On Saturday, a mentally unstable 22-year old man opened fire in a shopping center in Tucson, Arizona, seriously injuring a congresswoman, murdering six and wounding eleven more.
According to the New York Times, “Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics.” The Washington Post’s coverage could have run under the same headline: “The mass shooting Saturday morning that gravely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed a federal judge raised serious concerns that the nation’s heated political discourse had taken a dangerous turn.”
No mention of the person who actually pulled the trigger. Instead, insinuations that those who have strongly expressed their political opinions are the real culprits.
“The rhetoric has devolved and descended past the ugly, and past the threatening, and past the fantastic, and into the imminently murderous,” argued MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. Olbermann’s guest, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, while admitting he didn’t know the shooter’s motivation, suggested the violence was the “inevitable” result of “violent political rhetoric” and “incitement.”
The Huffington Post trotted out Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva to relay the day’s message against “vitriolic rhetoric” from “extreme elements of the Tea Party.” Grijalva attacked Sarah Palin, arguing, “if she wants to help the public discourse, the best thing she could do is to keep quiet.”
Let us mourn the deceased, support the injured, prosecute the guilty. Yes. But it is indecent to twist an act of violence into an excuse to smear opponents and silence robust political debate.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.