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(Opinion) Shooting in Arizona – should we really be surprised?

January 9, 2011

The terrible tragedy in Tucson, Arizona shows us just how much the rhetoric and the words (both spoken and implied) matter.

Should we really be surprised after Sarah Palin tells us, “Don’t retreat! Instead – RELOAD!”, or instructs us (complete with a color map with gun crosshair graphics) to “Take back the 20”, or when Sharon Angle talks about “second-amendment remedies”, to come to find out that someone was paying attention, listened and acted?

Isn’t there something called taking responsibility for one’s words, and doesn’t that responsibility apply to celebrity/glory-seeking politicians who care more about their own fame, ratings and book sales than they do about the lives of the people – including the nine-year-old child who lost her life – they claim they want to help?

The people responsible for writing and saying this type of inflammatory rhetoric can spend today trying to wash their hands clean, if they can. Personally, I’m not sure there’s a soap strong enough to wash away the responsibility of another person’s death and the thought of one unfortunate nine-year-old child who sadly fell victim to someone who listened to certain enticing words. A better idea, the speakers can forget about washing and just go away and leave the politics to the politcians. That’s bad enough, but at least it’d be a start.

Locally, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was quoted as saying her tears are flowing at the news. I’m sorry, and I don’t mean to question her sincerity during a tragedy like this, but talk of flowing tears from the queen of inflammatory rhetoric just rings hollow.

Color me sad.   

And if you think this story can’t get any worse, it can. The Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket the funerals of the six murder victims. They call the shooting and the killings, “Righteous Judgements”.

Color me even sadder.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Craig permalink
    January 9, 2011 9:26 am

    While I agree with you about the need to tone down the rhetoric, I’m not yet convinced that this guy acted in response to any of those words spoken by Palin and the rest. It seems more likely that he’s a deranged individual who had some paranoid fantasy about the government and decided to act on it. But this should still serve as an opportunity for everyone on both sides of the aisle to think about the words they use and the power those words can potentially have on people.


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      January 9, 2011 3:02 pm

      I’m not trying to say that he acted on anything Palin or anyone else said, only that words have consequences and the people saying this stuff need to stop and think about what they’re saying and who they’re saying it to. And it doesn’t end with just Palin and Angle either. How about, “If ballots don’t work, bullets will.” from Joyce Kaufman, a radio host and Tea Party activist? Or Michele Bachmann telling us that she wants us “armed and dangerous”? Maybe it’s not this guy, maybe he’s insane or something else, or maybe he was acting on a hatred of Jews, but people are listening to this stuff.

      “Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action.” – Gabrielle Giffords.


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