Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An interesting... self-declared importance

It is often easy to forget that politicians are actually people. Although they may be on TV a lot, they are actually made up of the same substances as the rest of us. They may dine on fine food washed down with fine wines that our tax pays for, but they shit it out like we do. Bar a few people in government, not one of them is more important than you or me.

Now, in the wake of the Arizona shooting, panic-stricken people are knee-jerkngly creating laws which are supposed to avoid the same lunatic running around with a gun: says CNN: "Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pennsylvania, said he will introduce legislation making it a federal crime for a person to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a Member of Congress or federal official."

I think it is easy as an elected official for someone to feel like they are one step above everyone else, that they are a "chosen one" and are far more important to the world than us mere mortals. That they are irreplaceable. But no, they are none of these things - particularly a man who is anonymous to just about anyone outside the borders of Pennsylvania.

Why is that law not being extended to cover all people? From what I interpret from Representative Brady's quote is that it is ok to incite violence or use language or symbols that could be percieved as threatening towards people that are NOT members of Congress or federal officials.

If anyone is looking for indications that politicians feel a rung above the rest of us plebs then this proposed law is probably it. It is easy to forget that 6 other people died in the Tucson shooting, but Rep. Brady is out to protect the - alive - elected officials only.

That being said, this shooting was terrible. And while everyone is shitting all over Sarah Palin for her image of the USA with targets on it (which she denies are cross-hairs but they quite obviously are), I really don't think that people will find proof that she encouraged this sort of behaviour intentionally. Yes, a lot of political communication is irresponsible, even in South Africa - look at just about anything Julius Malema says, or how Helen Zille aims massively loaded political terms like "Marxism" at the ANC.

Arizona is rife with hysterical political media, and while there may be a lackadaisical approach to understanding what the impact of this communication might be, I highly doubt it inspired this chap (Jared Loughner) to go out and try and kill his Democrat representative - unless he was a complete fucking lunatic.

And if he was a complete fucking lunatic then he probably didn't need anyone egging him on, and perhaps he wouldn't have been able to kill 6 people if he didn't have an automatic rifle, nor the Walmart-availability of ammunition. If he had mental problems and this wasn't found out then there is a far more serious flaw in the prevention of crime than there is in political communication.

Oh, hang on... in fact Loughner was removed from the college he attended and told he could only re-enroll if he got "a mental health clearance indicating, in the opinion of a mental health professional, his presence at the college does not present a danger to himself or others,"

So it was known that Loughner was a loony. It was known that he had access to a weapon. It is well-known that ammunition in the USA is as available as milk.

But according to Representative Brady, it is only the lawmakers who should be protected from him.

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