Some lunatic shot a bunch of people in Tucson, Arizona, outside of a Safeway store, at U.S. Rep. Gabriella Giffords' "meet and greet" type event this past weekend.
Rep. Giffords was shot in the head, but survived. She remains in the hospital. Her doctors are "optimistic," hopeful for a full recovery, but of course with a head wound you can't be sure for a very long time. Everyone who knows her (and I know several people who know her) knows that she is a warm, wonderful woman, who absolutely did not deserve to be shot in the head and to suffer such a horrible injury.
Gabe Zimmerman, an assistant to Rep. Giffords, was shot and killed. I didn't know him, but all accounts state he was a wonderful person. He clearly died too young, at age 30.
Federal District Court Judge John Roll, Chief Judge for the District of Arizona, was also shot and killed. Like many judges, he earned an LL.M. at the prestigious University of Virginia Law School. As you may know, U.Va. is LegalMist's undergrad alma mater. Everyone who knows him (and I know several people who know him) knows that he was a warm, wonderful man, who absolutely did not deserve to die so soon.
A nine year old girl, Christina Green, also was shot and killed. She had just been elected to the student council at her school and was excited to meet her state representative. According to at least one report, she was also the only girl on her school's baseball team. I didn't know her, and I don't know anyone who knew her, but she sounds extraordinary and, by any measure, a nine-year old absolutely did not deserve to be shot and killed.
Dorwin Stoddard, a 76 year old man, died while protecting his wife. He dove to the ground to cover his wife, who was shot in the leg three times. The pair had been high school sweethearts, reunited in retirement after their respective spouses had died. Again, I didn't know him, but he sounds like a true hero and a gentleman. He absolutely did not deserve to die. She did not deserve to be shot, nor did she deserve to lose her loving husband.
Phyllis Schneck, a retiree with a winter home in Tucson, also was shot and killed. By all accounts, she was a kind person who spent much time volunteering at her church. Another wonderful person, dead for no reason.
Dorothy Morris, another retiree living in Tucson also died. Her husband, George, was shot twice and remains in the hospital. He, too, had tried to shield his wife from the bullets. Like the Stoddards, they had been high school sweethearts. However, instead of being recently reunited, they had been married for 50 years. Again, by all accounts, they were kind and decent people. They did not deserve to be shot. She did not deserve to die. He did not deserve to lose her.
Many others were injured in the shooting incident. I am sure none of them did anything to deserve it.
So I am sad at the terrible loss of lives and for the suffering of the injured. I am sad for the families of those who died or were injured, and the inevitable increase in fear the community must face. I am particularly sad for the families and friends of those who died; they didn't even get a chance to say goodbye.
Representative Giffords was trying to do a good thing. She was trying to meet her constituents, maybe talk to them a little about their concerns. She wanted to hear them, to listen to what they wanted.
And yes, I'm sure she wanted some good PR, too. A little self-promotion now and then is necessary if you're a politician. It's the kind of interaction, though, that should be encouraged in this country. I'd like to think that, in this country, all of our leaders want to listen to our concerns and interests, and that it is still possible to talk to our leaders directly -- that they are not walled-off from society at large.
But if people make it too dangerous to interact with the public, our leaders will be forced to stop. How can it possibly help anyone's cause, in this country, to destroy that?
That makes me sad, too.
According to this web site, and this one, Sarah Palin recently had on her website a map of the United States, with several "targets" marked with rifle crosshairs, each marking the location of a Democratic Congressional representative. Representative Giffords was marked by one of the targets and crosshairs. (The map has since been removed from Palin's web site).
Holy crap, how irresponsible is that?!? And this woman wanted to be VPOTUS?!? Thank God she lost the election. (John McCain showed pretty bad judgment in selecting her as a running mate, I must say...).
NOTE: Like the other writers, linked above, I am not saying Sarah Palin caused the attack or intended that anyone actually shoot or kill anyone on her map. Nor do we know for certain, at this point, whether the attack was politically motivated (although, generally speaking, shootings of politicians at political events tend to be politically motivated). I have no idea whether the shooter even looked at Palin's web site, or listened to Rush Limbaugh, or whatever, so I'm not, at this point, accusing any of the right-wing hatemongers of actually causing the shooting.
What I am saying is that marking people on a map with targets and rifle crosshairs sends a violent message (intended or not), and that the level of political attack rhetoric in this country, especially coming from the right-wing nut jobs like Limbaugh (and now, Palin), is way over the top. It is reckless at best, and downright evil at worst in its potential to incite other right-wing nut jobs to violence. And it has spread to the highest levels of our political groups - it's not just media hacks like Limbaugh any longer; it's the politicians themselves who talk in violent terms.
This makes me sad, too. And more than a little scared for my country.