Aftermath of Tucson shooting as dismaying as actual event

Judging from comments well into Sunday, people still feel a need to vent regarding the tragic shooting Saturday in Tucson. However, before we start down this treacherous road again, let me at least try to put things into context.

First, the attack was perpetrated by a young man who by all available evidence is mentally ill. Anyone who tries to attribute a political agenda of any sort to a soul like that is himself trying to advance a political agenda. It is wrong and disrepectful to the victims of this tragedy to try to distort it for political gain. Please, don’t go there.

However, if the incident itself was not political, there’s no question that the reaction to it became intensely political. What could have and should have been an opportunity to unite as Americans was instead quickly seized as an opportunity to divide ourselves further, to heighten rather than dampen the animosity and vitriol. The reaction told us a lot more about ourselves as a country than did the initial incident, and it was not reassuring.

We like to blame our leaders for a lot of our own shortcomings these days. Congress, for example, has never been held in lower esteem. But the truth is that our elected leaders are doing what we tell them to do. The pettiness and rhetoric in Washington reflect our own selfishness and shortsightedness here at home, and if we don’t like what they mirror back at us, well, blaming the mirror is never the answer.

That said, our elected leadership for the most part has acted appropriately and cautiously in response to Saturday’s attack, perhaps because the violence struck one of their own.  Whatever the reason, the poison that infected our discussion over the weekend bubbled up from below, from among us, rather being inspired from above. The ugliness and rancor was our doing, not theirs. We — speaking in general terms — were handed a chance to leap at each others’ throats again, and too many of us eagerly jumped at it.

A lot has been made about the misuse of violent metaphors, such as crosshairs on websites and turns of phrases in speeches. For the most part, that’s nonsense. Metaphors and turns of phrases do not drive violence, and those who try to claim otherwise are again trying to smear their political opponents with innocent blood. They are contributing to the problem they claim to be identifying.

That said, “Second Amendment remedies” is not a metaphor; it is a direct legitimization of violence.  American political thought is infected with the idea that violence is a legitimate political tool that can and should be employed at some unspecified point, when some unspecified political actor takes some unspecified political action that crosses some unspecified line.  The decision of when such a line is crossed is typically left to the would-be patriot, but always with the suggestion that the line is getting closer, the day is drawing nearer, the threat is growing larger.

That mindset is fed by descriptions of our elected leadership as tyrants or as illegitimate usurpers out to destroy America. After all, once their tyrannical and destructive character is established, violence as a means of addressing the threat to liberty becomes justified. “Sic semper tyrannis,” as John Wilkes Booth so infamously proclaimed.

Again, there is no evidence that Jared Loughner was responding in any way to that ideology rather than to the voices echoing in his own head. But it is foolishness to pretend that others out there cannot be seduced by the false romanticism and heroism inherent in the idea of political violence.

Finally, we as a people need to acknowledge and adjust our thinking to the changing mediascape.  We humans have always been afflicted with demagogues, as the ancient roots of that word demonstrate. But the easy accessibility of modern media has done more than give would-be demagogues a louder voice. There is now money to be made and a following to be gained by stripping us of our larger loyalties to the country and instead dividing us into cliques and cults defined by our animosity to each other.

Free and open debate is the lifeblood of democracy, and it is not always a genteel process. But we set the boundaries of appropriate rhetoric when we decide where to place our loyalty and attention. And we will pay the consequences of choosing wrongly.

– Jay Bookman

627 comments Add your comment

scott

January 10th, 2011
8:12 am

Paul

January 10th, 2011
8:13 am

Amen to that.

I was gone this weekend. While I was listening to the sat radio reports I thought “I’m glad I’m not reading some of the comments on the blog today. This is enough of a tragedy all by itself.”

Jay

January 10th, 2011
8:18 am

Scott, I think I just did.

Granny Godzilla

January 10th, 2011
8:22 am

Good Morning

What a sad weekend for America. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. May God hold them close.

I had all the reactions of a typical liberal, but was cautious enough to get past the first strong feelings and think about what has happened.

This shooting is not the first, and these episodes of anger and violence happen all over America everyday in big ways like this massacre and little ways like on this blog. I have personal responsibility for some of this and I apologize.

As one of our own reminds us, when Luckovich ran a blog I was IN THE NEWS and very often way over the top. I was mean and sometimes vicious and I apologize.

I can’t ask you to reign in the rhetoric unless I do.

From here on in, I’m going to be better.

