Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. It’s an expression some elected officials and media types would be well served to learn.
When one has a public forum like this there is a certain sense of obligation to comment on significant events. However, one must exercise caution. I have been guilty on occasion…maybe not here so much as in other places…of letting my emotions dictate a phrenetic response full of, as my Grandma used to say, piss & vinegar. That is usually not a wise course of action and so I have learned the fine art of pondering. It has been a couple of days since the tragic events in Arizona, which has given me time to contemplate my views.
All manner of news outlets, from TV & radio to newspapers & the Internet, have been covering the sad shooting rampage at a political event for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Rep. Giffords was shot in the head and though she survived and the prognosis is positive the road that lay ahead is undoubtedly long. Six others were not as fortunate, dying as a result of their injuries. The dead included three individuals in their upper 70’s who were so close to completing this race we call life only to be cut down violently in their “golden years”. Their funerals will not be what those of such an advanced age can, most of the time, reasonably hope for…slightly melancholy yet buoyant affairs that are often a reunion of sorts for friends & family, a celebration of the life of a person who has successfully run the course and finished as well as could be expected. No, these folks don’t get that sort of quasi-triumphant ending. And then there is 9 year old Christina Green, ironically born on September 11, 2001, a little girl whose budding interest in politics spurred her to attend the event in Arizona and ultimately ended her life. Think about that…nine years old. There are no words capable of capturing the sadness and anger such a death brings about. The murderer is a 22 year old wackjob whose motives are unclear and will probably never make sense, because there is no way that killing 6 people…especially a child…can ever make sense no matter how much context one is able to attribute to the circumstances.
But we are human beings, and asking “Why??” is just one of those things we do, even when we know there will never be a satisfactory answer. To that end, there has been no lack of response to the Arizona tragedy, and much of it has been predictable yet troubling.
Infamous law enforcement pinata Rodney King once asked the question “Can’t we all just get along??”. The answer Rodney, is no, we can’t. Why can’t we all get along?? I suppose there is a variety of answers to that, but an overwhelming reason is self-serving greed and egotistical narcissism. We Americans can muster the capability to be united in heartbreaking anguish and wrath for about 10 minutes before someone decides to use the situation to further their own agenda. And, with apologies to my bleeding heart liberal friends, it has to be said that it is usually their heroes that are the first to start gnawing on something like a dog with a rawhide, usually in an effort to demonize conservatives and spit on The Constitution. In the past 48 hours we’ve seen the Arizona sheriff investigating the shooting blame Rush Limbaugh, South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn demand renewal of The Fairness Doctrine (which limits free speech), New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy call for yet more gun control laws, and idiots ranging from testosterone-challenged Keith Olbermann to Hanoi Jane Fonda blame The Tea Party and more specifically two of its most ardent figureheads, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Meanwhile, back in the real world, evidence is mounting that the shooter was an anti-Semitic (Congresswoman Giffords is Jewish) leftist pothead with a personal grudge against his target and no affiliation with any political party. There is absolutely no evidence that he was a listener much less a passionate follower of any particular talk radio host or other pundit, and nothing to support the assumption that “vitriolic political rhetoric” is to blame for his heinous act save for a not uncommon dislike for the government in general. Several friends and acquaintances have come forward expressing a decided lack of surprise that this lunatic would commit such a violent crime. Even the dimwitted sheriff so hell bent on casting aspersions on Limbaugh stated that the man came from “a somewhat dysfunctional family”. The predilection toward trying to assign rationale to irrational, violent behavior is understandably human. The penchant for taking advantage of the grief of others to play political games and crap all over freedom & liberty is a sad commentary on the state of both “journalism” and ethical, moral, sapient leadership.
The bottom line is this…..
More gun laws will neither bring the dead back to life nor would it have prevented the event from happening. Stifling of free speech would be just as misguided. The simple fact is that a young man with a lot of issues and more than a few screws loose went off the deep end. He is to blame for his actions, and if the legal system works the way it is supposed to then some form of justice, as hollow as it will undoubtedly seem in relation to the lives of the victims and their families, will be served. Everything else is just a bunch of poppycock, a vain attempt by some to make this horrific tale about them and their megalomaniacal tendencies & need for power and control.
- Washington reacts to Giffords shooting (dailykos.com)
- After Arizona tragedy, it’s time to dial down the political rhetoric (chicagonow.com)
- Michael B. Keegan: Denouncing Violent Rhetoric, the Sheriff Gets it Right (huffingtonpost.com)
- Obama, colleagues call shooting a tragedy (msnbc.msn.com)
- More reaction to the Giffords shooting (thehill.com)
- Congresswoman Giffords: Reaction To Arizona Shooting (blogs.abcnews.com)