MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a former quite conservative Republican congressman himself, has had a rather amazing transformation on the topic of guns.
And yes, we’re going to talk about Joe Scarborough a little today because it’s always interesting, and useful, to keep an eye on conservative opinion leaders who have a change of heart. They’re a window into the soul of our political opponents, and provide useful lessons for where these important issues, such as gun control, are heading, and could be heading, if approached with the right strategy.
Scarborough used to be a supporter of the NRA. Post- Sandy Hook, no more.
He said that he was a “conservative Republican” who had been solidly aligned with the NRA during his time in Congress, and had previously held libertarian views on the Second Amendment. But he added that Friday “changed everything”:
“I knew that day that the ideologies of my past career were no longer relevant to the future that I want, that I demand for my children. Friday changed everything. It must change everything. We all must begin anew and demand that Washington’s old way of doing business is no longer acceptable. Entertainment moguls don’t have an absolute right to glorify murder while spreading mayhem in young minds across America. And our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-style, high-caliber, semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high-capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want.
It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas. It’s time for politicians to start focusing more on protecting our schoolyards than putting together their next fundraiser. It’s time for Washington to stop trying to win endless wars overseas when we’re losing the war at home … For the sake of my four children and yours, I choose life and I choose change.”
And I don’t disagree with Scarborough. The older I get, the more disturbed I become when I see the violence on my nephews’ video games. Do I think video games are responsible for Sandy Hook? Well, let me put it this way: We are glorifying violence in a culture that already fetishizes violence as a constitutional right.
We are a uniquely violent country, and part of that love affair with violence is our love affair with guns, treating them as though they’re akin to the right to vote, and the’re not. They’re an inanimate object, they’re not a God-given right. And they’re not a civil right. And when you take a culture that is already too violent, that already gets off far too much on violence, that already fetishizes instruments of violence (who do gun nuts need to parade around in camo, and own body armor and weapons that are unnecessary for hunting or for protecting your home?), and then you add in violent video games for kids, sure, it’s possible that those games add to our country’s already messed up love affair with guns and violence.
But the solution isn’t only going after video games and violent movies. It’s going after the larger triggers, as it were, in our culture that help to sustain, and spread, that culture of violence. It includes clamping down on guns, and culturally clamping down (through public scorn) on people who peddle the love of guns like pornography.
More from Scarborough today. He had GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who’s a teabagging right-wing nut from Kansas, on to talk about the fiscal cliff, and at the end Scarborough asked him about Sandy Hook and gun control. And oh didn’t the NRA-style talking points from Huelskamp just kick into gear. Scarborough was having none of it. Here’s the video, then a few comments:
Perhaps Scarborough’s best point was asking why it’s okay for Huelskamp to propose limits on video games but it’s not okay for others to propose limits on guns? Huelskamp suggested that Scarborough even mentioning any kind of limits on guns was “politicizing the tragedy,” but Huelskamp had no problem proposing his own political responses to Sandy Hook, proposing limits on video games.
That’s because the NRA and its pretty-boy gun fetishists like Huelskamp have done so well over the years shutting down all debate by goading their opposition with lines like “you’re politicizing the tragedy.” These tragedies should have been addressed fifty years ago when we had our first modern-day mass shooting in America. “Don’t politicize the tragedy” is a cute way of saying STFU until the next mass shooting claims innocents, and so on and so on.
I often complain about how bad traditional progressive groups are at advocacy. The mass murder of gun violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School has changed the debate, finally, in this country. But that change won’t last long, if groups who oppose gun pornographers like the NRA and Huelskamp don’t get a whole lot bolder, and fast.