Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Repubs Promote Violence Against Judges

Back in the days when Republicans were in favor of balanced budgets, they would also criticize liberals when they attempted to explain some of the sociological reasons for violence in our society.

But now Republican politicians seem to have reached a deeper understanding -- and even sympathy -- for justifiable violance (some might even say terrorism) -- at least against those who wear judicial robes and dare to disagree with the will of God, as interpreted by the disciples of George W. Bush.

First we have House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX):
"Mrs. Schiavo's death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today.
And yesterday we have Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) suggesting, shall we say, a different form of "term limits" for judges. After all, misbehaving Godless judges are different than misbehaving Godless politicians....
Of course the difference is that they can throw the rascal -- the rascal out -- and we are sometimes perceived as the rascal -- if they don't like the decisions that we make. But they can't vote against a judge because judges aren't elected. They serve for a lifetime on the federal bench. And, indeed, I believe this increasing politicalization of the judicial decision-making process at the highest levels of our judiciary have bred a lack of respect for some of the people that wear the robe. And that is a national tragedy.

And finally, I – I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news. And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in -- engage in violence. Certainly without any justification but a concern that I have that I wanted to share.
Well, as you might imagine, the blogosphere has been lighting up with commentary about this quote. I've got some links below if you're interested. As for me, this whole affairs brought me back almost ten years to a time when I was spending quite a bit of time on workplace violence.

In 1996, I wrote a chapter in Occupational Medicine: State of the Art Reviews about violence against public employees. Among the issues I discussed in wake of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma city, and bombings at Bureau of Land Management and Forest serive officies in Nevada, was public employees as victims of ideologically motivated violence motivied by rising hostility toward government in general.
While the number of purely ideologically motivated violent acts against public employees is unknown, a growing disenchantment with government in general, fanned by certain politicians and talkshow hosts, may have relaxed traditional inibitions that people have had when confronting what they see as a hostile government authority. This perception may be heightened by some talk show hosts and others who have portrayed public employees as lazy, spiteful bureaucrats and jackbooted thugs spewing out silly and costly regulations an vengefully enforceing them against innocent citizens and small businessmen. As one talk show host said when counseling his radio oudience on the best method for murdering officers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Riearms: "They've got a big target there [on their chests]. Don't shoot at that because they've to a vest on underneaty that . Hrad shots, head shots...Kill the sons of bitches." Following the Oklahoma City bombing, a United States Senator insisted that federal emloyees who worked at the Murrah buiding but who had not been accounted for by the authorities "...were playing hooky that day, maybe had left early, maybe had gone out [oin breaks] that were not authorized or something."
Seriously, my feeling is that there are more than enough wackos in this country who think that the only entities with any rights are the pre-born and the pre-dead. Some of them only need a tiny nudge to be sent over the edge.

And the sayings of Tom Delay and John Cornyn may be all they need. Way to go guys.

More on Cornyn here, here and here.