If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
– Sting, Fragile
Men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.
I am exhausted from watching the news today. A man walked up to a public event where a Member of Congress was meeting with constituents and he opened fire. He killed 6 people, including a child. The Member of Congress, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, is in critical condition after he shot her through the head. Others are wounded. The shooter is in custody. He appears to be quite disturbed. He may have an accomplice.
This is all we know for sure.
That and Sarah Palin deleted this graphic from her website along with a recent tweet with her signature line “Don’t retreat, reload”.
I am sitting with my head in my hands because I am sad. I am afraid.
Let me say outright that I hate guns. I oppose the very existence of handguns. They are tools meant for harming or killing human beings and they serve no other purpose than that. They should be relegated to history. No one, NO ONE, outside of law enforcement should ever lay hands on one. I wish they had never been invented. A friend of mine’s husband works in law enforcement and will not let his children have toys guns. Because he has guns and knows they are not toys. I think that is one of the smartest things I have ever heard. We cannot minimize the harm possible from guns.
So, the situation at hand is this: a disturbed man got his hands on a tool for killing people and proceeded to use it to kill people. We do not know why. We may never know why. We can guess. He left a trail of cyber messages that bespeak an irrational set of disturbances over issues such as literacy and currency. He read a lot of political literature.
Do I think this was a political crime? Yes. Do I think he targeted Giffords? Yes. Do I think he did it because Sarah Palin targeted her for electoral defeat? No. I think he targeted her because she was there. She was the face of the government in his neighborhood and he had a grudge against the government so he took down the closest representative.
Why did he have a grudge against the government? Why did he not use usual channels to address it? Why did he not seek redress for grievances under the First Amendment? Why did he take up the arms allowed to him in the Second?
Where did he get that idea?
Did he hear Sarah Palin tell people to reload? Did he take to heart Sharron Angle’s suggestion that “Second Amendment solutions” were a logical next step in the case of discontent? Does he believe the NRA’s rhetoric about every American’s need for a gun (and did he think they advertise such ideas out of a love for the Constitution more than out of a love for profits from gun sales)? Do the accusations of the illegitimacy of Obama’s presidency from those who believe he is not a natural-born citizen underpin this man’s distrust of the government? Does his obsession with a currency backed by gold hearken back to Glenn Beck’s relationship with the gold industry? Is his anger about improper use of English related to Lou Dobbs’ rants about immigration?
Who gave this man his ideas?
Sarah Palin is clearly afraid that someone will think she did. That’s why she removed the evidence that she likes gun imagery, imagery that makes guns sounds like toys, imagery that makes using guns seem acceptable. Imagery that is reported by the right and the left ad nauseum. Imagery that has become ubiquitous. Inescapable.
Words…images…they have power. Words and images incited this man to violence and someday we may know which words and images were the ones to blame. But that won’t matter. It’s too late for the 9 year old who died today. It’s too late for the judge who died, for the man who worked for Gabrielle Giffords who died, or the three other unidentified victims. Just like it’s too late for the teen-agers who killed themselves after being tormented by bullies. Vile words have already taken their toll. Those words need to stop.
Stop. Talking. Hate.
Yes. You. Me. Not just Palin, and Beck, and Olbermann, and Limbaugh. You. Me. Stop it. Makes others stop it. You just can’t say some things out loud because you don’t know who is listening and how they’ll take your words. If you’re a parent, don’t wish ill on another if there’s a chance your child will hear it. If you’re a blogger, don’t wish ill on another if there’s a chance someone will read it. If you’re a television personality don’t wish ill on someone at all. Because you are speaking to disturbed people just by virtue of the size of your audience. You don’t not have the luxury of idle speech, And you certainly don’t have the luxury of carefully considered imagery that is riddled with violent undertones. It’s flatly irresponsible. Merely doing so should be enough to merit your removal from public discourse.
If you are watching these people and they engage in detrimental speech, turn them off. Tune them out. Make them irrelevant.
Because if we don’t, what next? A target on every public servant’s back? What about my husband, a government worker? Do we want him to be in danger? What about me, an advocacy professional? Should I live in fear that someone who opposes the causes for which I advocate will choose to end my work with a bullet?
It has to stop. Please. Make it stop.