Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords; A Commentary


When I heard the news yesterday of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a meet and greet in a Tucson supermarket I must admit, I was not shocked. I was saddened to hear of the incident that left Ms. Giffords shot through the head, and six others dead and another 12 people wounded. A man who can best described as a deranged lunatic named Jared Lee Loughner was the alleged gunman. Federal judge John Roll, 9 year old Christina Taylor- Green-the granddaughter of former Phillies manager and Cubs general manager Dallas Green, Gifford's aide Gabriel Zimmermann, 76 year old Dorothy Murray, 76 year old Dorwin Stoddard, and 79 year old Phyllis Scheck lay dead after the scene was sprayed with shots from a handgun that we're told held 30 rounds of ammo in it's magazine.

No, I was not shocked in the fact I said to myself, well, it finally happened. "It" being a violent event so shocking that the entire nation would be talking about it, just like after Virginia Tech, and just like after Columbine. And as in the case of those two horrific incidents, much will be said about guns and gun violence in America, and the examination of the Second Amendment...and ultimately nothing will change.

But this slaughter was different from the others in that it seemed to have a sitting member of Congress as it's target. We know that Ms. Giffords' congressional office in Tuscon was vandalized in the hours after the healthcare bill was passed last year- Ms. Giffords was a supporter of the bill. And we know that Sarah Palin had an image of crosshairs on her website targetting Giffords and 19 others for defeat in 2010 (Palin's aid Rebecca Monsour defended the image in an interview conducted Saturday).

No rational person can say that the angry rhetoric we hear in political discourse everyday was responsible for the shooting. But sometimes irrational people can believe the nonsense that they're hearing and act on it. I've often wondered if Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck actually believe even half of the BS they spew out daily, or are they just throwing it out there to appeal to a lunatic fringe. The extreme voices that talk about "second amendment remedies", and accuse a sitting president of being (pick one) a Communist, Nazi, racist, Marxist-Socialist, a Muslim, or not even being an American citizen didn't pull a trigger that killed six and wounded a dozen others. But they stir a pot that's ingredients are fear, ignorance, and paranoia.

And to certain deranged minds, like that of Jared Loughner, the conspiracy theories and angry rhetoric make perfect sense.

The Right will say there was anger and vitriol pointed towards the Bush administration and towards conservatives in general. To be sure, there were angry words- but never did members of People For The American Way show up "locked and loaded" with firearms at a Bush political event, nor did any Blue State governor call for secession if we didn't stop using his states' National Guardsmen in an Iraq war he didn't support. There was anger, but the progressives left 19th century remedies where they belong.

And to those who say the words of politicians and extreme media members don't incite people to violence, well aren't some of those the same people who fingered rappers and rockers for lyrical content that they contend lead young listeners to misogyny, drug addiction, and the murder of the nation's cops?

Many years ago I worked in a hotel in Miami. The Speaker of the House at the time, the Democrat Thomas Philip "Tip" O'Neill was a frequent guest with his wife.The Speaker would vacation with his best friend from Massachusetts, the Republican Silvio Conte. Among those in their close circle of friends were Bob and Elizabeth Dole, both Republicans and, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Bob Strauss. That was about 25 years ago, but it was a glimpse as to how things used to work in Washington- lawmakers were like an extended family, with disagreements on certain issues, but in many instances with deep personal friendships when the nation's work ended. It's no coincidence that the wedge that began to divide America was born in the late 1980's with the rise of Right Wing talk radio. The conservative base found a voice with Limbaugh, and he spawned scores of imitators and wannabes.

And the nation changed....and for my money, not for the better.

Below, a special comment from Keith Olbermann.


Sue said...

well done Hugh. you're right on, talk radio, hate mongers, anti government rhetoric, it's all come to a boiling point but nothing will change. We've been here before, and nothing changed.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Sue- the bottom line is there is a cottage industry in America that is thriving; it's all about keeping America divided.

Keep people angry, fearful, ignorant, or paranoid and you can make millions. Ask Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity....and above all, ask "America's Professional Victim", Sarah Palin, who finally broke her silence today.

BTW's "pundits", not "pundints".

The Great Dividers didn't pull the trigger on Saturday. All they do is is add to a toxic atmosphere that might be more dangerous to our society than any weapon.

I'm not advocating censorship, just demanding responsibility in the choice of words and rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

You expected it, so it happened. You are responsible.

I bet you don't know what I am talking about.

You are a creator. You didn't know you had that much power?

Self fulfilling prophesy, ever heard of it? The Universe has to oblige to you.

You still belief the earth is flat. You don't have much time left to get away with this much ignorance.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

"Anon"....Congratulations! Your rambling makes about as much sense as Jared Loughner's.

Anonymous said...

Hugh, agree with you 100% on this.
Unfortunately those on the right don't see it that way. They want to be place on blame solely on the left. They don't want believe that the BS rhetoric they spew can lead to this.

While this lunatic is responsible for his own actions. I think both sides need think before open their mouth. "Freedom of Speech" doesn't mean you can be ill-responsible with your speech.


Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Hey Laker, ole buddy!!!!


Thanks for the comments. I find it incredulous that so far in 2011 more than 4,500 people have been shot in the United States, and the last time I looked more than 90 have been shot on this day, according to the Brady Project.

Jared Loughner was a lone wolf crazy, you can be pretty sure about that. But the heated rhetoric out there in the media and in politics, and the right's infatuation with the Second Amendment as first among equals can be a very volatile mix.

God bless us, we have freedom....but freedom means we must be responsible for what we say and do. If you keep saying someone is a threat to truth, justice, and the American way then it's just an invitation for some whackadoo to take matters into his own hands.


Shina Willson said...

very informative and interesting blog.
Thanks for sharing:-)

Anonymous said...

Do you really think that if the 2nd Amendment is abolished or strictly curtailed, that the gun violence problem will be solved? Do you have any idea how many criminals will continue to carry and use guns against innocent people like you and I for decades to come, while good people - who understand you can't outsource your personal safety 100% to the police - will be persecuted for carrying firearms to protect themselves. It's a very simple reality that you can't argue past. And it's very real. You fool. You blasted fool...

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