Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
A lot people I know have been looking at me the last couple days as if to say, "You lucky so-and-so. We've got all these hot takes and jokes in our heads about shooting Republicans, but you actually have a public forum where you can speak yours out loud. We have to keep ours bottled up like an explosive turd pounding insistently at our sphincter. Oh what sweet relief you must feel to let it all out. You must be the only healthy person in the USA right now."
But, look, I do have a sense of the boundaries of good taste. I don't respect them, but I know where they are. I don't respect them because, deep down, I don't understand their purpose. But I know where they are.
And I would never advocate violence. When I say, "Looks like it might be time to roll out the tumbrels and guillotine," I always make sure to put in that conditional "might." Because I'm never sure about the use of violence, unless you're protecting yourself or your family. And yes, one could say violence against the GOP-majority congress is justifiable as a defense of one's family, particularly if one's family likes to drink water or breathe air or eat food or receive medical care, or if perhaps one's family member is a refugee, maybe a Christian refugee at risk of getting sent back to, say, Iraq. One could say violence in that case was defense of one's family, but not me. I could only say that it might be.
I could say, thank goodness the only one killed in the attack on the GOP baseball practice was the shooter. Everyone else escaped with injuries. I understand that, right now, Scalise is in critical condition with internal bleeding and injuries to several organs, but otherwise, no harm, no foul. The shooter made his point and suffered the fatal consequences. And, come on, they're just bullets. Fifty-cent's taken nine of them, and he went on to become a very successful businessman, so lift yourselves up by your bootstraps, whiners!
I could say that, but I won't, because it's insensitive. Like I won't say, "It's too bad Scalise wasn't swinging an automatic rifle in the on-deck circle instead of a bat, because then maybe this wouldn't have happened." You know, the way NRA-supporting Republicans always suggest teachers carry firearms after a psychopath massacres a roomful of schoolchildren. I mean, when you're on deck, you're not going to hit a ball or anything, so you really could swing a powerful firearm just to limber up. If we as Americans were really serious about protecting our national pastime and the cruel rightwing legislators who pass their time playing it, we might think about it.
But regardless of its logistical pragmatism, I wouldn't suggest such a thing. Because I know where the foul lines are. I certainly hope Scalise can recover, the way Gabby Giffords has from the gunshot to the head she received after, but not because, Sarah Palin published a map putting rifle-sight crosshairs over photos of certain politicians, including Giffords, while often saying in public it was time to "lock and load." Nevertheless she did not inspire the shooter of Gabby Giffords, a crazy man who had no clear political viewpoint, according to a fact-checker at the Washington Post. And indeed, what clear political viewpoint would inspire a person to shoot and kill six people who were merely lined up to meet the Congresswoman, including a 9-year-old girl? Who needs to defend their family from a nine-year-old girl, even if one knew for sure she's grow up to be the next Adolf Hitler? There's no evidence the shooter knew any such thing, nor that he came here from the future to prevent World War Three, although the Washington Post fact- checker is suspiciously silent in this regard.
But I would never say any of that. In fact, to get a good idea of the kind of person I am, you should just pretend you haven't heard anything up to this point.
All the worst people in the USA are pointing to this shooting as evidence of the violent nature of the left. People like Alex Jones and his colleague at Infowars, Paul Joseph Watson, who tweets: "Trump-hating leftist Bernie voter attempts to massacre Republicans." This is the same outlet that calls the Sandy Hook massacre a false-flag hoax. So they can clearly tell a true-flag non-hoax when it suits their political purposes. And since their rhetoric could be seen as inciting violence against the left by rightwing Trump voters, who are clearly more of a threat to civic peace than any Bernie supporter, perhaps we on the left should look to our own pre-emptive self-defense, which I would never, ever advocate without a conditional "perhaps."
