As American mourns yet another appalling shooting, Sarah Palin shoots from the lip - again - reconfirming she would be incapable of presiding over a presidential podium.

It is almost laughable watching American politicians scramble to work out whether their increasingly violent rhetoric lies beneath the tragic Tucson shootings.

To others around the world it seems like the inevitable combination of really nasty politics and almost unfettered access to firearms. One plus one and so on. There is no way that a campaign which involved talk of ‘reloading’ instead of ‘retreating’, which featured people at Tea Party rallies with guns strapped to their legs, and which had certain Democratic states in the cross-hairs of a rifle is not ugly and violent politics. What other meaning could be attributed to cross-hairs? Love bombs perhaps?

Add to this political background yet another alleged killer who friends are now saying strayed from the social mainstream some time ago and voila! Violent action to match violent rhetoric.

And who would be in the middle of this and making herself the story. Why, surprise surprise, the failed vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin of course.

While America mourns an appalling incident which has all the hallmarks of an attempted political assassination, Palin was forced to remove her cross-hairs campaign strategy from her website, and went public with condolences for those who died and those who were injured, and she let the nation know she and Todd and the kids were praying for peace and justice. Blah blah blah.

But obviously she did not garner enough attention with that.

When a gal with a gun is cornered, she shoots apparently.

When that gal has little understanding of the sensitivities of others she shoots without thinking and in so doing Ms Palin has again shown a tendency to be foolish rather than presidential.

She’s shouted out that those who linked her campaign strategy with the Tucson shootings were committing “blood libel”. A very dramatic accusation and one that has blown up in her face for the very reason that it is linked to outrageous anti-semitic accusations of centuries ago.

Blood libel refers to the times when Christians tortured and killed Jews for allegedly making their traditional matzoh bread with the blood of children. They didn’t, but the term lives on because of its importance in a phase of Jewish persecution.

Palin seems oblivious to the heritage of her accusation, which is even more damning given the believed target of the Tucson shooting, Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, is a Jew.

For Palin to accuse her critics of committing ‘blood libel’ against her is ridiculous.

It may however serve another purpose dear to the hearts of the Republican hierarchy.

She’s been riding a political high over the past few months, what with her outdoor adventure programme ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ and the success of those she anointed in the mid-term elections.

But she has become a clear worry to the mainstream Republican wing, as they know they will never regain power if she is their Presidential candidate. Her Tea Party movement could also tear apart the party and thereby strengthen the Democrats by default.

She is for non-Tea Partiers like a train wreck, in that she is impossible to not watch, and it would be a fair bet that many – late night talk show hosts in particular – would love her to be the next US President just to see what happens.

That would be funny were it not so serious for us all.

And so, while America mourns yet another shooting disaster, and victims fight for their lives, Sarah Palin’s ridiculous defiance is exposed.

We will never know why she couldn’t just have said that perhaps using gun-toting language and symbols was perhaps inappropriate, and that she regrets any possibility that someone could have read her the wrong way. As Bill Clinton said the actions of politicians are out there for the hinged and the unhinged alike. Surely it is up to politicians – particularly those who want to run a country – to have the nous to realize their huntin’ shootin’ fightin’ BS can be interpreted literally and really has no place in politics.

There’s a federal investigation underway to determine the background and thinking of the alleged shooter.

There should also be a reality check for American politicians in which they literally take stock of the barrel and of how precarious life will continue to be in a country that idolizes the gun. The gun lobby slogan is that guns don’t kill. Get real.

Comments (26)

by Andrew Geddis on January 14, 2011
Andrew Geddis

The Giffords shooting can't be seen in isolation. A disturbing number of US voices appear to see violence as the immediate solution to any form of political challenge.  Check out this webpage detailing (mainly US) commentators who have publicly advocated Julian Assange's murder.

[Hat tip to Idiot Savant]

Unfortunately, US politics is treating Stalin's observation that "no man (or woman), no problem" as an advisory message.

