elite, though, there isn’t even a basic concern for the truth, and the conclusions they draw have as little connection to reality as the items that led them to draw those conclusions. That elite–which, unlike me, has an audience of millions–simply makes things up, things intended to infuriate and keep their audience in a constant, unrelenting state of inflammation.

    Look at what happened in the health-care town halls with members of congress. There’s something very revealing in what happened there, but few seemed to catch on to it. Because people were being told by the conservative elite that the bill under consideration included government “death panels” aimed at killing the elderly and infirm, mobs of angry, ranting reactionaries were showing up at every Democratic officials’ event, to the point that it became impossible to have any sort of reasoned discussion about the actually proposed health care reform. The thing that is revealing about those mobs is that they could be so effectively drummed up by use of such a transparent lie. Any reasonable person, hearing the “death panels” claim, would have been extremely skeptical of it. That would have been their immediate reaction. It was ludicrous on its face, and, of course, it was a baseless fiction, a fact which even a cursory examination would have revealed. That wasn’t the reaction we got, though. The conservatives have been so conditioned, by their elite, to believe liberals are outright monsters who really do try to do things like set up government panels to kill old people that they never even questioned it. More than that, they swallowed it hook, line, and sinker, and were showing up at every one of these meeting, in force, and behaving as they were.

    A huge chunk of the present Republican party believes Barack Obama is a Muslim (over half the party, in fact), and either isn’t a U.S. citizen, or may not be one (the numbers on this vary by the question, but it’s nearly half of the party in the high-end results). Over 2/3rds of Republicans have persistently told pollsters Obama is a “socialist.” And so on. People don’t get that from nowhere. It’s what they’re told every day by the Becks, Limbaughs, and Hannitys, who seek to dehumanize–not disagree with–their political opposition. It was the same with Clinton. It isn’t just a political tactic; it’s a huge industry, which is why it has thrived. It works, and it has made one fortune after another. You’re simply not going to find an equivalent phenomenon on the left. Even trying amounts to a monstrous lie.

    You’re wrong to equate this Loughner fellow with Timothy McVeigh, as well. Loughner just seems to be some crazy fellow. McVeigh wasn’t crazy in the sense of being insane; he was just a political reactionary. I believe there’s an inherent insanity in that, of course, but my point is that he most definitely wasn’t someone with a chemical imbalance in his head, who hurts people because the voice of the ghost of Elvis tells him to do it. He did what he did because he honestly believed the fringe right’s unhinged narrative of the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents, and took them seriously enough to act. Today, those sort of previously fringe-right narratives are “mainstream” on the right, and the reason it’s important to make the distinction I just did is because that’s a much bigger problem we face now; a huge chunk of the population, on the right, that is being kept in a persistent state of inflammation, and has its critical thinking gear turned off. If so many people honestly believe Obama is some Muslim non-citizen out to impose some sort of Bolshevist dictatorship, how long will it be before someone decides to act?

    (The answer, by the way, is not long at all–Obama, shortly after assuming office, was subject to a record number of death threats, and that record had been repeatedly broken throughout his administration, so much so that investigating the threats is becoming a major expense.)

    I’m afraid I’m sounding rather scattershot, here. I’ve recently suffered a catastrophic personal crisis, and it would be bold understatement to say I’m not really up to dealing with this (or much of anything) now. I saw what you’d written and thought it worth the effort to at least try to comment.

  4. #4 by renaissanceguy on January 11, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    I think that we should focus less on what people say and more on what people do. Let people say harsh words about their political opponents. Let them use whatever metaphors they wish. It’s when bullets start flying that we had better step back and figure out where we went wrong.

    I think there are a lot of things that need addressing in this shooting, but political rhetoric is not one of them.

    Why can’t we do a better job of helping mentally disturbed people before they end up killing people?

    I think that is probably the relevant soul-searching question in this matter.

