Sunday, January 9, 2011

America Weeps with Arizona


The power of the press has never been more prominent than it is now with cell phones and texting, Twitter, Facebook, and yes, even blogging. We can get our news instantaneously, 24/7. Devastating news, like the shooting yesterday in Tucson, Arizona of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and at least a dozen others, leaving a 9 year old child dead, has spread through the waves in short order.

Along with the devastating news, we have political pundits and their predictions without facts. The gunman, Jared Lee Laughner, was a right-wing loon who listened to talk-radio; he was a Palin follower who saw her map with the bull’s eyes and decided to take violent action; and of course, any time there is a shooting spree, we must repeal the second amendment, or at least have stricter gun control laws, because guns kill!

I suppose it’s only natural for people to assume this is political in nature considering a politician has been shot and now lies in ICU. I also assume it’s normal for people to jump to conclusions considering six people died yesterday, one being an innocent 9 year old girl, Christina Taylor Green, which leaves most people emotionally distressed. And for many, when emotions are running high, it doesn’t leave much room for rationale or logic.

We’ve also been in a highly charged political climate of late with our elected officials bickering and telling us that the other side is the “enemy” (and shame on them for using such rhetoric), or the “opposition” is bad, evil in some cases, so is it any wonder the American people look upon anyone with a differing opinion as the adversary? Is it any wonder people suspect any type of violence upon a politician as a Right-wing conspiracy when it is common knowledge that the Right is known for its belief in smaller government? But is that a good enough reason to blame someone else rather than the lunatic who actually committed the murder? Or in this case, the Domestic Terrorism?

I realize it’s easy to cast blame on O’Reilly, Beck, Limbaugh and Palin. After all, they are public figures who monopolize our airwaves and a lot of people take what they say as gospel, never once questioning their words or researching on their own what these public figures say. But to blame these people for the actions of others is taking it a bit far, in my opinion. That’s like saying a gun killed, when in fact, it was the person holding the gun who did the actual killing. Oh, yes, I know, O’Reilly, Beck, Palin, et al. promote violence with their WORDS—but do they, REALLY? Or are they only voicing THEIR beliefs, which don’t mesh with everyone, therefore vilifying them with those that don’t agree, or even hate them? What will happen if one day someone from the Left shoots and kills one of THEM? Will the Right then come out and blame the Left for promoting violence? It will be a no -win situation with a bunch of dead people. Violence and hatred only beget violence and hatred.

So, WHO is the REAL villain? The Right? The Left? The Government? The Public? Or this Jared Lee Loughner, a disturbed individual who decided one day to go on a shooting spree because he is a lunatic and killing six people and injuring a dozen more fit into his fanatical agenda?

I’ll NEVER understand Loughner and his ilk. Nor do I want to. I don’t want to know what’s going on in the mind of a killer. I only know I never want to be in a situation where I have to make a split second decision that could save me from a bullet. And if I do, I hope I’m fast enough.

My heart goes out to the families of the injured and the deceased of this horrific tragedy. May Gabrielle Giffords survive and fully recover. May sweet Christina Taylor Green rest in peace and may her parents one day find solace. And may we, as a country, find our compassion, dignity, and common sense.

30 comments:

  1. Thank God for the congresswoman's aide who acted quickly and courageously to save her from death.

    I see on MSNBC and other blogs that people are already attacking republicans and the Tea Party unabashedly and even making things up and misrepresenting or even falsely quoting people. This is sick and has no place in a crisis of this magnitude. This is a time for all to band together as Americans and put politics aside. What happened is terrible and hopefully the one lesson that will come out of this is that life is unpredictable and precious, a lesson I know all too well, but many take for granted.

    Let's not politicize this, but rather pray to whatever deity people pray to for the souls of these victims, the sanity of the others, and the comforting of the families that have lost loved ones.

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  2. I've written about this at greater length on my own blog, but in fact, there is evidence to support the contention that Loughner was a political extremist and that the murders were motivated by that. Some of his obsessions, such as the gold standard and hatred of government, are memes which people like Beck and Palin have pushed. He was certainly mentally disturbed, but that's not inconsistent with his being a political extremist. Many political extremists are paranoid or otherwise delusional.

    Loughner and Loughner alone holds responsibility for his actions; he had the choice to pull the trigger or not, and he chose to pull it. Nevertheless, after Palin's gunsight map and the ongoing inflammatory rhetoric of "Second Amendment solutions", "don't retreat, reload", and so forth, I don't think one can absolve the rabble-rousers of knowingly and intentionally playing with fire.

