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Monday, January 10, 2011

What the tragedy in Tucson meant to me

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't take my mind off the deadly shooting in Tucson, Arizona. I think we all saw this coming because the signs were in plain sight. This senseless massacre by a mentally unstable person has nothing to do with the partisan rhetoric of either side. We may find out later that it does but as of now Jared Loughner has not cooperated with police interrogators.

As I watched the Saturday playoff games, I would click over to CNN for the latest updates on the shooting and even while I was in church, my mind drifted every few minutes. I remember that this is the same political climate we were in before the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal building. A few days after the Oklahoma City bombing, I remember a coworker, who was a member of the Republic of Texas militia, came in bragging because he got a call from the Houston Chronicle asking him if his group had any involvement. He was proud because the Houston Chronicle knew who he was but it did not impress the rest of us. It hit close to home much like the terrorist threat made to the Bay City ISD.

I think most of us saw the signs coming as recent as the August of 2009, when we saw the vitriol being displayed at the town hall meetings all over the United States. The offices of some legislators were vandalized and their lives threatened. We saw it brewing. There was a time we could go to the main post office to mail a package or serve on a jury at the county courthouse without going through a security check. Back then we could go watch an Astros game without our bags being checked or board an airplane without being viewed a flight risk.

I saw many instances of hope yesterday; when legislators of both parties said it was time for the harsh rhetoric to stop. We never want to subdue the passionate debate on the issues, but it doesn't need to lead to hate of the opposition or the government. I think our government is broken and needs a lot of repair, but it needs to be done with compromise; not an airplane flying into a Federal building, bodily threats, or vandalism. I love politics; especially hardball politics but I despise acts of violence. I think it was wise and statesmanlike for Speaker Boehner to halt any action on legislation this week, have a memorial, and schedule a bipartisan caucus soon. A timeout to reflect is not a bad idea.

It wasn't long after the senseless massacre in Tucson, Arizona that the partisans on the left and right either accused their opponents for fueling the fire, or they took a defensive position. The media were more than happy to give them the venue to state their case. There's nothing in the world that would have stopped this deranged young man. It doesn't take much to send those people over the line. At that same time, a woman came out calling for more gun control, and some gun advocates were calling for more guns. Why can't we wait for all the facts come out before lighting the fuel for another argument ?Jared Loughner was stopped, wrestled to the ground, and detained by three unarmed individuals, one being a 61 year old woman. Let's use this time to honor them, the nine year old girl, the Federal judge and others that were critically wounded or died. There will always be time for what we could've done, should've done, or can do to prevent an incident like this in the future.

I hope the solutions don't interfere with the one- on- one interaction we are able to have with our politicians. I don't think it's too much for politicians to check in with the local police department to make them aware of what they're doing.


Mike said...

The Victoria online posters sure make it easy for me to make a clean break.

I can't explain why the tragedy I saw coming has consumed me. I don't know if it's guilt for taking part in the left and right discussions? It shouldn't, since I've been doing this for several years but the first rattle of the box came Dale Zuk blaming my side for today's vitriol. I have an answer for that but it was never the intention of my blog to have a left/right discussion.

Observer blamed LBJ and liberals in general then in came Written to take us back to another time when the political environment would just as hot.... Rollingstone saw the August 2009 date and thought I was blaming the hostile town hall meetings as the root for all the hostilities... I was just naming a well recognized period in time.

I couldn't in good conscience leave a right and left discussion forum blog during a period that should be reserved to honor those that were critically wounded or died in that tragic event.

Some might think it's silly for me to remove the blog, but I don't care.

Mike said...

I am leaving for the night but before leaving I received a couple emails where the senders stated that I should've left the blog intact for all to see..... I wrote back and said it was not my intention to embarrass or make light of the tragedy. They insisted that those posters will think all they have to do is criticize my words and I will immediately back down and I showed it by removing my blog.
Wow, that is a stretch but does anyone see their point? It's too late to justify my reasons.:-)

BTW The posters are OK with me divulging the contents of our emails..They insisted because they think they are right.

