My initial reaction was one of anger - anger at the far-right for stirring up anger, anger at the mainstream media for climbing into bed with them, and anger that once again a maniac has mowed down 14 innocent people, killing six - with a Glock 19 semi-automatic with 33 rounds of ammunition. And I felt profoundly sad - sad for the victims, sad for their families and friends, and even sad for Jared Lee Loughner's parents.
Since then my time has been devoted to blog-hopping, reading news reports and Facebook posts, watching videos and leaving an occasional comment. I could claim I’ve been looking for answers. I have, but mainly I’ve been avoiding writing about this latest shooting spree because memories of Columbine and Oklahoma City and Memphis and Dallas are still too raw. Needless to say, I haven't found any answers but I have found a lot of things that just don't add up in my book.
The media and the voices on the right didn't need to tell me that Jared Lee Loughner is insane. Of course he is. So were Eric and Dylan, Tim, James Earl and Lee Harvey. Face it, you can’t be anything but nuts to carry out this kind of terrorism. But if they'd look a little deeper, they'd find out that this is exactly the kind of unstable person the nuts on the right appeal to.
People, especially public figures, should realize that with freedom of speech comes responsibility, that words have consequences. Case in point:
. . . Ohio Democrat, Steve Driehaus, clashed repeatedly with Boehner before losing his seat in the midterm elections. After Boehner suggested that by voting for Obamacare, Driehaus "may be a dead man" and "can't go home to the west side of Cincinnati" because "the Catholics will run him out of town," Driehaus began receiving death threats, and a right-wing website published directions to his house. Driehaus says he approached Boehner on the floor and confronted him.
"I didn't think it was funny at all," Driehaus says. "I've got three little kids and a wife. I said to him, 'John, this is bullshit, and way out of bounds. For you to say something like that is wildly irresponsible.'"The media and law enforcement spokesmen aren't connecting the dots when they say Loughner wasn't politically motivated exactly three seconds after they've just described the Gabrielle Giffords documents he'd been stashing away in his safe since 2007. “Before Sarah Palin,” they hasten to add. So are we to assume that Loughner ignored the map Palin put up on her Facebook page with the gun sights, one of them aimed at Giffords? Apparently so. The main stream media certainly ignored it, at least until a few days ago. And now the corporate media and their Republican brethren are claiming that the “don’t retreat, reload” lady from Wasilla wasn’t advocating violence. Exactly what was she advocating then?
Driehaus is quick to point out that he doesn't think Boehner meant to urge anyone to violence. "But it's not about what he intended — it's about how the least rational person in my district takes it. We run into some crazy people in this line of work."
But as they so rightly point out, Sarah didn't pull the trigger. Neither did Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or Sharon Angle who "floated the idea that the public would bring down an out-of-control Congress with "Second Amendment remedies." Only the very disturbed Jared Lee Loughner pulled the trigger and it just so happens that it was during a heightened atmosphere of hate, anti-government rhetoric, paranoia and anger on the part of the right-wing. Absolutely no connection.
A psychologist friend once told me that it isn't unusual for siblings to misdirect their anger at a parent for daring to die toward other siblings. While I didn't know these innocent victims in Arizona I was still angry and, like so many others, I needed a target, an outlet. But after days of reading - some of it thoughtful, some of it even profound, some of it not so civil - my anger began to subside. And then I heard the man who has been the target of so much hate and racism remind the American people to "take responsibility, to use the tragedy to refocus on how we treat others and what we say and how we say it."
And then I read and posted the open letter to parents from the man's wife.
I’m not as noble and wise as President Obama and First Lady Michelle but I don’t think I’m capable of retreating from calling out reckless speech, lies, hate, intolerance and ignorance. I’m not a well-known political figure and I don’t write a column for The Washington Post or The New York Times; I’m just a modest little blogger who reaches, probably without a great deal of influence, a very small group of people. But I will try to answer his call because I think he’s right. Civility has to begin somewhere but I’m only human and thus subject to human frailties – and some adjectives are really just statements of fact.
And I will redirect my anger – an anger that has been growing steadily over the past three years and has increased ten-fold over the last week. The only difference between the massacre in Tucson and previous acts of terrorism is that for the most part we now have a lazy, spineless, good-for-nothing corporate media. The main stream media, to a certain extent, has become synonymous with the right-wing media and is just as dedicated to brainwashing the public. Unlike Fox News they haven’t quite become the propaganda arm of the Republican Party but they’re uncomfortably close in the opinion of this media observer.
I will explore this notion – with plenty of evidence – in an upcoming article.
Every blogger on my role has written some good pieces - I invite you to link to them. Following are other suggested links:
Freedom to Shoot: Ivan Goldman criticizes Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for signing a gun law that allows people to carry a concealed weapon without requiring a permit. "No operator’s license, no sanity test, no rules."
Brewer said she was shocked, saddened, etc. by the events at aWords Have Consequences by Citizen Kane:
shopping center. Apparently her brain is unable to process two thoughts simultaneously, so she’s unable to see any connection between the maniacal wide-open gun legislation she so joyously celebrated and this event. Tucson
The question isn't whether conservatives condone murder. Few people do. But they have fomented it with their unveiled threats to water the the tree of liberty with blood of supposed tyrants; with their dark talk of a second civil war; with their wild accusations that anyone not like them is a dangerous socialist; with their portrayal of President Obama as a psychotic villain; with their threats and calls to arms; with their advocating the lynching of US senators; and with their use of rage and lies as a substitute for the honest debate that they cannot win. And for some, though the Susan Collinses and Olympia Snowes will deny it, it has come with their silent acquiescence to behavior that one hopes troubles them deeply.Bill Clinton On Gifford's Assasination Attempt
The Blurred Line Between Mainstream Conservatism and Far Right Wing Extremism at Liberal Values
Sharron Angle Floated '2nd Amendment Remedies' As 'Cure' For 'The Harry Reid Problems'
Tragedy in Arizona, Richard Cohen, Southern Poverty Law Center
Freedom for Speech We Fear and Freedom to Fear It, Wendy Kaminer, the Atlantic
Words of wisdom from Rachel Maddow: