By now, everyone has heard about the horrible, tragic events in Arizona involving multiple shootings involving a Congresswoman, a Federal judge, and a 9 year old girl, among others, in front of a grocery store. Twitter and Facebook are all abuzz, some decrying harsh rhetoric, others complaining about "politicizing" a human tragedy. There are bucketloads of blame, of course, to hand out here- to the shooter, of course, most of all, and to any comrades or fellow travelers who encouraged or flamed his delusions, and to the society that failed a mentally ill person and sold him a gun.
I am a free speech absolutist. I do not believe horrible, violent imagery should be banned, or censored, or kept off the public airwaves and bitstreams by any law or governmental decree. Longtime readers of this space will remember that I am prone to tortured metaphors, absurd suggestions, and long, run on sentences that carry on and on with no potential ending in sight. Like that one. I don't think I've ever advocated violence in this space, but honestly? I may have. If I did, I shouldn't have.
There are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language. If you oppose someone else's political views, vote against them. Take to the airwaves and the bitstreams- it's a free Internet- and make your case. Suggest their views are misguided, poorly thought out, with disastrous potential consequences. Be insulting, if that's what you feel you need to do- call them names, question their parentage, suggest they are dim bulbs who have trouble buttoning their shirts in the morning.
But, in the name of all that is good and decent, stop using violence. Stop suggesting it, stop appealing to it, stop making allusions to it. Just stop. Not because you have to, not because you're going to go to jail if you don't, not because I say so. Stop because you're ashamed of it. Stop because you don't want this to ever happen again.
"Violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in our Democracy, and I apologize for and repudiate any act or any thing in my past that may have even inadvertently encouraged violence. Because for whatever else each of us may be, we all are Americans."