How would you have handled it? There are no wrong answers....This time..:-)

Edith Ann said...

Mike, Sorry to have missed your blog on the Advocate. I saw it, but didn’t have time to stop in, and now it’s gone! As for removing it, I probably would have done the same thing. If you're not appeciated over 'there', you always have over 'here'.

I don’t know if I can agree with you that there is not a part of this that is the result of the current ‘mood’ of our country. I was just having this discussion with my very republican brother. He is not willing to have any of his faves like Beck and Palin brought into this, but he did make a good point when he said that everyone has lost their civility and no one respects anyone else. I have to say I can agree with that.

But—Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and others have used language that is of a violent nature when discussing political campaigns. The imagery that their words conjure up is violent. Sarah Palin did not pull the trigger and neither did Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh (remember—he suggested that folks should try to kill Pres. Obama), BUT they ARE responsible to continuing to contribute to the toxic and hateful talk that we have seen for the last two years. And even crazy folks watch TV and listen to the news...

Over on a page I like on Facebook, “The Other 98%” ( one of the posters posted this on their blip about Sarah Palin owing folks an apology for her rhetoric: “Rahm calls someone a retard and she won't shut up. David Letterman makes a joke about her kid and she complains for days. A nine year old girl dies and an elected official--who happened to be in the district Sarah put a frigging gunsight on for her stupid little map----gets a bullet in the head, and Sarah can't say a word. Where's motormouth now?!” That kind of sums it up for me.

Oh, and just in case anyone thinks I can’t be fair, I’d be more than happy to dog out any Democrats who have spouted even half of the hatefulness we have seen from Palin, Beck and Limbaugh. Kindly point them out, and I’ll be all over them. Really, I will.

victorianbybirth said...

The would'ves, could'ves & should'ves don't matter now, they need to leave well enough alone....let people mourn & heal. It sounds like he had some serious mental problems going on, he was at the ripe age for schizophrenia to start showing it's signs. These days it doesn't seem like the military turns too many people away, they had to have a real good reason.

I blame 24 hrs news channels for our decline in civility & why we are so divided....they have to fill air space & sell ads to make $$. It seems hate & fear are big sellers. I watch the local news in the morning if I wake up in time, which usually I don't. I read the papers, ViCad, Express News & sometimes the Chronicle online & whatever stories catch my eye on AOL & Yahoo. I have been staying away from everything political because there is so much rhetoric from both sides it all seems biased & it just elevates my blood pressure. Facts are hard to come by these days & opinions are rampant...that explains all the a-holes walking around.

Rebecca said...

I wrote so much that I decided not to send it... One of my points was that this conversation needs to take place. Those negative reactions (comments) over on VicAd were probably the result of defensive internal dialogues. We are having to ask ourselves, "What if the way we communicate with each other is destroying us? What if I could tone down my rhetoric? Am I betraying my party by questioning our modus operandi?" You saw the defensive responses to those questions. It's not personal, though it feels that way.

BIGJ said...

Since I am here. Glenn Beck should shut his mouth. I heard his so-called "challenge" on his show, he should ask GOD for FORGIVNESS.

People forgot or should I say ingore the fact that Sean Hannity's Neo Nazi friend Hal Turner had threaten to kill a certain Presidential candidate on CNN. They also ingore the facyt Glenn Beck attack his the PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER AND THE RUSH LIMBRAUGH'S RACIST RANTS !!!!!

BIGJ said...

It is also sad that a stalker from the VIC AD accuse me of being the next crazed killer.

Mike said...

Edith Ann

You're absolutely right ,I didn't separate the " mood of the country" and the causes for this senseless incident.

I think this is about our inability or refusal to handle mental illness. The other problem is our refusal to enter their names into the national gun purchasing database with a stamp " REFUSE."... As was mentioned last night, how can someone be thrown out of community college because of their unstable condition and refused by the army be able to purchase a 30 round extender and associated ammunition. He was refused by one WalMart but another one sold him the ammo.

You're absolutely right, there's not a moral equivalence for the hateful rhetoric because it's more on the right,these days. In the 1960s and 70s, the left had more crazies. It does raise the temperature and that's the intent.

