Sunday, January 9, 2011

Violence Undermines All of Our Rights

The horrific shooting of over a dozen people in Arizona, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) is an assault on our Democracy. We do not yet know, though circumstances seem to suggest, that the attack was motivated by fringe political beliefs. Regardless of whether this proves to be true or not, awful acts such as this demand a forceful defense of our Democracy.

Our republican system of government is built on the premise of free speech, a free press and free elections. People of differing viewpoints debating and discussing issues and the people ultimately choosing officials that they trust to make difficult decisions on those issues. It is built on the premise that open debates allows the best ideas to succeed, not the ideas with the biggest guns.

Violence against our elected officials assaults our system of government. The actions of Jared Loughner aren't just awful on a moral and human level, they are patently un-American. In American, we debate our opponents, expose the flaws in their points of views and try to beat them at the ballot box. We don't pull out guns and start shooting. Cowards with weak ideas do that.

I commend our elected officials on their swift, universal and well-explained condemnation of these acts.

From President Obama:
"It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does -- listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country.

What Americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other. So at this time I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers. Those who have been injured, we are rooting for them. And I know Gabby is as tough as they come, and I am hopeful that she’s going to pull through."

From House Speaker John Boehner:
"I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country."

From Arizona Senator John McCain:
"Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law."

Now, my plea to all of you. Let's not stoop to the level of an evil man like Jared Loughner.

If you are a conservative, follow what leaders like Boehner and McCain have said and simply condemn the attack. Resist the urge to ascribe the attacks to government overreach on health care. No reasonable person would start shooting people because they disagree with insurance regulations. No reasonable person would shoot people because they don't like unemployment benefits being extended. If you support or condone in any way the actions of Jared Loughner, than you are not a patriot, you are an evil person and a shrinking coward.

If you are a liberal, follow the lead of President Obama. Resist the urge to blame opposition to President Obama's policies or the tea party for the attack. We may learn Loughner shares some political views with those groups. But the Republicans and the tea party are not Jared Loughner. An un-American loser taking to violence does not negate their right to have legitimate differences of belief with the President. All of their leadership has condemned the attack. The GOP cannot be painted with the brush of Jared Loughner any more than Democrats could be painted with the brush of John Hinkley.

Now is a time for us to come together as a nation. We all have strongly held beliefs about the direction of country and our system of government. There is legitimate debate to be had. But we must protect our system of government in order to improve it.

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