  5. #5 by Scott Erb on January 11, 2011 - 2:26 pm

    Rhetoric matters. That’s why advertising and propaganda are so effective, it pushes emotional buttons and causes people to do different things. Unstable people will be more likely to act if things are rhetorically hot. Political culture is what provides stability for a polity, and its based on an essential understanding that despite our differences, politics isn’t a battle between good and evil, but a way that people who share core values make collective decisions. As such, it doesn’t function if the rhetoric causes people to veer towards emotion and see politics as a kind of holy war. It was the break down in civil discourse in the Weimar Republic that allowed extremists to get the upper hand (and stable political cultures in the US and UK that allowed them to weather the depression). As we go into very iffy economic times, the most dangerous condition would be a breakdown of our political culture.

    And anyone who has studied propaganda, media studies, and their relation to politics knows there are very profound causal relationships between rhetoric and political stability.

  6. #6 by Scott Erb on January 11, 2011 - 2:42 pm

    Classical, I’ve talked to many friends who agree with you — the right has engaged in incendiary rhetoric, there have been warnings this could make violence more likely (and there other incidents last week) and so when it happens how dare the right claim the left is politicizing it when they say “see, this is the consequence we warn about.” And yes, talk radio is far more emotionally manipulative, using fear and anger to rile people up and get listeners. I won’t try to claim moral equivalence here.

    My point is different. I don’t think most Americans on the right are really with the talk radio emotion manipulators. They view that as like pro wrestling, just a little fun. I think at this moment rather than either side blaming the other, both should rise above and say “regardless of who’s to blame, let’s come together and remember that we’re all Americans.” The rage machine would love to have the left taking shots at Palin, so they can defend her, play the victim, and continue on there emotion-driven money making ratings machines. As long as both sides are angry at each other and blaming each other, folk like Limbaugh are assured a big pay check, whether he’s right or wrong. It doesn’t matter, all that matters is that he can manipulate people’s emotions and generate listeners. The best way to undercut folk like that is to have our politicians in Washington set the tone by coming together and changing their tone.

    Can they do it? I don’t know. We did after 9-11, and that soon broke down thanks to controversy over what has proven to be a poor foreign policy choice to go to war. My approach is more let’s use the memory of Christina Taylor Green to move forward, with a more dignified and respectful tone. Not everyone — bloggers, pundits, talk radio will still play their games. But at least at the top, political leaders need to understand their responsibilities.

  7. #7 by classicliberal2 on January 11, 2011 - 8:03 pm

    “I won’t try to claim moral equivalence here.”

    But that’s really what you did in that initial post–striving for “balance” by presenting the two sides as if they’re equally guilty. They aren’t. That’s why efforts at a phony balance always end up comparing remarks by one of the biggest conservative radio personalities in the U.S., or one of the biggest conservative tv personalities in the U.S., or one of the highest conservative elected officials in the U.S. with some Joe Nobody on a blog somewhere.

    The public ISN’T with the rage-merchants, you’re correct, but the right IS with them. Most of them do, indeed, see it as just a pro-wrestling show, but in that, there’s no sense of responsibility for their own words, and outside of that, far too many of them see it as something real and not only important but essential. A genuine death-struggle for the fate of America. Which is why that lack of any sense of responsibility for their own words is so important; the rage-merchants will say pretty much anything to “win,” and their followers in this latter camp–a shockingly large portion of the right–will believe just about anything the merchants tell them.

    I’ve written a great deal about the anti-Obama rhetoric. The attacks on Obama–just as was the case with Clinton–aren’t disagreements with policies. I’ve been more critical of Obama’s policies than any conservative. The anti-Obama rhetoric is an effort to not only delegitimize his presidency but to dehumanize the man. I have, in fact, described it as a slow-motion assassination attempt, and I think that’s a fair and entirely appropriate characterization. If you tell people, day in and day out, that Obama is a monster out to destroy you and your country, how long can it be before someone takes those words seriously? The stretched-to-the-breaking-point resources required to investigate the unprecedented number of threats against him answers that question, but it doesn’t inspire even a moment of pause in the Limbaughs, Becks, and Hannitys. After health reform passed, the American conservative elite portrayed it as virtually the end of the world, while elected Republicans threw a tantrum, trying to bring the congress to a standstill. The segment of the public over which they had influence mirrored their actions by violent threats against congressmen, vandalism, and at least one murder plot. The victim of this week’s shooting, in fact, was, at that time, also a victim of an act of vandalism. The FBI had to be brought into this. The reaction of the conservative elite? They went on television, radio, and in the print press day in and day out and accused the Democratic legislators–the victims–of making too much out of these incidents, as a means of scoring political points. No self-reflection, not even for a second.

