Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Arizona shootings: When will we ever learn?

My heart -- and those of my family, many of whom live in her district -- go out to the family and friends of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and Judge John Roll and all the other victims of the shooting. As politicians of all stripes have said, it is a tragedy, and the perpetrator is obviously deranged. That said, the irresponsible rhetoric of those who would never do such a thing themselves is inflammatory, and sets off the "weapon", the sacrificial lamb, who carries out the attack. The parallels of this to the assassination of George Tiller are obvious -- politicians, radioheads, and bloviators engage in increasing violent rhetoric and then protest innocence when an unstable disciple carries out a violent attack. Can Sarah Palin deny her "crosshairs" post (now taken down) on her website? Can Jesse Kelly, who ran against Rep. Giffords in 2010 (not to be confused with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly) deny his posters where he posed in Marine uniform with his M-16 and invited supporters to a shooting event to remove[1] Rep. Giffords? Can Beck, Limbaugh,, deny that their rantings DO affect their dittoheads -- after all, that impact is what boosts their ratings, and their incomes.

And all the protestations that the aggressive elimination of gun control laws in Arizona and other states have nothing to do with guns being used for murder; the swaggering of gun-on-hip posses showing up in coffee shops to intimidate "liberals" not creating an environment where a murderer or assassin can legally be carrying a gun, are vapid. The NRA says "Guns don't kill people -- people kill people." That is true, but people with guns are able to kill more people, more rapidly, from a greater distance. You can bludgeon someone to death, but would John Roll be dead and Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition if Jared Loughner had attacked with a baseball bat? You can kill someone with a knife, but even if Loughner were an action-movie hero and could have thrown his knife with deadly accuracy at Rep. Giffords, would 9-year-old Christina Green be dead? Come on! Be grownups! You can't say one thing -- all guns of all types should be freely available -- and then deny the inevitable result! Well, of course you can, and it is done all the time.

If there is anyone who is eligible to be considered a hero in this tragedy, it is Pima County (Tucson area) Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who movingly spoke of his friends, and, in what might be a "politically risky" statement condemned the "vitriol" in the public debate that leads to such horror. (Video: The contrast of his obviously pained and saddened but measured, rational speech to the stormtrooper raids of his more infamous counterpart, Maricopa County (Phoenix area) Sheriff Joe Arpaio could not be greater.

We grieve for the dead and the wounded, and we grieve for our country. And we will take it back, our candlelight vigils against their M-16s.

[1] “’I don't see the connection," between the fundraisers featuring weapons and Saturday's shooting’, said John Ellinwood, Kelly's spokesman. ‘I don't know this person, we cannot find any records that he was associated with the campaign in any way. I just don't see the connection.’” (AOL news)


Josh Freeman said...

Posted for Beth Blacksin:
Excellent post. I tried to comment but could not figure out how to do it. Apparently, the shooter was
not allowed to come back to college until he had a psychiatric evalution and posted that he wanted to shoot
a police. Sounds a lot like the Va State kid. Yet, those in power cannot see the connection between the actions of these
troubled individuals and the actions of Palin and company. I wish Obama would take this moment to give a brillant speech on
violence so those leaders might start taking all of this to heart. Btw I did think the neuro surgon was excellent at the press conference.
Gotta love a surgeon who applauds the team.

Stacey said...

I appreciated your article regarding the tragic and senseless shootings in AZ and agree with your analysis. I am also happy to find your blog - I write and manage a very similar one, but regarding psychology and social justice, at Interesting, quite parallel really. Best to you and thanks for the great work - Stacey Prince

Kelly said...

This incident is a tragedy. We had a gun buy back in OZ a decade or so ago- our death by gun stats reduced dramatically. Such US gun toting is crazy in a modern society, a civilized society has no need for it.

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