Six people were shot down yesterday in Tucson … on a Saturday morning when they were out and about, simply living their lives. They are:
* John M. Roll, 63, a federal district court judge.
* Gabriel Zimmerman, 30, Giffords’ director of community outreach.
* Dorwin Stoddard, 76, a pastor at Mountain Ave. Church of Christ.
* Christina-Taylor Green, 9, a student at Mesa Verde Elementary.
* Dorthy Morris, 76.
* Phyllis Schneck, 79.
The shooting in Tucson yesterday has left me … and so many others, shaken, appalled, and wondering just when this ugliness will stop. A Congresswoman meeting with her constituents should not need to be an event that requires security. It should be part of the normal weave of our democratic processes … sort of like breathing. People out and about on a Saturday morning should not be in danger if they choose to stop and listen to a member of Congress.
And political disagreements should not need to be matters that are fanned and inflamed into issues of patriotism or treason, good or evil, life or death. Those who spew that kind of heated rhetoric need to take responsibility for the havoc that their words can wreak.
For someone whose Facebook Page featured crosshairs targeting Congressional Districts (including that of Representative Giffords – although it disappeared right after the tragedy, apparently) … it’s beyond disingenuous to not even offer an INKLING of serious, responsible reflection in her statement about this recent event. Instead, we get terse and empty platitudes from the great P-meister:
My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona.
On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.
And from Eric Cantor, we have a promise that “all legislative activity in the House scheduled for next week would be postponed.” Now that’s a meaningful gesture! If you said that John Boehner would stop playing golf …. or that legislative activity would actually HAPPEN, or that you might stop posturing and grabbing for power and actually put the good of the country first … we might think you were really doing something heartfelt, Eric.
Most amazingly, there’s this bit of obfuscation, highlighted in one of this morning’s articles about the tragedy:
During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November, Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. Kelly is a former Marine who served in Iraq and was pictured on his website in military gear holding his automatic weapon and promoting the event.
“I don’t see the connection,” between the fundraisers featuring weapons and Saturday’s shooting, said John Ellinwood, Kelly’s spokesman.
That is beyond unbelievable. Do these folks really believe what they are saying? Or is it simply cynical? Or, as third, chilling possibility, do they really think that their cause(s) are worth the loss of human life … but they just aren’t saying it publically?
Threats of violence to Congress members have increased dramatically over the past year – and according to statistics, they appear to have focused on supporters of the healthcare reform effort.
John Roll, the Federal Judge who was murdered yesterday, had had numerous death threats against himself and his family.
… Roll allowed a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit to proceed against a local rancher. The case was filed by illegal immigrants and drew the ire of local talk radio hosts, who “spurred audiences into making threats.”
In one afternoon, Roll logged more than 200 phone calls. Callers threatened the judge and his family. They posted personal information about Roll online.
“They said, ‘We should kill him. He should be dead,’ ” Gonzales said.
By all accounts, it sounds like Judge Roll’s presence at the event yesterday was totally random … a tragic happenstance within a larger tragedy.
But, the bottom line is that while those who pump up the volume can assert that they are not directly responsible for the acts of the likes of Jared Lee Loughner … and they can distance themselves as best they can … in their hearts, in the middle of the night … do they really believe it? Rupert Murdoch … how much money do you need? Do you have any misgivings about what you bankroll?
In the end, the only real question in my mind about these folks who we hear so much on the airwaves is, are they evil … or are they deeply and thoroughly deluded about the connection between their rhetoric and this abhorrrent violence? As deluded as they want to say Jared Lee Loughner is?
Either way … they are dangerous. (But you will notice, please, that I am not encouraging anyone to shoot at them or harm them in any way … other than maybe damaging their egos by not voting for them or buying their books or listening to them.)
PS: Meanwhile, here in New Hampshire … “On its first day in control at the New Hampshire Statehouse last week, the new Republican-led Legislature made it crystal clear where its real priorities are. The Republicans’ first legislative act? Voting to open the House chamber to firearms for the first time since 1971.” OMG … the State and its budget are a mess and THIS is what they focus on?