    That’s why it’s so entirely inappropriate to say both sides do it. They don’t. One side is victimized by the other. Serious calls for changing the tone have to be aimed at those whose tone causes the problem.

    All of that said, when it comes to this particular shooting, renaissanceguy is basically right about political rhetoric. It doesn’t seem to have played much of a role in what this particular fellow did. I would say, though, that the matter of the rhetoric does desperately need to be addressed, and if this incident could prod us in that direction, it would be better to get to it now than after some awful incident that the Secret Service wasn’t able to stop before it happened.

    • #8 by Scott Erb on January 12, 2011 - 11:09 pm

      Talk radio is propaganda that often reminds me of Joseph Goebbels. Some of it is clear dehumanization, ridicule and emotive. Yet I think a lot of people on the right treat it like pro-wrestling — entertainment. The left is more comfortable with the Jon Stewart style mocking of the other side. (That might say something about the psychological differences between left and right, but I don’t want to go there right now!) I think it may be a generation that believes the America they knew is slipping away — demographics are shifting with Latinos having an ever increasing share of the population, the economy is weaker (not Obama’s fault!), the US has been humiliated in wars and is not the dominant world power, gay rights is now mainstream, and women now often out earn their husbands, eroding the traditional view of the family. Whenever culture evolves, there is a backlash. I’d not worry about the tone as much if not for the fact we’re in a period of potentially deep crisis. Those are the times when political stability has the potential to unravel.

  8. #9 by renaissanceguy on January 12, 2011 - 10:02 pm

    Just now I listed examples of assassination talk and other violent rhetoric by people on the left, mostly during the Bush administration.

    In one of the most glaring examples, Craig Kilborn put the words “Snipers Wanted” over a picture of George Bush.

    The reason that the rhetoric has come from the right during the last two years is that we have had a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President.

    People who claim that only the Republicans engage in this rhetoric are either (1) lying or (2) have a bad memory.

    As for town hall meetings, I would offer the riots following the passage of Proposition 8 in California as a counter.

    • #10 by Scott Erb on January 12, 2011 - 11:02 pm

      Good points. I’m not even going to try to get into “who’s been worse,” I think both sides should simply reaffirm that we’re all Americans and almost everyone is well intended, sincere, and worthy of respect. I would make it a positive plea, rather than a negative one. Sort of like when the kids are making a huge mess, you could say “you guys are acting like pigs, you’re so messy!” or you could say, “let’s make this kitchen clean, let’s do a good job cleaning.”

      I do think that it is understandable that the rhetoric got hot — President Bush led us into a war that many people thought unconstitutional and leading to needless death and destruction; President Obama undertook efforts to radically reform health care and symbolized changes in our culture that many find threatening. And it will likely stay hot, as the left and right “pundit world” trade accusations. Perhaps the most important thing is for the politicians in Washington — the President, Speaker and others — to themselves model responsible debate. Pundits will be pundits, after all.

    • #11 by classicliberal2 on January 13, 2011 - 12:03 am

      Craig Kilborn was a comedian making a joke, one he, himself, conceded was ill-conceived, and for which both he and the network immediately apologized. That this–a comedian’s single bad effort at a joke 10 years ago–is your “most glaring example” makes my own earlier point for me. There aren’t just people on the right who sometimes make ugly, dehumanizing comments; there is an entire culture, on the right, of ugly, dehumanization of enemies (and that’s how they’re portrayed–enemies, not people with whom one disagrees, and the attacks are personal). This goes on every day. It isn’t a series of incidents; it’s the viewpoint of a large portion of the right. Peddling bile and hatred isn’t something the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck sometimes do because they become overly enthusiastic. It’s what they do for a living. It’s all they do. They don’t apologize for it, because they’re entirely serious. There is no comparable liberal example, period.

