Sunday, January 09, 2011

The rush to judgment in Arizona?

The narrative has already taken hold -- due to the lightning speed of the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, and non-stop cable coverage with opinions spouted from so-called journalists -- the sides are already set on the causes of the incident in Tucson.  From the perspective of the nation's political psyche -- there are some similarities to the rush to judgment on 11/22/63 -- the day we lost a president, our innocence, and belief in leadership. Are we rushing to judgment on 1/8/11?

We did lose six people today -- and another notch in the beltway tightens around the leaders of the country. As for innocence -- no matter what the shooter's motivations were (random act, voices in his head, political message, attention, etc.) -- the political process of this country again is forever changed, and changed away from being the open democracy (did we even have one?) the documents of the 1700s set out to pursue.

The shooting of Rep. Giffords is a tipping point -- and, yes, both sides are going to take every opportunity to politicize this to their advantage, without any proof of motivation from Loughner or from his alleged companion, the speculation will become the narrative. Whichever side (wanna take a bet on which side it is?) is more persuasive in arguing its case, that will end up being the truth in bizarro America. 

I will go with the statement from Sheriff Dupnik of Pima County, a man on the front line:

When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the Capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

How fast before the right labels him a "liberal sheriff"?

Should we rush to judgment on the cause of Loughner's action? Of course not. Even I am guilty of that. What is very apparent to any sane person is the amount of vitriol coming from supposed leaders and people who can influence the narrative is really poisoning this country. Even if this is a "lone nut" (apparently the sheriff says they are looking for a white man in his 50s, a companion to Loughner), the hate speech that comes from the right in the form of Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, and Bachmann ("armed and loaded") can easily tip over a "lone nut." Can anyone name one person on the left that espouses the same violent rhetoric as Beck or Palin? If it it sounds like I am contracting myself -- about rushing to judgment -- I am. This country needs to carefully examine the limits of crying fire in a crowded theater, even if there is NO direct relationship between today's horrific incident and Palin's crosshairs.

The headlines on the talk shows tomorrow -- "everyone does it." The spin on this will make Linda Blair's head from The Exorcist (which was on today) look like a slow walk in the park. Any references to hate speech from the likes of Beck and Palin will of course be whitewashed by the media, as they direct all thinking towards the "lone nut."

There will be no learning from this experience, no examination of how or why it happened, only ways to prevent it from happening. Hopefully Giffords does recover, though six others for sure will not. The sad part is that America will probably never recover. If we thought in 2011 America that Congressmen were removed from their constituents now, well, wait till you see what the connection will be post-Tucson. NONE of them will be allowed to have these open forums or public gatherings, and they will become more and more isolated and more and more removed from common folks. This will mean they are more and more vulnerable to the influence of those than can get to them -- lobbyists, for example.

This is a watershed day in American politics, but sadly the media will spin it away from America looking at itself and into the "lone nut" theory. Call it the Warren Commission redux: much easier to blame one lunatic than examine society as a whole.

We have a lethal cocktail running around this country, a cocktail combining the lack of adequate care for the mentally ill with Constitutional protection of "First Amendment" hate speech from Beck and Palin and "second amendment" remedies, tossed in with weakened gun laws. And this concoction is a recipe for total disaster. If we don't examine and admit this is more than a "lone nut," this will be just become more cancerous. We know the NRA will somehow spin away the fact that a mentally ill person can carry a concealed weapon to a political rally or that the rhetoric from people like Palin actually encourages more violence. Are we willing to let that go on because it is too painful or too politically difficult to talk about? You betcha.

None of this will be talked about by politicians or the media.

P.S.: Of all the sights and sounds on the tube today, NONE was more disgusting than watching Jan Brewer, who as governor has drastically axed medical coverage in Arizona, to the point of denying transplants, AND encouraged hatred to be the norm in her state with the passage of the draconian immigration bill, shed those crocodile tears. As sure as anything, she will be portrayed her as the caring governor. I refer the good governor to Sheriff Dupnik: "vitriol might be free speech, but it's not without consequences."

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  • You say it all DC. I so wanted to spew when Brewer got on camera. That hateful woman pretending to care. It was too much. Can't these hate spewing asshats have the common decency to shut up for a day at least?

    By Anonymous Sherry Peyton, at 3:23 PM  

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