I thought all the political ads that had references to guns were ridiculous. Even, West Virginia's Joe Manchin (D-WV) for his "dead aim" political ad showing him shooting a mock copy of cap-and-trade legislation and tells viewers he would 'take on Washington and this administration.'.....

I agree with your statement (on your blog about a month ago)about having to go 100 miles to treat mental illness in our county was a terrible decision because it shows our misguided priorities.

Rebecca said...

BigJ, you are kind of like the liberal Glen Beck. You match the emotionalism on the other side. I'm not picking on you, just trying to show you that THAT type of communication does NOT lead to understanding, but to snowballing defensiveness/offensiveness, fighting, and hate - and in some people, violence. "There's a wrong way to be right."

Mike said...


I don't disagree that the 24/7 cable news contribute to the hostile political climate we're in but I'm not so sure that it led to this incident. I think this had more to do with a mentally disturbed person that slipped through the cracks and was able to purchase a pistol with 30 round extender.... That is just my opinion.

I also agree that this is a time for mourning and reflection and it's not supposed to be a platform for partisan rhetoric and finger pointing... I'm sure there will plenty of that; especially if the accused starts talking.

Mike said...


I expected two posters(Observer and rollingstone) to disagree no matter how nonpartisan I tried to make it but that post by Dale really made me rethink the situation. I discovered, I was the wrong person to deliver a message of reconciliation because my reputation precedes me...BigJ was just being BigJ.

While I'll agree these people were taking defensive positions, I've always thought that Dale was a moderate republican who didn't take part in the day to-day political rhetoric. I was totally surprised that he justified the vitriol and blamed it all on the left.

You're one of the few( although you have come out of your cocoon, lately) who could have written a blog to remind us that it is time to turn down the rhetoric because it might be the spark, that sends someone who is mentally unstable, over the edge.... It's a serious problem because, as one pundit put it yesterday, although we are a civilized nation, our country leads the world in political assassinations.

Proof is in the pudding,Rebecca,two posters have apologized directly to you...How rare is that?

Rebecca said...

I really like what you wrote. I wish I would have seen the comments at VicAd, but I was in Houston at the boat show all day. I'm having a really hard time getting my thoughts into words lately. The more emotional I am, the harder it is for me.

Mike said...


Welcome, you and I don't always agree but we always “agree to disagree.".... It might be hard to extend that to others, but I think it's worth a try.

In the context of your specific example and you have equally criticized left wing pundits. I agree the language is reprehensible, but it's what sells and satisfies their collective audience.
I will give you my opinion as to why that rhetoric didn't lead to this specific event.

1. The accused has yet to speak to police interrogators to state in the reason he targeted congresswoman Gifford..Yes. They have found evidence of books he has read his misguided beliefs and whatnot but nothing specific to Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, or Rush.
2. The demographics for right wing media do not fit this individual... 22 year olds don't normally listen to AM radio or night time cable TV shows.
3. I do agree if we continue to ratchet up the hatred, we will eventually reach the point of no return...e.g. When someone posts (I'm guilty) we immediately check the ideology of the author, web site, or anything else to marginalize the comments or sources we don't agree with.

I don't expect you to agree with my viewpoints because you are young person, and I'm old... You probably see the world in a way you think it should be going and I see it as “hey. We've been there, done that, doesn't work."......

I don't think anyone believes you're going to target the mall this week to vent your rage but then again, you give them the ammunition when you use the Malcolm X: holding an automatic weapon, avatar..... I do admire your relentless support of Muslims and other minorities, when they are targeted for ridicule or abuse. I think you must be extra careful to present credible information to support your case or they will use that against you. I know you wish you had more support, and occasionally you do. I find those threads, are frequented by the same posters,and they should be left alone, so they can vent and then just go way..e.g.... I remember Roy Mark making about 30 continuous hateful remarks toward Rev Wright until he just went away because no one disagreed or agreed with him; he was ignored... He did fine a couple of posters to agree with him when he stated that we should set up some towers with 50 caliber machine guns and fire indiscriminately at anything that moves northward toward the United States... He was setting a pattern for the Victoria Advocate to permanently bar him...... I understand you're young and have a lot of energy and feel a need to confront, but in -your -face, always leads to confrontations but rarely solutions.

