Monday, January 10, 2011

Nuts and bullets

Do you remember the first "Rocky" movie, in which Apollo Creed agreed to fight a nobody once his scheduled bout had been cancelled, just to make a Bicentennial event still go off as scheduled?  And that "nobody" was Rocky Balboa, and the plan was for him to show up and be defeated, with the champ Creed doing some showmanship at first, to "give the crowd a show," as the announcer said?

And then, it turned out that Rocky showed up ready, willing and able to fight, leading Apollo's worried corner man to say, "He don't know it's a show!  He thinks it's a damn fight!"

Jared Lee Loughner, 22, didn't understand that Sarah Palin and others use violent imagery to stir the easily stirred, so he just got a little too stirred up, and Jared got his gun.

By Sunday morning, as we might have predicted, everyone was all over TV saying that when a tragedy occurs such as a congresswoman being shot and left in critical condition,  and at least six others dead, why, it's time to put politics aside.

Politics is what got us to the point at which this dreadful  Loughner could walk up to a place in front of a Safeway in Tucson AZ - a place where the local ABC affiliate bears the call letters KGUN-TV - and begin shooting his handgun off, wreaking damnable damage while some people were only trying to carry on the nut-and-bolt business of democracy.

Politics such as this:
Sarah points out where to shoot
(CNN) – As of Saturday, Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' name appeared on a website titled "take back the 20" as part of a list originally issued by Sarah Palin of vulnerable House Democrats. A map on the site showed crosshairs over the contested Democratic districts.
Palin first posted the list in March 2010, naming 20 House members who voted for health care reform and represented districts that Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona won in the 2008 presidential election.

The post read, "We'll aim for these races and many others. This is just the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington," and was accompanied by a map with targets over the districts. 
At the time, Giffords responded to the map by saying on MSNBC that her long-serving colleagues had "never seen anything like it."

"The thing is, the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district," Giffords said in March. "When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action."

After Giffords was shot in Tuscon, Arizona, Saturday, Palin responded on her Facebook page:
"My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shootings in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."
At a press conference Saturday, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik criticized people who are making a living off "inflaming the American public."

"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," Dupnik said. 
"Unfortunately, Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

And Saturday's tragedy was not the first time the Arizona Democrat was targeted. The day after she voted in favor of health care reform, a glass panel at her Tucson office was shattered. 

In November's election, Rep. Giffords was re-elected to a third term in Congress, narrowly defeating someone named Jesse Kelly. Jesse was only too glad to hop on the violence wagon.  He ran an event in which...well, you can see it for yourself:

Get on target! Remove her!  Shoot a gun!  

If you go to Jesse Kelly's website, all this sort of thing has been scrubbed.  The only thing left is a statement about how he deplores the sort of violence that he helped foment.  No longer do we get to see the picture of a man running for Congress while holding his weapon and dressed in Marine garb.
Palin and people like her are masters of sowing seeds of hatred and violence, and then, when hatred and violence leave their ugly mark on society, stepping back and saying how horrible it is that hatred and violence have erupted.  As Sheriff Dupnik said, this vitriol is having a horrible effect on our nation.  Sarah Palin's gun sight imagery, "targeting" Gabrielle Giffords, had its intended effect, didn't it?

I hope the former half-governor is proud.

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