Arizona: Vitriol has Consequences

“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”  —Robert F Kennedy

Yesterday, 22-year-old Jared Lee Laughner went to a meet-and-greet your legislator event, Congress On Your Corner, hosted by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Laughner shot Giffords through the head and then began opening fire on over a dozen more before two bystanders overpowered him.

Chief Judge John Roll of the U.S. District Court for Arizona is among the dead, as is a 9-year old girl, recently elected her class president, who wanted to meet a real politician.  Giffords is in the hospital after undergoing surgery and doctors are optimistic about her recovery.

More details here.

It’s an understatement to say that this is a major tragedy and we send our best wishes to everybody affected.

I’d like to echo Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s sentiments:

When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the Capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

“Vitriol may be free speech, but it does not come without consequences.”

He also alluded to the fact that when public servants become real targets for violence, it deters good, reasonable people from wanting to run for office and put themselves in the public eye.

“Pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serving public office.”

A climate of fear does, in fact, deter from positive, transparent work done by elected officials- things like Congress on your Corner.

I have never been more proud to be able to say that I’m part of a non-violent political movement. Now is as good a time as any to read and review the political principles by which we try to abide, and learn from the examples of people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Harvey Milk, Rigoberta Menchu… and hey, we’ll add John Lennon to that list (“Imagine” is as good a political doctrine as any I’ve ever seen).

In the wake of this tragedy, we recommit to a dream…

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