Conflating the violent rhetoric of the likes of dimwitted political figures with yesterday’s actions of alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner is easy. Too easy. It is also unfair.
Sarah Palin did not call for, advocate nor condone yesterday’s shooting of US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (8 – AZ). Nor did Sharron Angle, Jesse Kelly or any other politician. They may be guilty of tacky, offensive and tasteless campaign rhetoric, but rhetoric did not kill six people and wound 14 others at a Tucson Safeway yesterday. Their words were no more responsible than the Arizona sunlight or Safeway shopping center at which the shooting occurred. I no more blame dimwitted politicians than I blame hip hop music for the December shooting deaths of JuCo football star Dominique Corder on an Indianapolis street or 20-year old Shawn DeWayne Campbell at a party at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. I blame the gunmen.
Are these deaths conditions of lax gun laws? A culture of violence? Bad parenting? Who knows. No matter the conditions, they were preventable.
People in the US die from gunfire at a rate of about one every hour. And the best we can muster in response is an argument about rights? The time is now for a grown-up discussion about limiting senseless murder without devolving into name calling, tired talking points and sanctimonious diatribes about Founding Fathers. But the idea of a civil discussion has been hurled aside by shameful profiteering from offensive, tacky, even violent imagery in the name of some ridiculous political movement.
Political figures like Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle and Jesse Kelly stridently and arrogantly flaunted gun rhetoric to whip up support. And your money. “Don’t retreat, reload.” “Second Amendment remedies.” “Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” Their overtly violent imagery and misleading polarity of issues contribute nothing—absolutely nothing—to the discourse. They have dumbed down the issues because they’re grifters out to make a fast buck, pure and simple.
But they aren’t the only ones to blame. Pundits on cable news, shouters on talk radio and semi-anonymous moonbats on the Internet celebrate and perpetuate fear, anger, polarity and bullying. No longer is understanding the goal. There’s no money in conclusion. Extending the conflict is where the bread gets buttered. This is the low road we’ve chosen to take. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Now is your chance, Sarah Palin, to actually take the high road. You can be a beacon of civil discourse rather than being the smug, shrill, schoolyard bully. You removed the offensive crosshair imagery and “reload” statements from your Twitter and Facebook pages. Good first step. Too bad it took an actual shooting of public officials to snap you back to reality. Perhaps next time you will rethink employing cheap, amateurish tactics in the first place.
Is that asking too much?