Fred

January 10th, 2011
8:27 am

Jay

January 10th, 2011
8:18 am

Scott, I think I just did.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Did you have “just damn” reaction to Scott’s comment? I did.

N-GA

January 10th, 2011
8:28 am

Good morning, Paul!

It was pretty nasty. Bloggers from both sides cited numerous examples of political rhetoric that suggested/implied or demanded violence against politicians, the opposition, muslims, etc. The fact that there were SO MANYexamples should concern all of us. (A few of those examples post here regularly)

Just shut up already

January 10th, 2011
8:29 am

Thanks for reinforcing EXACTLY what Jay was talking about, Scott :-|

“We humans have always been afflicted with demagogues, as the ancient roots of that word demonstrate. But the easy accessibility of modern media has done more than give would-be demagogues a louder voice. There is now money to be made and a following to be gained by stripping us of our larger loyalties to the country and instead dividing us into cliques and cults defined by our animosity to each other.”

This is what ticks me off the most. It’s like folks are cheering for an athletic team these days. :-? It makes me so sick that people are allowing themselves to be puppets while the politicians laugh all the way to the bank-TOGETHER.

Middle of the Road and Looking Both Ways

January 10th, 2011
8:29 am

React first as Americans as we do with any tragedy – pray for the families who have been affected by this violence. Don’t look to blame anyone by the shooter.

Herman Cain

January 10th, 2011
8:30 am

Granny, for the first time ever I think, I agree with you. I have many times been way over the top, for that, today, I am sorry. I believe in my rights as a gun owner and those who do not agree with me have that right also. We all need to remember that no matter which “letter” we happen to vote for or contribute money to, at the end of the day we are all Americans.

USinUK

January 10th, 2011
8:32 am

“Again, there is no evidence that Jared Loughner was responding in any way to that ideology rather than to the voices echoing in his own head. But it is foolishness to pretend that others out there cannot be seduced by the false romanticism and heroism inherent in the idea of political violence.”

The ultimate irony in this entire situation is that one of Loughner’s questions for Rep Gifford was regarding whether or not words had meaning (evidently, he asked her if there would still be a government if words had no meaning).

words DO have a meaning. when people talk about watering the tree of liberty with blood, that has meaning. when people talk about not being armed THIS time, that has meaning. and, yes, that applies to both sides of the aisle (as the Dems learned in the 1960s).

Loughner was a nutter, yes – but we have seen time and again particularly in the abortion debate that inflamatory rhetoric DOES drive people to do the unthinkable and murder in the name of their beliefs.

jewcowboy

January 10th, 2011
8:33 am

“However, if the incident itself was not political, there’s no question that the reaction to it became intensely political. ”

Regardless if the shooter was mentally ill or not, to target a politician and judge at a political gathering is in every sense of the word “political” unless the motivation for the shooting was due to an interpersonal relationship such as a lovers quarrel, or money, etc.

I’m not ascribing any particular agenda to the shooters motivation, but to say the attempted assassination of Congressperson and the assassination of a Federal Judge is not a political event is just false.

Paul

January 10th, 2011
8:33 am

Morning, Granny Godzilla

That was a nice example. As I’m sure you recall, I enjoyed engaging ITN. Was a good brain wake-up. If ever I crossed the line with you, I’m sorry.

N-GA

Hello and hello! Yes, the multitude of those examples you cited illustrates Jay’s point, I think.

How’s your daughter?

Just shut up already

January 10th, 2011
8:34 am

“She Has A Name: Christina Taylor Greene, 9 Yr. Old Killed In Tucson Massacre, Born on September 11, 2001… she was excited and eager to learn more about the political process…”

:-( I’m angry all over again.

T-Town

January 10th, 2011
8:35 am

Amen Jay. It is certain that the politics in this country has gotten very personal. It used to be that this country was a melting pot, now we are just a boiling pot. Sad.

TaxPayer

January 10th, 2011
8:35 am

With some folks, it takes a chisel to get through. Of course, that would be a nerf-chisel because I would not want to imply violence of any sort in my remark.

Just shut up already

January 10th, 2011
8:36 am

“We like to blame our leaders for a lot of our own shortcomings these days. Congress, for example, has never been held in lower esteem. But the truth is that our elected leaders are doing what we tell them to do. The pettiness and rhetoric in Washington reflect our own selfishness and shortsightedness here at home, and if we don’t like what they mirror back at us, well, blaming the mirror is never the answer.”

AMEN, end of discussion.

