In Which I Discuss Politics for the First and Maybe Last Time

I don’t talk much about politics.  Much of this is because, like many Americans I assume, I tend to tune in to discussions about politics that matter to me and tune out the rest.  I also tend to believe that how you vote should be private and, like with religion sometimes, there’s no arguing politics with some people, so I tend to just keep quiet unless someone says something really offensive and then I step in.  I’m kind of old school like that.

But the events in Tuscon, AZ this weekend, well, they need to be talked about.

I’ve been trying to follow the news as best I can, but between the flu and teaching, it’s been hard to catch every bit of information out there.  Not to mention several bloggers and independent news outlets are doing a great job of covering the details – and adding great opinions to the conversation that definitely need to be said (and can’t be covered by most of the major news outlets because they need to be “unbiased” or whatever).  I don’t want to go into the details or any of that, but I do want to add my personal view to the situation.

And my personal view is pretty simple.  I don’t care who you are or where you work or what “side” you’re on, you don’t deserve to be shot.  Particularly at your job.

This is pretty much how I feel about all acts of violence – school shootings, bombings, acts of terrorism… you name it.  No one deserves to die that way.  No one.  And no one deserves to feel fear every time they go to work because something like this might happen to them.  No one.

Selfishly, I really wanted this shooting to be politically motivated.  This is not at all because I disagree with Giffords’ politics – quite the contrary, actually.  It is, however, because I’m so sick and tired of seeing violence in the news in general, and it’s becoming hard to deal with.  Especially violence without reason.  Acts of violence like this where the shooter ends up dead and are therefore written off as “senseless” or “crazy” (or even if the shooter is alive more often than not their acts are labeled as such) are really hard for me to process.  I work much better with reasons, no matter how unfounded or “radical.”  I wish this never happened in the first place, but now that it has, I wish I could ask “why?” and have an answer.  I suppose not all of the reasoning has been fleshed out yet, but the mainstream news media and most of the politicians talking about the incident are trying really hard not to make it politically motivated.  And they’re really trying hard not to make it about political rhetoric.

Honestly, I don’t care if the whole thing was because of, for example, Sarah Palin’s map with crosshairs over certain districts.  But that stuff needs to stop.  Politicians are just as guilty as some of us are of using the internet to further their goal, thinking that nothing on the internet is permanent.  I saw a tweet from Sarah Palin 9 hours before the shooting about “Don’t retreat, reload” or something of the sorts.  People – politicians included – seem to think that information moves at the speed of light as far as the internet goes, and 9 hours in twitter-time is old news.  Which means that you can say whatever you want without thinking, because in a few hours it won’t matter.  Well, I think we all need to be a little more careful about what we put on the internet – politicians and public figures included.  Maps with crosshairs, tweets about reloading, YouTube videos that do nothing but get your name out there… none of it is appropriate.  Not all publicity is good publicity, people, and much of what I see on my home feed on Twitter might get a lot of hype but is inappropriate, as well.  We could all benefit from Thinking Before You Tweet.  Or Speak.  Or Put That On A Webpage.  Words stick.  That’s why we all read and write so prolifically – we hope something might stick to us or that our words might stick somewhere.  It doesn’t matter if something no longer appears on your front page or is “old news” in the Twitterverse.  The fact of the matter is that it was there, and should never have been.  Maybe this whole thing of crosshairs on a map and someone shooting at a political event was an unfortunate coincidence – only time will tell.  But we all need to do a little more thinking before we put words out there, especially America’s politicians.

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