 

by BeShakey on January 14, 2011
BeShakey

Interesting to note the reaction of some in Arizona - buy more guns - http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/15692.  One of the biggest seller is the Glock that was used in the shootings - http://www.kmov.com/news/local/Gun-shop-owner-reports-spike-in-sales-following-AZ-shooting-113431559.html

This just serves to illustrate how hard it is for us here to judge or even understand these events, given the different psyche of some (many?) of those involved.

by The Falcon on January 14, 2011
The Falcon

Yes, gun laws are the problem. If guns were illegal, the shooter, with his profound respect for the law, wouldn't have been able to obtain a gun, and lives would have been saved.

If only we had a president who understood that violent criminals only understand/respect one thing - regulations.

by Andrew Geddis on January 14, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Falcon,

Tom Tomorrow has a cartoon about your comment here.

by Petone on January 14, 2011
Petone

BeShakey;

Understand this.  Then all will be clear

by stuart munro on January 14, 2011
stuart munro

Sadly Falcon - your argument doesn't fly.

Making murder illegal does not prevent it, and it is by no means certain that it deters it. But nevertheless we choose to make it illegal, nothwithstanding the disrespect of murderers for that law. We don't usually base laws on the preferences of criminals.

Restricting gun availability might not have prevented this shooting, but the shooter - in this case rather a loose unit, might have found obtaining his weapons a little more difficult, and on a numbers basis - 80 gun deaths a day, the increased difficulty can be expected to slowly dial back gun deaths.

Of course, many Americans like the current gun rules, but you pay a high price for them. And if you ever undergo a period of political instability, the capacity for mayhem is not encouraging.

Brent Crude is back at the levels that tripped the subprime bubble, so the odds of another market event are growing, and with official unemployment at 15% now, another comparable event might push it up quite a bit.

I wouldn't want to be in the US if unemployment reaches 40%.

by Mr Magoo on January 14, 2011
Mr Magoo

As per usual the eagle soars with his head in the clouds...or places darker still.

http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/dpp/news/glock-33-round-magazine-jan-13-2011

Not only did this man not buy or use an illegally obtained weapon (a comment many of the ignorant fun nuts tried to make before it was clarified based on the number of deaths) he also used a perfectly legal 33 round magazine for his pistol.

That magazine was illegal until 2004 when the gun toting cowboy and his evil side kick (Bush being the side kick) made it legal. You cannot even use personal defence as an argument for a 33 round clip - it wont fit in your handbag.

Perhaps the little girl might not have died had this very derranged individual not been able to walk into a hardware store and arm himself for murder so efficiently?

Want more bang for your buck? More accuracy for your glock? Try this ridiculous pile of murderous crap:

http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2009/08/10/endo-tactical-glock-ar-15-...

Just as well he did not have this or might have killed even more...

Honestly falcon over such issues it is hard not to point things out in the way it deserves: with expletives and vulgar insults. But somehow I have managed to summon up the will this time.

by Chris Webster on January 15, 2011
Chris Webster

Regulations, politicks, poverty, red or blue states

read geography of gun deaths analysis by  Richard Florida of The Atlantic --here

He says: Terrible tragedies like last week's mass shootings in Tucson cause us to search for deeper answers ...and asks might tighter gun control laws have made a difference?

Richard and his team asked:

So what are the factors that are associated with firearm deaths at the state level?

Poverty is one. The correlation between death by gun and poverty at the state level is .59.

An economy dominated by working class jobs is another. Having a high percentage of working class jobs is closely associated with firearm deaths (.55).

And, not surprisingly, firearm-related deaths are positively correlated with the rates of high school students that carry weapons on school property (.54).

What about politics? ...

by DeepRed on January 17, 2011
DeepRed

And closer to home, what gives me the creeps is that some of our local media personalities are having hard-ons for Bullet Barbie.

by The Falcon on January 17, 2011
The Falcon

Everyone here should know the arguments against pointless gun regulation, so I won't bother repeating them now. Your choice to wilfully ignore the reality of the situation will not be swayed by argument.

