Sunday, January 9, 2011

Horror, Sadness in Tucson Arizona---A Sunday Journal

Nothing else seemed worth writing about after yesterday's shooting in Tucson, Arizona, which critically injured U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, wounded thirteen others, and killed six.

Setting aside politics for a moment, it was an enormously pointless, needless incident, whose heartbreaking tragedy expands inside my brain and my heart the more I think about it. 

Oh god I wish I could say something original, and wise, and sensible, without triteness, without cliche.  The most honest thing I can say here is that I feel deeply saddened for the innocent people who left their homes that morning, expecting to do good, hoping to connect with neighbors, planning to enjoy the day and become involved in their community, and never expecting, nor deserving, the pain they received.

Since 9/11, I find that I say this to myself more and more.

Giffords appeared at a suburban grocery store to meet with her constituents in an event called "Congress on your Corner."  20-30 people gathered to participate.  A gunman shot Giffords in the head at close range before firing on the crowd,  When he stopped to reload his weapon, he was tackled by bystanders and arrested.

The suspect is not saying anything.

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Remembering the dead....
  • Christina Taylor Green, 9, of Tucson.  Born on September 11, 2001, she had appeared in the book "Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11"
  • Dorothy Murray, 76.
  • John McCarthy Roll, 63. Roll was the chief judge for the District of Arizona. He was appointed to the Arizona Appeals Court in 1987 until he was named to the federal bench by then-President George H. W. Bush in 1991. He had served as presiding judge since 2006.
  • Phyllis Scheck, 79.
  • Dorwin Stoddard, 76.
  • Gabriel "Gabe" Zimmerman, 30. Zimmerman worked on Giffords's staff as a community outreach director. He was engaged to be married.

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Is partisan politics to blame?

A debate continues over a topic about which I posted last March  ("Pro Life"?) . Some have pointed to the "crosshairs map" from Sarah Palin's web site, shown below, (naming, among others, Giffords), as evidence that irresponsible political discourse results in tragic consequences.  Others decry the "exploitation" of this incident as "political football", and that the "discourse" was never intended to incite violence.

It is, of course, difficult to make a direct correlation between violent imagery in today's politics and the violent behavior that seems borne of it.

On the other hand, talk of "Second Amendment Remedies" for perceived government wrongdoing, maps with crosshairs, and open displays of firearms at political rallies,  help contribute to an atmosphere that encourages disturbed people, who take this rhetoric to heart.

In 2010, after her office had been vandalized, Giffords had said (prophetically); "We're in Sarah Palin's 'targeted' list ...(and) we're in the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize that there are consequences to that action."

One activist is collecting signatures on a petition to indict Palin on federal charges, for "inciting violence" against Giffords and other Democrats.

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Personal Postscript:

I thought that writing about movies, books, and other things  didn't seem to matter, in light of this incident.  That was ironic, given the entry here this week about the Musical Instrument Museum,  a cultural center I felt would turn a positive light on Arizona.

But I may have been wrong to dismiss art and its ability to help one deal with tragedy. 

I turned to my journal, attempting to fix my sadness like a photographic image, and leave it behind on the page.  

I realized then that art could help me, after all, to deal with confusion and sadness, and fill the emptiness of grief.

Once cannot underestimate the importance of good art, and its ability to clarify, to heal, to motivate and to challenge to action.  It is true for those who experience it, as well as for those who work to create it.

There is tragedy in the news every day.  Personal loss is always on the horizon.  It can paralyze one.  I need to remember that the best music, films, books, and performances, always rise as testament to our better natures, and lift us with them. 



  1. Excellent post.
    As you might remember I live in Az.
    I just do no know what to say any more.
    There are so many different facets to this.
    This is a tragedy for all of America.
    It is the image that we portray to the world.
    I just do not know any more.

  2. Thank you for reading...I always appreciate your visits and thoughts. Had a hard time doing this topic justice but I couldn't remain silent in the face of it.