Gov. Bobby Jindal, desperately trying to stay relevant in the Republican race to be the party nominee in 2016, weighed in on the Oregon community college shooting with an extensive blog post that shows, if nothing else, that the Fifties live. It’s pretty awful, designating as “root causes” of the violence such Oldies but Stupidees as “glorifying violence” in popular culture (Actually, this one is closer to 1650), movies, TV shows, music (Run, Tipper! This is your chance!) the decline of religion ( “…we flaunt the laws of God and common decency”—I think you mean “flout” there, Bobby), the decline of the family…you know the list. The problem with Jindal’s rant—other than its exaggerations, poor writing and hysterical tone— is that taking any single event and attributing it to generic causes is demagoguery, and as intellectually dishonest as blaming the NRA every time someone is murdered with a gun.
The Huffington Post, mocking Jindal’s eminently mockable screed, asked “What about gun violence?” as if Jindal left out the one obvious “root cause.” Is it really necessary to point out that gun violence is responsible for gun violence? But that’s anti-gun code for guns, you see. Guns are responsible for the shootings. Take the evil guns away, and nobody dies! That this facile and deceitful dead end reasoning is so accepted among progressives and liberals that it is considered an obvious truth is depressing, but I digress.
Jindal is also depressing, since the only remedy for violent movies, TV shows and video games is censorship of one kind or another, and you know what the Right will do if it gets that started: TV couples will again be sleeping in twin beds like Rob and Laura Petrie by edict. His lack of logic is depressing too—how does someone like this get elected a governor?—when he attributes alleged conditions like “the family is a mess” to a rampage by someone who might have been raised like Opie Taylor but whose mind just snapped, as they have a tendency to do. Again, a single incident has specific causes. Jindal’s main argument is exactly as exploitative and dishonest as using the Oregon shooting to lobby for gun regulations that wouldn’t have stopped the shooting.
In fact it’s worse. At least gun regulations relate to a feature of the incident; Jindal’s suggestion that gay marriage and abortion are root causes of the shooting—yes, those gay neighbors of mine who have lived together for 18 years and were finally able to make their family the equal of any other family have Oregon blood on their hands!—is chum for zealots, and nothing else.
Now as it happens, this shooter’s family was something of a mess, leading to the most legitimate of Jindal’s observations, since it was specific to the event:
“This killer’s father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns.
Of course he doesn’t know. You know why he doesn’t know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son’s life. He’s a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He’s the problem here. He brags that he has never held a gun in his life and that he had no idea that his son had any guns. Why didn’t he know? Because he failed to raise his son. He should be ashamed of himself, and he owes us all an apology.
When he was asked what his relationship was with his son, he said he hadn’t seen him in a while because he lived with his mother. Case Closed.”
To be clear, I say this is the most legitimate of Jindal’s points; that is not to say that it isn’t also overstated, based on on unwarranted assumptions, and excessive. Jindal has no idea if this guy’s involvement in his son’s life would have been a blessing or a curse. Is Jindal adding divorce to those macro-causes of the massacre? The father, Ian Mercer, appears to be a jerk: is the Governor sure that there wasn’t a good reason his son was raised my his mother? Nonetheless, of the likely “root causes” of this kind of anti-social conduct, poor parenting, bad role models and inadequate ethical instruction are among the most plausible, and Jindal was correct to find the father’s attempt to blame gun regulations for the tragedy offensive. (So did I.) I don’t think he is obligated to apologize for spawning a mass murderer, but it takes a lot of gall to blame anyone or anything else as if a parent is an innocent bystander to a child’s turn to the Dark Side.
Never mind, though: to critics like Esquire’s Charles Pierce, citing anything but the existence of firearms as the reason for the shooting is per se justification for physical abuse. The criticism of the father is especially heinous, since it suggests that single mothers are less likely to raise societal paragons of virtue that two parent families (though they are). So of all the silly, Religious Right “why can’t everything be like it used to be before dime novels, comic books, Jimmy Cagney, TV and rock and roll turned life into wormwood?” blather in Jindal’s post, the legitimate point that the father should shut up moved Pierce to write,
“This’ll be good for at least a three-point bump in the next poll of Iowa Republicans. However, would I be uncivil if I were to suggest that somebody punch this man right in his dick?”
No, I don’t think jackasses like Pierce got the Oregon students shot, but his impulse to suggest violence as the proper remedy for someone daring to disagree with liberal cant is a deplorable cultural ingredient that makes productive discourse increasingly impossible, cripples politics, and speeds the death of reason, logic and ethical conduct. Since he was blaming everything under the sun, I’m surprised Jindal missed it. After all, “somebody punch this man right in his dick” is just a few steps from “somebody get a gun and shoot this guy.”
Pointer: Ann Althouse