Dave

January 10th, 2011
8:36 am

While you are right that political rhetoric didn’t cause the shooting in Arizona, the aftermath can be instructive I think. Palin is attacked for her “crosshairs” and various conservatives attack the attackers with variations of your argument. But, if politics didn’t cause this shooting, should conservatives stop talking about Islam causing 9/ll? Did religion cause it? Can they have it both ways? Rabid political speech does have consequences, if nothing else getting in the way of true discussion of the problems of the day.

USinUK

January 10th, 2011
8:36 am

jsua – I saw a brief interview with her father this morning … I can’t even imagine the pain that man is in … I just don’t think any language has the words

md

January 10th, 2011
8:37 am

“Congress, for example, has never been held in lower esteem. But the truth is that our elected leaders are doing what we tell them to do.”

Not exactly “true”…….polls show a majority did not want “that” particular hc bill, and congress has done next to nothing on immigration……another poll that says the folks want something done.

If one were to look at the battle inside AZ that has been going on for much longer than most realize, Congress could very well be held accountable for it’s inaction.

USinUK

January 10th, 2011
8:38 am

“Rabid political speech does have consequences, if nothing else getting in the way of true discussion of the problems of the day.”

forget the polite golf clap, that gets a standing ovation

Atlanta1

January 10th, 2011
8:40 am

Well done Jay.

Joel Edge

January 10th, 2011
8:41 am

Pretty good, Jay. No reference to leftist wording and such, but still good. It’s a tragedy. I suspect it will continue to be mined for attack reasons. Some of the blog responses (not on this one) are pretty scary.

josef nix

January 10th, 2011
8:41 am

JAY

“But the truth is that our elected leaders are doing what we tell them to do. The pettiness and rhetoric in Washington reflect our own selfishness and shortsightedness here at home, and if we don’t like what they mirror back at us, well, blaming the mirror is never the answer.”

The point precisely.

Excellent and thoughtful column…thank you for your reflections…

Fred

January 10th, 2011
8:41 am

You didn’t even give me a golf clap when I said basically the same thing several weeks ago……. :P

Just shut up already

January 10th, 2011
8:43 am

jewcowboy and USinUK, totally agree. Let’s not pretend this was not political- IT WAS. At this point it’s irrelevant who spews the most rhetoric, though: What can we do to QUELL it for the greater good of America so that this doesn’t happen again on our own soil??

I dare any zealot from either side to answer that RATIONALLY and UNBIASED.

Speaking of our leaders, Jay. I think Boehner needs to denounce the hate rhetoric coming from conservative opportunists. As USinUK stated: words have meaning. I think Reid needs to JOIN HIM in reinforcing this effort to ultimately squash the madness on both sides.

Call me a loving liberal for wanting everyone to get along, but I’m sick of it all. Beyond sick…

TaxPayer

January 10th, 2011
8:43 am

Conservative American political thought is infected with the idea that violence is a legitimate religious political tool that can and should be employed at some unspecified point, when some unspecified political actor takes some unspecified political action that crosses some unspecified line.

There. Doesn’t that work pretty well when dealing with matters such as select invasions of other countries and abortion and gay rights. Just askin’

N-GA

January 10th, 2011
8:45 am

@Paul – She has had a moderately positive response to some “interesting” treatments. Though not truly “experimental”, they are not without risk. At least they are covered by her insurance (COBRA), most likely because they are administered by a a well-respected medical facility. Not all the patients in the beds nearby have had the same degree of success (result).

Interesting side note: The insurance company paying for her longterm disability has offered to help her apply for SS disability….FOR FREE!

Thank you for asking.

Lance

January 10th, 2011
8:46 am

Jay – I do not agree with you most of the time but kudos to you for stepping up and be a American. I agree 100% This was not political. This guy was nuts. It’s that simple…. Neither party is responsible for this and anyone who tries to associate this with an “political agenda”, is a moron. Great article.

md

January 10th, 2011
8:46 am

“Call me a loving liberal for wanting everyone to get along, but I’m sick of it all. Beyond sick…”

Just a thought, but your moniker doesn’t exactly enforce the idea of getting along………

ken

January 10th, 2011
8:48 am

I clicked a few newspapers anroud the country and was suprised how many people have made this political. There will always be kooks. Pray for Gabby !!!!!!!!!