By tweeting "Trump-hating leftist Bernie voter attempts to massacre Republicans," Mr. Watson is implying that we on the left couldn't massacre Republican fish in a barrel if we felt like it. Oh yeah? Just a month and a half ago last year, Dionisio Garza III went on a shooting spree during which he fired 212 rounds, injuring two cops and igniting a gas station before a SWAT team killed him. Garza was a far-rightwing Trump supporter who hated Jews, gays, and Muslims. But do you see me comparing his shooting ability unfavorably to our leftwing maniac, saying, "I mean, come, on, 212 rounds and all he does is wing a couple of cops? What kind of second-rate losers are these rightwing maniacs? I'll tell you what, if I'm going to defend my family from legislation I disagree with, I'm going to get myself a crazy white guy obsessed with Gabby Giffords but with no clear political viewpoint, cuz at least they have a proven track record of being able to kill people."
You wouldn't see me tweet that because I wouldn't. First of all, it's more than 140 characters. And it makes no sense. If I were going to defend my family against legislation by hiring a hit man, it would be a real sniper like the Jackal in Day of the Jackal, not some flailing immature lunatic with a Gabby Giffords obsession, of all things. Also, I just don't tweet stuff like that. I keep that kind of thing to myself. Because I know where the boundaries of good taste are. And though I don't respect them, I sure don't like being scolded for crossing them, so I make sure never to get caught.
So, no, I won't defend this mentally ill Bernie supporter's attempted massacre of Republicans, and not just because he failed so miserably. I'm sure we've all had a good laugh at the GOP Congressmen who have canceled their town halls or held secret ones or snuck around and hid in fear from their constituents. Well, they don't look so foolish now, do they? Granted, they weren't hiding because they were afraid of getting shot at. They were just afraid of being asked difficult questions about taking away people's health insurance, afraid of being lectured by angry husbands and wives and mothers and fathers, and then looking like the speechless yet unrepentant villains they are when someone at the town hall would post a video of the incident on YouTube.
But now they can be afraid of something besides public humiliation at being called out for greed and mendacity. This is very good for GOP Representatives. Their cowardice is not comical anymore. If the horribly violent left is responsible, then the GOP should be thanking us for turning them from objects of mockery to figures of possible martyrdom. And what is as noble as to be a martyr for the cause of keeping big insurance companies rich by denying health services to sick people?
And, you know, it might be a good thing for the members of the Worst Congress in US history to fear the people, even if they only fear the craziest of people. They are in fact supposed to be answerable to the people. And so far the only people they've been answerable to are Grover Norquist and the Koch Brothers. Obviously, some legislators are willing to sell their shame and honor for money. But are they willing to sell their safety? So, yes, it might be a good thing for our elected representatives to fear us. Might. It might. If I didn't say "might," that would be wrong. "Might" makes right. Makes it all right.
I don't advocate violence. Period. Please don't go out and shoot people. Wait for them to come to you – just kidding! I'm with Bernie. He said he denounces this despicable act in the strongest possible terms. I wish he'd actually used the strongest possible terms to denounce it, instead of just saying he denounces it in the strongest possible terms. But maybe he couldn't come up with the strongest possible terms, and figured we could fill in the blank with our own. He's letting us think for ourselves. I like that.
Obviously we all knew it was only a matter of time before a crazy person from the left did something like the crazy people from the right have been doing. Mental illness doesn't respect ideological boundaries. It might know where they are, but it doesn't respect them. It might favor one side slightly over the other. But mental illness cannot be harnessed for progressive purposes, nor can violence caused by mental illness. So even if we all kind of sympathize with the idea of massacring those whose corruption and immorality lead them to disdain the wellbeing of the people, sell out the republic, and seek only to enrich the already wealthy, we know that fantasizing about something doesn't mean you would ever actually do it. It might, but it probably doesn't.
The desirability and efficacy of violent resistance is an issue we on the left consider very seriously, as we always have and will continue to do. And each act of violent resistance will have to be judged on its merits. The baseball practice shooting doesn't rise to the level of violent resistance. It's a tragedy. This is why we will be discussing it as a mental health failure and a gun-availability failure and a white entitlement and toxic masculinity issue. Because we know where the boundaries of serious discussion are, and we also know who's positioned themselves outside those boundaries.
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!