Ten days ago, a lone man shot and killed six people and wounded thirteen others, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Nine days and about twenty-three hours later, people were declaring that the attack was directly motivated by the horrific, hateful rhetoric coming from the conservative side of politics. Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and the Tea Party were declared responsible for the attack, as though they themselves had pulled the trigger those multiple times. As actual research, journalism, and investigation happened, it quickly came to light that the accused shooter (I love how even though he was dragged from the scene, legalism still demands he be referred to as accused) had a long history of bizarre behavior, rants against capitalism and public schools, video of him burning an American flag, and a reading list populated with Hitler and Marx. Sounds like a serious right-winger, doesn't it? But, the old saying goes, a lie gets around the world before the truth can get it's shoes on. The right is still on the defensive from the accusations, while pulling out more and more examples of the left's more frequent and more blatant calls for violence and death against their political opponents. Another old saying comes to mind, the best offense being a good defense.
The whole thing has really showed how low people will sink. Calls for gun control, hate speech laws, and more protection for lawmakers have all hit the legislative floors in these ten days since the horrific massacre. Death threats against Sarah Palin shot up. One of the injured was taken for a mental evaluation after shouting "You're dead" at a Tea Party leader. Granted, I think that one was an outburst of stress and grief, and hope that it will lead the gentleman to get some help, but it still is an example of people's reaction to this tragedy.
I personally am disgusted by anyone who used the shooting to further political goals, especially so quickly. The bodies weren't even cold before accusations started flying. It wasn't much longer before those bills in Congress started flying. Look up and see if any of your representatives were those taking advantage of the opportunity, giggling like ghouls at a fat man's funeral at the possibility of getting pet projects passed. Hopefully it upsets you enough to take action. These types of opportunistic politicians are a major problem in our government right now.
Can we use this tragedy to study what drives people to such acts? Absolutely. Might that study and discussion lead to some adjustment of laws and attitudes? Possibly. Does time need to be given to mourn and heal first? Common sense says yes.
Prayers go out to all the victims and their families.