What Is Government If Words Have No Meaning?

Those looking for insight into why Jared Loughner did what he did could do worse than to look here.  It’s an interview with a friend of the Arizona shooter, describing Loughner’s harrowing descent into unreachability and madness, but it also does away with the notion that the assassin was straight-up crazy, listening only to voices in his head or little men from Mars.

Loughner may for the most part have lacked the lucidity to express the thoughts that were troubling him, but his question, “What is government if words have no meaning?” must have crossed the minds of many Americans awash in the torrents of invective spilled by talk radio charlatans, Tea Party cranks posing as revolutionaries, and politicians who paint an attempt to provide citizens with some minimal form of health insurance as an existential threat to the Republic.

In their haste to cover their rhetorical tracks in the wake of the Arizona shootings, commentators and activists alike are desperate to assure us that their violent imagery and calls to something not much short of armed revolution didn’t really mean what they sounded like.  If we are to take them at their word, a greater question remains: what did they mean?  Nothing at all?  Even I find that disturbing; how much more so a somewhat unbalanced young man, a somewhat unbalanced young man who is nonetheless, thanks to the vigilant efforts of those same activists, commentators and politicians, able to walk into any store in the land and walk out with a semi-automatic pistol capable of mowing down whole crowds of people engaged in the business of democracy?

6 thoughts on “What Is Government If Words Have No Meaning?

  • January 11, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Firstly, this was not a political shooting. One look at this guy’s mug shot shows you how far from the breach he has sailed.

    This instance of despicable violence aside, I wish to point out that a portion your argument is against free speech. When we (Obama) say things like “they bring a knife, we bring a gun” they (he) do not literally mean to start bringing guns to the debate. If you’re unbalanced, you might not understand that. But most people do.

    To call for the halt of the use of metaphors, because you don’t agree with the message it imparts, is Orwellian.

    I may disagree with you, but I will defend your right to disagree however you care to word it.

    As for your apparent advocacy of 2nd amendment repeal, that’s a separate debate. one that has been hashed and rehashed time and again. lets just agree to disagree on that one.

  • January 11, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    words are very important. why use violent imagery when you can use benevolent, philosophical metaphors? i really dislike when after i make a joke, people jokingly tell me they are going to kill me. i wonder if they have any idea how horrible their statement is? we really should be careful with words we use and voluntarily do away with all those awful figures of speech that invoke violence and offense.

  • January 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    You do know that the question was posed to Giffords by Loughner in 2007…a full year before Palin came onto the scene and more than two before the so-termed “tea party cranks” became a national movement, right? The fact that Giffords couldn’t answer Loughner’s dribble seemed to lead him to think she had something against him…a common malady of those who might be affected with schizophrenia or similar disorder that the shooter was likely afflicted with. Trying to link Loughner’s question to anything of the tea party, or the subsequent rhetoric (on either side) over the role and direction of gov’t is intellectually dishonest.

  • January 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    You do know that my point is not who said what to whom on what occasion, or just how crazy one individual assassin was, but that the continued debasement and deracination of language from logic by ideologically motivated individuals like the Tea Party fanatics makes rational discussion, let alone rational government, impossible.

    By the way, I think you mean drivel, not dribble. The latter generally refers to saliva or other liquids, not words, meaningful or otherwise.

  • January 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Livermore doesn’t have a legit point outside of revealing his obsessive desire to smear folks who disgree with policies he’s pushing. In light of the fact that the vast majority of the American people don’t like (for example) Obamacare, people like Livermore might consider thinking about how to be more persuasive to ordinary Americans instead of sitting around seemingly hoping for some violent incident to occur that he can try and pin on the Tea Party and Palin through lies. That tactic hsn’t been working for him, but he refuses to rethink his approach. Hey, whatever; that probably helps those of us who want much of Obama’s agenda stopped. But he shouldn’t expect people not to notice and call him out for what he’s up to.

    Well, asking Livermore to rethink things suggests he’s thinking in the first place. Obviously he’s just regurgitating other peoples’ talking points. And, needless to say,later in the week he ran to Tweet about what a dingbat Palin is for using the phrase “blood libel”. Because Livermore’s so smart! She can’t match his intellect! Yeah, that’s why that “dingbat” so easily set people like him up to hurl more smug attacks that would backfire on them.

    Livermore should feel both stupid and ashamed that he took part in McCarthyist tactics this week, but he’s done it before so I don’t suppose he’s the sort of guy who reflects and learns. A quick scan of his Twitter account shows he intends to keep right on being a foolish and contemptible sort of partisan tool. And he dares to lecture others about what they are doing to our political discourse? What a laughable man this Livermore character is.

  • January 28, 2011 at 9:43 am

    In this economy?
    I failed my litmus test.
    I am not a land owner so I can’t vote.
    Next week I must appear before the death panel.
    Drill baby drill. (spill baby spill)

    Three years of fear mongering is wearing me thin. Its either that or the 43% pay cut I have taken over the last 3 years.

    But in answer to the question: What is government if words have no meaning?

    A: It is a snap, it is a clap, it is a slap. It is action. Get involved!

    Now I’m going to try some of my own fear mongering. I’m not very good at it but I will try.

    How’s that Changey-Fatwa Thing Working Out for Ya?


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