Just shut up already

January 10th, 2011
8:49 am

**Golf clap for Fred**

But you’re typically one of the FEW posters on the blogs consistently posting with reason. At least in my opinion…

Just shut up already

January 10th, 2011
8:51 am

md- I didn’t even pay attention to my moniker this AM, but I won’t change it. It’s so trivial in the grand scheme of things. And it still applies to many, even me sometimes :-)

USinUK

January 10th, 2011
8:51 am

” I think Boehner needs to denounce the hate rhetoric coming from conservative opportunists.”

as the Dems were required to do in the 1960s

Just shut up already

January 10th, 2011
8:54 am

I’m going to turn the TV off (the opportunists-can’t call them journalists) are SICKENING in their coverage of this story. I’m signing off here, too. Gonna love on my family extra hard today, enjoy the snow and the day off. Be safe out there folks…GO Falcons and WAR EAGLE.

God Bless.

Gordon

January 10th, 2011
8:55 am

“But the truth is that our elected leaders are doing what we tell them to do.”

I think this is a lot of the problem, on both sides. Leaders lead, politicians do what their constituencies tell them to do. Leaders do what they think is in the best interest of the country, and try to explain why they are making the decisions they do. Politicians constantly check polls. We are a republic, not a democracy. Both sides cater to the extremes, because those are the loudest voices.

jewcowboy

January 10th, 2011
8:55 am

So was the Fort Hood shootings by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan not political either since he is mentally ill?

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120313570

Rightwing Troll

January 10th, 2011
8:57 am

By friday night this will all be forgotten and the status quo will be back in effect…

Jay

January 10th, 2011
8:57 am

For example, there’s this genius posting at the Tucker blog:


“Only tyrants who ignore and abuse the social contract known as the Rule of Law need fear a gun in the hand of a citizen determined that the state will pay a price for oppressing its citizens.”

One citizen gets to make that call all by his lonesome, huh?

larry

January 10th, 2011
8:57 am

I wonder about his parents. Did his parents check in on him? I know he’s 22 and all but my parents , especially my Mom , checked in on me from time to time.

A+A

January 10th, 2011
8:58 am

When there is this much hatred in the air (on both sides) I think it’s impossible not to believe that an impressionable person might do something horrible. This is political because this person clearly responded to the right wing rhetoric. It would have been just as political if he had responded to the left.

jewcowboy

January 10th, 2011
8:58 am

“So was the Fort Hood shootings by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan not political either since he is mentally ill?”

were…not was. I think the snow has frozen my language abilities…

md

January 10th, 2011
8:58 am

“And it still applies to many, even me sometimes”

And me as well, but there are politer ways to say it……….it reflects on you more than anybody else.

josef nix

January 10th, 2011
8:58 am

And there we are at 8:43, back to the same old same old…will we learn anything here?

Jay

January 10th, 2011
8:58 am

Larry, he apparently lived with his parents. They were no doubt aware he was having serious issues. But you have to hope they didn’t know he had acquired a gun…

USinUK

January 10th, 2011
9:00 am

Gordon – 8:55 – you’re right, of course, but as they said in “The American President” “what do you call a leader with no one behind him? a guy out for a walk” …

yes, our congress critters need to lead the country, but they are also in their position because they are supposed to reflect the people they represent

md

January 10th, 2011
9:02 am

“This is political because this person clearly responded to the right wing rhetoric.”

And you just might be part of the problem…………there is zero indication of facts supporting this claim………unless you care to enlighten us with them while you claim them.

larry

January 10th, 2011
9:04 am

Did not know he lived with his parents. I wonder if they tried to reach out to him since you read all of these reports that he was isolated and what not. And i agree, i hope they didnt know he had bought a gun.

josef nix

January 10th, 2011
9:04 am

I make no pretense of even beginning to understand what was going on in the shooter’s head. From what very little we have gleaned or have been told, he was clearly unhinged. To call him left or right, conservative or liberal is not, in my opinion, possible at the moment. His ramblings were all over the board.

Lil' Barry Bailout

January 10th, 2011
9:05 am

There is no doubt which political party saw this as an opportunity.

jewcowboy

January 10th, 2011
9:06 am

“But you have to hope they didn’t know he had acquired a gun…”

As is his legal right.

” law makes it illegal to sell or transfer a firearm to a prohibited possessor, defined as any person who has been found to be mentally ill by a court, convicted of a felony, adjudicated delinquent, imprisoned, or serving a term of probation, parole, community supervision, work furlough, home arrest, or release on any other basis because of a domestic violence or felony offense. It is illegal to knowingly transfer a firearm to a person who intends to use the firearm in the commission of any felony. A firearm cannot be transferred to or possessed by a minor under the age of 18 except in limited circumstances.” ~ AZ gun control laws

http://www.statemaster.com/graph/gov_gun_law_pro_per-government-gun-laws-prohibited-persons

As far as I am aware no court found him mentally ill…yet.

