Saturday, January 08, 2011

It Matters Not ...

There was a lot I did not do today.

I had intentions. I had plans. And then I saw an item, on Twitter, I believe, that a member of Congress had been shot and the journalist in me – or perhaps simply the concerned citizen – could not turn away.

I turned on MSNBC because I don't watch CNN and you know, oh how you know, that I do not watch FOX News, and I trolled Twitter and other sites for word of her condition.

Shot in the head? At point-blank range? How could she possibly have survived?

I looked for confirmation. It came from NPR.

And then NPR took it back.

MSNBC never announced her death. MSNBC, to its credit, continued to broadcast only what it knew, and the next chyron to appear stated that she was in surgery.

And somehow, miraculously, later, a surgeon appeared to say that he was optimistic about her recovery.

Stunning news.

Both the story of her survival, for now, at all, but also the numbers of the wounded and the dead. Nineteen shot. Six killed. Including a 9-year-old girl.

I read just a bit ago that she was at the event at the invitation of a neighbor. She had recently been elected to student council and her neighbor thought she would enjoy today's event, a bit of democracy up close.


And I read an interview with the leader of a Tea Party movement in Tucson who said that she sees no need for a change in rhetoric despite today's horrific events.


There is still a lot we do not know about the shooter. We do not expressly know his motives, we do not expressly know his past.

But it matters not.

Even if, somehow, today's events are entirely untethered from the insanity that spews forth daily from too many mouths, the insanity must stop.

I applauded loudly tonight as the sheriff in Tucson stood at the podium and denounced "the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from the people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what we see on TV. ... Vitriol might be free speech, but it's not without consequences," he said.

There was no doubt about whom he was talking.

It was stunning to see a law-enforcement official call it out in a press conference, but it is far, far, far beyond damn time.

When Sarah Palin posts a map of the United States covered in crosshairs and lists the members of Congress she wants to see removed from office and then exhorts her followers not to retreat but to "RELOAD," there is nowhere to hide.

You are culpable, Sarah Palin. You have blood on your hands tonight.

Even if the shooter was not directly influenced by that hideous, unfathomable call to action, you have and have had a responsibility to civil discourse which you have shunned with breathtaking contempt time and again. And while I cannot comprehend why even a portion of this country continues to have an interest in you, your words and deeds command much attention. And you have used that power for monetary gain at the expense of the civility of this once-great land.

I hope you do not sleep well tonight. I hope you never sleep well again. What a burden it must be to know that you have had a role in creating this society, which you say you want to govern but over which you would have no control.

And how pathetic that that damning page is no longer available through your site. Own your actions, Sarah. Own that your words have consequences. Own that not every person who reads or hears them will stop to decide if you are speaking figuratively, if a metaphor's at play. Own it. All of it. Denounce it. Then stop.

Disappear from public life or dedicate your efforts to the betterment of the country. Real betterment. Learn something. Know that it is desecration to autograph an American flag.

To Glenn and Rush, there are no words but these: Fuck you. I apologize to my readers who are unaccustomed to such language from me here, but nothing else conveys my infinite contempt for those two men, who profit enormously as they trade in lies and fear. I do not know how they face themselves each day.

To FOX News and every employee who goes to work each and every day and buys into the mission of distorting the truth and serving a blatant agenda and doing nothing to inform but only to mislead, may karma find you at last.

It is no secret that I am liberal. I care about my fellow Americans. I'm willing to do more than my fair share. I want both me and my neighbors to have healthcare. If that alone makes me a Socialist, so be it. I have friends of many races and religions. On 9/11, I feared all day for one of their lives. Because even 10 years ago, this country had begun its descent to the place it finds itself today.

Earlier, on Facebook, a friend wrote, "Civility in the United States died on Jan. 8, 2011, along with six innocent people, including a child. Where does this country really go from here?"

Really. Where indeed?