“I don't know what the answer is,” Kacey Musgraves shouted during her set at Lol lapalooza on August 7, “but obviously something has to be fucking done.”
The country music star then led her fans in a chant that perfectly encapsulates the future of American politics: “Somebody fucking do something!” she screamed. “Somebody fucking do something!” the crowd screamed back.
Musgraves was, understandably, upset about the horrific backtoback mass mur ders that took place the first weekend of August in El Paso and Dayton. She did not offer a specific something to be done. This may have been an attempt to appear non partisan, it may have been honest uncer tainty, or it may just have been a sensible intuition that the middle of a music fes tival was not the right place to workshop public policy.
But the something matters an awful lot. In this case—and in so many others—“do something” actually means “do some thing to other people.” It means “force other people to do something they don’t want to do, even if you’re not sure it will actually help.” The call to “do something” privileges action over analysis and man datory onesizefitsall solutions over incremental, local, and voluntary action.
The list of somethings to be done post shooting is familiar enough: Stop the sale (or possibly possession) of certain fire arms, make everlarger lists of people who are not allowed to own firearms at all, and regulate speech—especially “hate speech,” especially online, and maybe video games while we’re at it. As Reason’s Brian Doherty and Jacob Sullum have chronicled, there are good reasons to think these proposals will impose wide spread harmful unintended consequences while being ineffective at reducing gun deaths. But in politics, that doesn’t seem to count for much. Especially not when a bunch of politicians are in way over their heads, grappling with a highly flammable mix of genuinely troubling problems involving violence, racial hatred, inad equate health care, and terror.
“If we truly care about this,” said President Barack Obama after a 2015 mass shooting in Colorado Springs, “if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience, then we have to do something.”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
WHY IS AMERICA STILL IN SYRIA?
TRUMP BROUGHT CHAOS TO A REGION ALREADY ON THE BRINK, AND THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF HIS ACTIONS WILL REVERBERATE FOR YEARS TO COME.
‘JOURNALISTS ARE AUTHORITARIANS'
Glenn Greenwald discusses what went wrong at the outlet he co-founded, what’s wrong with the ACLU, and what might go wrong in the Biden administration.
Trump Wasn't a Dictator, but He Played One on TV
THE 45TH PRESIDENT BUSTED NORMS LEFT AND RIGHT. BUT THE ABUSE OF EXECUTIVE POWER DIDN’T START AND WON’T END WITH HIM.
THE SILVER LINING IN BIDEN'S MASSIVE HOUSING PLAN
A DEMOCRATIC WHITE House and a Republican Senate might be the best of all worlds when it comes to federal housing policy.
PRESERVE YOUR SANITY BY PRESERVING FOOD
Canning is a hedge against uncertainty, an education in self-reliance, and a pocket of calm amid tumult.
IN DEFENSE OF COVID BILLIONAIRES
PEOPLE LOVE TO hate billionaires. And they really love to hate large pharmaceutical companies.
DON'T PACK THE COURT
JOE BIDEN SHOULDN’T REPEAT FDR’S BIG MISTAKE.
CONGRESS TARGETS AMAZON, APPLE, FACEBOOK, AND GOOGLE FOR BEING POPULAR
WITH FRESH FACES in the White House and Congress, many Trump-era political agendas will soon be discarded.
BIDEN PLEDGES TO REJOIN PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT
“TODAY, THE TRUMP Administration officially left the Paris Climate Change Agreement,” tweeted President-elect Joe Biden on November 4, 2020. “And in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will rejoin it.”
A Silicon Curtain Descends
TRUMP ESCALATED AMERICA’S WAR AGAINST HUAWEI AND CHINA. BIDEN SHOULD BEWARE BURGEONING TECHNONATIONALISM.