This weekend, I was "sick a-bed" with some nasty bronchitis. I hadn't had the computer on, and I was wrapped up in blankets and elkhounds trying to get better before I had to go to work. My Hubby was kind enough to go on an "old movie" binge with me, because I know so many of them that if I napped, I didn't miss anything.
It was with horror that I came into the room to see that a US Congresswoman was shot. In the head. At nearly point-blank range. And a nine-year-old little girl who was born on 9/11 and who was thrilled to see her Congresswoman was killed. By someone who'd posted YouTube ramblings saying that the government was "using mind control with grammar" - a teaching of some whack-job in Wisconsin. Really? Grammar? Nine-tenths of Americans don't even use grammar correctly. Much less would it be likely that they would be able to be brainwashed via that method. Grammar-guy did say in today's Chicago Tribune that while he does indeed believe the government is brainwashing via grammar, he doesn't see the connection between his teachings and this guy's shootings. It does make you blink a couple of times.
The sheriff who arrived at the scene denounced the shooting, saying that it was his opinion that the "increasing vitriolic rhetoric" of daily politics and radio shows was partly to blame.
And you know what? He's right. I am absolutely incensed at John Kyl, a Republican, who said basically that the sheriff didn't know what he was talking about. Really, Mr. Kyl? And how much time do you spend on the streets in Arizona? How much do you really know about what goes on in a day-to-day, Fox Misinformation News society in a state so consevative that some politicians during the recent elections virtually goaded their supporters to perpetrate violence on their opponents? You should be ashamed of yourself.
So should Sarah Palin. Who only now took down the gunsight map. Please don't think that most of us are stupid enough to say that those cross-hairs were "surveyor symbols." Dumb it down to its easiest explanation and they're cross-hairs. Who has in my opinion incited people to treat political assemblies as reasons to come armed and dangerous by sending messages such as "Don't retreat, RELOAD."
So should the conservative blogosphere who are now saying there's no way that "A" connects to "B" in this incident. Really? This wasn't Congresswoman Gifford's first rodeo. Right after she voted for healthcare reform, her office was vandalized. No connection, you scoff. Again, it amazes me how some right-wing bloviators fail to understand action=consequence. It's a pretty basic equation and you don't have to be a math genius to understand.
Let me give it you in a form easy enough for a kindergartener to understand. You take the "action" of tossing an apple up in the air. The "consequence" is that it falls. Either you catch it (a good consequence) or it falls onto the floor and splits open or bruises (a bad consequence).
Nobody with a shred of logical thought can fail to understand that hate speech brings on hate crimes. Yes, American democracy has always been heated. Look at the 1800s when one pro-slavery member of Congress literally beat an anti-slavery Congressman on the floor of the Congress because they disagreed. Look at the 1930s, when Fr. Coughlin had millions of radio listeners and he blasted his own version of anti-government rhetoric to listeners all over the US. And look at the 1960s. Two Kennedys assasinated. George Wallace paralyzed. Martin Luther King assasinated. By people who disagreed with their messages.
Do we want to go back to that? It would be easy to do so. Far easier now because of the 24/7 news and information cycles we now have. You're a mouse-click away from finding a group that caters to your particular brand of ire. And you're also a mouse-click away from some really phenomenal information and resources. And again, you're a mouse-click away from arming yourself with weapons that weren't available to the general public a generation ago.
I'm not anti-gun - as I've had to state many times. I'm anti-stupid. I'm anti-hating-people-so-shooting-them-is-logical. I'm afraid for the fearful because I see a hunkering down and instead of daily instances of helping one another, we've come nearly to a survivalist mode where "it's either you or me, and if my gun's handy, it'll be YOU." And I'm afraid for those of us who are not fearful, because we often become collateral damage. The things people do that are shining examples of humanity are newsworthy only because the hate and discontent are now part of our daily lives.
The trick is to know when to back off, look yourself in the mirror and say, "If I acted on this, who would it hurt?" Right now, we all need to back off. We all need to check our rhetoric and find out how to come to a decent middle ground before more gunshots ring out and before someone is killed.
Keith Olbermann's Special Comment the other night put this into perspective. Look at it here and think about what he's saying: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677//vp/40983401#40983401
Yesterday, my kids and I were talking. My oldest boy said to me, "You know, I feel sorry for your generation." I asked why, seeing as his generation inherited 2 wars, recession and a job market in the toilet.
He said, "Because you lived during a time when you saw the best that this country was able to become. And now it's all crap. My generation? We know it sucks. But we've never known anything else. We're cynical because we see the nastiness and we don't feel like we'll get a chance to make it better. But you guys knew the 'better' part and now you're looking at the crappy part. It must make you sad."
Yes, son. It does.