As we mull over the small amount of information coming from law enforcement and from various news sources regarding Jared Lee Loughner, identified as the shooter of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford and many others, we are also inundated with the posturing of various pundits, politicos, and anyone with access to a microphone, keyboard, or television camera.
So far the facts are few, and opinions abound.
The first person to overstep the bounds of his position was Sheriff Clarence Dupnik who, while in the course of a news conference, took every opportunity he could to condemn what he called “vitriolic rhetoric” as directly responsible for the shooting. Odd that; I would have thought a law officer would know better than to speculate regarding the motives for the shooting. But Dupnik repeated his charge numerous times, all the while saying he was not at liberty to discuss details pertaining to the investigation.
I’ll cut him some slack; some of the people killed were his friends. I will assume what we saw and heard was the venting of anger.
I’ll cut no such slack to a host of pundits, so-called newscasters, politicians, and what are likely to be numerous people who jumped on the bandwagon and will take this opportunity to condemn this or that opponent as bearing responsibility for the shooting.
All of them will use grandiose words, express deep sorrow, and call for uniting at this time of tragedy, to put our differences aside, and find a certain amount of civility when dealing or debating about contentious, divisive, and ideologically driven issues. All good things, except . . .
. . . except they will use verbiage designed to if not outright blame their opponents, at the very least denigrate them as peripherally responsible. They will do so to increase their ratings, increase traffic to their sites, and build their own importance in the eyes of an increasingly gullible and malleable populous. They will show themselves to be without shame or bounds when it comes to pushing their own agenda. From federal agencies, to the lowest of bloggers, all will use this tragedy as an excuse to lambaste those they despise, help their own cause, and gain the advantage in the battle not to bridge ideological gaps, but to garnish support for their own ideology.
It’s no use to remind people all one needs to do is go and check out some of the comments on Facebook to see that no matter the political slant, or ideological bend, many people on multiple sides of the political and social arena at some time or other refer to their opponents as not worthy of life itself. It’s even more prevalent in forums where anonymity offers people an excuse for behavior that would not be tolerated in the public square.
Across ideologies, there is no shortage of people who would be perfectly content to see their opponents gone.
. . . and yet, except for rare instances such as yesterday, we do not have bloodbaths in the streets, or at political rallies, or conventions, or town hall meetings, or any other place where differences of opinions result in flaring of tempers and flinging of hurtful, thoughtless, and malicious words.
When something does happen, as in this case, it usually turns out to be the workings of arguably unbalanced individuals, and it is the exception, not the norm. I have no doubt this will be the case in this instance. But, it won’t matter what facts are eventually uncovered. It won’t matter than whatever steps are taken, these things will happen again, as they have happened throughout history.
By the time facts make an appearance, the battles will already have been fought. This tragedy will have been used as ammunition in a war that is less concerned with the fate of Congresswoman Gifford, and even less concerned with the motivations of Jarred Lee Loughner, and not concerned at all with facts.
The overwhelming majority of people will never take action as drastic as Loughner, even with all the accusations, all the vitriolic rhetoric, downright insults, and yes, sometimes hate they hold for their opponents.
Unfortunately, not all people, and when those outliers do act, their actions are immediately seized upon as tools by those who seem to have no limit to how low they will stoop in their quest to dehumanize and marginalize their opponents.
I wish we would be rid of all such people, all pundits, all self-declared bastions for the public good . . . but I don’t plan to act on it. Not only that, if someone does act on it, no matter how many accolades, awards, and praise I receive, I will not accept having written the previous sentence as me being responsible for their action.