Just another thing the ivory tower intellectuals want to ban I guess - you've dealt with the diabolical evil of party pills and you're hungering for another way to control peoples' lives.

by Andrew Geddis on January 17, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Ummm ... this ivory tower intellectual thought the decision to ban "party pills" (at least, in the form of bzp) was silly - as is most of drug policy in this and other countries. And I don't think anyone is in favour of "pointless" regulation of anything - the disagreements arise as to whether a given regulation does have a "point".

by Mr Magoo on January 17, 2011
Mr Magoo

Seconded. Banning party pills was stupid. (and offtopic) Mostly because they will just introduce other, less safe alternatives both legal and illegal. I believe there was a story just recently about one causing hospitalisation if I am not mistaken?

And you are right not to restate them. The arguments a bloody minded and ultimately wrong in their conclusions.

by The Falcon on January 17, 2011
The Falcon

@Andrew and MrMagoo, that just makes your inconsistent positions on guns even harder to understand.

You accept the law of unintended consequences in relation to drugs (lawbreakers will still acquire, and face added risk of impure ingredients)...

And yet you don't accept the law of unintended consequences in relation to guns (lawbreakers will still acquire, but lawful people will now be unarmed and unable to defend homes/families).

by Andrew Geddis on January 17, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Nope.

I see drugs as primarily a public health matter, where the only "harm" to be mitigated is to the inexperienced or addicted. Full criminalisation doesn't meet those goals very well, as well as imposes costs on people who are not at risk of any harm in the first place (your 25 year old who ends up with a conviction for having a couple of pot plants growing in his wardrobe).

Guns have a far, far greater potential to harm others that justifies greater state regulation. (Indeed, the only point of a gun is to visit harm on something else - be it animate or inanimate.) Such regulation can work to reduce not just the number of guns in society as a whole, but also the type that is available. This can make it more difficult for those we don't want to see possessing guns, especially guns of a particular sort (i.e. handguns/high powered semi-automatics/etc), to get possession. This helps to reduce the harm that guns can cause. Bottom line - Jared Lee Loughner would not have been able to get a gun in New Zealand ... much less a semi-automatic handgun with a 33-bullet clip.

As for "lawful people will now be unarmed and unable to defend homes/families", what law prevented Gabrielle Giffords from protecting herself? Or Christina-Taylor Green, for that matter? The free-market in weaponry didn't do them much good, did it?

by The Falcon on January 17, 2011
The Falcon

Bottom line - Jared Lee Loughner would not have been able to get a gun in New Zealand ... much less a semi-automatic handgun with a 33-bullet clip.

That's a big call. Drugs are illegal in NZ, yet people manage to get them regardless. Guns would be harder to smuggle, but do you really believe that if guns were illegal in the USA, shooters couldn't get their hands on them? Really? I realise you have a very high regard for governments' problem solving abilities, but...

As for your last paragraph, you've made my point for me. If a good samaritan nearby had a gun, they could have prevented the shooting from escalating so far.

I realise it doesn't suit your political agenda to acknowledge these truths, but you need to concede that you would be more likely to rob a wealthy pillow shop than a wealthy and well-armed gun shop.

Again, I'm sure you're aware of this, and are neglecting to mention it because it doesn't fit your agenda, but the concept of nuclear MAD applies on a smaller scale with guns. Guns could have actually prevented many terrible incidents of violence.

by Andrew Geddis on January 17, 2011
Andrew Geddis

OK - how about "Jared Lee Loughner would have been much, much less likely to get a gun in New Zealand"? If you dispute this ... well, there's no way to prove it, so I'm happy to let readers decide which version of the truth is the more credible. But you will concede the point about the semi-automatic with 33-bullet magazine, surely? There's a hell of a difference between what it can do and a .22/shotgun stolen in some burglary.

As for "[i]f a good samaritan nearby had a gun, they could have prevented the shooting from escalating so far", I don't think regulation based purely on what you saw in a Clint Eastwood movie is a very good idea. After all, look at what happened to Halatau Naitoko when the highly trained officers in our AOS sought to end a gun-crime in a crowded situation ... how do you know that more people wouldn't have been killed by (multiple?) untrained, panicked members of the public firing wildly at the offender in Tucson?

