Overreaction to news not right

The shootings earlier this month in Tucson, Ariz., have triggered calls for restraints on the TV and radio talk show hosts who, supposedly, facilitated or actually engaged in hate speech that may have led to that tragedy. (For examples, hop on Google and you’ll find half a million cites for the words “Tucson” and “hate speech.”) They’ve resulted in calls for crackdowns on firearms.

We’ve also been bombarded with explanations for how this could have happened, the left pointing to the Tea Party and other supposedly uncharitable conservative causes, and the conservatives trumpeting the fact that the accused shooter, Jared Loughner, supposedly was reading Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the days before he pulled the trigger.

The fact is, we live in a nation that overreacts far too easily to things we’re not comfortable with. We believe that we have a fundamental right to a peaceful existence and we get very flustered and unsettled when things don’t work that way. Something is obviously very wrong in the land when some crackpot shoots up a public place or targets a public figure for assassination.

The Tucson situation, of course, actually involved a former resident of our community and it was horrible. But these things happen when we live among millions of people. They have happened throughout history, even when our society was far less violent than it is now. Over the course of our history, there have been more than 20 known attempts to assassinate sitting or former presidents, four of which have been successful – Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy.

A much higher percentage of people were faithful church attendees back in those days. People were much more familiar with the Ten Commandments and other biblical teachings that strongly condemn murdering public officials.

Our society today is certainly more violent than it was when any of these presidents were killed, so why do we suddenly need to restrict ownership of firearms, or what we can say on the radio, or what we can write on our blogs on the Internet?

We’re simply overreacting.

But it doesn’t just happen out there in New York or Washington or Salem. It happens here too.

We’re told in the article that starts on page 1 that dog groomer Cindy Blondin’s business is flagging since her ex-boyfriend allegedly attempted to shoot her.

She says that some of her customers don’t want to return to her shop, Bubbles and Barks, because they are concerned about their safety or the safety of their pets.

If true, we find that unsettling. The alleged offender is in jail and unlikely to get out before he is on trial.

This response sounds similar to the Oregon legislature’s response to the Massachusetts chimpanzee attack. The legislature decided to ban exotic pets although it’s difficult to find figures for annual injury and death caused by exotic animals.

Dogs bite more than 4 million people each year. Per capita, it’s hard to draw comparison since exotic pets are so rare in the first place. That’s still a lot of dog bites, and the truth is we’re not worried at all about them. We’re used to being around them, and mostly we’re safe around them.

Honestly, it was much ado about nothing. Now we have a law limiting a fringe activity and no further discussion or incidents. One might say the law is working; but really the most likely answer is no one would have been hurt last year by an exotic pet in the first place.

The United States had more than 30,000 fatal automobile crashes in 2009, but almost no one fears getting into a car and driving for the most superfluous reasons. It amounts to 11.01 deaths per 100,000 population, more than double the murder rate for that year.

Sweet Home’s last murder was in 2003. Before that it was 1999 and 1992. A Coquille man’s body was found in Foster Reservoir in 2000.

The honest truth about murder and attempted murder is that it doesn’t happen often around here and these crimes can happen anywhere. An insane individual could, quite realistically, barge into the yard or home of one of the reluctant customers and shoot their dogs right at their feet.

It would be unfortunate if Blondin must become an economic victim simply because she was the victim of a serious crime. Give her a chance, folks.

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