It is time for us all to agree on one thing at least; the shootings in Arizona Saturday were not about Left or Right, and the only people who are saying that are the right, who claim they are being “demonized.” This is about responsible vs. irresponsible behavior. Not just the behavior of the individual, but of those who incite the individual.
The rise of rapidly accessed mass media after WW II has increased awareness of inexcusable violence and hate speech from both sides of the political spectrum.
In the waning days of the 60s and the early 70s The Weather Underground and the Black Panthers both resorted to violence, and non-political actors like the SLA used the violence and the radical revolutionary speech as an excuse for even more violence.
Today, however, that sort of speech and encouragement is coming from the right. Someday it may come from the left again, I hope not, but who can predict the future? Now, however, is the time for those who demonized those leftists who devalued life 40 years ago to STOP hypocritically calling the same vitriol from the right “meaningless demonization.”
Some schizophrenics can go a lifetime without turning violent, and most who do turn violent are reacting to a non-existent threat made rational only in their own heads. There is also a third and less common class, the trigger-able schizophrenic, who turns violent when an actual rational basis is supplied for their irrational desires. For over two years now, mental health professionals have been writing Op Ed articles and presenting studies in mental health journals hypothesizing that what happened yesterday was inevitable as long as people like Sharon Angel suggest that Americans may have to turn to “2nd Amendment Remedies” while Sarah Palin tells people, “Don’t retreat! Reload!”
Which brings us to this chain of events:
- In October of last year the Governor of Arizona claimed that illegal aliens were beheading Arizonans in the desert.
- At the same time Jesse Kelly, Giffords’ (who is to the right of most Democrats on border issues) Republican opponent, aired ads of him holding an M15 and held rallies billed on his website as “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M15 with Jesse Kelly”
- Less than 48 hours before the shootings, Palin reposted the map she had taken down from her web site under pressure due to the gun cross-hair images on the SarahPAC website under the headline “We’ve shown you the problem. Will you help provide the solution?”
Any one of these actions, while deplorable, is not likely to result in an immediate response. However, when you put them together over a relatively short stretch of time, and the mainstream media and press turn them into a debate on political tactics rather than morals (with no one on the right to courageously repudiate them) you have provided the rational basis that will influence the irrational desires of an unstable individual — the kind of person mental health professionals refer to as psychotically dangerous.
So was this a political act? Almost certainly not. The bigger question is, Could this act have been avoided if irresponsible behavior of individuals seeking political advantage had not occurred?
The answer to that is quite likely yes. It is far from certain, but the simple reality that we are all either suggesting it was or insisting it wasn’t is proof enough that we all know it could have been. And knowing that means that all of us have a shared responsibility to make sure that in the future it never can be. That starts with everyone, left and right, repudiating violent rhetoric used in order to advance an agenda regardless of the actual desire of those spouting it to cause violence. In the here and now, this means that Sarah Palin, Sharon Angle, Jesse Kelly, Jan Brewer, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Anne Coulter all have to be held to account.
Someday we may find ourselves once again repudiating leftists like the Weather Underground
But not today.