Establishing that political rhetoric did not cause Jared Lee Loughner to go on a bloody rampage in the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords seems not to be enough to quell rumblings to the contrary. As more and more information has emerged regarding the identity of the murderer, it has become increasingly clear to all but the Left that this tragedy is the result of Loughner’s delusional psychotic breakdown, and it has become increasingly obvious that attempting to attribute any logical meaning to the senseless disaster is an exercise in ignorance.
Then Obama decided to make the trip to Tuscon…
Let’s say Obama believes that the killing is the result of political rhetoric and talk radio, which– if he is anything like his left-wing friends in the media– is very likely the case. The question remains: will he make the mistake of making this point in Tuscon?
If Obama really wants to “tone down the rhetoric,” it makes very little sense to engage in a blame game. Already, we have seen the end result of that course of action. This shooting has created more anger and division than ever there was before. From personally blaming Sarah Palin, to targeting conservative talk radio, to blaming the Tea Party itself, the result of blaming the Right has been a firestorm of backlash from the targets of the nonsensical argument. In fact Sarah Palin announced today that any direct accusations towards her amount to “blood libel,” and she is not wrong at all.
So, if Obama thinks that we need to cut down on partisan politics– a ridiculous and irrelevant argument in the first place– it makes zero sense to make any statement regarding that issue. If he makes his speech about politics, it will have an adverse and divisive effect on the American people, and he knows it. It doesn’t take much thinking to reach that realization, which is good thing for him, and since we can safely assume that President Obama is not brain-dead, we should expect that he has come to this conclusion as well, making any partisan jib-jab, well, political rhetoric…
However, it hardly matters what President Obama thinks, because the question of intent matters very little. Whether Obama believes the shooting was a result of political rhetoric or not, any statement regarding the national political climate will have the same effect, producing an explosion of anger and further polarization. If Obama makes any mention of partisan politics, consider it an act equal to that of conspiracy to overthrow the government (which is interesting considering he is the government).
But, just in case he thinks he might be able to get away with tossing in a line or two about “moderation” and “unifying American politics,” he should consider a more fundamentally simplistic argument; if he says anything to that effect, he will come off as a complete and utter fool. Definitions in logic and statistics define the political rhetoric argument regarding the Giffords case as a logical fallacy, resulting from a false belief that a correlation between two events implies causation. The scientific definition is as follows:
Correlation implies causation is a logical fallacy by which two events that occur together are claimed to have a cause-and-effect relationship. The fallacy is also known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin for “with this, therefore because of this”) and false cause. By contrast, the fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc requires that one event occur before the other and so may be considered a type of cum hoc fallacy.
In other words, saying that Loughner’s rampage is the result of high levels of political rhetoric is exactly like saying Nadal Malik Hassan shot up Fort Hood because there are high levels of divorce in the United States. Just because large amounts of political rhetoric exist in 2010/2011, it in no way means that the rhetoric caused Loughner to kill people, and just because there was a high divorce rate in 2009, it in no way means that divorce rates caused Nadal Malik Hassan to kill innocent people at Fort Hood. Events can happen independently of one another, and forcing a correlation where none exists is not just ignorant, but pathetic.
What we need now is leadership. We do not need politics, and we certainly do not need our President to engage in a political controversy borne of fallacious argumentation. As George Will writes in the Washington Post, humans have attempted to find meaning for puzzling events since the beginning of time. His example goes like this:
It would be merciful if, when tragedies such as Tucson’s occur, there were a moratorium on sociology. But respites from half-baked explanations, often serving political opportunism, are impossible because of a timeless human craving and a characteristic of many modern minds.
The craving is for banishing randomness and the inexplicable from human experience. Time was, the gods were useful. What is thunder? The gods are angry. Polytheism was explanatory. People postulated causations.
And still do. Hence: The Tucson shooter was (pick your verb) provoked, triggered, unhinged by today’s (pick your noun) rhetoric, vitriol, extremism, “climate of hate.”
Demystification of the world opened the way for real science, including the social sciences. And for a modern characteristic. And for charlatans
Yep, time was the gods were blamed for thunder. Now, we look back and laugh and the obvious attempt to justify a seemingly inexplicable occurrence. Maybe 100 years from now future generations will look back and say, “yep, time was psychotic murderous rampages were blamed on political rhetoric. What idiots they were in 2010, huh?”
Obama needs to be a leader for once, and attempting to find sense in a senseless act ain’t it.