Knee-Jerk Reactions | Bleader

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Knee-Jerk Reactions

Posted By on 01.13.11 at 01:09 PM

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  • United States Congress
In the wake of Saturday's attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) that killed six and wounded 14, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) wants Congress to increase the budgets of district offices by 10 percent for security. "After 9/11, we secured the Washington Monument — a building made out of stone — we secured the Lincoln Memorial, we secured national parks, we secured the White House," he told reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday. “We bunkered down around the Capitol and made it impossible to drive around the complex .... [but] we simply did not feel it was politically possible to do that for our district staffs and as a result of that today they are vulnerable.”

Jackson speaks as though all that bunkering and security was a good idea. Was it? Or has it just created an illusion of safety that people latch on to? Also, how come just the congresspeople get better protection?

Sure, Giffords was Jared Lee Loughner's primary target. But Giffords was the first congressperson shot since Leo Ryan in 1978. Apparently, killing congresspeople isn't on the minds of most Americans. The victims of Saturday's tragedy included a judge and a nine-year-old girl. Should we spend more to protect judges and nine-year-old girls? I'd say girls—and boys—are more at risk of being gunned down than most elected officials, especially if they live in depressed neighborhoods.

Maybe instead of putting an alarm system on everything, we should make it easier to get good mental health care and harder to buy assault weapons. Given Loughner's dubious mental health, we can't even be sure he believed Giffords was a congressperson; this was a guy, after all, who questioned the meaning of everything. It's possible her political position meant nothing to him; she became his nemesis because she dared to ignore his strange question. So maybe all this talk about beefing up congressional security is irrelevant.

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