This morning, Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot down by an as-yet-unknown assailant (but, knowing how these things work, he’ll probably have an autobiogaphy published by the time we complete the following commentary) in front of a Safeway in Arizona. The Congresswoman was pro-stem cell research, pro-health care reform, and a Democrat. Guess where this is going? Read on for the commentary, my gentle Examiner readers…
Let’s be clear about this before we say anything else: Arizona Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords’ shooting this morning is an absolutely terrifying occurence, the kind of twisted, horrible event that no one could see coming (well, actually, more on that in a moment), and there’s nothing funny about it. We’re not here today to mock Giffords’ death, nor are we here to make light of the dozen other people who were harmed in the attack (including– according to initial reports– a 10 year-old kid).
But you know what is darkly comic? The reaction to the shooting. People on both sides of the debate– both the Right and the Left– have immediately started pointing fingers, with the Left noting that Giffords’ district had been targeted by Sarah Palin and her Tea Party last year (actually, this is true: check out that graphic– which originally appeared online thanks to Sarah Palin– over on the left, which shows a bullseye over Giffords’ district and a call-of-arms of sorts across the top of the page), and some of the more unhinged members of the Right are claiming that the shooter was, in fact, an “Obama plant” (check the comments thread on any Giffords’-shooting-related article on FOX News right now) hoping to stir up trouble for Republicans (Oh, the Right, you are adorable).
Come on. Are you f-cking kidding me, people?
How about this: Maybe neither “side” is to blame, and maybe the guy who unloaded a full firearm into a crowd of people in front of a grocery store was just an insane, piece of sh-t loner. What difference does it make what his particular political affiliations are? Even if he was, in fact, working on behalf of the Tea Party (which, let’s face it, is absurd… but it is worth pointing out that Palin might wanna reconsider churning out posters with bullseyes on them going forward), is the rest of the Tea Party to blame? Are Republicans really at fault here?
Or– stay with me here– should we blame the guy with the gun and the mental problems?
The bottom line here is that some lunatic grabbed a gun and marched up to his local Congresswoman, unloaded on her and the crowd, and now he is in police custody. Whatever his reasoning for the shooting is, it’s almost certain to be irrelevant, because this is clearly the work of a disturbed individual. When that assclown shot Reagan to impress Jodie Foster, did anyone put Jodie Foster in the hot seat, point fingers in her direction? Of course not. Then again, Jodie Foster didn’t issue posters on her website with bullseyes over locations that Reagan may have appeared, but let’s not fall into that trap.
Every time something like this happens, the country’s political junkies go into overdrive attempting to show how the opposing side is at fault. And every time that happens, it becomes less likely that the level of political discourse in this country is ever going to rise above middle-school levels. This is bound to be the big story over the weekend, and come Monday I’m sure we’ll have Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck explaining how this is that Socialist Obama’s fault, but we should also be wary of Michael Moore and anyone else prone to hyperbole on the left claiming that the Republicans are to blame.
Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was not shot– and, according to some reports, killed– by the Republican party. She wasn’t even shot by the Tea Party. She was shot by a lone nutjob with a handgun and a death wish, and it’s important that we all remain focused on those facts. If someone wanted to, I don’t know, let Sarah Palin know that posters carrying bullseyes are probably not wise going forward (and that, if anything, they do more damage than good), I’d be prepared to allow for that, but let’s not let the finger-pointing get outta hand here, folks.
UPDATE: Sarah Palin took to her Facebook page to offer the least-convincing series of condolences that have ever been offered (they are the least-convincing if only for the fact that they first appeared on Facebook, which is sort of like breaking up with someone on a Post-It note, or a doctor telling a patient he has cancer by sending him a text). Here’s what she said:
My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona.
On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.
– Sarah Palin
Well, that’s odd. Not a single mention of a poster, a bullseye, or the (progressively popular) opinion that Palin’s silly-ass posters may have been the inspiration for the shooting. You’d think she would’ve, y’know, mentioned it at the very least. Oh, Sarah Palin, you are a card.
UPDATE 2: UPDATE HARDER: I’ve been asked to clarify, and I will: I think it’s silly to blame a poster for a shooting (the headline’s a little tongue-in-cheek, folks); I think that the shooter was clearly a troubled person who operated on his own accord; I think that Sarah Palin– and her poster– can’t be solely held to blame for the shooting, but– and it’s a strong but– this just goes to show why campaign posters with bullseyes on them are a bad idea, besides their obviously childish nature.
Did a poster make someone shoot a Congresswoman? No, probably not, and even if it did, we can’t hold Sarah Palin entirely to blame for the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords. But would we even have to engage in this conversation if a poster featuring a bullseye and Giffords’ name hadn’t been released by the Palin camp? No again. It’d probably help out– on all sides of the debate– if all politicians stopped resorting to silly-ass, childish tactics like Palin’s poster altogether.
In summation: Poster– bad. Palin– stupid. Shooter– solely to blame.
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