As time goes by since the unspeakable tragic events in Tucson, it becomes clearer that we need a voice of reason with grounded answers instead of discussions about who is winning the political blame game. While there is plenty of blame to go around, one thing is very clear; we need to consider the facts at hand.
Thankfully, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is expected to make a full recovery. Wonderful news that has been referred to as nothing less than a miracle. But it makes us wonder if our country will make a full recovery along with the centrist Democrat Congresswoman.
The pundits have been out in full force. Finger pointing is abound with broad and political assumptions of why the mad man killed and maimed innocent people. The killer will not be dignified by a name here. By people who know him, he has been called a left-wing pothead, an angry fist-clenched, and disturbed individual. He has been called a conservative nut and since he is a white male, the deduction is that he is Republican, "the party of the white male." http://blogs.forbes.com/tjwalker/2011/01/12/who-is-winning-the-tucson-murderer-pr-blame-game/?boxes=financechannelforbes#post_comments
I will not quantify the ranting of blame as the result of this speechless act; we have all observed much of this blame directed at the political right, Tea Party, members of the news media, and politicians. Friends of friends have commented on how they wish other people had been the ones who were shot on this horrific day. Other people shot? Now, this type of incitement is direct hate speech.
In a CBS poll taken January 10, "Did harsh political tone have anything to do with the shootings?", 57 percent said that harsh political tone had nothing to do with the shooting, compared to 32 percent who felt it did.
In a national Quinnipiac University poll taken January 14, only 15 percent of the respondents blamed political rhetoric for this tragedy. 23 percent blame the mental health system. 40 percent of Americans think nothing could have been done to prevent this.
Based on assumptions and political motivation, Pima County Sheriff Dupnik took giant leaps without evidence and immediately said the killings were motivated by vitriolic rhetoric. We must be able to trust that our law enforcement officials speak from facts and evidence, not from political opinions. Dupnik said he has earned that right. What about his responsibility to do his job; speak from evidence. We need assurance from our officials that they will not speculate with opinions that will likely incite the public. Any excuses for this horrific act provides troublesome potential for more violence. Our American ethos imposes a sense of fairness on us and for us. Supposition is dangerous for us all.
Affix the blame squarely on the killer. Whether or not he is considered mentally ill, he was affixed on Congresswoman Giffords for many years (at least back to 2007 when he wrote "Die Bitch" on a letter from her). Criminal profilers interviewed on 60 Minutes cited the consistencies of his criminal mind. Evidence tells us that he holds Pima Community College directly responsible for his existence, claiming that he would become homeless because of the "genocide school" that tortured students.
Despite many red flags, the killer did not get assistance for his more than obvious condition of being out of touch with reality. The killer had made death threats to many people including at his community college, bloggers and radio personalities. He had a distrust of government and had a picture of a masked man burning a U.S. flag on YouTube. Who's at fault here?
At the memorial service for the victims, President Obama did an excellent job honoring the victims and praying for their recovery and blessings for the lost souls. He identified the tragic killings of a mad man for what it is; a horrible act of a senseless killer. With a serious and direct tone, he discouraged the political rhetoric and blame.
The same can't be said for the University of Arizona. Giving t-shirts that said "Together we Thrive" and selling refreshments at a memorial service is not in keeping with this solemn event. Together we thrive? Tell that to the families of those who lost their lives at the killer's hand: Dorothy Morris, Judge John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwin Stoddard, Christina Taylor-Greene and Gabe Zimmerman. The rallying was wholly out of place and could quite likely continue incitement of the blame game. Let's not forget, there are people in mourning.
Following her recovery, it is a pretty safe bet that Congresswoman Giffords will continue to speak to the virtues of assembly and free speech. That is likely her continuing wish. Let's hope that all people respect each other while exercising their rights. God Bless her and the other victims. Let's remember the victims and collectively heal the divide in America over this tragedy. We need justice and healing, not blame without justification. But I am concerned that the story is not over.
If you know of someone who needs assistance with mental or behavioral issues, get them help. We are all responsible for maintaining a safe and violent free community.