Unless you are living in that proverbial cave, you know about the act of domestic terrorism that occurred yesterday in Tuscan AZ. Reviewing the hideousness of the violence that resulted in such tragedy, including the death of a 9 year old girl, at this point may be more like pouring acid on an open wound. We know the details.
But, as authors or readers, we know all about the power of words. A good author knows how to create imagery that pulls on our heart strings, infuriates us, and makes us cry. That author can do all of the above with only a few well chosen words. These same skills are required for political writing too. And in this regard, the fad of catering to a violent element in our society must stop and take inventory of the damage it has caused. Responsibility is the word of the day.
In hours after the shooting in Tuscan, Tea Party and Republican leaders rightfully denounced the action, but then demanded their right to free speech, which apparently includes gun and murder metaphors, was being threatened. Okay, they’re right – they have the Constitutional Right to say whatever they like in whatever manner they like. But I challenge them to say they have the ethical right knowing the potential outcome. “But now we have to explain what we mean and double check ourselves,” they whine. You bet you do. Freedom of speech does not include shouting ‘FIRE’ in a crowded room, and that is exactly what they have been doing. Every political writer and politician knows that for every 1000 people listening, 1 is going to take their words and follow through. So what does it say, knowing that statistic, when they encourage fear and terror anyway?
Tuscan was not an isolated event. A couple of months ago, a man loaded up a handful of weapons and headed off towards The Tides Foundation in San Francisco to kill as many employees as possible – all because this humanitarian organization earned the very vocal ire of Glenn Beck and he added them to his list of un-American traitors – or whatever he calls them this week. Beck, rather than standing up against such violence, stood around complaining that HIS right to free speech was being impeded. Can we be more self-centered?
We have always needed as a society to consider our words carefully before speaking. We were taught that in Kindergarten. So why is it a problem now? Those who whine that they will be limited in their message because it can’t include comments recommending murder, terrorism, and a misquoted Thomas Jefferson statement are definitely not getting beyond their own selfishness. We live in a society filled with people, and yes, we need to act as a member of a group, not just a bunch of loners unaware and uncaring of the next guy. A ‘Loner’ murdered a 9 year old girl yesterday, so I can say with confidence we don’t need anymore of that behavior.
I ask therefore every person who has purposely used violent rhetoric the following: is your message so weak and unrelevant that no one will listen unless you include gun imagery and thinly veiled death threats? If I cannot get you beyond thinking selfishly, can I at least ponder your response should someone have shot up your political member because of something said by the so-called Liberal Media?
The same people whining that we can’t hold them accountable for the words they carefully chose to make themselves popular and powerful would be the first in line to point fingers if the political parties were reversed.
Let me state this clearly, violent rhetoric is the tool of a bully, and those who use them are bullies. There is no excuse for whipping a mob up into a fury and then expecting nothing to happen. No one should be allowed to ask their followers to make sure their political opponent is ‘afraid to leave his house.’ You ARE accountable and if you need to think twice before speaking and driving a crazy guy to do something horrific, is that asking so much? Really, is it? If your answer is yes, it’s too much, MY RIGHTS … blah, blah, blah … then there is something wrong with you. Your right to say anything is not more important than someone’s right to live in freedom and peace. What about Christina Green’s rights? Where were you when her right to live was stolen because of things you said and how you chose purposely to say them?
I’m preaching to an empty church aren’t I …