When Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords collapsed outside the Safeway in Tucson Saturday morning, felled by a hail of bullets that killed six and wounded another 13 innocent people who had come to see her, some were quick to claim that the carnage was the product not merely of the tortured mind and trigger-happy fingers of the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner.
Rather, many on the American Left said the horror could be traced to the malign influence of American conservatives; members of the Tea Party; right-wing pundits Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck; former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin; and Fox News.
That was the narrative of culpability spun in the immediate aftermath of the shootings by some leading liberal commentators and Democratic politicians — despite warnings from religious leaders, lawyers, academics, ethicists, reporters and historians that such a rush to judgment only further deepens the partisan divide in America, and further poisons its discourse. LINK
As we reflect on this week’s mass-shooting in Arizona, all we can do is say a prayer for those injured and the families of those killed in the senseless violence that is becoming all too common in our country. My prayers go out for the speedy recovery of the injured and swift punishment of the psycho responsible.
Unfortunately, there are some who couldn’t help but to take a tragedy like this and use it for political gain. Ironically, some of those same people will now call for a return to “civility” in public, political dialogue. Well, that’s nice. Let’s face facts, folks: American politics is about as polarized as it has ever been. That’s never going to change because unfortunately there are two sides to every issue for a reason – we see things differently. It’s not unlike baseball: one league has the DH and the other doesn’t. Period. Does anyone think some “moderate” baseball person can come along and persuade the American league to give up the DH? Seriously? Of course not.
Think about that for a second. I’m afraid that’s only a BASEBALL analogy! Now imagine applying that premise to real life, important issues, many that have their origins in deeply-seated religious or personal beliefs. Does anyone think people are just going to give up on their long-held ideals? Does anyone (except President Obama) think radical Muslims will stop cutting people’s heads off because we “tone down” our rhetoric? In plain English – fat chance. The only way people give up those beliefs is if they are proven to be incorrect or impracticable, or are replaced with more powerful ideals. Freedom over slavery, for instance.
While similar events have received special politically-correct treatment, like the Ft. Hood massacre, it is becoming more apparent that there are those who will stoop to the lowest level to score cheap political points. CASE IN POINT: Remember after the Ft. Hood shooting we were told from the highest levels of government and punditry that we shouldn’t rush to judgement even as it became more and more obvious what motivated Maj. Hassan. This time, however, all bets are off. Everyone on the right from Sarah Palin to Sean Hannity to the Tea Party are being branded as culpable for the actions of this disturbed young man. Pretty sick stuff, but par for the course.
Blaming anyone except the shooter for this crime is heinous. The “Tea Party” or Rush Limbaugh had no more to do with this shooting than did Nancy Pelosi or Keith Olbermann. But that has not stopped many in the left-wing media from having a field day with this tragic affair. A sad, sick young man committed this crime and that’s where it begins and ends – unless evidence proves otherwise.
The shooting of Representative Giffords and the others will not change anyone’s deeply held political beliefs. LINK Those who believe in the right to keep and bear arms will not be swayed by the actions of a madman. In fact, they will be reinforced as an example of why we need to be able to protect ourselves from nut cases. (Many in Congress are now taking another look at their own personal security. Ironic, don’t you think?). Those who don’t believe that will (as usual) clamour for yet more gun control or outright confiscation. In addition, liberals are already blaming “hate speech” or “heated rhetoric” for motivating the shooter, yet there is simply no evidence of that. In fact, the opposite appears to be the case. Loughner so far looks to be from a dysfunctional family and left of center in his political beliefs. Imagine that.
But the sad aspect of this story that will be missed in the debate over gun control and hate speech is the issue of mental health. Like John Lennon’s killer and many other stalker psychos, this kid is most likely insane to some degree. There are literally millions of people in this country who suffer from serious mental health issues and are in need of extensive care. Untreated mental health problems – as well as substance abuse – are the cause of many social ills taking their toll on society today. I see it every day in my work.
People with serious mental health problems walk among us day after day and there is little that can be done as long as they don’t pose a threat to themselves or others. But as is often the case by the time they do become a threat it’s too late. They have already shot up a college, or shopping mall parking lot. Yet because mental health is a medical issue, the insane are free to exist in their parallel universe like this kid Loughner did while everyone around them looks on powerless to intervene. It is only when they slide back into our world in a violent way that we can take action.
The one common thread we often find in these mass shooting sprees is mental illness. The other that is emerging is religious fanaticism. They aren’t too far apart in my book. It’s not heated rhetoric or hate speech to point that out, it’s the truth. But both have warning signs. It’s time we heed them in advance.