Finally, MAD assumes that actors are rational. (This is why, for instance, the thought of a nuclear armed Nth Korea or Iran is so scary.) In the general population, especially amongst the criminal population, this is not a wise basis for proceeding.

by Mr Magoo on January 17, 2011
Mr Magoo

As someone who has fired all manner of guns (pistols, MGs, rifles) and watched people trained professionally with them I always find the gun lobbies macho-esk "if we all had guns we could fire back" argument rather amusing.

Do you know how much training and hard it is to stop people from accidentally firing a weapon let alone not hitting an innocent party in a crowd in a stressful situation you have not been trained for?!

What an absolute bunch of rot.

I saw a corporal with 10 yrs experience and  a Timor tour under his belt discharge his weapon by accident...lucky it had only blanks at the time!

 

by The Falcon on January 17, 2011
The Falcon

how do you know that more people wouldn't have been killed by (multiple?) untrained, panicked members of the public firing wildly at the offender in Tucson?

I guess it's possible. But you also seek to ban people from having guns in their own homes, which could be used against violent intruders with far less risk of innocent people being harmed.

Finally, MAD assumes that actors are rational. In the general population, especially amongst the criminal population, this is not a wise basis for proceeding.

This is one of the biggest flaws in left-wing thinking. By your logic:

  • There's no point of having prisons - they won't deter irrational loons. And rehabilitation won't help them - they're too irrational.
  • There's no point educating people - they're just irrational peasants.
  • Economics is a pointless science and is a waste of time.
  • We can raise income taxes to 90% - those irrational people won't realise, and will continue working 40 hour weeks.

Like I said, one of the biggest flaws in left-wing thinking is the "nanny knows best" approach which treats 99% of citizens as irrational lemmings that need the guiding hand of the dear leader.

by Andrew Geddis on January 17, 2011
Andrew Geddis

"But you also seek to ban people from having guns in their own homes, which could be used against violent intruders with far less risk of innocent people being harmed."

Ummm ... do I? Certainly I'm in favour of banning certain types of guns (or rather, making them very, very hard to obtain under very restricted circumstances). And I'm more than happy with requiring all gun owners to be licensed, with reasonably tight controls on who may obtain such licenses. But you're the only one talking about taking all guns from all people. Stop listening to Glenn Beck and come back to the real world.

And to say that not all people are rational all the time is not the same as saying all people are not rational all the time. My point simply is that the irrationality of some people some of the time means MAD will not work across society. Which means that a policy of arming everyone won't necessarily result in less gun violence.

Incidentally, your point about prisons actually supports my position ... if everyone is always rational, why are there so many people behind bars?

by The Falcon on January 17, 2011
The Falcon

It's good to hear you're not in favour of banning guns entirely.

Incidentally, your point about prisons actually supports my position ... if everyone is always rational, why are there so many people behind bars?

For starters, NZ has a feeble justice system with very lenient sentences and the ability to escape on technicalities, increasing the incentive to commit crime. It IS rational for an immoral person to commit crime if the chance of being given a lengthy sentence is only 10% - but there will always be those 10% that do get caught.

My point simply is that the irrationality of some people some of the time means MAD will not work across society.

Economics works on the basis that people are usually rational. Yes irrational actions do occur, but not enough to invalidate the general assumption that people will act rationally. Again, if you think it's wrong to create theories based on the idea that the population is, on the whole, rational, you must deny the value of economics as a science.

by Andrew Geddis on January 17, 2011
Andrew Geddis

For starters, NZ has a feeble justice system with very lenient sentences and the ability to escape on technicalities, increasing the incentive to commit crime.

Any evidence to back the assertion that stricter sentences result in less crime? And what do you mean by technicalities?

Again, if you think it's wrong to create theories based on the idea that the population is, on the whole, rational, you must deny the value of economics as a science.

No I musn't. And how is economics a science?

by The Falcon on January 17, 2011
The Falcon

This is somewhat off topic, but technicalities allow criminals to argue, for example, that because the drink of water given to them by the police didn't have a slice of lemon in it, their confession is inadmissible in court. There's also the possibility of getting an emotional, simpering, irrational judge.

