“I think Congress has to rethink these town hall meetings right now,” Geraldo Rivera told Fox and Friends. “Unless they get the kind of security you get at an airport, with Gabby Giffords and now what happened with Steve Scalise, I think you’ve really got to understand that there is a kind of an urgent, aberrant, emotional involvement now, and for right now, we’ve got to cool it. We’ve got to be hyper-aware that our elected officials are vulnerable.” Because guns . . .
“I think that it’s really very, very serious and unsettling times, and there’s going to be great frustration on both sides — the extremists on both sides, with easy access to these killing weapons, assault rifles and so forth.”
“So forth” meaning fertilizer bombs? ‘Cause that’s the way Timothy McVeigh rolled. Of course, fertilizer remains unregulated in most states while “assault rifles” are banned in some states. Like California. Which didn’t stop the San Berarndino Islamic terror duo. Go figure, Geraldo.
And while you’re at it, consider the fact that politics is, was and always will be a “hot” topic. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s serious business; the forum where issues of life, death and freedom are hashed out. It directly affects the daily lives and future of all Americans.
Which is why America has a long history of “hot” rhetoric and yes, “fake news.” Compared to the early days of the republic, today’s language is positively genteel. As Eric Burns wrote in his book Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism.
The golden age of America’s founding was also the gutter age of American reporting. The Declaration of Independence was literature. The New England Courant talked trash. The Constitution of the United States was philosophy; the Boston Gazette slung mud, Philadelphia’s Aurora was less a celestial presence than a ground-level reek.
Free speech is protected from government infringement by the First Amendment to the aforementioned Constitution. The first amendment. Short of actual death threats, anything goes.
As it should. If Democrats want to call for civilian disarmament, so be it. If Republicans want to claim disarmed Americans will be shipped off to “re-education camps,” so be it. As Republican Barry Goldwater said, “Moderation in the protection of liberty is no virtue; extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice.”
Sandy Hook a hoax? Truly despicable, but so what? Trump a misogynist fascist and stooge of capitalist fat cats? You’re entitled to that opinion, too. But if you think that this kind of incendiary rhetoric leads directly to violence, or that political violence is something new or entirely avoidable, it’s time for a reality check.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that defenders of liberty — or enemies of liberty — should use violence to defend or assert their beliefs. The fact that some think so says more about them than it does about the American experiment. Which is alive and well and shouting at the top its lungs. Is that really an issue worthy of self-loathing and cowardice?