      That doesn’t mean “only” Republicans say outrageous things. That straw man can be consigned to the fire right up front. Everyone has their less-than-shining moments at times. There’s no culture of this sort of thing among the liberals, though.

      Just today, I opened my email and there was an ad from a right-wing magazine, the newest issue of which is said to “Identify the Top 50 Most Dangerous Liberals in the U.S.”

      And I’ll add, again, so that the point isn’t lost, that there’s nothing wrong with bile and hatred if the target has earned it. America’s conservative elite simply make up (or distort so badly that it amounts to a lie) most of the things on which they base their dehumanizing personal attacks. Their audience has been conditioned to unquestioningly accept any bad thing said about a liberal, no matter how outlandish. That’s why over half the Republican party (including something like 30 Republican members of congress) says Obama either isn’t a U.S. citizen or may not be one. It’s why the elite can fabricate and circulate the notion that Obama has put death panels aimed at killing the elderly in his health care bill and a huge portion of the conservative base automatically believe it, so strongly that mobs of angry reactionaries show up at all those town hall events and disrupt them. They’ve had it hammered into their heads, on a daily basis for years, that liberals are depraved monsters (and also that Obama and other moderate-to-conservative Democrats or even less than reactionary Republicans are “liberals”). It’s the right’s entire narrative that’s the problem, when it comes to this sort of rhetoric. That’s why I’m not enthusiastic about the prospects of their dialing it back–it would be the equivalent of suicide. Without slanderous hatred to peddle, America’s conservative elite would literally cease to exist for lack of anything to talk about.

  9. #12 by renaissanceguy on January 13, 2011 - 8:47 am

    Come up with any crazy assertion, and you will find people who will “believe” it.

    Some people “believe” that magnets can cure illnesses.

    I once heard a “man on the street” interview in which a woman said that she was voting for Hillary Clinton because she, Clinton, is against abortion.

    It means absolutely nothing that some people believe that President Obama is a Muslim or that he is not a natural born American.

    It just means that people are gullible and ill-informed.

    One thing that I will concede is that there are probably more people on the right who would use “violent” rhetoric than there are people on the left who would do so. That’s because people on the right tend not to be wimpy. They tend to be rugged and tough. Those are good qualities.

  10. #13 by Scott Erb on January 13, 2011 - 1:06 pm

    Seriously, RG, people on the right are more “rugged and tough?” I don’t think so. Psychologically one could say that violent rhetoric compensates for insecurity and fear. Are people on the right more insecure and fearful?

    Let’s dispense with the silly caricatures and stereotypes. People on the left and right just have different perspectives on politics. The first step towards dehumanization is to pretend one side has better basic traits than the other. Let’s not go that route.

  11. #14 by renaissanceguy on January 13, 2011 - 2:10 pm

    Scott, one side trembles at the sight of a gun.

    The other side enjoys hunting and is willing to defend people’s bodies and property by using guns if necessary.

    What am I missing?

    • #15 by Scott Erb on January 13, 2011 - 2:22 pm

      You’ve got to be joking. Trembles at the sight of a gun? Are you serious? Would you seriously claim liberals aren’t also hunters (heck, even Michael Moore has lifetime NRA membership). RG, that comment is at the level of talk radio, it is so caricatured and silly that it can’t be taken seriously. So people are rugged and tough if they carry guns? Sigh. Here’s a newsflash: most conservatives don’t carry guns around with them. Liberals hunt and if necessary would sacrifice their lives and use a weapon to protect others just as much as conservatives. The fact you would even suggest such things makes it seem that the propagandists who dehumanize have gotten to you!

