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.
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....
- 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.
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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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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.