Monday, January 10, 2011

The Arizona shootings

Saturday's shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and several others is one of those terrible moments that is just difficult to process. There is so much going on, so much passing through my thought processes that it's difficult to put observations together -- not now, and maybe not ever.

We start, of course, with the basics. This, by all accounts, was a lone, crazed man. I'm not blaming anyone or anything else for this action. But it does tie in to the current national conversation on a number of issues. So a few thoughts...

* One point that hasn't received a great deal of coverage is that the fact that a couple of news television outlets and at least one radio network reported that Rep. Giffords had died. What's worse than that in my business? I imagine the pressure to be first among the all-news channels is overwhelming. It's good to remember that it's better to be right.

* Speaking of confusion, the descriptions of the political views of the assassin were all over the map. I saw one report that had one high school classmate call him something of a liberal who was no supporter of government, while others moved him way right. I'm found of reminding people that the political spectrum is more of a circle than a line, that it's not much of a jump from the far left to the far right and vice-versa. But who's to say where this guy fit?

* The fact that Giffords was one of the targeted Congressional districts by Sarah Palin -- targeted by a map with crosshairs -- is a coincidence. No one, but no one, is associating Palin with this violent action. But ... she was wrong to use such a violent symbol then, and it remains indefensible. And to the person on Palin's staff who tried to claim it was just a surveyor's symbol, you aren't helping the discussion one bit. Sigh.

* And finally, Rush Limbaugh maintained his standing in the controversy business with this quote: "In continuing this template and narrative that the Tea Party and Sarah Palin, that talk radio and Fox News, are inspiring violence, they forget that, in the process of so doing, they are attacking what is now a majority of America."
Um, um, has the majority ever been wrong in this country? Well, OK, maybe on civil rights, Vietnam, and a few dozen other things. Meanwhile, Glenn Beck happened to post a message attacking all violence ... just to the right of a picture of him holding a gun. How do you spell mixed message?

Jon Stewart's message at his rally remains true: We need to learn to talk to each other.

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