I have stayed out of the political arena in my columns the last few months mainly because I’ve noticed feedback to unpopular political opinions seem to bring backlash instead of constructive commentary.
I have written opinion pieces off and on now for more than 20 years and one of the first things I learned stepping into this arena is not everyone is going to agree with you. That’s the whole idea of democracy and freedom of speech. We can all agree to disagree and still get along at the end of the day, right?
But as I said the climate today is much more heated than it was two decades ago, or even a decade ago. Today you can be branded “a rightwing wacko” or “spineless liberal” just for stating a political opinion. I’ve been called the equivalent of both over some of my opinions and in some ways it makes me laugh because I don’t think of myself as either — but it is also very sad because people can’t express a political opinion these days without being labeled for it.
So I have avoided political commentary for the past few months, reserving it for moments when I think I should say something. I think now is a good time.
I followed the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords this past weekend and, like many, was concerned about her fate, the fate of others injured in the senseless attack and — ultimately — about the fate of our country.
Assassinations have been around since organized government came to be, it has just been awhile in this country since we have seen an attempt like the one from Jan. 8.
What is different this time around is people rushing to point fingers at who was really responsible for the Giffords shooting. Heated rhetoric between leftand right-wing politicians and media outlets were quickly the scapegoat for why this man took a gun and shot 12 people.
It was Sarah Palin’s fault because she used crosshairs on a Website to “target” political opponents. It was the Tea
Party’s fault. I will admit the political climate is charged these days, but it has been at other times in history — I don’t think it is the reason for this attack.
Did anyone stop for a minute in the midst of the finger-pointing and say, “Hey, it was a madman with a gun who did this?” We really don’t know much about what motivated this individual. His political blogs and other writings suggest he was all over the spectrum with his beliefs — from antiimmigration to pro-Communism.
Although he has not been proven to be insane, he certainly sounds as if he is and insanity often means there wasn’t necessarily a motive. John Hinkley shot Ronald Reagan because he wanted to impress actress Jodie Foster. Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon because he wanted to take over the former Beatle’s life. Serial killer David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam in New York back in the 1970s, said he killed people because his dog told him to do it.
Insanity defies logic. Stop attaching political motivation to what this man did in Arizona. And even if he turns out to have some sort of concrete political agenda, the fact of the matter is he acted in the name of his own beliefs.
Crosshairs on a Website and charged political banter are not the reasons why.
For once can’t someone just be responsible for they’re own actions? Just once that’s what I’d like to see.