Sad and shocking news of the absolutely horrible shooting in Tucson.
We’ve actually got the TV tuned to Fox News, not a station I watch often, but the first one we’ve managed to tune in upon hearing this news. The anchor is being explicitly cautious, not saying too much about the shooter, but he did read a few quotes from a document purported to be written by this young man.
We are about to hear a great deal about how this shooter is disturbed, maybe has mental health issues, is a lone wolf, etc. “Some lunatic, some evil monster,” is what Trent Francis, a member of the Arizona congressional delegation, is calling him right now on the news.
And, on the one hand, yes, true. Anyone who could murder people in cold blood for any reason is a monster and a lunatic. The youngest victim is a 9-year-old child.
But, on the other hand, let us be clear—this horrible crime should come as no surprise. This man may have been the only shooter on site, but others have created a mood of violence and terror that has gotten out of control.
Congresswoman Giffords’ office windows were broken—or shot out—after her vote last year in favor of health care. Sarah Palin’s famous map of “targeted” Democratic incumbents showed Giffords’ district in the crosshairs of a rifle:
The wingnut right (which I distinguish from the responsible fiscal conservatives, of whom there are too few) has ratcheted up the rhetoric again and again. The tinder is bone-dry and the sparks are flying. Political assassinations are a foreseeable outcome of this militant rhetoric.
Words have consequences.
And the consequences in this instance are truly abhorrent and gut-wrenching.
My heart aches for Gabby Giffords, her family, and the families of the other victims and witnesses to this deeply tragic event. May this be the moment when the tide turned, and not the beginning of an era of violence and unrest.