Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
-- US Constitution's First Amendment.
The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), a federal judge, a young child, and several other bystanders, by Jared Laughner and a possible accomplish at the time of writing this post still being sought by police in Arizona, shows how poisoned the atmosphere south of the border has become. I don't just mean through the rhetoric of the GOP, Democrats, or the Tea Party, though certainly some out there are laying the blame on the latter. But in general, the entire mood in the United States has becoming increasing pessimistic, increasingly polarized, and increasingly violent - and now we see the culmination in this attack on innocents in Tuscon, Arizona.
I don't want to assign blame, because it is no one persons or one group's fault. The Tea Party has rhetoric that certainly doesn't help, but people have to remember that they have been a symptom of the attitudes right now in America, not the cause. Loughner is a clearly paranoid, disturbed individual, if his MySpace or YouTube have been anything to go by. But all of this crap floating down there, about how the government is evil, the Christians are fascists, the Fed wants to put Americans in concentration camps, and all of it, bullshit from every orifice, more than likely helped push Loughner along. Political discourse has become poisoned by this silly notion that only one side can be just, only one side can be right, and the others are threatening your way of life, and must be stopped. What can you expect to happen when you say they're out to get you? What do people believe this will come across as to people like Jared Loughner, who follow that narrative lock and step in their delusions?
I would never, ever excuse the actions of the people responsible for the shootings, and the guilt first lies with them. But Americans, especially politicians in whatever level of government, whatever their persuasion, need to learn from this tragedy, and tone down the rhetoric before it gets to be too much. It is in the power of your collective attitudes to nip these extremists and paranoia in the bud, before they can ever become the rants and delusions of Jared Loughner. Otherwise, I fear that this won't be the only tragic event that may occur.