The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

An Outbreak of Common Sense

Whenever someone asks me how I think the year will play out politically, I usually say that there will be a point where “common sense” will break out. Political leaders will come to realize that good governance doesn’t require hyperpartisanship, and that same attitude will-given time-filter down to the electorate as a whole.

I thought this would happen around the summer. But with yesterday’s events, I’m not sure we can wait that long.

Over the last decade-especially since, oh, 2003 or so-some on the left and the right have gone to extremes to make their points. Yes, political violence is as old as politics itself…but what we’ve seen during the time period I’ve blocked out kinda amazes me, as it’s the first time I’ve seen a) one side of the political spectrum go completely crazy and b) at the exchange of power, the other side going almost as crazy (this, though, may be because of my (relative) youth).

Whenever something like what went down in AZ yesterday happens, I always find it interesting to watch the rush to associate or the rush to disassociate. One side is quick to say “that person’s part of ‘them’,” and said ‘them’ is quick to point the finger right back…and that becomes the dominant discourse. We look so hard for the cause of the problem in something we disagree with that the problem itself almost becomes the means to a limited end. We put the face of our opposition on the hands of the perpetrator, forgetting that the perpetrator has a face of their own…and the faces of the true victims are all but forgotten.

We need to all dial it back a bit…and I say that as someone who was, at once, complicit in the craziness (to an extent!!) and who’s been on the receiving end of it. It’s really not cool, and it doesn’t lead to what I think we all want-good, responsible governance.

In the senselessness of yesterday, if we can find a way for common sense to break out-find a way to walk back from this ledge I see us on-then maybe the loss and destruction of life that took place will have some meaning. The most fitting tribute to yesterday’s victims-especially the nine-year-old who hadn’t lived long enough to even form an opinion-is for us all to step back, take a few breaths, see what we’ve become…and stop being it.



Written by Coby Dillard

January 9, 2011 at 7:11 am

Posted in Editorials

7 Responses

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  1. Coby, you are a gifted writer. I really like the line “We put the face of our opposition on the hands of the perpetrator, forgetting that the perpetrator has a face of their own…and the faces of the true victims are all but forgotten.”

    But it seems that this post then segues into something that goes against your original thought. When you ask the rest of us to “see what we’ve become – and stop being it”, you are in essence seemingly blaming others other than the shooter, a crazed insane madman full of inner demons. Asking the rest of society to step back from the ledge, seems another instance of engaging in the type of finger pointing that assumes guilt of innocents because they were part of what some call “heated rhetoric.”

    I have three children and cannot imagine the hollowness and pain that the parents and family of the little girl feel today. It is unimaginable. But we have to be careful not to wade into the larger politicization of the tragedy by making assumptions about people as a whole. My concern is that, just as 9-11 changed the way average citizens are viewed by airport security, yesterday’s events will change the way average citizens are viewed by their legislators. I may protest on the street corner and demand to be heard by those people in DC who want to whittle away my rights, and tax me into poverty and submission, but that does not and will not make me a “shooter.”


    January 9, 2011 at 9:43 am

  2. I get that.

    “See what we’ve become” is a call to examine what our discourse has (d)evolved to…not in the sense that we’re all shooters, but that the “heated rhetoric” is, for the most part, a new normal (which I don’t think is a good thing).

    Coby Dillard

    January 9, 2011 at 10:13 am

  3. Ignore Sara. This is considerably better than your facebook status, where no one has responsibility except the actual shooter, we all pretend that we believe the fiction that words don’t matter, and we stand around wringing our hands in ignorance, saying “Wow, how on earth could something like this have HAPPENED! It came out of the BLUE!”


    January 9, 2011 at 11:09 am

  4. No, I stand by that…and here’s why:

    First, the shooter is the one who pulled the trigger. That’s pretty much undeniable, so to assign blame elsewhere is ridiculous.

    Do words/actions/ideologies have influence? Of course. But nothing I’ve read-and I have a little bit-says that if you have a difference of opinion with them, you walk up and shoot them. I’ve there’s a text that justifies that sort of action, I’d love to see it.

    From what we know of this guy, his “influences” are all over the map-from elements that I’ve heard from some of my libertarian friends to stuff that could easily have come from you. And the reality is that people on both sides are spending more time trying to blame the respective opposite side of the political spectrum (Sara, “see what we’ve become”) than reflecting about what happened here.

    The only thing/person I can point to and say “YOU’RE the cause of this” is…the shooter. Not Sarah Palin or the books he was reading.

    Coby Dillard

    January 9, 2011 at 11:35 am

  5. I think you’re being a bit disingenuous.

    A paraphrased version of what I posted on someone else’s page:
    The very presence of a “clear and present danger” test for free speech indicates the responsibility of people who speak for the damage that can be done by people who take them seriously. I happen to disagree with most of its applications (which tend to revolve around revoking free speech), but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t responsible for the things that they say.

    I think this is a watershed moment for the Tea Party and Palin-ites. Are they legally responsible? Obviously not. But there are other forms of responsibility and this requires more than a note of condolence from party leaders. This requires a denunciation of their previous violent rhetoric if they truly abhor “2nd amendment remedies” to their political disagreements.


    January 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

  6. The only thing required is a needle for the guilty party. That’s it.

    Coby Dillard

    January 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm

  7. Way to not address the critique.

    And, no, the death penalty is not the answer. But that’s a different argument.


    January 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm

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