The Pima County Sheriff, among others – blames the assassination attempt on Giffords, resulting in 6 dead and 18 wounded on the heated political rhetoric employed by conservatives. This was not the first time gunfire has been directed against Rep. Giffords. Police report that her office was shot at, and vandalized during the Health Care Debate. Police now are looking for at least one other “person of interest” in connection with the murders. Police have not commented on what role, if any, the person may have played.
After the same type of “guns” and “kill the liberals” rhetoric led to the bombing of the Murrah Building by Timothy McVeigh, the Anthrax attacks on liberal news people and elected officials, dozens of mailings of “powdered substances” to government officials, and the plot by whack-jobs to assassinate President Obama…
It is very difficult to give any credence to the claim that the right wingers don’t know what they are doing.
This is nothing more than Domestic Terrorism, and should be treated by Law Enforcement and the Courts as such.
The tenor of American political rhetoric became a centerpiece in the national debate over Saturday’s attack by a gunman in Tucson, Arizona, that killed six people and left local Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords with a bullet wound to the brain.
Public leaders and others expressed sorrow about “a tragedy for the entire country,” as President Obama put it — a total of 18 people allegedly shot by 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner.
But officials also voiced dismay Saturday over the possibility that highly polarized rhetoric in the conservative hotbed of Arizona may have played a role in the assassination attempt of the Democratic congresswoman, who was targeted during a meet-and-greet with constituents in a shopping center. A federal judge, a girl age 9, and four other people died in the mass killing.
While not stating a motive for the shootings, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik in Tucson used a nationally televised press conference to condemn the tone of political discourse in his state. He charged that public debate is now “vitriolic rhetoric,” which has rendered Arizona “the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
Dupnik suggested that such rhetoric can have deadly consequences.
“We need to do some soul searching,” Dupnik told reporters. “It’s the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business.
“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this county is getting to be outrageous. Unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital,” Dupnik continued.
“We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry,” Dupnik said.
Arizona is a Republican stronghold where the party members hold a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the legislature and occupy the governor’s office.
Dupnik is a Democrat.
“People who are unbalanced may be especially susceptible to vitriol,” Dupnik said. “It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threatened constantly, myself included. That’s the sad thing that’s going on in America. Pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable people to subject themselves to serving the public.”
Dupnik returned to the theme later in the press conference.
“People tend to pooh-pooh this business about the vitriol that inflames American public opinion by the people who make a living off of that. That may be free speech but it’s not without consequences,” Dupnik said.
Last March, Giffords raised concerns about inflammatory rhetoric after her office was vandalized, and she cited how her name appeared on a website titled “take back the 20” as part of a list originally issued by Sarah Palin against vulnerable House Democrats.
A map on the site showed crosshairs over the contested Democratic districts.
Palin first posted the list in March 2010, naming 20 House members who voted for health care reform and represented districts that Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona won in the 2008 presidential election.
At the time, Giffords responded to the map by saying on MSNBC that her long-serving colleagues had “never seen anything like it.”
“The thing is, the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district,” Giffords said in March. “When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”
On Saturday, Palin posted a message on her Facebook page: “My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shootings in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.”
Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director who’s a CNN contributor, described Dupnik’s remarks as “a very emotional response by a very frustrated, hurt sheriff.”
When media cover “hateful” public statements by officials or television personalities, those remarks are often framed as “they’re exciting their base,” Fuentes said.
“Law enforcement executives out there know, like this sheriff, that it also excites the lunatic fringe,” Fuentes told CNN. “In this country, we have no shortage of mentally unbalanced people, and it seems in case after case, they have no trouble obtaining firearms. So when they go over the edge and go public and try to initiate an attack, this is what happens.”
Arizona state Rep. Matt Heinz, a Democrat and a Tucson physician, supported Dupnik’s remarks.
“I think he is very, very correctly calling attention to some of the vitriol and some of the ways we’re talking about each other,” Heinz told CNN. “For those with troubled minds, sometimes some of those things that are said are unfortunately taken in the wrong way.”
Arizona state Rep. Steve Farley, a Democrat from Tucson, said that the country now faces a challenge of overcoming polarizing politics. His political aide witnessed the shootings and applied pressure to Giffords’ wounds, he said.
“The question is can we come together as a state and can we come together as a country and sort of put this harsh hyper-rhetoric that has caused people who are a little unhinged in the first place to go over the edge,” Farley told CNN.
“This country is something that deserves no less than a politics that rises above violence,” Farley said.
McCain, the state’s Republican senator, said he was “horrified by the violent attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. … 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.”