By now, most people have been made aware of the tragedy in Arizona, where Congresswoman Giffords (D-AZ) and others were shot at a constituent event. Six people were killed including a US District judge, a 9 year old child, and one of Congresswoman Giffords’ aides.
From what I have read, I don’t think that we can really determine the ideology of the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner. From what little has been revealed about him, he doesn’t seem to really be a right winger or a left winger. He did make some statement about currency and the gold standard. He’s obviously a disturbed young man, but only a trained clinician could make a real diagnosis or assessment about his mental health.
I hope that this incident does not deter other elected officials from holding public events with constituents. I do think that elected and appointed officials should heed warnings and take threats seriously, but I also think that they need to avail themselves to the people they serve. One member of the Arizona congressional delegation who has also received threats is Congressman Raul Grijalva.
I have read a lot of finger pointing on both the right and the left regarding today’s tragedy which is reflective of the polarization in the country, but I do feel that we don’t yet know enough about the alleged shooter and his motives to really determine what set him off. I do think that there are often consequences to heated rhetoric that references firearms and weapons, but I also am a firm believer in free speech. And readers of this blog are especially aware of the political climate in Arizona. I encourage you, the readers of the blog, to pay a visit to your Congressional representative’s next public forum to send a message of hope, civility and civic participation.
Finally, I hope that everyone who was wounded, including the Congresswoman, is on the healing path. This evening it was reported that Congresswoman Giffords was awake and speaking, which is quite remarkable for having been shot in the head.