In modern America, there is a tendency to place blame for acts of gun violence on individuals other than the perpetrator. This is done by those on both sides of the political aisle.
It is tempting to look at a situation of devastating evil and conclude that rather mainstream ideologies are at least partly at fault for the carnage. While it’s easy to descend such a slippery slope we should fight the desire to head in that direction.
Why? Such conclusions are not only incorrect but can be turned around on us not if, but when the time comes.
On Thursday, in Annapolis, Maryland, five innocent souls employed by The Capital Gazette newspaper were gunned down by a lunatic. Almost immediately, blame began flying everywhere.
Some journalists (those not at the newspaper) tried to place blame on President Trump since he has described the press as “the enemy of the people” in the past. Still, others pointed at alt-right darling, provocative commentator, and loathsome human being, Milo Yiannopoulos. Only a few days before the murders, Milo had expressed the following execrable opinion:
“I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.”
Yes, the president often lacks civility and enjoys stirring up anger. Yes, Yiannopoulos is a garbage individual who should always be called out for his words and actions. But neither of them pulled the trigger.
The person at fault for the bloodshed, 38-year-old Jarrod Ramos, is solely responsible for taking the lives of innocent people whose only crime was showing up for work that day. This didn’t stop those like Judd Legum of Think Progress from making leaps such as this one.
We don’t know the motive of the Annapolis shooter.
It’s unclear when, if ever, we’ll find out.
But one thing was true yesterday and is true today.
It is grossly irresponsible for the President of the United States to describe a free press as the “enemy of the people”
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 28, 2018
The “unclear…we’ll find out” was quickly dismissed because of the known history between the newspaper and the shooter.
A Laurel man with a long-standing grudge against The Capital is being held as the suspect in the deadly shooting Thursday at the Annapolis newspaper, according to law enforcement sources.
In 2012, Ramos filed a defamation lawsuit against the paper and a columnist over a July 2011 article that covered a criminal harassment charge against him.
He brought the suit against then-columnist Eric Hartley, naming Capital Gazette Communications and Thomas Marquardt, the paper’s former editor and publisher, as defendants.
A Twitter page in Ramos’ name on Thursday featured Hartley’s picture as its avatar, and a banner image included photographs of Marquardt and The Capital’s former owner, Philip Merrill.
The page’s bio read: “Dear reader: I created this page to defend myself. Now I’m suing the s— out of half of AA County and making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities.”
It was that unstable individual, with a deep hatred for the newspaper, who opened fire and took those lives. His gun was not loaded with words from the president or threats from Yiannopoulos. He acted alone.
Despite all that truth, the “think” pieces and hot takes wherein the authors seek to pin some sort of responsibility on another party will continue. That is just the way of things.
But it’s not only the Left that needs to heed this advice. Those on the Right do, too.
In June 2017, after Representative Stephen Scalise and other Republican politicians and staffers were shot by James Hodgkinson while at a baseball practice, too many on this side of the aisle pointed their fingers at the other side. The shooter, who had been shot by police, had a hero named Bernie Sanders. Hodgkinson was someone who held fast to a far left worldview. But despite his political leanings and which candidate he had campaigned for, his actions on that day were his alone. He was not only known to live in his own little world, but his past included plenty of instances of domestic violence. Troubled? Yes. Dangerous? Definitely. Sent by the Left to gun down the opposition? Absolutely not.
It’s difficult to fully accept these things when we live in a time of such great incivility. We have congresswomen, like Rep. Maxine Waters, screaming for the general public to harass members of the Trump administration while they do awful things like – gasp! – go to the gas station or eat with their families. We prefer to point fingers at the political enemy and say that their words and actions are causing problems that go beyond severely uncomfortable situations or hurt feelings.
But in the real world, in the here and now, in the right and wrong, only those who commit actual acts of violence are to blame. Period.
Yes, politicians and pundits may help to create environments of toxicity or heightened emotion. Yes, public discourse is horrible and the ways in which we treat our fellow men and women are at an all-time low. But none of this is violence and none of this creates violence. That is still on the shoulders of the criminal.
I would love to say things will get better, but with a Supreme Court nomination/confirmation and midterms right around the corner, it will only get worse. I would love to say that no one else will ever pick up a weapon and aim it at an innocent individual with the intent to kill, but unfortunately, I’d be wrong on that count, too.
Since this world is fallen, more gun violence is bound to occur. Because of that, let’s check our language and that penchant to play the blame game, which is so enticing.
Keep the guilt on those who are ultimately responsible for evil and always remember that you, too, stand on a side that has been blamed for unspeakable cruelties; even murder.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Kimberly Ross is a senior contributor at RedState and a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.