    It does rational conservatives no good to let such people present themselves as high-profile representatives of conservatism. If the Palins and Becks of the world finally tone down their rhetoric, or if substantial numbers of conservatives stop treating them as respectable figures, then it can be said that something positive has followed this horror.

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  3. Blue: Yes, the Aide was quick and hopefully it did save her life.

    I heard a lot of "false" reporting in the earlier part of yesterday and that's why I waited to post. Although we still don't have all the facts and probably won't for a little while. The FBI is still investigating.

    I hope that a valuable lesson is learned too, but I'm assuming it will be "business as usual" and this too shall fade and people will be at each other's throats once again.

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  4. I too know America is shocked as well as saddened by the horrific violence perpetrated by one lone psychotic and immensely deranged individual. And I am equally sure that Americans in some measure shed tears for the innocent victims of this heinous crime.

    The real world is of our own irrational making. Made, as it is, by otherwise good and ethical people over many years of allowing our system and values to become corrupted by politicians, businessmen, and national leaders who did not keep their eyes on what is/was right, but rather what is/was expedient, would garner votes or favors.

    Vitriol... look around you. It is thick on both sides of the political aisle. We now will experience I fear new assaults on our rights of free speech. The news media as well as political pundits will continue, as is being demonstrated now and particularly by the left, the perverse rush to gain political one up man-ship.

    It is, in this independent conservatives mind, disgusting, irrational, and sad.

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  5. Beck isn't a conservative, and Palin is an idiot. That said, people are most definitely responsible for their own actions.

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  6. Although the shooter has the profile of a loner who has crossed the onset threshold into the dark abyss of schizophrenia, it should be noted that delusional content always has a cultural origin. A deranged personality does not pluck cultural memes out of thin air.

    The nightly assault of 24/7 cable news, the rants and ravings of pundits and radio goons delivering Apocalyptic messages, blame heaped on scapegoats deserving of ritual sacrifice, the language of "locked and loaded" ... how can one ignore this noise! How can there be equality of free speech between armed and unarmed persons when town hall hooligan brandish weapons to intimidate?

    The good sherif was right about Arizona being the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry. According to Arizona's own statistics, overall crime rates have dropped 20% (from 2005 to 2009); whereas bias crimes have increased 50% in the same period.

    Jon Kyle and the tea baggers have wrongly criticized the good sherif. How do you put lipstick on a squeal?

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  7. My heart goes out to the families of the injured and the deceased of this horrific tragedy...as does mine Pam..senseless!

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  8. Infidel said:

    "I don't think one can absolve the rabble-rousers of knowingly and intentionally playing with fire."

    Well, is there a smoking-gun connection here? OR is it just wild imagination that Sarah Palin's map inspired this?

    Wild imagination coming from those who bash Palin for her gender, for being a mother, for her boots, and for not doing the impossible and preventing her adult daughter from going on a TV show.

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  9. It's funny how all of these bloggers preach civility, but don't mind the insensitivity of the word "tea-bagger". Please.

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  10. These are examples of eliminationist rhetoric, i.e. making partisan characterizations that paint opponents in Apocalyptic terms such as ‘evil,’ ‘the enemy,’ 'dangerous,' ‘diseased,’ and ‘vermin’ that merit extermination and eradication:

    Tea Party Leader: Left's Reaction To Shooting 'Sinks To The Level Of Evil'

    Conservative Magazine Names Jon Stewart 28th 'Most Dangerous Liberal' In America

    Eliminationist rhetoric was employed by the Nazis to seize power, engage in genocide, and massacre tens of millions of people. If you don’t condemn this kind of rhetorical excess, then you are aiding and abetting the problem.

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  11. That's an opinion. You're on a sinking ship. I hope that you see the error in your logic, and that you realize that true inflammatory rhetoric is expectorated by your side on a daily basis. In fact, Kos deleted an article about the current congresswoman/victim being dead to them. Shall we use this as an example of vitriol? I would normally be interested in hearing your opinion on this, but I've decided that I've had enough of the faux civility. Thanks anyway.

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  12. I do not follow the Daily Kos and have never been a fan or reader. Of course, you express opinions too, and it is a double standard to privilege yourself without extending the same courtesy and mutuality towards others. After several months of relative peace, why are suddenly ginning up another hissy?

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  13. So it's peace if I don't publish? You use the term "tea-bagger" and that's considered civil? Explain please.

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  14. The term is commonly used in the liberal blogosphere, often tossed subconsciously and without forethought. I have surfed the conservative blogosphere and found similar derogations for liberals, so I know it goes both ways. There is no profit in getting into a hissy over he said/she said or the circular sandbox logic of who started it first. So lets keep the peace and leave it at that.

