As tragic as the attack on Paul Pelosi was, it’s presented us with an excellent opportunity. For too long, extremist speech in this country has gone unpunished. Now, at last, we have a chance to hold these reckless instigators responsible.
Contrary to what Jesus said, it’s the input, not the output that matters. All statements that lead to violence are, by definition, violent statements.
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that people who commit random acts of violence are the most rational actors in our society. Just look at David DePape. The man’s mind is a steel trap, intricate and precise in its function and well lubricated with psilocybin. He considered dispassionately the various wares on offer in the marketplace of ideas. Then, the nudist activist distilled those right-wing claims into a series of syllogisms. The “therefore” long eluded him, but after several rocks of meth and some long conversations with his angel friends, DePape finally cracked the code. The message was there all along for any reasoning person to discover:
Pelosi is a bad politician
You should go shatter the kneecaps of bad politicians
I will shatter Pelosi’s kneecaps
There are, of course, those who want to let Republicans off the hook by insulting DePape’s intelligence. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote that the aspiring messiah’s hammer-wielding home invasion arose not from a “semi-rational radicalization process in which he watched too many attack ads against Nancy Pelosi but more likely in a dreamlike way, the nightmares of QAnon matching his mental state better than the paranoias of the left.” (RELATED: How Did The Attack On Paul Pelosi Go Down? Here’s What We Know So Far)
Nonsense. These propagandists are subtle, but their message was unmistakable — strip down to your skivvies and grab some zip ties. Having broadcast this call to arms to millions, the Mega MAGA cabal had only to wait for someone brave enough to act on it. David DePape was that man.
Jesse Watters, Ted Cruz, J.D. Vance, Tucker Carlson, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and anyone else who has ever suggested that Pelosi is anything other than a nice old lady who promotes good and just laws must be charged with treason. Otherwise, her safety will remain at risk.
But why stop there? In 1980, Mark David Chapman — another master of deductive reasoning — shot and killed Beatles frontman John Lennon. Why? Because novelist J.D. Salinger called for Lennon’s death in a hate-filled screed known as “The Catcher In The Rye.” Sure, Salinger didn’t come right out and say it, but he made a lot of snide comments about “phonies.” That’s obviously code for “Kill John Lennon.” Unfortunately, Salinger died in 2010, but we can make amends for our previous inaction by banning and burning his novels.
And what about Jodie Foster? Less than four months after Lennon’s death, John Hinckley Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan. But it wasn’t his fault. It was Foster’s. If she didn’t want Reagan dead, she shouldn’t have starred in the movie “Taxi Driver.” The 12-year-old lesbian actress obviously expected that some firearms enthusiast on SSRIs would fall head over heels and try to earn her love by assassinating the president. Why the Secret Service didn’t immediately detain this dangerous stochastic terrorist remains unclear.
Some suggested that Hinckley was insane, that his actions were not the result of rational reflection but of staring too long at distorted images of reality in the funhouse mirrors that lined his mind. Those people are ableists.
People don’t act violently because they’re mentally ill or high on drugs. They act violently because influential figures told them to (assuming, of course, that those influential figures disagree with me politically). The solution is not to punish or treat the offenders. It’s to crack down on purveyors of dangerous narratives (unless, of course, a Bernie Sanders fan shoots a Republican congressman or something, then it’s totally not Bernie’s fault and the perp was probably just having a bad day).
We have a long way to go. I recently saw a homeless woman trying to fight an MTA bus on the streets of New York City. Clearly she was radicalized by politicians who oppose public transit. President Biden must immediately send any lawmaker who has ever voted “No” on transit funding to Guantanamo Bay. It’s the only way to save democracy.