Coming out of hibernation
I've also been jolted out of my extended inactivity by the tragic shooting in Tucson last Saturday. Needless to say, my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.
However, I have found the reaction to it interesting and somewhat disturbing, particularly in the media. On the left there has been discussion of the part played by the violent rhetoric of the last election season and, while the feeling is obviously that most of that has taken place on the other side, there has also been introspection and self-examination, most notably by Keith Olbermann. (I personally, would like to apologize for any intemperate language on my part; I'm sure there has been some, although I can't think of specific instances.) In the so-called "mainstream media," there has been a false equivalency; if rhetoric played a part, well, everyone does it in equal measure. On the right, with a couple of exceptions, there has been little but finger pointing at the other side and a hysterical defensiveness.
I find it sad that we can't agree on one thing: painting one's opponent as evil and not just mistaken but malicious, using language such as "take him/her out," "Second Amendment remedies" (which by no stretch of my imagination, at least, can be construed as "metaphorical"), and shooting automatic weapons at campaign events, particularly at cutouts labeled with the opponent's initials, should be beyond the pale - at least as of now. I can only agree with Bill Clinton's remarks on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing:
"What we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold - but that the words we use really do matter, because there's this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike," he said.
"One of the things that the conservatives have always brought to the table in America is a reminder that no law can replace personal responsibility. And the more power you have and the more influence you have, the more responsibility you have."