Tragedy in Tucson

Top of the news right now is the senseless attack on Congressman Gabrielle Gifford and as many as 19 other citizens at a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona.  As so often seems to be the case these days some of the first reports of the attack were broadcast via Twitter.  Here are a few of the notable tweets I’ve seen:

  • Let’s not generalize about large groups of people based on Jared Lee Loughner‘s actions, unless it turns out he’s Muslim
  • The talk did not cause the crime. But the crime should lead to reflection on the talk.
  • Whatever drove Jared Lee Loughner, America’s political frequencies are full of violent static.
  • Hey Sarah Palin, how’s that hate-y reload-y thing working out for ya?

I have to admit, this isn’t a funny situation but that last tweet made me chuckle.

There was quickly a backlash against a political poster that Sarah Palin’s political action committee had on their website showing, on a map, 20 U.S. Congresspersons she wanted defeated. (worth noting that in the aftermath of the shooting the map was quickly taken down)  The district of each of those targeted congresspersons was shown on the map using crosshairs, as if from a rifle scope.  Naturally, Gabrielle Giffords was one of the 20.  Immediately people (mostly people who dislike Palin, of course) leapt to accuse Palin of bearing some measure of responsibility in the attack.  A few even went so far as to say that Palin effectively ordered the attack.

Personally I think that’s absurd.  I’m no fan of Palin and would never vote for her, but her political propaganda is just that – just more of her “Mama Grizzly” populist rhetoric. She likes to be seen as some sort of wild-west gunslinger, a tough chick, because that appeals to her base.  In my opinion she’s not a nefarious mastermind commanding her legions of evildoers to kill her political opponents.  To the contrary she’s a simpleton media creation who plays on her good looks and folksy style to get airtime.  I don’t think she ever expected (or wanted) her “hit list” to result in actual violence.  I don’t think she thinks things out that far.

Her “hit list” was a political hit list.  Was it in poor taste?  Yes, it was. But that form of rhetoric is common not only in politics but in sports and even in business.  Is it irresponsible and even juvenile? Yes, I can see that argument. But did she directly incite Loughner to attack?  I don’t think so. Heck I was recently asked what kind of clients my firm is “targeting”.   I certainly hope nobody interpreted my response to mean they should go out and kill lawyers or accountants.

And there were some disturbing tweets too….

  • God will 4give Jared Lee Loughner as he will 4give Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords 4 repealing #DADT .All are the same in Romans 1:26-32

So this woman has the deranged opinion that voting to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the same thing as shooting 20 people in cold blood, including a 9-year-old child? That’s sort of shocking.

Loughner may well be mentally ill. I’ve glanced through some of his writings/videos and they certainly seem like the incoherent ramblings of somebody with a tenuous grasp on reality.  Whether he’s mentally ill or not, however, I think he needs to spend the rest of his life locked away. The only question for me is whether he’s on death row in a prison, or in the psychopath ward in a mental hospital.

Naturally the mainstream media leapt into action – desperately trying to interview anybody who had ever had any contact with Loughner, no matter how tenuous. “And now, an exclusive interview with a junior high school classmate of Loughner”  Good grief.  Most of these people, who seemed a little bewildered to suddenly be on camera, barely knew Loughner and said things like “Well, he was always kinda quiet.”  Gee, thanks for that insight. Valuable use of 8 seconds of screen time?

“After these messages we’ll hear from a guy who sold Loughner a sandwich back in 2007!” <eye roll>

Jon Stewart…can we restore some sanity please?

In the meantime, I’m hoping (as we all are, I think) for the injured to make a full recovery and I’m sending my condolences to the families of those killed.

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