Don't want to derail the thread though...

by Andrew Geddis on January 18, 2011
Andrew Geddis

To get back on thread, here's the solution. We require all persons wishing to own guns to pass rigorous screening and licensing requirements. We make it a crime for unlicensed persons to possess guns. We then impose heavy prison sentences on those who possess guns without a license, with strong enforcement of that law by the police. This will result in rational people not possessing guns without the appropriate license, thereby reducing gun violence by criminals.

Now everybody is happy!

by DeepRed on January 18, 2011
DeepRed
And by your logic, Mr Falcon, if square pegs don't fit into round holes, a much bigger hammer is the solution. Also, you can kill someone with a car or a cricket bat if you hit hard enough. But they weren't designed to kill people, and when it happens it's usually due to negligence or accident. Whereas guns are explicitly designed to kill people, to state the obvious. Further to my point, if one can defend themselves with a pistol, then why bear semi-auto rifles? Paranoia? Inferiority complex?
by Tim Watkin on January 19, 2011
Tim Watkin

I know it's off-topic, but I just can't let it go unchallenged... Falcon, by what standard does NZ have a lenient justice system, and compared to which countries? We imprison twice as many people per 100,000 as Australia and France, more than Britain, Ireland and all bar about half a dozen developed countries (and a chunk of those are post-Soviet states). We have life-long parole, preventative detention, three strikes... Seriously.

And going deeper into your guns-nukes comparison (because it occurred to me reading the thread before it was raised and I wanted to respond with that comparison myself), if you believe in the right to bear arms with minimal or no regulation, do you subscribe to the same principle for nuclear weapons?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be saying that the more people own guns, the better, as it acts as a deterrent. So, the more countries with nuclear arsenals the better. North Korea ok with you? Sudan? Tunisia? Tonga? And regulation imposes on freedoms, therefore the IAEA and foreign inspections are unwarranted? And presumably we don't need to concern ourselves tracking down 'loose nukes'?

Doesn't that seem reckless? And doesn't the same logic follow on a smaller scale with guns and gun ownership?

I wonder, would you concede that the more people that have guns, the more likely – on a purely statistical basis – it is for someone unfit for gun ownership to have a gun, the more likely for accidents to occur (which I'm guessing is one of the leading causes of gun death), and more likely for people to be killed by their own gun, taken from them by an attacker? Therefore isn't it in our own interest to limit gun ownership somehow?

by The Falcon on January 20, 2011
The Falcon

@Eleanor/Tim (who have mysteriously merged into one person):

NZ does have a high prison population, but also a very high crime rate compared to other Western countries. To say NZ has preventative detention is a stretch - violent criminals are often released as officials say they have "no choice" under the law. Three strikes is a new development and even that was vigorously opposed by bloggers at pundit.

Additionally we have a raft of legal loopholes for criminals to squeeze through, a problem with emotional judges, weak sentencing and most importantly, parole after serving about 1/3 of the sentence. Murderers are out in 10-17 years, without fail. It is possible to commit triple murder and still not die in prison.

As for guns vs nuclear weapons, guns are for self-defence, and thus acceptable for individuals to hold, while nuclear weapons are not - except on the international scale, where nuclear weapons are a legitimate means of self-defence. The international arena is full of competing countries, who have no duty to stand idly by while their enemies obtain nuclear weapons. In short, the international sector is (obviously) very different to the national.

As for your last paragraph - of course, legal goods (if untaxed) will cost less than if they were made illegal, and thus demand will be higher for legal goods. It's good to see you acknowledging economics... where it suits your own purposes. And yes, it's also more likely that their gun will be taken from them (but gee that's a weak and obscure argument, like "we should tether people to beds at night to stop them hurting themselves by sleepwalking").

I note you say "in our own interest". It's going to be hard for us to agree here, as your sentence demonstrates your collectivist/authoritarian nature, whereas I am a liberal. But let me just say that just because something benefits the majority, doesn't make it morally ok - for example, confiscating the property of all Asian people would benefit the majority, but violates the rights of those people.

The same applies to gun ownership - just because YOU don't own a gun, you want to make other people conform to YOUR ideas. So it's in YOUR interest as an individual, but violates individual rights.

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