There are several very real problems in our country that have created the environment that led to what happened. The most immediate is that violence--in thought, word, and deed--has become such a prevalent aspect of our society that far too many of us have come to see it as just another way of dealing with people and ideas we do not like.
Posted by Ramdas Lamb, on January 16, 2011 9:15 PM
Some contemporary political rhetoric can be quite combustible-- not because it celebrates the idea of insurrection, but because it trivializes the nature of violence itself. Sarah Palin's recent statement unintentionally makes this point quite clearly.
Posted by Mathew N. Schmalz, on January 13, 2011 5:00 PM
This disagreement--one largely about why civility matters--provides a window into the dramatically different world views of liberals and conservatives that lie at the root of our current political conflicts.
Posted by Robert P. Jones, on January 13, 2011 4:50 PM
The man who calmly and methodically visited depravity and madness upon a grocery store in Tucson last week, wounds us deeply--unnerves us--beyond the utter tragedy of the lives lost and broken. The accused killer personifies the horror that our society has the potential to put forth--a profoundly disturbed, displaced soul, un-anchored and listless, until it hits a mine and explodes.
Posted by Aseem Shukla, on January 13, 2011 3:28 PM
We all are responsible for what we say and write. Everyone who participates in the public discourse ought to do our part to end a culture of power-over domination that leads to violent speech and violent acts.
Posted by Valerie Elverton Dixon, on January 13, 2011 3:00 PM
Americans are fed up with such rhetoric. Even before this tragedy, a Public Agenda Research poll showed that nearly 80 percent of Americans said that lack of civility is a "serious national problem." More than six in 10 agreed that social behaviors were ruder than in the past. These trends are stunting an already violent society, and, continue to coddle a culture that produces road rage, sports fan rage, cell phone rage, and yes, even raging maniacs like alleged Arizona gunman Jared Loughner.
Posted by Jonathan Merritt, on January 13, 2011 12:38 PM
Isn't it time for us to have a different type of conversation in response to this national trauma - the rare attempt in our country's history to assassinate a member of congress? Is there an alternative way we can think about this that might help us all move, at least a little bit, beyond our presumptive interpretations?
Posted by Irwin Kula, on January 13, 2011 12:17 PM
Freedom of speech is one of the utterly essential pillars of government of, for and by the people. For me, the most serious moral implication of incendiary political speech is the way it exploits this necessary element of our body politic.
Posted by Janet Edwards, on January 11, 2011 4:50 PM
Politicians on the left and the right have always framed policy debates in much larger terms. Health care, taxes, gun rights, abortion, and the like have never been talked about as limited policy issues affecting a few million Americans, but as existential threats to American identity. Unfortunately, once in a while, someone may actually believe it.
Posted by Amarnath Amarasingam, on January 11, 2011 3:24 PM
Surely, no one can lay the blame for the violence in Tucson at the foot of any politician or religious leader or media figure. The man who killed must bear the burden of his actions. But equally surely, this is a moment that calls for quiet, purging, reflection.
Posted by Timothy Shriver, on January 11, 2011 2:46 PM
It's hard to know whether there is any direct connection between the tragic shootings in Tucson and our rancid political rhetoric. We may never find out. However, we do know that inflammatory language -- pregnant with martial metaphors and Second Amendment allusions -- pollutes the public square
Posted by J. Brent Walker, on January 11, 2011 2:19 PM
Saturday was, simply, the brutal and inevitable intersection of fear, hatred and guns. There are those who, predictably, were quick to classify the violence as the work of a solo individual who held no coherent political ideology. This dangerous and misleading analysis reflects a willful blindness to the context and implications of the shootings.
Posted by Sharon Brous, on January 11, 2011 1:08 AM
How many more will die before the Congress of the United States and the highest court in the land stand up to the gun lobby, put aside their political ideologies and differences and exercise the wisdom and courage necessary to address what has become the shame of our great democracy?
Posted by John Bryson Chane, on January 10, 2011 4:24 PM