Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tucson Tragedy

I have to talk about this.  If you don't appreciate my political opinions, and you think this might put a bad taste in your mouth, close this window and move on to something else.  This is too important to ignore. 

Last weekend, Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford (a Democrat from Arizona) was hosting a public town-hall event at a grocery store in Tucson.  A young man named Jared Lee Loughner shot her point blank in the back of her head with a semi-automatic weapon.  In the process, he also killed six people and injured 13 others.  One of the victims was nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green.  She was born on September 11, 2001 and was part of the Faces of Hope:  Babies Born on 9/11 project.

We MUST talk about this senseless act of violence.  It was clearly politically motivated. We don't know if Loughner was motivated by any particular politician or commentator, and we might never know.  But it doesn't change the fact that the rhetoric in this county is out of control.  That it wouldn't hurt a single one of us to dial back a bit and make sure we always communicate in a respectful manner.

With power, comes responsiblity. 

I listen to the radio talk show host Ed Schultz regularly.  He is very progressive, and very loud.  And sometimes he's kind of arrogant, but I think he's spot-on with the issues of the day.  Yesterday, when I tuned in to hear him, his message was basically this (paraphrased, of course):  He said that everyone with a microphone has a responsibility, himself included.  He said that he spent a big part of the weekend in self-reflection.  He acknowledged that he's a partisan commentator, and has crossed the line in the past, and said that it was a good opportunity for him to consider how he relays his message. 

Brilliant.  Thank you, Ed.  It's exactly what I wanted to hear from you.  In light of such tragedy, some humility.

I'm not playing the Blame Game.  It's not that I'm not interested.  It's not that I don't care. It's just that there is no evidence.  But every politician and commentator, in this world of communication and transparency, should take this opportunity to check themselves.  It would be great to hear more apologies.  In the future, I will expect more.  If there is a chance that rhetoric could lead to actual violence, then it would be a good idea to withhold the angry, hateful speech, lest someone consider it a call to action and more people get hurt.

Christina Taylor Green's entry in Faces of Hope, reads: "I hope you know all the words to the Star Spangled Banner and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles."

May her legacy change the world.


MindiJo said...

I don't necessarily believe that this was political. Nobody really knows that for sure. Even if you read the link that you show, it is unclear. What it definitely does show is mental illness evolving over a period of time in his life. And this particular politician's and her audience is, unforunately, who he chose to act out against. It's sad.

That being said, we SHOULD use this as a lesson. Our country does need to tone it back with all this political backlash from all viewpoints. It's disgusting. I've been saying that for a while. Everyone thinks they need to shove their opinions in the opposing parties faces. And many times, they aren't especially nice about it. We need to agree to disagree. Just like you do in any relationship.

Additionally, this should also raise awareness about another important topic: mental illness.

Off your topic: I saw on the news that in The New York Times, someone had written something along the lines of this: the right is where the majority of the hate/bitterness pertaining to politics comes from. Ha! I was offended. It's all a matter of perception, clearly. Because I feel it quite strong from the left. (Guess we know which way that newspaper slants... ) But we shouldn't be pointing fingers, we should be embracing our differences. Those differences are what makes our nation so great.

MindiJo said...

As I was laying in bed last night, I realized I should defend how I stated the first paragraph. I meant that I don't think it was an act of an extremist. I think it was someone who was mentally ill and should have gotten help. Instead, unfortunately, he acted out in this way.

Tara said...

I thought about this last night, too, as I lay in bed, and my thoughts were along similar lines as Mindi's. I do say it WAS politically motivated, but the person who was motivated to commit the crime is mentally ill. A normal person might get angry, frustrated, disgusted, etc, by the opposing viewpoint, but isn't going to take extreme action like this person did. Saying it was politically motivated without that caviat is like saying that all people who lean right are capable of this, an only those who lean right would do such a terrible thing. That is untrue. There are nutcases on both sides, but the majority, on both sides, are totally normal people who wouldn't even dream of making such a terrible and unfortunate choice. Therefore, you really can't make this about right or left.

MindiJo said...

Although, Tara, I do believe that an extremist could do this very thing. As wrong as it is. I'm saying, this guy is suspected to be Schizophrenic, which adds another dimension. So, I believe, if he does have a mental illness then he isn't necessarily an extremist. You know what I'm saying?

Either way, it makes me really sad.