Keep up the good fight!

January 10th, 2011
9:07 am

Excellent post Jay!

Get Real

January 10th, 2011
9:07 am

Thanks Jay….well said….this weekend’s comments were way over the top on both sides and it is my hope that the tragic events of this weekend can somehow, someway pull us closer together as a nation.

jewcowboy

January 10th, 2011
9:08 am

Lil’ Barry Bailout,

“There is no doubt which political party saw this as an opportunity.”

Yes…both.

md

January 10th, 2011
9:10 am

After watching and reading many sources over the past couple of days, I’d have to say that many in the media reacted just as many posters did on this blog.

Their claims, speculation and assumption of motives did nothing but fuel the flames.

Gordon

January 10th, 2011
9:11 am

@USinUK,

Reflecting the people they represent does not always mean giving them what they want. If everyone does that, who does what is best for the country? I think Americans would respond to real leadership better than you think. The key is communication. My mind can be changed, but you have to show me why I am wrong. Once enough trust is built, I’ll go along with someone even if I disagree from time to time. For example, I generally support lower taxes because in my opinion higher taxes leads to more spending and not deficit reduction. But if someone would come up with a real plan with realistic milestones on cutting spending and raising taxes that lowered the deficit, I would go along.

Lil' Barry Bailout

January 10th, 2011
9:11 am

jewcowboy, that’s simply laughable. If you trace the arc of comments since the shootings, you’ll see that it’s the Democrats who sought to take advantage, and Republicans following by pointing out their hypocrisy.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Icarus Pundit and Jeremy Berry, Jay Bookman AJC. Jay Bookman AJC said: The aftermath of the Tucson shooting was as dismaying as the event itself, http://bit.ly/hpFVE1 [...]

josef nix

January 10th, 2011
9:13 am

L’il Barry

Both sides and with equal venom…the good news is that those stepping back from the abyss came from both sides, too, with equal concern.

jewcowboy

January 10th, 2011
9:14 am

Lil’ Barry Bailout,

“you’ll see that it’s the Democrats who sought to take advantage, and Republicans following by pointing out their hypocrisy.”

Thank you for proving my point.

Southern Comfort

January 10th, 2011
9:14 am

USinner

I’ll have to disagree with your 8:32 just a bit. Words SOMETIMES have meaning. They only have meaning or power if we give it to them. Spoken words are nothing but sounds in the air if we don’t give them meaning. Likewise, written words are nothing but groups of letters unless we give them meaning. You could read one thing that brings you to tears, and someone else could read it with no emotion whatsoever.

I think we need to learn to better control our emotions. There’s nothing wrong with being passionate about things you care for. Just don’t let that passion overcome your sensibilities.

Also, got your note downstairs about the 14th St. bridge. Try flying over that bridge in the wintertime. Had to do it a few times last year, even with snow on the ground.

Lil' Barry Bailout

January 10th, 2011
9:15 am

If that’s proving your point, then you’re welcome!

markie mark

January 10th, 2011
9:15 am

Thanks Jay…excellant from first word to last…..

[...] Aftermath of Tucson shooting as dismaying as actual event | Jay Bookman. This entry was posted in Opinion, Politics and tagged ajc, America, congress, Jared Loughner, Jay Bookman, John Wilkes Booth, legitimate political tool, opinion, Political discourse, Politicians, Tucson, Tucson Shooting, unspecified political actor, US, Washington. Bookmark the permalink. ← Facebook Wins Relatively Few Friends in Japan – NYTimes.com [...]

Jay

January 10th, 2011
9:16 am

You mean comments such as these, L’il Barry?

“It’s unfortunate that the extreme rhetoric spewed by the left has fed the kind of hatred that leads to events such as the attack on Giffords and so many others.”

“Kos himself posted that Giffords should be “targeted”.”

“Let’s also not forget that Democrats rejoice at their ability to kill a million unborn Americans every year.

Democrats: Child killers.”

“Joe, your Idiot Messiah is friends with a couple of domestic terrorists who set bombs against their fellow citizens, and regret not bombing more. Who inspired them, you America-hating POS?”

Comments that you yourself posted?

Lil' Barry Bailout

January 10th, 2011
9:16 am

josef, what do you imagine would have been the reaction from Republicans had Democrats kept their mouths shut? Get real.

