They Walk Amongst Us

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings a wise person, after hours of discussion, said; “they walk among us”!  Those four words said it all; the harsh reality of a complex world.

 So was the case in Tucson.  Tragic; to all appearances the Congresswoman was a laudable individual, serious, committed and worthy of respect.  The situation, a tragedy enfolded with courage, as is so often the case.  It was unfortunately followed by disheartening predictability.

We “knew” political agendas would intrude; the temptation too rich to avoid.  We “knew” dusty proposals would seek new life opportunistically justified by senseless violence; rejected policy revived by tragedy; “see I told you so”.  A few more rules, more regulation or another law will, somehow, cure the reality of disturbed individuals living in their very own alternate universe.

Want to focus on the problem, start here!   

True story of a close friend recently involved in a personal conflict was subjected to: subtly intimidating e-mail, voice mail, ongoing “drive-bys”, visits to the place of business and spray painting of a car with slurs.  It was getting crazy, was time to seek a restraining order.  No way!  You can only get a restraining order after the second incidence of violent engagement.  Yes indeed, that’s the rule.  The logic here, I surmise, is that if you’re going to do violence you should make it count the first time?  Want to fix it?  Apply some common sense to aberrant behavior and law enforcements responsibility to engage it on a common sense basis that does not depend on a second violent engagement.   

The search for responsible parties has wandered far and wide, talk radio, the “other” party, the absence of this or that law.  “We have to do ‘something’!”   All of it an affront to our collective intelligence as the arguments grow more transparently political by the day with no sign of a let up. 

We accept the idea that it is nearly impossible to stop a committed single terrorist but cannot stretch that logic to cover disturbed individuals.  It simply defies logical common sense, thus the transparent shallowness of partisan calls for “solutions” where there is no solution available to Washington.  Limit speech, limit guns, limit opponents, bring back the Fairness Doctrine.  A New York Times columnist (Paul Krugman) saw no reason to wait for factual clarification before setting out in search of his opponents. One wonders if Rep. Giffords would be appalled; from what we know of her she likely would be.    

The violence in Tucson on Saturday has many attempting to paint America with that broad brush.  The proper context is that we went through an election cycle, an election and a transfer of power that was essentially free of violence.  We saw mass demonstrations, also violence free, passionately expressed opinions, again violence free. Those who identify the Tucson tragedy as representative of America diminish us and themselves.  Those who would politicize the situation, left or right, ignore the realities of mental dysfunction.  They ignore the value of common sense and the grassroots failures that lead to this manner of situation.     

Many, including the Sheriff in Tucson pine for the “good old days” that he grew up in; it was a different country back then”, he said.  Those would be the good old days of the two Kennedy assignations, or perhaps the assignations of Martin Luthur King and Malcolm X?  The Chicago riots perhaps, the SDS and domestic terrorism or urban riots that spread from New York to Los Angeles? 

The fact is that disturbed individuals “walk among us”.  It’s not political, to twist it so is the height of intellectual dysfunction.  Perhaps we could have a law to correct that?