Sunday, January 9, 2011

Something wicked this way comes

Even before Saturday's shooting in Arizona I was going to comment on the disturbing direction of the political discourse in the country in recent years. I'd seen that a woman was removed from the House chambers when she shouted negative comments about Barack Obama while the Constitution was being read. As Rep. Frank Pellone read Article II, Section 1 of the document -- the part that says the president must be a "natural-born citizen" -- Teresa Cao yelled out, "Except Obama! Except Obama! Save us, Jesus!"

It turns out that Ms. Cao is a well-known "birther" crackpot who isn't dissuaded by legal documents from the state of Hawaii and, therefore, is never going to be convinced of Obama's legitimacy, and so my first reaction was that her outburst was disrespectful and reprehensible. However, I had to admit that if someone shouted out comments that criticized Republicans for their theatrical embracing of the Constitution while they seek to trample on it legislatively, or even if there was your basic chanting that the wars should be ended and the troops brought home, I would have applauded the actions.

While her ignorance is disturbing, it's not Teresa Cao's actions that give me concern. It is the fact that there are some people who want to go farther than she did. Whatever TV she watches (presumably Fox), radio she listens to, blogs she reads, and whatever other media she consumes -- and believes -- if, in the end, it only inspired her to yell out some foolishness, then so be it. There is, however, a certain percentage of the population that listen to, watch and read similar rants and diatribes, and who then decide that violence is the proper course. Those people are being incited by Beck, Palin, Rush, Coulter, O'Reilly and the rest of the moronic right-wing instigators, and some of them are bound to be dangerous.

That's what I was thinking Saturday morning, and then came the news that Jared Loughner, 22, walked up to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords with a gun and shot her in the head. Six others were killed, a dozen wounded and Giffords clings to life. In a press conference hours after the shooting the Pima County sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, looking exasperated at the day's events, said that he believes the political bitterness has gone too far. Calling Arizona "a mecca for racism and bigotry," Dupnik added:
...people tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.
We can live with Teresa Cao. Heck, she's even a little entertaining, but somewhere out there are delusional souls filled with ignorance and rage, and they are willing to take things into their own hands.

Photo of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and House Speaker John Boehner courtesy of the Associated Press.


dylan said...

Worth noting that Jared Loughner's former classmates have described him as having been "extremely liberal" and "hostile to religion." Doesn't sound to me like a typical Fox News viewer.

Francine said...

He was registered as an Independent. Really, it doesn't really matter what his political views were. If he was mentally ill easy access to guns (liberals are against that) and violent rhetoric (everyone but more conservatives than liberals)doesn't help. It is amazing that the Palins and Limbaughs are acting like they are certain they have nothing to do with this and are actually trying to blame others...Actually it is believable...that's the sad thing.