I haven’t weighed in on the tragedy in Tucson very much, as you can see. The main reason is that in a way, I’ve been in shock. But I also wanted to let the dust settle and the facts to come out. My first instinct in any of these types of tragedies is to blame the person responsible, the mentally deranged person who actually did the shooting. Even if he was influenced by someone saying something hateful or putting crosshairs on congressional districts, he still chose to make that leap into violence. I heard someone say that 309 million people chose not to shoot anyone on Saturday. We can’t lose sight of the person responsible for this, a sick person who went over the edge.
When politicians and commentators immediately take to the microphone and start in with their hyperbole, whether on the left or the right, it cheapens the real tragedy. People say things that prompt defensive reactions and it escalates and becomes just another circus act that the media perpetuates. Personally, I think we should be talking about mental health issues, how to help people who have paranoia, anger problems, depression and hopelessness. We should be comforting the families affected by the tragedy. And we should be investigating how it got to that point.
The last thing I’ll say for now, because what else can really be said, is I want to hear what Gabby Giffords has to say about it. She will bring clarity to the situation, I’m sure.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we need to have a discussion about the vitriol that pervades our political discourse and the demonization of opponents that certainly doesn’t help when a deranged person hears it, but there will be plenty of time for that in the future. My problem is with people going off “half-cocked” to use a very bad metaphor and saying things based on speculation which often results in people trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
And I’m not making the false equivalency thing or the both sides argument about this vitriol, there is no one on the left, other than commenters on blogs, who spew the rhetoric that the right does. There is no equivalency between the two. My point above is that both sides jumped on this tragedy and in the process, cheapened it.