BY KEVIN O’GRADY – This week, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Oahu’s only printed daily news publication, jumped on the bandwagon with its editorial regarding, ostensibly, the horrific crime committed by a mentally insane person this past weekend in Tucson.
The title “Beware dangerous public rhetoric” sets the stage and premise for the awful political grandstanding of the paper.
Before even delving into the content of the editorial, consider the title. Dangerous rhetoric. Rhetoric is the ability to use language to communicate effectively and persuasively.
What is dangerous about language? I wonder if this so-called newspaper and its editorial staff took umbrage at the pictures and statements during President Bush’s tenure that called for him to be killed, showed him decapitated, or with a pistol to his forehead or with crosshairs on him. I think it did not.
The editorial starts by saying Hawaii’s politics sank to a new low of hostility in last year’s election campaign, but it was more genteel than many campaigns across the county and paled to the political invective that has been rampant on the Internet. But as Mr. Hayword states, politics has always been divisive. See his article at http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/01/10/assassins-and-american-history/political-attacks-circa-1800.
The editorial then states that though it is sad it is not surprising that the murders in Arizona occurred. This subtle language connects political debate and discourse, and yes, even verbal attacks on politicians, to the murderous rampage of a lunatic with, begrudgingly admitted by the editorial, no real political ideology.
Contrary to what the editorial posits, it is quite surprising when a madman commits this sort of crime. Later it is stated that the murders spotlighted the “angry” tone across America and it paternally cautions we the people against any demonizing, irresponsible rhetoric that incites dangerous zealots to violence. Again, each of these words is carelessly, or perhaps more ominously, purposefully, used and their use is incorrect in its paradigm.
Demonizing is a strong word meaning to characterize as diabolically evil. While there may be some who use such words, most commentators and such do not really demonize but attack the awful policies inflicted upon the people by power hungry politicians. Irresponsible rhetoric? What exactly is that? Does the editorial board believe that any politician, commentator or radio show host implied that randomly shooting into a town hall style meeting was necessary?
Was anything said in the last political election akin to Hitler calling on people to go turn in their neighbor or kill people? At the present time we know little of the killer in Arizona.
However what we do appear to know is that he had no political axe to grind. At most he apparently represented those concerned with the lack of proper grammar used by people in his district. Woe unto Hawaii lest we should ever encounter such a person here. The editorial board neglects other points.
Although I am not personally familiar with Representative Giffords, she was apparently known as a Blue Dog Democrat. Those are conservative democrats who go against the party line and vote. Here in Hawaii the political dangers of someone daring to go against the entrenched democrat five hundred pound gorilla that is the local political machine means we really don’t have too many of those here.
Chief Judge Roll, who swore me into the federal bar years ago in Arizona, was a conservative judge. The murders make no sense from a political point of view. Nevertheless, the editorial board warns us, and us impliedly means conservatives and tea party types who stridently voiced our anger and dismay over the current administration and congress’s policies, that we should not be too assertive in our verbal attacks lest a crazy person lose it completely and commit a random act of violence.
The editorial board notes, with hidden approval, that in Hawaii the tone was not especially aggressive since we here do not appreciate negative campaigning.
Really? Is this the same Hawaii where protestors hurl profanity at tourists going to the Turtle bay resort because those protestors don’t want the resort to, in the future, expand, even though the tourists have nothing to do with the proposed expansion and are in fact adding billions of dollars to our economy?
Is this the same Hawaii where people, some having a thimbleful of a particular ancestry, curse not only people of a different, perhaps perceived race, but also our very own country, desecrate the American flag and demand money and privileges because of their race? Is this the same Hawaii where, according to a recent StarAdvertiser article Speaker Say, at one time not too long ago, complained that Senator Hemmings, not being ethnically Hawaiian, essentially had no standing to complain about the embarrassing race based Office of Hawaiian Affairs?
The editorial rolls on with internally inconsistent sentences like this one- Indeed, not only is Arizona divided emotionally on the immigration issue, it is one of only three states where it is legal to carry loaded guns without a concealed weapons permit. While it is true that Arizona has become a focal point because of legislation such as SB1070, although it had for prior years enacted other similar legislation without much ado, the fact that you can carry a weapon concealed, with or without a permit, is irrelevant and is not an issue in Arizona.
In Arizona, unlike Hawaii, the right to keep and bear arms has always been allowed. There is almost universal consensus in Arizona that the Second Amendment actually means something.
In Arizona, you have almost always been allowed to carry a weapon openly and for more than a decade carry concealed with a shall issue permit and now, apart from certain places, carry concealed without a permit.
In Hawaii, although there is a concealed carry permit process on the books, it is completely discretionary and that means that no one has ever been allowed to actually bear arms at all since it is also illegal to carry openly. Unless of course you are a cop, or perhaps a person with political pull.
In Arizona, you don’t need permission from a law enforcement officer to exercise your constitutional fundamental right to acquire, keep and bear arms and thus defend yourself. This sentence however, as unrelated as it may be, signals the segue into the usual, predictable and disgusting effort by those without any knowledge of history, the real world or commitment to the American way of life, to take advantage of a crisis in an effort to reach for more control over the people.
The editorial, naturally, then discusses the firearm used by the murderer and the most recent other mass murderer that used a firearm, at Virginia Tech. I have not seen anything that says one way or another what sort of pistol or magazines were used by Loughner. However, if a guy sped using a Maserati and ran over a score of people on a corner I doubt the editorial board would call for a restriction on the use or purchase of such devices.
The editorial board, predictably, restates its support of Hawaii’s nonsensical ban on magazines that hold greater than ten rounds. The implicit message is that since this deranged individual murdered people using a magazine that held more than ten rounds, allegedly, it makes sense to restrict it from law abiding citizens. Police have firearms that hold more than ten rounds. So do military officers.
There are probably hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans who have magazines of that type. Everyday millions of Americans own and carry arms and do not commit any crimes and have used those weapons to defend themselves, their families, communities and country. What if he had brought two pistols with a ten round magazine each and started firing both randomly? The type of weapon used is irrelevant. To understand that a firearm is just a device and in fact more are used for proper purposes everyday and in fact decrease crime, go speak with (insert John Lott info here)
I must say one thing about the editorial. It is a good example of shamelessly using a crisis to advance further control over the people. It simultaneously attacks firearm owners and those who spoke against the last two years’ worth of horrible legislation at the federal and state level. However, with regard to the first amendment and free speech I must say that those who speak up against government excess and the politicians who seek to turn America into a socialist nanny-state, should not be dissuaded by the self-abosrbed editorial board of the “paper”.
With regard to the illogical attack on Americans who exercise, or attempt to exercise in Hawaii, their Second Amendment rights, rather than trying to restrict the rights of Americans, or continue to restrict and infringe them in Hawaii, we should consider what Christina Green’s father, John Green, said.
I cannot elaborate any better “This shouldn’t happen in this country or anywhere else, but in a free society, we’re going to be subject to people like this,” Green said. “So I prefer this to the alternative.” He has the amazing fortitude to say this and the intelligence to realize it is true. The editorial board should listen to him.
Kevin O’Grady is an attorney based in Honolulu