As I pointed out in the column I wrote yesterday, Keith Olbermann took to the airwaves to launch into a long rant about yesterday’s shooting. He laid the blame on conservatives, even going so far as to name several he sees as being somehow responsible for the tragedy (including Bill O’Reilly, who actually supports gun control laws). Primarily, however, it was a rant on “stopping the violent speech” so to speak. He said, “we need to put the guns down. More importantly, we need to put the gun metaphors away and permanently – left, right, middle, politicians and citizens, sane and insane [that one made me laugh] – this morning, in Arizona, this age in which this country could accept the quote ‘targeting’ of political opponents, and putting bulls-eyes over their faces, and of the dangerous blurring between political rallies and gun shows has ended. This morning in Arizona, this time of the ever-escalating, borderline ecstatic invocation of violence – in fact or in fantasy – in our political discourse has closed. It is essential tonight not to demand revenge, but to demand justice, to insist not upon payback against those politicians and commentators who have so irresponsibly brought us to this time of domestic terrorism…but to work to change the minds of them and their supporters. Or, if those minds tonight are too closed, or if those minds tonight are unmoved, or if those minds tonight are too triumphant, to make sure by peaceful means that those politicians and commentators and supporters have no further place in our system of government…he fired today into our liberty, and our rights to live and to agree or disagree in safety and in freedom from fear that our support or opposition will cost us our lives or our health or our sense of safety…it is a simple pledge, it is to the point, and it is essential that every American politician, and commentator, and activist, and partisan, take it and take it now. I say it first and freely: ‘violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in our democracy, and I apologize for and repudiate any act or anything in my past that may have even inadvertently encouraged violence.’ ”
First of all, this isn’t a democracy…America is actually a republic. Second, I have a huge problem with every single person being held accountable for somehow encouraging violence, whether deliberately or inadvertently.
For some time now, violent criminals have attempted to explain their crimes away by blaming them on anything or anyone but themselves. Today we see criminals committing all manner of violent crimes blaming their parents, their childhood playmates, the bullies that picked on them, the teachers that didn’t pay attention and the system for their actions. Mommy and daddy didn’t care, I was laughed at, I didn’t have the same opportunities to succeed that everyone else had, nobody cared about me – so because of all of that, I’m not responsible for what I did. You can’t send me to prison or put me to death!
We have already drifted dangerously toward a society that gives a free pass to people who use such self-pitying excuses for violent behavior. Nobody takes responsibility for their actions anymore. Guess what? I was bullied. When I was a kid, I was bullied mercilessly. Long before I knew what “gay” and “lesbian” meant, kids at school were throwing food at me and calling me those things. Dyke. Queer. Faggot. Butch. Gross. I still take responsibility for the things I do and say. I’m not out there killing people and blaming it on how I was treated in high school. In like manner, I am not out there committing violent acts and blaming it on someone else’s words. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the hate-speech rabbit hole, otherwise we’ll end up giving up every single one of our freedoms in the process.
I cannot, and refuse to, promise not to do violence. What happens if my country is attacked? What if I join the military to defend this country? I would need to be able to do violence in that case. What if someone threatens me or my family or my friends? Should I then stand by and watch helplessly while a thug strips them, rapes them, and takes everything they have? Should I beg for my life from someone who will enjoy hearing such pleas?
No, I should not – and I WILL NOT. What I will promise, as I have promised before, is that I will try my best not to need violence. I am not a violent person and I would not condone its use against anything that isn’t immediately putting my life or the life of another in peril.
However, should I see one of those I care for in harm’s way, I promise, I will do violence on their behalf. Should I see any innocent person being threatened by one of those animals who cannot accept responsibility, I promise I will fight until my last breath to protect them. If I am not armed and have only my bare hands, I will use them as the tools they are and beat that animal until they stop moving. If I am armed, I will aim with a steady hand and make every shot count. I pray I never need to, but should another Jared Lee Loughner ever dare to threaten innocent lives within arm’s reach of me, I promise to do violence until he stops – and I promise I will not fail.
There’s your pledge, Mr. Olbermann. Take it or leave it. I am an American, dammit, and I will not be a victim. Nor will I expect any innocent soul to make themselves such.