Ken Connor Weighs In on Arizona Tragedy

Ken Connor, best known to Floridians for heading up the state’s Christian Coalition and running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination back in 1994, weighed in on the tragedy that occurred in Arizona last week. Connor, formerly head of the Family Research Council and now with the Center for a Just Society, released an essay on the incident on Friday morning.

“In response to pronouncements from many prominent figures on the left that the Tea Party and Sarah Palin are responsible for inciting Jared Lee Loughner to commit his murderous act, many commentators – from both the left and the right – have felt compelled to respond,” wrote Connor. “The general consensus is that it is neither helpful nor fair to cast about for a larger villain when it is an unavoidable fact of human existence that from time to time demented individuals do terrible things for reasons we'll never understand – or, perhaps, for no reason at all.

“In the world of politics, however, who gives a fig about helpful or fair?” continued Connor. “Never let a good tragedy go to waste, to paraphrase the inimitable Rahm Emmanuel. If there is political hay to be made, best to seize upon a time when emotions are running high and the people are feeling vulnerable. This is when government does its best work, after all! There are new laws to pass, new regulations to draft, new liberties to curtail in the name of safety and security for all! There is, however, something deeper and more insidious at work in the left's reaction to this shooting than the mere desire to score a few political points: the left's irresponsible, baseless, and hyperbolic accusations and aspersions of all things conservative, Republican, libertarian, and Tea Party is designed to create a chilling effect on any speech that runs contrary to their world view.

“There's more than mere hypocrisy and political opportunism at work here,” noted Connor. “The left's method of dealing with ideas they don't like is to distort the ideas and slander those who promote them, with the ultimate goal of rendering the conservative viewpoint so repugnant and morally objectionable that it becomes socially, culturally – and perhaps even legally – taboo. George Will aptly refers to this tactic as ’McCarthyism of the left’ that ‘expresses limitless contempt for the American people.’

“The freedom to freely voice one's opinion is a cornerstone of American liberty that must not be infringed upon, particularly not by a dishonest faction seeking to hamstring legitimate political dialog for the sake of their own ideological ends,” wrote Connor. The moment we begin persecuting groups or individuals because of their thoughts, beliefs or statements is the moment we cease to be a truly free society. Of course, political civility is a good thing and something to be encouraged; but as long as Americans have the right to speak freely, they will be free to say rude, inflammatory, and hyperbolic statements. Nothing draws out this tendency more than the spectacle that is American politics, and no political party or persuasion is innocent on this score. 

“It would be nice, however, if everyone could recognize that there are certain occasions when politics have no place in the discussion – namely, times of tragedy and loss. It is at times like these that we truly cease to be Republican or Democrat, and should be able to grieve together simply as Americans,” closed Connor. “But then, again, why let a perfectly good tragedy go to waste?”

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