Hugh Hewitt

We do register and publicize the locations of sexual predators, but of course we know that mental illness is almost always not accompanied by violence and so we recoil from the prospect of over-inclusiveness on a list of potentially dangerous people. We do not want to add to the stigma of mental illness for fear of driving people away from rather than into treatment.

We have also so paralyzed professionals with fear of lawsuits that doctors treating the killers of Tucson or Aurora or Newtown don't have a "red button" option that would put those young men on a "watch list" while sparing the vast majority of patients from similar scrutiny.

It is the same problem that stopped his colleagues from calling out Major Hassan as a fanatic who could destroy lives.

Responsibility cannot be legislated unless and until an honest debate of the problems of doing so is conducted, and that is not going to happen because of the media culture promulgated by millions of online wannabes who daily tear and distort serious conversation into sound bites and heavily edited quotes.

MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry is complaining that her absurd and self-parodying "promo" has generated an "inbox filling with hateful, personal attacks."

It won't be very long though until she or her guests are using caricatures of her political opponents that don't even bother to play their entire statements --as most conservative commentators have been willing to play her entire "promo"-- as props in their arguments.

This diseased media is why the parents of Newtown won't change many votes even as they elicit genuine sympathy. No political figure dares admit even an ounce of truth exists on the opposite side of the aisle for fear of becoming the "clip of the day," distorted and replayed a thousand times.

Now come the heirs of the Watergate burglars --David Corn and his band of courageous G. Gordon Liddys of the left-- to add to the already widespread paralysis of public debate on the omnipresent threat of bugging. An already frozen public discourse will migrate into all but the smallest gatherings, and we will end up with zero debate and endless displays of symbolism substituting for argument and persuasion.

No answer here, just a recognition that very, very few places hold out against this trend. A few shows on talk radio, a few on cable, an occasional magazine or website has serious, sustained argument within it. That is the overarching problem within every problem. Everyone knows it, and no one can fix it.

Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt is host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Hugh Hewitt's new book is The War On The West.