Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
The shooting Saturday of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) has prompted a flood of commentary about what might have prompted the gunman to act in a violent way.
For now, we will leave that side of the story to others, who are giving it a thorough examination. But we were struck by the reaction of certain American elites, including some of Giffords' colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives. The comments indicate that a few of our nation's leaders are woefully out of touch with reality.
Consider Martha Roby, a Republican who was elected in November from my home state of Alabama. Roby correctly deemed the shooting a "senseless act of violence." But she went on to add this:
One of the characteristics that make America exceptional is that we settle our differences through civil dialogue, democratic rule, and the fair adjudication of disputes based on the rule of law--not through cowardly acts of violence. There is simply no place for that in American society, and it should never be tolerated.
What planet has Roby been living on for the past 10 years or so? It's certainly a different planet from the one I've been inhabiting. Consider some of the characteristics that, according to Roby, mark American society as "exceptional":
* We settle our differences through civil discourse--We do? Has Roby seen the U.S. map on Sarah Palin's Web site that had crosshairs superimposed on Giffords' district, making the Arizona Democrat a "target" for the tea party? Is Roby aware that Palin's Web site had put Giffords' name on a "hit list"? Is Roby aware that Giffords had been the target of threats, harassment, and vandalism in the wake of her vote supporting President Barack Obama's health-care plan, according to a report from Zachary Roth of Yahoo! News? Here in Alabama, if you write critically about the Republican governor, you can lose your job at a state university--and your wife can be cheated out of her job, too.
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