Sunday, January 09, 2011

On the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords

There is, as is the custom, the search for the wider implications of a tragic incident.

I'm neatly divided in two on this one. On one hand, one is very reluctant to implicate the Tea Party/Sarah Palin axis of small-government advocacy tipping into paranoia because you're aware that this follows a more general pattern of blaming a wider culture for the actions of individuals who may well be simply insane.

On the other, one wonders if there wasn't something in what Eric Hobsbawm said when he remarked that the social divisions that one sees in American society today are acute in a way that has not been since the post-Civil War period. You get the impression sometimes that partisanship has become so sharp that it threatens the legitimacy of decisions made by the various institutions of the republic, if those institutions don't yield the desirable result.

But you can take either of these interpretations and still come to the conclusion that throwing easy gun ownership into the mix is unlikely to help.

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