BOSTON (CBS) – The horrific slaughter in Arizona this weekend is a gruesome reminder of how much damage can be caused in a matter of seconds by a killer with a high capacity magazine with 30 rounds of ammo attached to his 9mm semi-automatic pistol.
If the initial reports prove true, that suspect Jared Lee Loughner got such a weapon through a Tucson store called the Sportsman’s Warehouse, I offer a topic for discussion — what kind of “sportsman” needs that kind of firepower, and why was the ban on this weapon allowed to expire during the Bush administration?
Watch Keller @ Large on WBZ-TV
Beyond that, there really isn’t that much to say about the political ramifications of this revolting crime until we know more about the background and motives of the perpetrator.
According to the New York Times, Loughner had mental problems, manifested in part in obscure political rantings. But it’s unclear what if any focus these had.
In an English class, he termed a woman in a poem they were reading who had had an abortion a “terrorist.” But a former high school classmate says he was “left wing, quite liberal.” It would not surprise me if we find out in the end that this pitiful criminal inhabited that nether world of derangement where the far left and the far right intersect, like Andrew Stack, the suicide bomber who flew his plane into an IRS office building last year.
But I don’t know the facts yet, and neither does anyone else, which regrettably hasn’t stopped or even restrained the knee-jerk reaction of some to immediately start ascribing this killing spree to political rhetoric they don’t like, or the nature of our political discourse, or even more vaguely, the “times we live in.”
If we find that Loughner was a devoted Rush Limbaugh listener or surfer of right-wing web sites who became agitated as a result of what he heard, then let that conversation begin.
But until we do learn such facts, the headlong dive into finger-pointing is precisely the kind of inflammatory, discourse-polluting rhetoric so many of those diving right in profess to abhor.
Finger-pointing without facts is rhetorical irresponsibility, and really has only one goal — to inflame, and debase.
And even before we learn more facts, I can tell you right now that while I share the disgust over what sometimes passes for political discussion these days, these are far from the ugliest times in modern political history.
The 1960s were worse, even without the Internet providing an instant soapbox for every idiot with a beef.
Speaking of which, we had a saying that was popular back in the 60’s — if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
Those who are so eager to lay blame for this kook on their own enemies — if the shoe fits, wear it.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.