I add my thoughts and prayers to the outpouring of sympathy for the families of those who lost their lives and for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ family now praying for her recovery. I share the outrage that all decent people must feel today at this heinous act of violence that left so many dead and Congresswoman Giffords severely injured.
Sarah Palin and those like her using hate-filled language and symbols of violence can no longer escape responsibility for the anger and violence their words and actions incite. The time has come for everyone, on both sides of the political spectrum, to stand up to and shut down those who don’t understand what words mean and how they can incite others to violent acts.
Whether it is hate language directed at LGBT youth, or against immigrants or hate spewed against decent people, whether they are progressives or conservatives, we must begin today to teach everyone, especially our youth, that this is not an acceptable way to carry on a debate or discussion or to share our views with each other.
Only yesterday we saw a video of young men and a young woman viciously beating a man on a D.C. Metro platform. Nobody did anything to come to the man’s aid. These young people obviously thought that this violence was an acceptable way to act or to vent some rage or anger. Clearly they haven’t been taught that this isn’t the way decent people act and when some of our politicians and leaders continue to spew the hate they do, it is no wonder young people assume that inappropriate behavior will be tolerated.
It is up to responsible adults to stand up and say enough is enough. They must agree and then demand that we will not allow people like Palin, who thinks it OK to use gun sights to target politicians for defeat on a map, to do so without being held accountable for their actions. Whether it is an arch conservative like Palin or some liberal politician or activist who uses language to incite people to a degree that can cause violence we must stand up and say to them that their words are unacceptable and that there are better ways in a decent society to handle discourse and demand that all of us use them.
The deaths today at a political event in Tucson, where Rep. Giffords was severely injured, must not be allowed to have happened in vain. The decent people in our society, and we know there are many, must speak out and say no to rhetoric that incites violence. We know that there are many unstable people out there who don’t have the sense to tell the difference between rhetoric and action. It is our responsibility to carry on our discourse in ways that will not incite them.
Those who don’t tone down their rhetoric must take responsibility and be held accountable by others for their words and the actions they incite.