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  15. It is their very unwillingness to accept that what they have done, and are DOING, is wrong, that I have no hesitation about reminding the baggers who the architects of the Tea Party Massacre are.

    Judson Phillips is even trying to raise money from this, for Dog's sake, and is adamant about the baggers NOT toning down their rhetoric.

    Let us not forget about the 3 Pittsburgh Police Officers mowed down by a rabid Beck fan.

    Words have consequences. The attempts of the lunatics who set this guy off to poject blame onto the victims is beyond despicable.

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  16. Wild imagination coming from those who bash Palin for her gender, for being a mother, for her boots, and for not doing the impossible and preventing her adult daughter from going on a TV show.

    dmarks, I know we are supposed to be respectful, but you have repeated a well-known pack of lies here, and I am calling you on it.

    Your heroine is attacked because of the KIND of person she is, not for her gender. She is lambasted because of her stage mothering, not for being a mother. And last but not least, she has been cited for her hypocrisy and her dangerous rhetoric, not because "the left is scared to death" of her.

    Please, leave the lies where they belong, over in Freeperland.

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  17. Hi everyone. I appreciate all of your comments and I intend to respond, however, I’m pressed for time right now.

    But I’d like to leave you with some food for thought until I get back:

    While we’re discussing this horrific incident, which some say has been incited by “words”, it might be wise to keep in mind that the word “tea bagger” is insulting to some, just as Rethug and Libertard are insulting to others. And “words matter”, as we’ve been told time and again.

    Or you could just follow my simple advice and disagree with dignity.

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  18. "In fact, Kos deleted an article about the current congresswoman/victim being dead to them. Shall we use this as an example of vitriol?"

    Actually, that's an expression used in some cultures when a member of their religion/culture marries outside of it, for example, a parent who is aggrieved that his/her adult child is marrying out of their religion: "He/she is dead to me." meaning that person "no longer exists as far as the family is concerned." It does not wish death upon anyone; it means no longer does that person figuratively exist.

    "Blood libel," however, is an entirely different and more grievous reference to an ugly and murderous time in anti-semetic medieval Europe.

    Despite what Alan Dershowitz claims, it evokes a time of unrelenting defamation of the Jewish people as Christ killers by majority Christians in Europe.

    IMHO, there is no place for this loaded term in political discourse--or any discourse for that matter.

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  19. "The term is commonly used in the liberal blogosphere, often tossed subconsciously and without forethought."

    A pretty good description for much of what passes to some as intelligent thought on such blogs.

    Shaw said:

    "Despite what Alan Dershowitz claims, it evokes a time of unrelenting defamation of the Jewish people as Christ killers by majority Christians in Europe."

    Tell that to those on the Left who greatly admire dictator Hugo Chavez... a man who actually uses the specific term "Christ killers" to bash Jews.

    ---------

    Jolly said: "Words have consequences. The attempts of the lunatics who set this guy off to poject blame onto the victims is beyond despicable."

    Respectfully I ask: have you seen any evidence that Beck, Palin, or anyone else like that was connected in any way?

    Or are you just making this up and hoping that it sticks?

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  20. dmarks: "Tell that to those on the Left who greatly admire dictator Hugo Chavez... a man who actually uses the specific term "Christ killers" to bash Jews."

    dmarks, I am on the left, and I don't know ANYONE who "greatly admires" Chavez.

    You're engaging in what the right has said is unfair: Some people who hold wild ideologies do NOT represent the entire group they identify with, and your example, even though it may apply to a minority of leftist, nevertheless would incite people to hate all leftists.

    Your example is likening those on the right who wish to incite insurrection against the United States Government as an example of the right.

    Why on earth do you bring up something totally irrelevant and that has nothing to do with the majority of the left?

    Are you trying to indict an entire group of people for the ideas of a radical few?

    Aren't we sick of this sort of rhetoric?

    Can we stop it? Now?

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  21. Words and symbols have consequences.

    And when you put a crosshair gunsight on a person and that person says she is concerned about it and you don't remove it, those actions have consequences.

    Palin put a gun target on Giffords.

    Giffords had a bullet shot through her head.

    Make your own conclusions.

    I've made mine. And so have other Americans.

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  22. I don't think it can ever be empirically proven that anyone's political words actually inspired this killer but the media is acting as if it's fact. There is nothing at all wrong with evaluating the tone of our political discourse from time to time but to tie it in with violence is the sheer height of speculation. For me it's useless but to each his own.

