Saturday, January 8, 2011

When Violence Strikes

Today, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot -- point blank -- at a constituent services meeting in the parking lot of a local Tucson Safeway.

A young man who had been a Giffords election volunteer -- and who was in town on break from Georgetown and helping out at the constituent meeting just to see old friends -- had the following to say:
"It’s clear that this is a contentious district. Passions run deep on these issues, so much so that somebody would be compelled to do something like this,” he said. “However, the kind of bickering that happens on a day-to-day basis never reaches physical violence.

"This is unprecedented — and it’s going to send shockwaves throughout the country."
It certainly should send shockwaves across a country whose political landscape has been dotted with such irresponsible acts as placing gunsight target graphics beside Congressional names -- including that of  Gabby Gifford -- in Sarah Palin's high profile political ads last cycle.

Condoning threats of violence, inciting violence and stoking that fervor for political gain?  It is unacceptable.  Period.  I don't care who is stoking it, it is just plain wrong and it is well past time for every rational, decent person in this country to stand up and say so.


Threatening a public official in the course of their doing their official job -- and I'd argue that meeting with constituents is part of her job, certainly, were I prosecuting the case -- carries with it an additional set of penalties in most states over and above the attempted murder and murder charges that will go with today's violent rampage.  Threatening an official in the course of them doing their job is serious business, and should be treated as such because intimidating elected and appointed officials from fully doing their jobs threatens all of us.

I have a feeling this is going to be a long and winding road of disentangling all the bits and pieces of this shooting and its aftermath.  Especially given that reports put the shooter with a 9mm Glock with an extended clip -- you can get them up to 33 shots if I'm remembering correctly from my law enforcement days -- and that's going to raise a lot of questions about access, mental health issues, and a whole host of other things centered on the shooter and his motivations.

Especially since a Federal judge lost his life just stopping to get groceries (and talk about the need for immigration case load tweaking with Gifford's staffer as well).  As did a 9 year old girl and any number of other folks who were just there to see their elected representative and/or grab some groceries.  That's just plain crazy, that a constituent meeting could be that violent.

One thing I'd love to see happen is this:  all those loudmouths who blather on and on about reloading against political targets, who incite political rage and feed into violent fantasies just to up their PR profile and sell more books or gain new radio audience share?  I'd love to see the rest of us just turn away, tune them out, and refuse to feed their burgeoning egos and need for attention by turning them off altogether.

Because, frankly?  I've had it with all the hate.   And I'm hoping the rest of you have, too.

(Photo via ambigel.)


barbara said...

Christy, I was hoping so much that you'd post about this. Thank you. I miss your political perspective very much, and this is a prime illustration of why that is. Yours is almost without exception (I don't remember an exception, but I'm covering my ass) a voice of reason (not to be confused with mewling and puking) in the face of national catastrophe.

Yesterday, I was filled up and rising with rage. Rage that progressives seem impotent re speaking loudly and clearly and repeatedly that something is horribly, horribly wrong.

Today, I am more sad than angry, but the anger lingers. Why? When this has absolutely nothing to do with me, and also everything?

We have allowed a group of fear and hate mongers to seize control of the national debate, of the nation really, and their wild and irresonsible rhetoric has helped pave the way for incidents like the shooting of Gabby Gifford and so many others at the AZ mall.

What is called for here is an unequivocal, rapid response from the President of the United States, and an emergency gathering of sages of every political persuasion to council about a solution/approach to the unparalleled hateful society that has been taking shape, particularly over the past three or four years.

Not gonna fill up your comments with any more of this. I chose an interesting time to take a leave from my blog, didn't I?

That's all.

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Barbara, the sad fact of the matter is that we live at a time when real leadership is desperately needed, and what we get instead from all sides is self-involved puffery masquerading as political prowess.

It's beyond frustrating, isn't it?