Dangerous Words

Michele Bachmann, a Republican Representative from Minnesota, believes that Americans need to prepare for “orderly revolution,” in order to prevent President Obama from turning America into a Marxist society.  Her statement is, well, far-right-pandering bullshit.

Faux News host Glenn Beck and NRA President Wayne LaPierre warned viewers that President Obama is trying to erase the Second Amendment, by seeking to increase enforcement of already-existing laws on gun control in order to prevent the massive flow of weapons to Mexico, which is having a little drug-cartels-armed-with-American-weapons problem right now.  LaPierre goes so far as to say that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’s hard evidence that 90% of recovered cartel weapons in Mexico have been tracked back to American gun stores and gun shows (more about those later) is “a lie,” while offering no evidence of his own to support that claim (see link above).  Thanks Wayne, but I’m going to listen to the people with the numbers here, okay?

There have been others, of course, repeating the rhetoric that the Obama Administration is going to eradicate the Second Amendment, that the country is being taken over and turned into a dictatorship by a President who obviously cares alot more for the rule of law than, say, the previous President. This, in turn, has led to increased gun sales across the country.

Look, all the rhetoric is exactly that:  rhetoric.  It’s people that are scared of losing power and are playing to the base fears of small segments of the populace, to keep their support now that the majority of the country has turned against conservatives (see: the November elections).  I’m not even sure that these people truly believe what they are saying; I just know they’re saying it, and I think they’re trying to stir up a base of support for themselves by being provocative and controversial more than they are genuinely encouraging revolution or living in fear of an Obama dictatorship.  They just want power, be it by votes or ratings, and they’ll play to any fear necessary to get that, even the fears some people have of being left defensive against a cruel and violent world. . .you know, the people that fight like hell against any sort of attempts at regulating firearms.

But that rhetoric is dangerous.  It has a real-world cost.  And guns in the hands of the wrong people definitely have a cost on society.

When you play to people’s fears, for whatever reason, you gain their support for a moment, but you also make them more afraid.  People that are afraid, that view themselves as somehow being unfairly persecuted, are more likely to commit violent acts in what they perceive to be self-defense.   You tell them the government is trying to take their guns away, they go buy more guns. . .and they get scared of law enforcement, figuring the poor average cop, just trying to do his job of protecting society, is coming to take away their freedom, or that people around them, who are taking actions that might be intended to be helpful to someone or intended to protect themselves from that same person, are in fact their enemies.  You subsidize an uncontrollable paranoia when you play to fears.

I think that everyone, be it politicans, pundits, gun nuts, whatever, should be accountable fo the things they say in a public forum.  I own my words here; whether I mean them or not, I take full responsibility for saying them, and I don’t say irresponsible things or make claims, contrary to facts, that I can’t back up.

Bachmann, Beck, LaPierre, and others need to be held accountable for what they say.  Too many innocent people have paid for their words.

VS – 4.05.09

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