Curious Observer

January 10th, 2011
9:16 am

We commit verbal violence every time we call a Democrat a socialist and every time we call a Republican a reactionary. We know better. Let’s not fool ourselves that we’re not going over the top with such rhetoric. Even the law recognizes verbal violence with its distinction between assault and battery.

md

January 10th, 2011
9:17 am

“But if someone would come up with a real plan with realistic milestones on cutting spending and raising taxes that lowered the deficit, I would go along.”

I think many would agree with this statement, but many are also very weary of giving more money to an entity that has proven to be ineffective when it comes to waste. It has been over a year since 500 billion was identified as waste in medicare, yet no real solutions to end it. Just a gimmick to allow the masses to think something is being done. Much like the DOE being created to solve our dependency on foreign oil……..they are more than welcome to start any time now………40 years of planning should be sufficient.

DavidEm

January 10th, 2011
9:17 am

Thanks, Jay. You summed it up very well.
I was left feeling very pessimistic yesterday about our country’s future after reading the sheer hatred in some of the blogs. My only consolation was the thought that these people were hiding behind their computer screens and spewing bile at their projections of the political “other.” I know that MOST Americans would NEVER actually speak to each other in such words.

Lil' Barry Bailout

January 10th, 2011
9:17 am

Yes, Jay, those are my responses to Democrats attempting to pin this on conservatives, just as I stated above…pointing out the hypocrisy of the left.

HDB

January 10th, 2011
9:18 am

There are several elements here that I have to look upon when thinking about what has happened in Arizona:

1) The ability to acquire firearms: According to Arizona law, there is no waiting period and no background check required to obtain a gun. A background check may not have been able to stopped the gunman, but a waiting period would have slowed him down!! It may be a state-by-state situation, but a mandatory waiting period and background check should be made mandatory!

2) Conceal-and-Carry: Too many states that allow conceal-and-carry do NOT mandate gun registration; maybe that needs to be looked upon!!

3) Political language: Not looking to make this a political issue….but the language that we as a nation use in political discourse tends to inflame rather than inform…incite rather than invite!! At times, we all (myself included) have used every prejorative and invective available to push a point; what we as a nation must now do is to temper ourselves and not persistently marginalize someone’s experiences…note the differences…but embrace the commonalities!! Conservatives need to quit belittling liberals…..and vice-versa!! We need to quit using conservative and liberal as prejoratives….and relate to what the differences actually mean!! At points, we all have both liberal and conservative beliefs……..

Lil' Barry Bailout

January 10th, 2011
9:20 am

HDB, feel free to call me a conservative any time you like.

Michael H. Smith

January 10th, 2011
9:23 am

“Second Amendment remedies”

I think I know what you’re referring to and I was taken aback by the statement that came for the right side upon hearing it. Of course, there are such individuals on every side. No matter how you look at at it, it is usually the wrong side from whatever the origin.

I’ve been asked several times where do you draw the line?

I don’t.

Why not?

The line has already been drawn.

Yes, we do have tyrants and despots among us and there will always be these little would-be kings that grab unilateral power. However, there is a real big difference between despotism and “Absolute Despotism”. We are nowhere remotely close to an “Absolute Despotism”. Simply read the Declaration of Independence to see where the line is drawn as Jefferson defined “Absolute Despotism”. As long as we can elect representatives by ballots and have those ballots are honored by our government, you nor I have any right whatsoever to take upon ourselves the power to attack this Republic or anyone within it or outside of it by cause of an “Absolute Despotism”, for it does not exist.

We stopped having revolutions or any need for them in this country when we began holding elections. Ballots not bullets now settle our political differences.

jonathon

January 10th, 2011
9:23 am

Nice to see the right stop their incessant demonizing of gays, immigrants, and Islam if only for a day.

N-GA

January 10th, 2011
9:23 am

@L’il Barry – “The shooter was a liberal nut as Jim Hoft points out over at GatewayPundit (link below) to read the facts. In fact Jim also points out that our Mobster President does far more to incite the radicals (Click link below for all the facts) than the pundits on the right ever have.”

Hoft is just another example of the problem (on both sides of the political spectrum). He uses this tragedy as an opportunity to raise the level of vitriol….kinda like L’il Barry.

Keep up the good fight!

January 10th, 2011
9:24 am

In one year, guns murdered 17 people in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States.

josef nix

January 10th, 2011
9:25 am

Lil Barry
“josef, what do you imagine would have been the reaction from Republicans had Democrats kept their mouths shut? Get real.”