Mike said...

Thank you Rebecca

If my words in that blog met the smell test of Rebecca, that's good enough for me..:-)

This subject is emotional for me, that's the reason I pulled the blog. I didn't want to cheapen the memory of those that died or were critically wounded. The only regret I had was not making a copy of the remarks, so I could evaluate them or get help from others, as to the true intent, of a posters words... I ripped up about six pages of my yellow legal pad in trying to find the words that would not offend anyone. This was not the time... Apparently I failed or maybe I'm making too much of this and I overreacted.

Aren't you the optimistic? The last two days have been the coldest this year and you are at a boat show.:-) Yeah, I know it's for the summer,still.

Rebecca said...

Funny you mention "smell." The only thing I purchased at the boat show was Scentsy wax. The fried ice-cream scent is my favorite.


Edith Ann said...

Rebecca--are you trying to do BigJ in with the 'liberal Glenn Beck' tag? OMG! That was hysterical!

Mike--I wouldn't worry about being offensive. Again, I think we are at a point in out history when our skin has never been thinner and where some have had enough of being politically correct, and where some of us have just decided we're too old to care what other think. As long are there are at least three people on the planet, I can promise you one will be offended every time either of the other two open their mouths!

As to the mental illness angle, that whole field is terribly ignored in funding and services. There is no excuse for the lack of mental health care. Untreated folks are just problems waiting to happen. It's a mess. But on the other hand, not every idiot shooting up the place is mentally ill, although the argument could be made.

But hey! None of that matters, does it? We've got a awesome "Bring Your Boots" campaign working here in Victoria. What's not to be happy about?

Edith Ann said...

I, personally am very optimistic right now--The Hammer is going to the Slammer! Should be for 30 years and not 3, but hey, I'll take what I can get!

Mike said...

Edith Ann

I hear you about unloading and expecting someone to be offended, but if I would have responded yesterday, the way I really wanted to, the moderators would have deleted my comments.

I guarantee. Rebecca will hear from BigJ for hanging that liberal tag on him..:-)

It is great news. That smirk will finally be wiped off Tom Delay's face.... His lawyer said he would never spend a day in jail (even though he's been sentenced to three years) because he will win on appeal.... Texas justice, who knows?

I just finished watching Jon Stewart where he put it all in perspective by saying "I do think it's important to watch our rhetoric. I think it's a worthwhile goal not to conflate our political opponents with enemies if for no other reason than to draw a better distinction between the manifestos of paranoid madmen and what passes for acceptable political and pundit speak. It would be really nice if the ramblings of crazy people didn't in any way resemble how we actually talk to each other on teevee."

Rebecca said...

I apologize in advance to BigJ. I should have added that passion can be misinterpreted as emotionalism and anger when expressed in text.

My brother just sent me this, The Daily Show Arizona Shootings Reaction:

Edith Ann said...

Let me just state for the record--It is much, much harder to comment over here than it is on the Advocate. Over here one has to read AND think, and on the Advocate, one just needs 3rd grade writing skills.

Re: the ability of this guy to get a weapon--since I am not a liberal Democrat, I have no problem with folks owning weapons. I do have a problem with what is available to the average Joe Gunowner.

If you do not intend to mow down a large group of 'the enemy', why would you need an automatic or semi-automatic weapon? Seriously! We rarely hear that something besides an assault type weapon is used. If you need a clip of 32 rounds to protect your home and posessions, perhaps you should relocate or put the goods in secure storage or spring for an alarm system.

Okay, I think I'm done.

Mike said...

Edith Ann, do you have mental telepathy? That was going to be the topic of my next blog.

I'm way out of my league talking about mental illness, but I'm really interested in the differences between liberty, common sense laws, and the United States constitution.

