In the horrifying shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords that already left six others dead, one would hope that in times of such tragedy, those who disagree politically could come together and realize how trivial their disagreements are in the grand scheme of life. Instead, there is an uncomfortable eagerness amongst many to find someone to blame for the actions of a senseless lunatic.
Already some are racing to suggest the Tea Party, Sarah Palin and others are partially responsible. As a result of this incident, Keith Olbermann already demanded conservative commentators and politicians repudiate their violent rhetoric. And now The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman weighs in, suggesting:
You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.
Also Jane Fonda on Twitter boldly declared “[Sarah Palin] holds responsibility. As does the violence-provoking rhetoric of the Tea Party.”
By no means am I advocating Olbermann, Krugman and Fonda silence their true emotions. In fact, that’s what I wish they would recognize about our great country, the freedom for anyone to exercise their First Amendment right to speak their mind without fear of punishment or societal persecution. To suggest that merely words and imagery creates a “climate of hate” capable of transforming a peaceful sociopath into a violent one is as ludicrous as claiming the words of Fonda’s unsupported accusation, that the shooter was motivated by Tea Party rhetoric, might be responsible for future violence against Tea Party members.
Sane participants in American political discourse understand that violence of any sort is never an option, no matter how excited the words get during debate and despite how much one hates their political opponent. While an incitement to violence is never appropriate, suggestions that Americans should be afraid to speak freely in the future based on the deranged actions of one man are unfortunately likely to continue. Yet the craziest thing is racing to politicize a tragedy before the motives of the shooter or any other facts are known, when for at least a short time, there should be universal support and focus on putting insignificant political differences aside and uniting in hope for Giffords speedy recovery.
Have a tip we should know? email@example.com