I know the most important thing we need to be doing is thinking of the victims and their families from today's shooting in Tucson. A sad day indeed. Unfortunately, I cannot hold my tongue, my pen, or my keyboard.
Words matter. They inflame tensions, they generate anger, and they can have significant, and as we saw today, horrific impacts on the weak minded. Congresswoman Giffords summed it up accurately recently when she said, "For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action.”
Words matter. During her campaign against Harry Reid, Republican candidate Sharron Angle said: “I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry. This not for someone who's in the military. This not for law enforcement. This is for us. And in fact when you read that Constitution and the founding fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny. This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical... “She went on to say “Well it's to defend ourselves. And you know, I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.”
Words matter. Soon after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Sarah Palin ratcheted up the rhetoric when she tweeted "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!'" I am not saying this is a declaration to take up arms, but he words coupled with her crosshairs imagery are irresponsible.
Words matter. Jesse Kelly, the Republican candidate who lost to Congresswoman Giffords in November had a campaign website filled with imagery of him in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. Worse, he posted on his website the following: Sat, 6/12/10 10:00 AM Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M 16 with Jesse Kelly.
Words matter. "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back.” That ditty is from Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann talking about taking up arms in politics.
When looked at individually, the above examples would seem to be just more of the usual Republican red meat to fire up the base. However, when you add it all up, factor in the 24 hr news cycle, and the bombastic blowhards on the internet, radio, and television, you can see how the devastating consequences of today can happen.
My thoughts and condolences to those that lost loved ones today. My wishes for full and speedy recoveries for those that were wounded. Perhaps someday we will realize that words matter when they incite violence.