May 24, 2018
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Readers debate rhetoric’s role in Arizona shooting

This week, ClickBack asked editorial page readers about the role political rhetoric played, or didn’t play, in the shootings in Tucson, Ariz.

Is anti-government rhetoric culpable in the Tuscon shootings?

Opponents of big government who post elected officials and candidates as gun targets (cross hairs) on the Internet are inciting to riot by definition. Authorities must act to protect the public and the democratic process.

People’s actions are influenced by how they perceive truth and reality. Our culture glorifies violence, condones war and defends much abominable behavior. When we begin to value equality, peace, and justice more than vanity and profit, we may see a decline in these types of abhorrent actions.

The shooter was to all appearances a classic paranoid schizophrenic. There is nothing that anyone can do for someone like this if they have broken no laws, [not] threatened to harm others or themselves.
According to the news media he developed his fixation on Rep. Giffords over three years ago and was probably well on his way into his psychological problems. Palin wasn’t even a blip on most radar screens in 2007. I really don’t believe that people in this mental state are listening to anyone’s voices but their own.

The crazies have always been with us and I, for one, resent the attempts by liberals, socialists, progressives — whatever they call themselves — to demonize guns or conservatives or talk show radio hosts in an attempt to get some mileage for their point of view. This type of behavior is not new. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search on “Bath School Disaster” and see what happened on May 18, 1927. Can’t blame that one on Rush Limbaugh, can we?

The fact that liberals are trying to tie this tragedy to conservatives (Palin and others) and their exercise of free speech is disgusting, shameful and reprehensible. It’s also hypocritical, but it’s nothing new for the left to be hypocritical. The Democrats produced a nearly identical map with targets and cross hairs in 2004, but that’s OK, huh?

The fact is, this guy is a nut job who obviously lives in a dimension outside of reality. There are always going to be insane people doing insane things. Unfortunately, some, like this character, slip through the cracks. Trying to stick the blame on political enemies displays a moral character that resides in the sewer.

Does anyone else see the irony in this tragedy? In Arizona, the state that has been the de facto face of recent political gay bashing (DADT, Sen. McCain) and racism (the state’s highly controversial immigration law), a white straight man shoots a member of Congress, who then has her life saved by her gay Hispanic American intern, Daniel Hernandez.

There is a strong case to be made that the rhetoric of the times does make a difference.

When the focus of the rhetoric is anti-union, unions and union members get attacked, as they did in the early 1900s. When the rhetoric is anti-Japanese, Japanese get attacked, discriminated against and illegally corralled in internment camps. When the rhetoric is anti-Semitic, synagogues and Jews are attacked.
When the rhetoric focuses on the government and demonizes a party, a congresswoman gets shot. If you think Sarah Palin’s crosshairs represented thoughtful debate, I’d be glad to congratulate her for you.

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