I'm just sick over the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona over the weekend, which left six people dead, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl.
I don't have that much of depth to say about the whole thing. The shooter, Jared L. Loughner, seems to be a genuinely disturbed individual, whatever consolation that may be, who cannot really be categorized as "left" or "right."
However, it's more than a little unsettling how much violent political rhetoric has been flying around in general over the past few years, and in Gabrielle Giffords' district (among others) in particular. This included a poster produced by Sarah Palin's PAC with a gun's crosshairs over Giffords' district, and Giffords' opponent using as a campaign photo a picture of himself in military fatigues holding a combat rifle, and a campaign event in which attendees were invited to fire "a fully automatic M-16" to "get on target" to remove Giffords from office.
I don't think it's reasonable to blame either Palin or Jesse Kelly for the actions of a single unhinged individual. However, I'd really love to see Palin or someone stand up and say something like the following:
"In addition to the condolences I've already expressed to Representative Giffords, her family, and the families of all those who were injured and killed this past weekend in Arizona, I believe that these tragic events demand that each of us do something more than express sympathy. This is a chance for all of us to take a minute and look at ourselves, and the culture that surrounds the way we elect and evaluate the people who represent us in our government.
"While there's no evidence that the shooter had any connections to any political group, in light of what happened I deeply regret that my Political Action Committee created a poster with an image that could easily be interpreted as placing a gun sight on Representative Giffords' district.
"This act of terrorism—and let's be clear that this was an act of terrorism— hasn't changed my core beliefs, and I remain committed to the many freedoms we cherish in the US, including legal and responsible gun ownership and freedom of speech. But it's time for us all to take a moment to reaffirm that in the big picture, we're all on the same side. Without ignoring our differences, we're all Americans, motivated by our love for our country and what we believe is best for it.
"In recognition of this fact, from today forward I and all campaigns associated with me are making a commitment to refrain from violent imagery or rhetoric aimed at any individual.
"We will never stop fighting for the things we believe in, and to convince those who disagree with us. But it's time to reaffirm what patriots on both sides of the aisle have always known: Our tools are words and ballots, not threats and violence.
"We will continue our struggle to be worthy of the political system we have inherited, and to do honor to the ideals enshrined within our Constitution. We will continue to debate when we disagree, and vigorously, with a commitment that those who serve our nation should do so without fear of violence."
That's my dream, anyway, and while there's no real danger of Mrs. Palin ever earning my vote, she would earn my respect.