      The reverse from the left would be “conservatives are scared, angry people, so afraid that they will be attacked and so convinced the world is a scary dangerous place that they have a gun fetish, and really believe that somehow they’re better and safer if they carry guns around. This is why their politics is based on irrational fear — they are insecure individuals at base.”

      That makes just as much sense as what you suggested, and if we get into stereotyping and caricatures, that’s where the discussion certainly would go. That’s what the President rightly called on us to avoid — such collectivizing people and assigning the collective individual traits is not rational.

  12. #16 by Scott Erb on January 13, 2011 - 4:35 pm

    If the left ‘trembles at the sight of a gun”, then the most “blue” state (Vermont) should have the strictest gun control laws. Yet it turns out Vermont has some of the least restrictive gun laws:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_%28by_state%29#Vermont

    So there is clearly a flaw in that argument. (Here in Maine it’s routine to see hunters with guns along the side of the road during hunting season, and I daresay there are as many liberal hunters as conservative!)

  13. #17 by plainlyspoken on January 13, 2011 - 6:50 pm

    I must say RG that you’ve left me speechless. I’m having difficulty understanding how you could come up with such a stance?

  14. #18 by renaissanceguy on January 16, 2011 - 2:18 pm

    Okay, guys. [sarcasm coming] I am completely wrong. The left and the right have no disagreements whatsoever when it comes to gun ownership and gun use. I’m just making it up.

    There are no liberals who want to ban handguns. I’m just making that up.
    There are no liberals who say that hunting is cruelty to animals. I’m just making that up.
    There are no liberals who forbid their children from playing with toy guns. I’m just making that up.
    There are no liberals who suspend kids from school for bringing toy guns to school or for drawing pictures of guns. I’m just making that up.

    Keep in mind that I have met people in the first three categories and have read news reports about people in the last category.

    Keep in mind that I was (1) exaggerating and (2) generalizing. I did the first to be funny and the second because in a country of 300 milliion people it is sometimes necessary.

  15. #19 by renaissanceguy on January 16, 2011 - 2:22 pm

    I assume that the leftist hunters in Maine and Vermont are Democrats. In which case, how do they feel when Democrats in other parts of the country try or succeed in banning or restricting gun ownership?

  16. #20 by Scott Erb on January 16, 2011 - 7:30 pm

    Actually, there are some conservatives that believe all those things you list, RG. That’s why brood generalizations and labeling is usually misguided. That’s what I criticize in the discourse, the tendency to find some on the left or right with extreme positions, and then try to use that to label a whole subsection of society. That’s just wrong. If you meant it humorously, I apologize — in this kind of medium of communication, humor sometimes gets lost. Most liberals and conservatives I know are actually pretty similar on their views on issues like those you list.

    To your second question, I suspect there are different views. My own view is that people in other places can make their own laws, with the Supreme Court determining if they are constitutional. I suspect some people think it’s OK for places with a real crime problem to take measures that would not be necessary here, others might think differently. I tend to see crime as a result of other socio-economic factors, so gun laws are at best an effort to treat the symptom. I do think regulations are allowed (after all, a ban on individuals owning nuclear weapons makes sense), but generally am, like many liberals (even ones like me who have never fired a gun) not in favor of most gun control laws.

  17. #21 by classicliberal2 on January 17, 2011 - 10:07 am

    I’m pretty much against any gun control, myself. I’ve found that the issue isn’t a liberal vs. conservative one so much as it’s a city vs. country one. People, whether liberal or conservative, who live in more rural areas and are around guns all their lives tend not to think of them as a problem, whereas urban dwellers whose only experience with a gun is when someone pokes one in their face and demands their wallet tend to be fond of efforts to control them.

    In any event, it’s not a serious issue anymore. The politicians have dropped it as a loser, the movement, for more than a decade, has been toward erasing gun control measures, and the courts have sided with that position as well.

  18. #22 by renaissanceguy on January 17, 2011 - 8:59 pm

    Classic Liberal, in brining up city versus country, you have pretty much drawn a political line. Haven’t you seen the county-by-county maps that show Democratic power centered mostly around urban areas?

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