The Corner

Politics & Policy

Thoughts on the Conservative Response to the Shooting Attack on Scalise and Other Republicans

As David illustrates, it took about a nanosecond after the shooting-spree targeting congressional Republicans for slaughter for the Left to roll into its anti-gun riff. Rep. Mo Brooks capped off his demonstration of personal valor with a flawless, spirited defense of the Second Amendment and the gun regulations that already exist in law. Bravo … and prayers for Rep. Steve Scalise for a speedy recovery, and for his family and the others who’ve been injured and traumatized.

At Powerline, Paul Mirengoff adds to his observation about the Left’s “stronger gun laws” response what he sees as the similar inevitability that “conservatives will blame overheated anti-Republican rhetoric.” I’m sure that’s true of some conservatives, but I doubt it’s true of most.

To put a finer point on it, what is blameworthy is the failure of government, academia, and the media both to condemn the appalling notion of violent suppression as acceptable political expression, and to take enforcement and punitive action against instances of it. That is the problem here.

Of course conservatives don’t like obnoxious and fiery expression directed at us. But we do not seek to ban such speech as long as it remains on the right side of the line between argument and incitement, a line the First Amendment has always recognized. But if we are to have ordered liberty — a free society reliant on the rule of law — then the laws have to be enforced.

We used to say proudly to those with whom we disagree that, while we object to what they say, we would fight to the death for their right to say it. Now, the danger of death envelops those who have the temerity to say things that the radical Left finds objectionable. It is time to ostracize, and where possible prosecute or otherwise discipline, people who suppress speech through violence, intimidation, and other means of shutting down rather than engaging speech they find disagreeable.