Thursday, August 17, 2023

Lack of Transparency on Nashville Shooter's Manifesto Shadows Democracy

The Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn. AP

"Transparency is Crucial for Democracy" can be an apt slogan many associate with esteemed publications like The Washington Post.

This notion is brought into question as we observe the unfolding events in Tennessee. The state's legislature has been summoned for a special session while critical information remains concealed by local and federal officials.

On March 27, a tragic mass shooting occurred at the Covenant School, a Christian institution in Nashville. Six people, including three children, lost their lives. This event prompted Gov. Bill Lee to convene a special legislative session starting Aug. 21.

The Nashville Tennessean merely identifies the perpetrator as "a shooter." Delving deeper, the culprit was Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old transgender individual (female-to-male), who, after documenting a manifesto, was neutralized by law enforcement.

This manifesto, as disclosed by early police reports, was the result of meticulous planning that detailed an attack on the school. But the manifesto remains concealed, accessible only to certain authorities.

Though Hale hinted at evidence in an Instagram message preceding the incident, the public remains unaware of its content.

Vivek Ramaswamy, a GOP presidential primary contender, has voiced his concerns about this silence, suggesting that when authorities withhold information, it's often because the knowledge might prompt reactions they'd prefer to avoid. Such information rarely portrays them in a favorable light; it's typically details that might tarnish their reputation or that of someone they want to protect.

The peculiar predicament here is that while lawmakers are expected to discuss and decide upon legislative measures stemming from this March tragedy, they do so with only partial knowledge.

Despite Gov. Lee advocating for the manifesto's release, both the Metro Nashville Police and the FBI maintain their secrecy. Speculations from spring indicated that LGBTQ+ communities opposed its release, fearing potential backlash against the transgender community or possible emulation by others.

However, as Ramaswamy highlighted, such manifestos are typically released promptly — usually within two days. Yet, this one remains undisclosed after several months.

Dan McLaughlin from the National Review perceives this as a bias. He argues that if a conservative Christian was responsible for an attack on a transgender establishment, there would likely be a push to reveal the manifesto.

In recent times, the expectation of consistent transparency from the media and law agencies seems to be waning. 

However, one cannot deny: this legislative session was summoned due to a significant incident, but substantial information remains hidden.

While some of Gov. Lee's proposals like mental-health expansions and tax exemptions on gun safes seem sensible, their effectiveness in preventing similar tragedies remains uncertain.

Historically, Americans believed in the people's right to access vital information for self-governance. And despite changing times, many still uphold this belief.

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