This is very much the playground response of “he hit me first,” “No, I didn’t he hit me first…”

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

January 10th, 2011
9:25 am

Well, I sure hope they don’t use this shooting as a excuse to take away my two machine guns and the antitank weapon I use for hunting and self-defense. Otherwise, it’s live and let live as far as I’m concerned. If people want to be dumb and vote for libruls that’s their problem.

I sure hope everybody stocked up on beer this weekend. There’s some places I can’t get to today. All I got to say is, if I had of wanted to live in the North I would of moved up there. Getting away from snow and ice is why I live in the South. So much for Global Warming.

Have a good day everybody.

jconservative

January 10th, 2011
9:27 am

Nice piece of writing Bookman.

Late reports indicate that Loughner’s dislike for the congresswoman goes back to 2007 when he asked an incoherent question about mind control she was unable to answer to his satisfaction.

So you folks who are tying this to recent political rhetoric from the left or right are way off base. As Jay points the guy is apparently just a nut. And with a population of 308 million there would probably be a lot of nuts in the USA.

Lil' Barry Bailout

January 10th, 2011
9:27 am

N-GA, if you weren’t such a reactionary moron, you’d have noticed that the lefties here were the ones rushing to assign blame to Sarah Palin, the tea party, and the GOP. Sorry if my responses to that raised your level of cognitive dissonance.

USinUK

January 10th, 2011
9:27 am

SoCo – ‘There’s nothing wrong with being passionate about things you care for. Just don’t let that passion overcome your sensibilities.”

and therein lies the problem. for some people, there ARE no “sensibilities” where patriotism or environmentalism or right to life or animal righs or religion are concerned.

and those are the people I have in mind when I say that words have meaning. you and I might look at “wanted: dead or alive” posters and think “dude – that’s going a bit far”, but there are the fringey folks on the left and the right who look at them and say “yeah! you’re right!”

Fred

January 10th, 2011
9:27 am

Temporary Threadus Interuptus:

Just a note for you folks “up north” with kids. The rain and sleet has already started here in Atlanta. If you’re gonna play in the snow you better do it now before it gets to you.

Now back to your regularly scheduled bickering. :)

md

January 10th, 2011
9:28 am

“A background check may not have been able to stopped the gunman, but a waiting period would have slowed him down!! ”

From what I have read (which to this point may be all false), the guy went to one of Ms Giffords meet and greets several years ago and actually asked her a question, and he has been planning ever since. Sounds like the waiting period would have no bearing if that was the case.

N-GA

January 10th, 2011
9:30 am

Redneck – I kinda hate bringing attention to this, but everyone knows that the proper spelling of “can’t” is “cain’t”.

jt

January 10th, 2011
9:30 am

What if extremist rhetoric is a way of releasing steam?

As long as the government doesn’t proactively try to squash this rhetoric, then it will probably alright.

Otherwise, a release valve is installed on a Boiler for a reason.

USinUK

January 10th, 2011
9:31 am

Fred (and my other GA peeps) – stay safe!

Joe

January 10th, 2011
9:31 am

Great article Jay. I’m glad that a few of you on the left is not trying to politicize this horrendous event. I agree with you Jay that this was simply a crazy person who snapped. It’s really that simple. Paul Krugman, MessNBC, CNN, and Sheriff Dupnik should be ashamed of themselves.

jewcowboy

January 10th, 2011
9:31 am

jconservative,

“And with a population of 308 million there would probably be a lot of nuts in the USA.”

Yep:

“An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.1 When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.”

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml

carlosgvv

January 10th, 2011
9:32 am

Dwelling on any political aspects of this shooting misses the point. American is a country where any nut can get guns and commit mass murder. This will not change in the foreseeable future because of the iron grip the gun lobby has on the politicans. So, look for more and more gun murders as time goes by and no relief whatsoever from the politicans. And, if you think arming yourself is the answer, think again. Trial lawyers are everywhere and if you shoot anybody in self defense, they will sue you into the street. Have a nice day everyone.

N-GA

January 10th, 2011
9:33 am

@L’il Barry (Is that what you call the little man?) – You never fail to disappoint!