In Victoria, Texas, you can't walk 10 feet without bumping into a libertarian, who thinks they shouldn't be any restrictions on guns. And there are people like me who think we should enforce the laws that are in the books right now but not be afraid to have the discussion about special permits to own a silencer, ammo clip extender, a fully automatic weapon or anything to assure that the mentally ill cannot purchase them. I think it was awesome that one of the heroes that wrestled Jared Loughner to the ground had a gun but decided not to use it because Jared was already subdued.

It's funny because I've had this argument with several of my friends but we don't have any evidence to back up our hypothetical.

Situation: My friends believe that if everyone was armed, a disturbed individual would think twice about going on a rampage shooting people... Even if they didn't, an armed individual could bring down the assailant before he did harm to others.

My argument: The assailant is not a rational person, so he's probably not afraid of being killed..... I also said the police don't really want everyone armed because it makes it more difficult for them to spot the shooter, since a lot of people are armed... I'm also claiming that the targets might be terrified and just start shooting at the attacker harming others in the crossfire. That's the reason I'm against students being armed. I can see too many bad things happening that would override the good.... I don't have any evidence of that.

Mike said...

And this is from our so-called political leaders.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) says political rhetoric doesn't really incite violent behavior at all -- but not before describing Arizona shooting suspect Jared Loughner as a "communist" and "the liberal of liberals."

"This guy appears to be a communist," Foxx told the Winston-Salem Journal. "His beliefs are the liberal of the liberals [sic]. There is no evidence whatsoever that this man was influenced by Sarah Palin or anybody in the Republican Party. This man is not a conservative; he's a fan of communism - that's the opposite of conservatism."

Please feel free things to post crazy comments from the loony left ,so we can laugh at them too.

Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
victorianbybirth said...

I was not inferring the 24hr news incited this shooting, I was saying they are responsible or at least contribute to our devisiveness. I sometimes have problems typing to keep up with my thoughts, so sometimes they come out a little jumbled.

I agree not everyone should own guns, I am not exactly a fan of concealed carry, less of a fan of open carry & definately believe students should NOT be able to carry on campus. I think the laws in place are fine & should be left alone. Guns for home protection & when taking long car trips are a good idea, having guns for the sake of having guns is not. I thought the mentally ill were not allowed to purchase firearms per the Brady bill? Guns are as easy to buy as weed so even if he did get turned down at a real store, anyone can pick up a gun on the street pretty cheap.

The lack of mental healthcare sickens me. We have a huge State Hospital here & all they do is stabilize & discharge, they are not treating the underlying problem. Psych meds have come a long way in recent years & when used in conjunction with therapy, there is success, but the therapy is not is not as available to those who need it most. I cannot imagine long term psych care is more costly than the repeated trips to hospitals for acute epsiodic care. Also the mentally ill tend to have other medical issues that complicate & exacerbate their psych issues. We are treating symptoms instead of the disease. I believe with comprehensive care, these lost people could lead healthy, productive lives. I'm sorry for the rant but this is one of those issues I am passionate about as I worked for several years at laurel Ridge, a mental health facility. I loved that job, by far my favorite of all time! I cannot adequately explain the feeling of joy I felt when I saw the progress made with the patients, it gave me hope.

I just read an article about the parents of the shooter. My heart breaks for them, I cannot imagine what they are going through, all I can imagine is it would resemble a living nightmare. The only one to blame here is on the guy who pulled the trigger, all the other rhetoric is just filler to kill time. It's a shame the news people can't have some respect for all involved & just stfu for 2 seconds with the finger pointing & just show some human compassion for all the victims, dead & alive.

Mike said...

I get jumble my words all the time.:-)..You are correct there is already a federal bill that require states to automate and share disqualifying records with the FBI's NICS database.As far back as 1968 anyone in the United States can buy a gun, provided they aren't a felon, an illegal alien or considered a danger to themselves or someone else. Loughner has never been diagnosed as having mental illness..It's that step in between that we don't address.

I saw that about the parents wanting to be left alone...They must feel devastated,I feel sorry for them.

victorianbybirth said...

I would think the militarys non-acceptance should have triggered something....if they turn someone down for being a little too crazy to serve, they should report that to the database, makes perfect sense to me.