Well, by now I guess most of us have heard about the shooting in Tucson on Saturday. One Democratic congresswoman shot through the head and left in critical condition. Six people dead, including a Federal judge and a nine-year old girl. Twenty-some wounded. The gunman acted alone. He is a young man who was seriously disturbed, according to those who knew him before. Pundits are asking: "how many more deranged individuals are out there? How many of them have guns? Are they inspired by negative political rhetoric?
Now you can't listen to the news without hearing theories about what caused the tragedy. The pundits are being very diplomatic, refusing to place blame for this incident. They are calling for greater civility in our political discourse, while being careful not to place the blame on the increasingly divisive rhetoric that has been rampant in recent years.
We all know about the divisive rhetoric. Republican vs. Democrat; Liberal vs. Conservative; name-calling; personal attacks. Remember the town halls during the last election? Remember the shouting down of speakers instead of listening? Remember some individuals coming with guns on open display?
I am not trying to blame one side or the other. Pundits have been pointing out that "toxic" rhetoric comes from both sides. What about "shock jocks" who spew negative rhetoric about the other side? What about politicians who question each others' patriotism? What about putting gun sites on home states of those with whom you disagree?
No one is saying this is what led this individual to do what he did. But, isn't it a good idea to stop and think about the effect words can have? Both in the political arena, and in the schools and playgrounds where kids are bullied. I think we need to bring about civility. Stop calling each other names. Stop demonizing each other. Stop the negative rhetoric. I hope this tragic incident can stop us in our tracks and brings us back on the path of civility.