Thoughts on the Arizona Shooting

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

The aftermath of the attempted assignation of Congresswoman Giffords, the murder of 6, and the wounding of 13 others has been very troubling.  First and foremost, is the tragedy, pain and sorrow of the event, particularly the death of 9 year old Christina-Taylor Green, whose birth on 9/11/2001, and now her death leaves a wonderful life full of promise bookended by national tragedy.

This was not just a crime of multiple murder, it was a crime against our very democratic form of government.  The very nature of it threatens the ability of representatives to freely meet with the people.  Another of ironies in this horrendous crime is that Giffords took part in the reading of the Constitution last week, reading the first amendment which said,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

While security will almost certainly be tightened in the future, I hope that these future measures will be mostly invisible and will not isolate members of congress as the president’s security isolates him.  Having to pass through a TSA line to see a representative will only further isolate them from the people and severely restrict where they can go.

But, unfortunately, the shock of the event had not even passed before some on the left in a crass political  move began partisan finger pointing at conservatives, the tea party, and particularly trying to blame Sarah Palin.  This was then picked up by some prominent voices on the left, though thankfully not all.  Ironically claiming we should tone down the rhetoric, they began trying to lay blame in a desperate and despicable attempt to turn this tragedy to their own political advantage.   Thus instead of a nation grieving as one, conservatives and the tea party members suddenly had to defend themselves from these vile and politically based charges.

As more and more evidence emerged about the murderer, it became increasingly clear how baseless these charges were. Still, if past experience is any indication, the press will continue to gently imply these links. Oh, they will of course deny that there was any actual connection when challenged, and then will go on to talk about these admittedly unconnected statements as if they were connected.  As the years pass and memory fades, the link will be made more and more explicit, in the same way that the Oklahoma City bomber, is now said to be a conservative or a Christian, as the need to link arises.

For now, in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, the partisan attacks are shifting.  Oh yes, we now know that Palin was not directly responsible, but now the problem is that she is hiding and not responding to these baseless attacks in a way that her critics see as appropriate.   For example,  in an interview, Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein was critical of Palin, saying she should  “come out and say, you know what, that was a little bit much and we need to be careful.”

Frankly I think Palin did exactly the right thing. She is not the issue!  The shooting in Arizona is the issue.  Why should Palin take the bait and insert herself into an artificial controversy created by her enemies in order to discredit her?   The only thing it would do is further shift the focus away from where it should be, on the tragedy.

Finally, one other thought that has been troubling me is one that touches on Christina-Taylor Green.   One thing that is clear is who committed this crime. The murderer (the only way I will refer to him) was caught at the scene, in the act.   The only thing that really might be in doubt is his mental competence.  I, for one, do not automatically equate troubled with the inability to distinguish right from wrong.  But regardless, this issue should be able to be settled one way or the fairly quickly.

For sake of argument let us assume he is not criminally insane.  In that case, this crime, multiple murder that strikes at the heart of our governmental system, in my mind clearly warrants the death penalty.  Yet, despite the clarity of the case, it is very likely that the murderer, even if found guilty and given the death penalty, has more years to live than Christina-Taylor Green had when he cut her life short.  He may also very well outlive many of those who he has left grieving for loved ones he killed. While it is true that we must avoid a rush to justice, it is equally true that justice delayed, is justice denied.

Jan 11th, 2011

Comments are closed.