This is admittedly harsh, I'll probably catch some shit for it, and I do admittedly have some reservations after the fact - anybody who exists in print (and on-line) doesn't have much luxury of getting away with "heat of the moment" editorial decisions (it's always the editor's final fault anyways). This was sketched out while pretty pissed off about the whole situation, but there was a cooling down period while it went through an ad-hoc subcommittee of volunteer vetters. Probably 90% of the reaction has been of the wincing laugh variety, as in, ouch, which in and of itself isn't cause to self-censor, but if enough red flags are waved around it's prudent to mull it over. In fact, I've been wondering as of late whether such offerings contribute anything to the debate, or such blatant aggrandizing and poo-flinging just hasten the decline of civil discourse. Probably doesn't help elevate discussion, but as I've written before, there's some small degree of hope that through caricature and exaggeration maybe a shred of awareness at how this stuff gets publicly perceived will give reason to pause.
Yet every time I contemplate whether or not something like this goes too far, I keep coming back to a simple base-line justification - that compared to both of these conflated issues, the cartoon pales besides the realities that it's depicting. People don't like to actually see the result of domestic violence, it's an uncomfortable image - and I sense an equally disturbing similarity with the underlying psychology, rationale and tactics being used by both camps, above and beyond the specifically illustrated overlap. This isn't necessarily to say that there's a causal relationship between them, and the sole misgiving I personally have would be the above-mentioned fallacy which, rightfully so, will offend the majority of gun-right activists. To their credit, a couple prominent people have actually spoken out about such conduct (see below) and grant that such incidences do nothing to further their cause.
But even if the none-too-subtly implied correlation is complete fiction, fiction usually contains an element of truth. Reinterpretations and impressions as seen through the eyes of other people might show a different side to the ongoing and simultaneous implosion/explosion of intense outrage, tantrums and threats. There's no point mincing
Excerpting a particularly succinct post in the newspaper's comment thread regarding the incident:
"3. Openly carrying guns to a public hearing is a cowardly act perpetrated by people who know that their ideas have no merit, and who thus opt for intimidation to compensate for their absence of intellect. They are not following Madison's ideas of a well armed populace, they are pursuing Mao's dictum that power flows from the barrel of a gun.
If the letter writer's description of the events is correct, what these people were attempting to do was to derail the public process. Nothing could possibly be more anti-American than that. Such people are not patriots in any way, shape, or form. What they are is totalitarians. Their actions demonstrate their hatred of their fellow citizens and their hatred of America and its imperfect yet extraordinarily civilized manner of resolving problems. They are deserving of nothing but the deepest scorn."
Reading the steady flow of apologists and "yeah buts" desperately covering their rhetorical asses is like whenever a pro-lifer assassinates someone: it's ironic to see the usual fans of this behavior furiously backpedal away from any association with the inevitable "bad apple" who shows up and actually carries out the implied threat. The mentality of dehumanizing those who disagree with you provides an effortless hand-in-glove (or finger on trigger) opportunity for enabling paranoia and objectifying The Other. It's coupled with cheerleading and drumbeats from ringleaders who profit from provocation, and keep dumping in more bloody chum.
"Y'see, when you start to lick a national problem you have to go after the fundamentables. You want to cut down air pollution? Cut down the original source... Breathin!" - Churchy (Walt Kelly)