Unfortunately, the gunman, Jared Loughner, was hellbent on being as destructive as he could be and went on to shoot a eighteen other people, killing six of them. Among the fatalities is U.S. District Judge John Roll and a nine year old girl who was there as a reward for being elected to the student council.
While no official motive has been going, we do know that the gunman was probably suffering from some sort of mental illness. We also know that he hated the government and among his favorite books was "Mein Kampf."
As tragic and horrifying as this event is, it was also all too predictable. Across the country, but especially in Arizona, there has been a growing disregard for civil discourse or even basic respect for fellow men and women. Judge Roll himself had already been the subject of death threats by the intolerant bigots of the right regarding a case he heard which pitted illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher. In fact, most news articles regarding today's terrorist attack show the growing number of threats across the nation. And don't forget that the last two days have had news of mail packages for elected leaders exploding and spewing an unknown substance.
Pima Sheriff Clarence Dupnik spared no words on putting today's nightmare in perspective:
Mr. Dupnik called the shooting a "very sad day for Tucson" and a "horrendous, horrendous, senseless, unbelievable crime." And then he blamed the crime on the rhetoric -- presumably political rhetoric -- in the country.
"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government," he said. "The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."
Mr. Dupnik said it is time for the country to "do a little soul searching."
He added: "The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business ... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in."
Here is a link to a video of his press conference. His sincerity is quite telling. You see none of the calculative word choices that someone like our own Sheriff Clarke.
Indeed, many people keep referring to Sarah Palin and her PAC, which specifies Representative Giffords as a "target" and that people shouldn't retreat but reload. Eerily, ten months ago, Congresswoman Giffords spoke about the hatred and death threats aimed at her.
Arizona has been worse than most areas in regards to their bigotry towards Hispanics and poor people. Things have gotten so bad that their own state government have told poor people that they aren't worth the expense to keep alive.
But as heart-wrenching as today's horrific events are, the reaction from too many on the right are egregious.
By far, the majority of the right is back-pedaling, saying that this shouldn't be made political and that we should all only pray for the family.
I have two real problems with this crap coming from them.
First of all, they are the ones that have been spewing this hateful rhetoric for two years now. So many of them have spent so much time and energy into pouring gas onto this already blazing fire.
Secondly, if the gunman's name hadn't been Jared Loughner, but Julio Lopez, these same people that are calling for people to step back would have been leading the charge trying to determine if he was an illegal alien. And if he was, they would really begin to howl. It would have been just as bad if the gunman's name had been Jamale Lofton. The racial comments would be spewing like a volcano's eruption.
If you don't believe me, look at the right's reactions to the news earlier this week regarding the drunk driver who killed a woman on I-94 or the incident last weekend at Mayfair Mall.
Life is hard enough on a lot of people. We don't need these bullies spewing their hateful rhetoric making things worse than they already are. But if they feel they need to do it, at least be adult enough to face the consequences for the irresponsible and reprehensible behaviors.