... which generally provokes a disappointingly low grade of commentary.
(Some of you old-timers may recognize the image above. Answer at the end of this post.)
More morals have been drawn, in the last couple of hours, from today's shooting of Representative Giffords (and a number of bystanders), than pints in all the pubs in Dublin on St Patrick's Day. Matty Woodchuck's is, not surprisingly, the most glorious cocktail of shallowness, heartlessness, and silliness:
I think a deadly political assassination is an ideal time to remind people that violent rhetoric should be avoided.
"Ideal time"! Twitter really is the ideal medium for folks like Matty and Melissa Haruspex-Perspex, isn't it?
Matty's theory seems to be that if only the memesphere were a less polluted place -- if only our public discourse were more civil and reasonable -- then folks like this Arizona gunman would leave the semiauto at home. Or perhaps never pick it up in the first place.
More broadly in the pwoggienet, there seems to be universal agreement -- based on what, I don't know, other than wishful thinking -- that the shooter must have been some Teabagger type. And of course this has fuelled a new torrent of brownshirts-on-the-march garment-rending and hair-tearing from the usual Chicken Littles.
Events like this seem to be so useful for all of us that perhaps it's no wonder they happen so often. I mean, if you look at the thing sociobiologically.
Of course it's quite possible that the guy was a Teabagger. Arizona, and all that. He's certainly not likely to have been a Pwog, for sure -- they're all talk. And there are a lot more highly motivated right-wing crazies than left-wing crazies; we don't seem to have even enough vitality to
attract crazy people.
Now I don't approve of shooting legislators. Don't get me wrong. Hell, I wouldn't even shoot Joe Lieberman. There's no point. They just go find another one, without missing a beat, and the
supply seems to be endless. That's why only a crazy person would bother to waste the ammo -- if politics really had anything to do with it.
Presumably we'll find out more about this would-be assassin -- whose name, it seems, is Jared Laughner, according to a recent update. But even if he turns out to have been a devoted Teabagger, I'd argue that that doesn't explain why he did what he did -- though it might perhaps explain his choice of targets.
The great American culture medium seems to nourish, every few years, a person who just can't sleep at night until he's blown away a dozen or so strangers. The image up top shows one of the first of these who came to my own attention when I was young -- Charles Whitman, the 1966 Texas Tower sniper.
Being an 'umble obscure person myself, I personally would selfishly prefer that these folks, when they finally snap, should go after notables and officials and celebrities rather than climbing a tower and opening up on ordinary pedestrians like me, innocently going about our pedestrian occasions. At least it takes us out of the line of fire.
But this seems to be almost the opposite of Matty's feeling on the subject. If Laughner had just shot up a shopping mall, one rather thinks that Matty, had he deigned to comment at all, would have simply filed the event under "random craziness". Since it was a Congressperson, however, and a Democrat at that, it's a far more weighty matter, for Matty -- an assault on the very structure of society, perhaps; a sacrilege.
Of course, it's worth thinking about what processes produce individuals like Laughner. Perhaps it's not even culture-bound at all; how widespread, across the world, is the phenomenon of running amok? Is the characteristic American variant simply more lethal because we're a better-armed people than the average?
I dunno. But if it's true that we do run amok more often than other people, the explanation has got to be more structural than anything Matty is interested in thinking about. Those kids at Columbine weren't wound up and set on their course by Republican campaign ads.