There’s lot of right wing outrage on the internets and radio dial these days. Of course, that’s not exactly new and sometimes, they take a small step out of their bubble and realize that their outrage might be a little … over the top. But no such realization has affected NSA-inspired outrage. This domestic spying stuff has given rise to some of the hottest, burniest outrage in recent months. It’s been interesting to see how the Right treats privacy (NSA surveillance) versus gun rights when it comes to the outrage-o-meter.
First, the NSA thing. This has outraged conservatives over apparent indiscriminate gathering and mining of phone call data. I (and many of my liberal friends) share in these concerns. Some of us are even outraged :). I’m even a little sympathetic to the idea that Obama is losing his moral authority (to borrow a great phrase and rescue it from a ridiculous, misused context). Today’s Obama flip flop feels like betrayal and hypocrisy of the highest order. Senator Obama, presumably, would have felt the same way. That said, conservatives could argue, and I believe they absolutely would have argued during a Romney administration, that this kind of surveillance is truly, actually required to assure the safety of American citizens. The Obama administration is making this argument today. Even GWB is on the same page, though it seems like it took a while for him to come out and say it.
So … outrage on the right over NSA spying.
And I get it. Privacy is important. To me, a common sense reading of the 4th amendment clearly protects me and everyone from this kind of NSA thing. I felt the same way when the Patriot Act was first signed into law. Back then, however, most right wingers were telling me variations of “TERRORISTS!!!!” and/or “of course, regular Americans have nothing to fear” and all that sort of thing. It was pretty much the same as the current administration’s line of defense, although in ALL CAPS and with lots and lots of bangs (!!!).
So back in the early days of GWB and the Patriot Act, we had conservatives telling us it was OK for the GWB’s NSA and other homeland security type groups to do this kind of spying. Even if it did raise serious privacy concerns, they had the TERRORISM!!! answer ready to pull out of their back pocket. (As we all know, TERRORISM!!! was a potent card to play in a wide array of circumstances. Sigh.) But ultimately, they didn’t care about privacy and usually denied any 4th amendment issues. I’m fairly certain that Mark Levin and Hannity both said that literally in the spirit of “I’m not talking to international terrorists so I don’t care if the government listens in on my conversations.”
In other words, a little less privacy is to be expected in this age of TERRORISM!!!
On the other hand we have … gun rights.
After the horrific massacre in Newtown, CT (20 children, 6 adults murdered at Sandy Hook elementary school), there was a refreshing attempt on the part of Congress to do something about it. There should continue to be such an effort because of things like this and this and this and this and this. But it failed. The right wing exploded in new heretofore unheard of levels of outrage. Setting aside the maniacs and Fox News, however, some conservatives did make coherent arguments in opposition to gun control measures. My favorite argument goes like this: “the 2nd amendment is precious – precious. The Founders knew back then, as we do now, that guns are dangerous and bad things will happen. But it’s the cost of freedom.” And it is a coherent argument. I think it’s the kind of argument pundits whose children haven’t been killed in elementary schools make, but it’s coherent.
By way of summary, here’s the conservative outrage mapping for these two topics:
|GWB / Patriot Act||“Meh. I don’t talk to terrorists anyway.”|
|Obama / NSA (son of Patriot Act)||RAGE!!!!|
|Sandy Hook Massacre||“Those poor kids! It’s such a terrible imperfect world we live in, that uncontrollable madmen like that live among us. ”|
|Gun control measures in response to Sandy Hook||RAGE!!!|
I could go on and on and on, especially about pro-2nd amendment arguments that weave religion into the picture. But I’ve gone too long as it is.
The conservative movement should try to make it through the day with a little less outrage. Entire days may be too much to ask, so maybe just make it through breakfast. That way, when genuinely outrageous things happen, we can all be outraged together. (Come on! It was a terrible movie!)