How Twisted Minds Find Validation

This undated booking photo provided by the Washoe County jail via the Reno Gazette Journal on Friday, March 5, 2010 shows John Patrick Bedell. Authorities said Bedell pulled a handgun at a Pentagon entrance in Washington on Thursday, March 4, 2010, shot two police officers and was mortally wounded in an exchange of gunfire. The two officers were hospitalized briefly with minor injuries. (AP Photo/Washoe County jail via the Reno Gazette Journal)
AP Photo/Washoe County jail

It happens with increasing frequency now - a person with a twisted mind and a complaint against the government goes to a government building and tries to kill people.

Last week it was a shooting at the door of the Pentagon. Two weeks before it was a man who crashed his plane into a Texas IRS headquarters.

Any society will always include a small number of the deranged who pose a danger to the rest of us, but here is the difference: In this age of the Internet, such people can find one another, talk to one another and - no matter how twisted their view - find those who agree and sympathize with them.

As it was last week at the Pentagon, last month in Austin and last year at the Holocaust museum and after that at Fort Hood, men with guns found encouragement - even validation - on the Internet where there is no accountability, no editor.

I would be the last person to restrict freedom of speech, but responsible people recognize there are limits. They were outlined in the landmark case in which Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that free speech did not include the right to falsely shout 'Fire!' in a theater and cause panic.

Yet there are no such limits on the Internet, where 'Fire!' is not only shouted but encouraged, and as we saw again last week, by some, taken to heart.

I don't know the answer to this, but we must start begin to think about the question.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.