Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Tucson Shooting

I don't agree with the CNN reporter who called the shooting in Tucson of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and 17 other people (6 of whom, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, are dead) "incomprehensible".

We don't yet know who did it, or what his motive was (only that, apparently, he was a 22-year-old white male). But whether he was a common or garden variety loon, hated her because she was a woman, or had swallowed the "Second-Amendment-remdies" / "armed and dangerous" crap Sharron Angle and Michelle Bachman spouted, and took his lead from Sarah Palin's website's cross-hairs on Giffords, this is not "incomprehensible".

Americans are violent. And political rhetoric of late has played on that, and the image of the armed and independent American defending himself against who-knows-what demonic forces (a country boy can survive, as the singer on the radio a few minutes ago sang, indulging in the fantasy of shooting someone with his .45), and the persecuation complex of the once-priveleged seeing others come up equal to him... and it's no surprise that someone has shot another politician.

McCain and Boehner are quickly saying how horrible this is. Trent Franks (R-Az) was on the air, too, saying all the right things*. But what about those who have actively called for "Second Amendment remedies"? (Giffords' opponent in the last election actually had a fundraiser where you could "take Giffords out" by shooting an M-16 at a target of her in his campaign.) What are they going to say? Will they stop calling for blood? Or will they just say they never meant to be taken seriously?

And whatever we do, let's not forget that this guy emptied his gun apparently at random into a crowd of people and killed six of them - one a Federal judge (John Roll, who might easily have been a target if the shooter knew who he was instead of getting him (as it appears) randomly after the deliberate shooting of Giffords) and one a nine-year-old girl. Guns are too easy to get in this country, and guns like a 9mm Glock with an extended magazine (such as this has been described as) really don't have much purpose beyond this: killing lots of people very quickly.

This was evil. But it was not incomprehensible - or unpredictable, except in the details.

UPDATED: Patrick Beck, president of the Arizona Tea Party: "I've definitely been in Tea Party events where people have signs or shouted inappropriate things. What can we do to stop that? Not a lot. All we can do is be real clear about what we mean, but it makes it real difficult to speak when every few minutes you're giving a disclaimer. 'We have to fight back -- but, wait, I don't mean literally fight.' Those words such as fight, and take back, and restore... we know what we mean but we have to be clear what we mean, and in next few weeks, as this all plays out, people will be more understanding of that."

* He sounded a couple of odd notes - oddest of all was saying that he and this moderate Blue Dog Democrat were "on opposite ends of the political spectrum." What - hasn't he met Barney Frank yet?



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