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  23. Here's the thing:

    Madison Avenue types spend millions and millions of $$$ on ad campaigns--all words and images--to get people to go out and buy crap they probably don't really need.

    And it works.

    But now I'm hearing that images and words (gun sights, crosshairs, "don't retreat, reload," "We need to be armed and dangerous," etc. have no effect on anyone listening to this.


    Which is it?

    Are the advertiser who spend a king's ransom to get a message across all doing this just to throw their money away? Or do the continual showing of images and blasting of messages have any influence on people?


    I'm going with the idea that repeated strong messaging and provocative images DO affect people, otherwise why in hell would corporations spend millions and millions of dollars on teevee and print media to get people to buy their stuff?

    Why did we decide to not allow any cigarette advertising on teevee as a way to discourage kids and adults from smoking? And no hard liquor ad on teevee?

    Can someone answer this?

    I repeat: Sarah Palin and her friends did not kill or wound anyone.

    But we have to ask ourselves what influences violent images and messages have on our national psyche.

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  24. Sarah Palin had nothing to do with any of this. There has been no connection at all between Palin and the killer. You know there hasn't. Yet you continue to link her. You continue to justify the Kos article that was deleted after the shooting.

    You are wrong.

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  25. Shaw said:

    "But now I'm hearing that images and words (gun sights, crosshairs, "don't retreat, reload," "We need to be armed and dangerous," etc. have no effect on anyone listening to this."

    Where is the, ahem, smoking gun?

    ANY connection between Palin and this incident?

    Or do we just add this to you bashing Palin for being a woman, having an accent, and wearing boots.

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  26. Shaw said:

    "Are you trying to indict an entire group of people for the ideas of a radical few?"

    Yet, when people libeled the tea party movement as racist, did you ever object?

    Or is this kind of lying and overcharged rhetoric OK if it serves your political purposes.

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  27. Shaw said:

    "Palin put a gun target on Giffords.

    Giffords had a bullet shot through her head.

    Make your own conclusions."

    You remind me of those lawyers who make millions by lying in the courtroom.

    Missing from this is the very important question. Did the gunman even see this ad

    Ignore Shaw's intentional misleading. Look at the facts. Then draw informed conclusions.

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  28. Zman said:

    "I don't think it can ever be empirically proven that anyone's political words actually inspired this killer but the media is acting as if it's fact"

    Actually, recent history shows that despite supposed right-wingers trying to incite right-wing violence against the left, it ends that the actual violence comes from the left.

    Remember a couple of years ago when tea partiers were crashing town-hall meetings? The left made hollow claims that the right was inciting violence with this.

    Yet when the violence happened, it came from the left. Such as the incident where an Obama supporter killed a conservative who opposed his healthcare plan.

    Or the members of the SEUI anti-worker political gang, closely connected to the Obama administration, sent to threaten and harass people at the town hall meetings. This included them beating up a conservative in a wheelchair.

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  29. Jolly said:

    "dmarks, I know we are supposed to be respectful, but you have repeated a well-known pack of lies here, and I am calling you on it."

    You are not being truthful on this, and I cam calling you on it.

    I have seen Shaw bash Palin for "Palin for her gender, for being a mother, for her boots, and for not doing the impossible and preventing her adult daughter from going on a TV show."

    And that's a fact. You tried to justify the bashing with a claim of "Stage Mothering". Which of course is rather sexist. And if she had hidden her children, the Palin haters would have bashed her for this too.

    There are valid reasons to criticize Sarah Palin. None of the boots, motherhood, gender, dancing TV show reasons are valid at all.

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  30. If words matter Pam, then why is it so hard to understand that words from a certain point of view motivated this man and his evil deed?

    Great oratory has always motivated, for good and bad.

    If Glen Beck wants to infer that Obama should be shot; would it surprise us if one of his millions of viewers shot Obama? It should not.

    Great oratory (words) started this country. Words are also what Hitler used to motivate people.

    Motivational speakers are popular, because they get results with just their words.

    It's not rare at all, that after hearing a speech, people go out and do just what the speaker urged them to do.

    Irresponsible speech and lies need to be countered with the truth. A lie told often enough becomes the truth.

    The Republicans have told the lie about Obama not being an American citizen so often, that millions of Americans believe he is not; even in the face of overwhelming factual evidence, that he is.

    I don't know if this man was motivated by some speech, or oratory he heard, but I'm quite sure people do act on words and oratory they hear.

    We should be more harsh on those (especially in public or on public air waves) who engage in irresponsible speech, or promoting outright lies.

    YES, words matter.

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