Seeking sane reasons for fundamentally insane actions is a fool’s errand. So, after the display of the last few days, it comes as no surprise just how many people in public office and in the press are world-class fools.
America is a free nation made up of free men. We do not restrict the freedoms of American citizens based on what the craziest one-zillionth of 1 percent of us might do, or even what the nutters did do.
No, we do not need to reconsider gun control. No, we do not need to muzzle the most vitriolic writers and speakers among us. No, we do not need to send an FBI agent to investigate every crazy letter sent to a congressman. No, there does not need to be Secret Service protection for every federal official.
The answer is not more government.
Neither is the government to blame. The community college and high school where Jared Loughner put his growing insanity on display did not fail him or us. The Army didn’t blow it when they turned him down as a recruit, but didn’t lock him up as a nut. There was not some community mental health agency that could have been just a little better funded that might have saved U.S. District Judge John M. Roll and a little girl who died far, far too young.
At times like this, it is too easy to look to government as the cause of our suffering, the solution to our problem or both. And, as the foolish blather that has filled the national discussion since Saturday’s ugly events shows plainly, we go for the easy answer all too quickly.
The reason why we look so instantly and argue so passionately for the easy answer is that it is far less painful to look to the Daddy and Momma of government than it is to look in the mirror. Mr. Loughner had parents, family, friends and neighbors - if not at the end of his road, certainly as he spiraled downward over years. He lived among us, and we were the only people who had the opportunity and the responsibility to stop him.
That really sucks. It sucks because it gives us no reassurance that this won’t happen again. It sucks because we would all rather have someone else, somewhere else do something about it. It sucks not to have anybody to blame. It sucks to have to look around you and wonder if there is anybody that you have been ignoring in the hopes that somebody else will take care of their problem. It sucks to know that there isn’t somebody else.
But that is the world we live in. It will always be the world we live in. It sucks. Anyone who tells you that he knows how to change that fact with a little more money, a few more laws or by reforming some part of government thinks you’re as big as fool as the ones who spent so much time on TV last weekend.
David Mastio is the deputy editorial page editor of The Washington Times.