Fred

January 10th, 2011
9:34 am

md

January 10th, 2011
9:10 am

After watching and reading many sources over the past couple of days, I’d have to say that many in the media reacted just as many posters did on this blog.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And therein lies the problem md. Call it the death of the journalist. Unlike this OPINION Blog that Jay writes, the media tries to pretend that they are “unbiased journalists.” I can’t offhand think of a single teleprompter reader (some call them news anchors and such) that is the pimple on the butt of a real JOURNALIST. They continuously create the news instead of reporting it. Everything is massaged to create a specific thought pattern. There is no reason, if they were truly being “journalists” that folks would call CNN a left wing organization and FOX a right wing organization, (I refuse to call them “news” sources).

Like Joe Friday used to say, “Just the facts please.”

md

January 10th, 2011
9:34 am

“In one year, guns murdered………”

All by themselves??

And if one thinks we can ban guns effectively, ask yourself how easy it is to get drugs. I had my heyday, and it wasn’t hard at all…………..

RetiredArmy

January 10th, 2011
9:34 am

We need a true bi-partisan look at our public speech. The perjoratives (my opinion) from Cynthia Tucker’s column yesterday: “loud and ill-informed”, “Obama-haters right wing conspiracy”, “lie”. At least we were spared her two favorites “screed” and “illk”. I point out that I agree with her on end of life, but I always am turned off by her attitude. The liberal slant today is that disagreement with them is hate. Extreme political disagreement has led to extreme violence in many cases such as 1775, 1861 and 1938, not to mention the French Revolution. We have to find a middle ground. I end with perhaps the best example of handling hate speech:

Woman opponent of Winston Churchill: “if you were my husband, I would give you poison”
churchill: “madam, if you were my wife, I would take it”

Road Scholar

January 10th, 2011
9:34 am

“But the truth is that our elected leaders are doing what we tell them to do.” No! they are doing what we permit them to do!

Jay, you stated that he was not affected by the rhetoric (paraphrase). You approach it using your reasoning and your real life experiences and intelligence. How do you and the other posters know what his “reasoning” and “real life experiences” were? He is deranged? Are you giving him the same mental abilities of the majority of sane people? He does not possess the ability to know right from wrong in addition to justifying his actions.

This is a poor analogy, but it works for me. Did you see the latest edition of “he Closer”. Watch the one with the guy addicted to crack. It’s revealing for persons who do not have the control over their actions, emotions, and/or addictions.

The blame, if there is any, goes to the family members,people and law enforcement who did not call attention to his imbalance; they stood by and did nothing… until it is too late. Parallel to the VT shooter?

Michael H. Smith

January 10th, 2011
9:35 am

jconservative

January 10th, 2011
9:27 am

It is undeniable the guy is a mental case, though, he did seem to have targeted Rep Giffords. So it is hard to dismiss entirely that there was no political motive, however convoluted it was.

Southern Comfort

January 10th, 2011
9:35 am

you and I might look at “wanted: dead or alive” posters and think “dude – that’s going a bit far”, but there are the fringey folks on the left and the right who look at them and say “yeah! you’re right!”

No argument from me on that one…

Woe is US

January 10th, 2011
9:35 am

md:”Not exactly “true”…….polls show a majority did not want “that” particular hc bill, and congress has done next to nothing on immigration……another poll that says the folks want something done.”

What’s that supposed to mean? That if congress doesn’t hold it’s finger to the wind before every vote then “second ammendment ” solutions are justified? And let’s not forget that people were for healthcare reform before the onslaught of invective from the right wing media. After the campaign of lies against the bill, the demogogues then held up the polls as proof the American people didn’t want it.

Get Real

January 10th, 2011
9:37 am

Hey Barry….I saw enough hateful spew over the weekend. For everyone’s sake, can you please give it a rest for a couple of days…it would be greatly appreciated…

md

January 10th, 2011
9:37 am

Good post Fred………you hit the nail on the head.

To me, it goes back to the Citizens United ruling…….the corporate media is setting the agenda……all in the name of free speech.

lynnie gal

January 10th, 2011
9:38 am

Unfortunately, we have been seeing this violence coming because of the violent rhetoric that became undeniable when Sarah Palin joined McCain’s ticket in 2008. Accusations of “Palling around with terrorists” became the mantra of the campaign. Once the election was over, the unreasonable hateful rhetoric didn’t go away–it got amplified with the T-party protests over Americans getting healthcare. The threats of violence have grown ever larger, and this massacre is the natural result. Of course it is deranged individuals who carry this violence out. But, it is fueled in a political way by the politics of hate.

TGT

January 10th, 2011
9:39 am

Nice column Jay. Even though we disagree about most everything, I’ve always considered you one of the most reasoned voices from the left. You verified that again. It just goes to show that more liberals should go trout fishing. :)