What happened yesterday in Arizona would have been a page turner if it was fiction–but it wasn’t. This was real life and a chilling example of what the type of rabble rousing we have witnessed in recent years can cause.
True, it happened in Tucson, but it could have happened in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago–any major city. Any small or medium town in this country. In my home towns, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, meaningless shootings capture headlines and inspire plots for mysteries, thrillers, suspense novels and more.
Normally I don’t make comments of this type in print, at least not under my real name. But today I am compelled to. This is something I’ve talked about for years as I have watched the level of respect in our country deteriorate and inflamatory ads and shows dominate the media.
Was yesterday’s horrific event politically motivated? Who knows at this point. Political ads spewing thoughts of shooting, crosshairs and other punishments for the targeted candidate, and the carrying of guns allowed at rallys featuring high profile controversial people, all contribute to the fantasies of disturbed people. It makes carrying out a real act okay in their minds. Even imperative. And that is what we saw yesterday. My observations are non-sectarian. There are offenders on both sides of the fence.
What can you expect when the past several years have been a testimony to hate mongering and disrespect of the highest level across all forms of media? Sure it is fodder for some pretty thrilling books, movies and TV shows. But in real life when people die they don’t go on to star in another show or solve a case in another book. Unfortunately, often accusations are no longer checked. They go out to the world as gospel, and apologies, if the information was wrong, are few and rarely publicized.
George Orwell’s visions of the future sadly have come to be in many ways. Where is the sanity?
In watching “Meet the Press” this morning, these were the comments that grabbed me:
Representative Debbil Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl) referred to a campaign statement that she heard in the last election. Basically, bullets if ballots don’t work. She added that we have to go back to respecting one another.
Moderator David Gregory talked about demonization of candidates and parties, and observed that acts such as the one that just occurred in Arizona don’t have to be political. Irresponsible talk about violence contributes to justification in a troubled mind.
Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) talked about excuses to exercise bitterness deep inside. He added, “We have to learn to watch what we say,” and continued that it’s wrong to insinuate “I’m right–you’re evil.”
In a clip of former President Bill Clinton he referred to the serious and the delirious alike.
Representative Trent Franks (R-Az) commented, “We don’t have to change what we say.” I admit, I’ve taken that out of context, but it is one of the things I consider to be something we do have to change. So, to that, I say a resounding “NO!” I agree with everyone who stated that we need to go back to having respect for one another. Incendiary remarks and images can only result in firing up the minds of disturbed individuals. A friend’s father who was one of the famous Keystone Kops, once told me, “Don’t say it unless you would feel fine seeing it on the front page of the L.A. Times.” And Mom always said, “Think before you say.”
Let’s keep senseless killings in our fiction and use some common sense in public statements. My sympathies to all of the victims, particularly to the 9 year-old girl who will never see 10 and a beloved judge. And congratulations to the fantastic team effort of the team at University of Arizona Trauma Center.
As writing examiner, Morgan St. James writes regular columns on Tuesday and Thursday in the Las Vegas edition and Wednesday and Friday in the Los Angeles edition. She writes two fiction series and is a frequent speaker and panel member. Visit her website: www.morganstjames-author.com