One Mentally Deranged Shooter Is No Reason To Throw Out The First Amendment
from the discourse? dept
So I'm troubled by reports that the quick, knee-jerk reaction from some politicians following the shooting is to pass laws to restrict forms of speech, especially the exceptionally vague plan of Rep. Louise Slaughter to "better police language on the airwaves." Don't get me wrong: even if this shooting had nothing whatsoever to do with the level of political rhetoric and childish bickering we see everyday in Congress and among the chattering pundits, it would be great if the end result were to lead to more reasoned debate, rather than ridiculous hysterics and blatant overstatement and exaggeration. But passing laws are not the way to do that. Telling people what they can and cannot say is not going to fix the level of discourse in American politics today. Outlawing certain forms of speech on the airwaves will not stop crazy people from shooting others.
Are there crazy people out there? Absolutely. Is the level of political discourse in this country somewhat ridiculous and often counterproductive? Almost certainly. Are those two things connected? That seems like a huge stretch, with many people jumping to some unproven and unsubstantiated conclusions, leading to knee-jerk responses that limit speech based on nothing but an unproven hunch. That's not the way law making is supposed to work. And isn't making unfounded accusations against your political oppoents to try to squeeze some political advantage from such a tragedy just compounding the hysteria already present in the debate? Why not start by setting a good example, rather than threatening to force everyone else to shut up?