I wanted to throw out a few questions in light of the tragic events in Tucson, Arizona over the weekend.
Much can be learned from the tragedy, including how not to respond, which Rachel Held Evans wrote a succint and thoughtful piece regarding. What I have found almost as alarming as the violence itself is the manner in which people are so quick to lay blame upon the innocent.
Sarah Palin and her “crosshairs” has taken on a whole new meaning. Regardless of a person’s political affiliation, I can say with all certainty that Palin’s “crosshairs” metaphor was neither calling for, nor condoning the murder of six people, including a 9 year-old girl. I find any correlation between the two to be both dangerous and highly irresponsible.
Why is it difficult for people to simply point the finger at the person responsible? We want to blame the military, his parents, the FBI, his education, the medical profession, the conservative right, the Tea Party, and of course, Sarah Palin. Why can we not just blame Jared Loughner himself?
He was mentally unstable, at the very least, and it looks as though he knew exactly what he was doing. I find the speed with which we point fingers and pass the blame an alarming symptom of our society as a whole. We fail to take personal responsibility for our actions. Then, in the case of tragedy or illegal actions, we do the same and essentially give people a free pass.
I apologize if this seems like a rant (I do like a good rant from time to time). I am simply sickened by the way in which the news media and individuals have responded to this senseless act, as though any other party was responsible besides the man who pulled the trigger.
What say you? Who do you think is ultimately responsible for the Tucson shooting? Have you been incensed by the rhetoric or do you tend to block those things out? What has happened to personal responsibility?
15 thoughts on “My Response to the Arizona Shootings”
Clearly, Sarah Palin is not responsible for this man’s actions.
However, the extreme rhetoric coming out of her camp, which reasonable people can understand is mere “brand marketing,” can definitely be twisted by less reasonable people into an argument legitimizing violence. When over-the-top statements go mainstream, this only encourages the fringe.
As much as we don’t admit it, most people drift along with the current. Over-the-top rhetoric like Palin’s shifts the current into more dangerous waters.
I would argue Ben that the “extreme rhetoric” and “over-the-top rhetoric” that you refer to, is actually coming from the liberal news media and the Left, not Sarah Palin’s camp. Her crosshairs map was, I believe, completely innocuous. It was political jargon, that while perhaps insensitive was, as I stated, never meant to be taken literally.
In my estimation, it has been the liberal media that has continued to beat that horse. They chose to bring an innocent act under question by twisting her motives and intentions.
I agree, however, that individuals do often tend to go along with the mainstream and unfortunately not think for themselves…which is a huge portion of the problem, I admit.
Thanks for your comment Ben, even if we may disagree. I love this kind of open and thoughtful dialogue. Blessings.
I agree with Ben, and while I lay blame solely on the shooter himself, I am angry at Palin for the “crosshairs” map. Even without recent events, if someone–Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Fascist, whatever–made a map and put crosshairs on my mother’s house, for instance, I’d be mad. I think it’s simply irresponsible. Has nothing to do with her party affiliation. I’m also mad at the woman who ran for office that advocated taking “second amendment measures” if things didn’t go the way her party hoped. Those things make me mad. If it’s the Republicans saying it, so be it. If a Democrat says it (and they say all sorts of stupid things all the time), then so be it.
That being said…
not to pimp my own blog here (a dude’s gotta do what a dude’s gotta do), I wrote my own reaction to the shooting as well, along with a comparison/contrast to how the recent bombing in Egypt was handled. I’d encourage you to check it out if you get the chance.
Mostly, I’m mad that people can’t love each other more, and I’m mad that crazy people can do something terrible, and only afterwords do we find all the obvious signs present. I hope that in my life, I can be more aware of the people around me that are hurting and/or mentally unwell. In whatever form that takes. The gift of Jesus applies to all people, and all of this is making me think of more that I can do in my life to help spread Love.
I get what you are saying. I think Palin’s “crosshairs” were never intended to be seen by the masses and so I don’t think it makes them “irresponsible’ as you called it.
She was using an analogy, albeit not a great one. I understand however, why it could upset you and others. However, I don’t think it deserves the unwarranted viscous attacks she has received, as a result.
It was a painful coincidence and nothing more, in my opinion.
I love though how you want to be more aware of those around you and open to their life’s hurts and pain. If someone had invested or taken time to know Mr. Loughner, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.
And go on, pimp the blog. I love it. Leave a link next time. Seriously.
I could not agree more. I find it funny that the other commneters felt a need to continue to point fingers elsewhere despite your well-written and thought-out post. I guess it shows that this societal disease goes deeper than we think….
Well, in their defense, they were simply disagreeing with me. Which thankfully, we are allowed to do here in America, although it makes for some lively debates sometimes as the “crosshairs” business has proven.
I agree that the majority of the blame needs to be placed on the shoulders of the shooter. That being said, there are environmental influences that help us decide what actions we take in most everything we do. That is part of the reason folks go to church and why they have social and political networks.
If a person is successful at something, there are influences that help lead to that success. It would be proper for that person to acknowledge those influences, and give them there just rewards, correct? If a person is not successful, there are also some influences that come into play. Is it not proper to acknowledge them too?
You can not blame this on any one person other than the shooter in this case…. but how many images you see or stories you read effect the choices you make? When it is said that the rhetoric on the one side is getting out of hand, everyone on that side can take themselves out of the situation and nothing changes. They can rationalize(tell themselves rational lies) the situation and why they are doing what they are doing.
Sarah Palin is the easiest person to point to. She is the major face of the rhetoric that left leaning and centrist people are getting tired of. They are making an example of her. She is the most popular and outspoken person that they can point to at the moment.
This is just my 2 cents
@Dani… Just because I look deeper that the surface does not mean that I suffer from this “societal disease” you speak of.
Criticize is the antonym of Praise. If a child gets straight A’s in school you praise the child, but also the teacher and the others that helped… If a child gets F’s… do you only blame the child? Or do you criticize the teacher and the others that helped?
Ultimately, it is on the shoulders of the child… but you need to look at what other influences lead the child down the wrong road and work to fix them, no?
I like the way you think. It is so easy to point fingers but much harder to take repsonsibiliby. And P.S. I’m following you :)
Great post. Here’s an interesting article from the National Journal that discusses the response of the media too.
That was a great article, thanks!
I pulled two quotes from it that I think are especially poignant:
“Violent metaphors are all over our culture, in politics and outside of it, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. The political lexicon is awash in gun metaphors — from campaign committee lists of top “targets” to political “showdowns” to “battleground districts” to challengers “playing defense,” just to name a few. If this were a crime, the political media would be as guilty as anyone.”
“But in the aftermath of the shooting, there are much more relevant issues that should have been debated: in particular, how to better identify and treat those afflicted with serious mental illness and how to prevent guns from getting into their hands. I heard very little of that discussed in the aftermath of the shooting.”
Thanks for sharing.
This is a great article on the subject:
I guess I find it hypocritical to say that the “liberal media” should be careful what they say and in the same breath argue that it shouldn’t matter what the Palin camp says. Double standard, no?
I agree with all your comments about taking personal responsibility for our actions- and expecting others to do the same!
Also, your testimony? Amazing. I was crying and praising God through the whole thing. It made me think of The Screwtape letters by C.S. Lewis and how Satan probably sent his minions to destroy you almost immediately after you had received the Holy Spirit because you are SUCH a powerful warrior for Christ. So glad you discerned the truth, and rebuilt your relationship with Him…what an amazing testimony…thank you for sharing it with us.