Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Tell A Friend Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
OpEdNews Op Eds

Is the Giffords' Shooting a Teachable Moment?

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Bob Burnett       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 1/14/11

Author 93
Become a Fan
  (23 fans)
- Advertisement -


While there is little doubt about the facts of the Tucson tragedy, that one man pulled the trigger on the automatic revolver that shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killed six others, and wounded 12 more, the open question is whether it is a teachable moment.

 

No one who heard the awful news on Saturday, January 8th, should have been surprised.   Since the political rhetoric escalated during the 2008 Presidential campaign, Americans have being holding their breath expecting an assault on Barack Obama.   Then the bombast surrounding 2009's healthcare legislation led to a sharp increase in threats to Congresspeople and suggested that sooner or later there a Senator or Representative would be attacked.   (Over the past twenty-four months, Giffords had been the target of multiple threats.)     The United States seems to be on a long slide into a pit of violence and anguish.

- Advertisement -

 

Many fault America's lax gun laws.   Over the past few years there's been a spurt in weapon purchases and there's believed to be one gun for every person in the US.   Nonetheless, it's difficult to see how a legal change regarding firearm possession could have presented this tragedy.

 

- Advertisement -

Many fault our inadequate mental health system. Some say this tragedy could have been averted if the perpetrator had received counseling after his run in with school administrators (who recommended to his parents that he receive psychiatric treatment).   But mental health facilities were dismantled during the Reagan Administration and are woefully inadequate throughout the US.   At a time when most Republicans are calling for cutbacks in health services, in general, it's unlikely that mental health will receive more support.

 

Many fault the media.   Objective commentators feel the hate talk that fills right-wing radio and TV -" specifically, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck -" contributed to this crime; that there was digital contagion.   That talk of killing this or that public figure has created a climate where disturbed individuals are more likely to take up arms against governmental officials.   Certainly the hate talk is reprehensible, but the alternative -" draconian limits on free speech -" is unthinkable.   And right-wing media is a huge and very successful business.   Sarah Palin probably won't be the Republican candidate for President, but she'll make millions as a conservative media icon.

 

Many fault the political process.   In recent years the gulf between Democrats and Republicans has widened.   There's a notable lack of comity in Congress; politicians, such as Michele Bachmann, make savage remarks that in another era would have brought ridicule but in this period brings fame and fortune.   Once again, this seems unlikely to change in the short term.   The Republican tactic of taking extreme positions -" specifically calling upon Americans to take up arms to defend their life and liberties -" worked for them in 2010.   Why would they change when they've developed an approach -" amplify and harness the rage of Americans -" that is likely to sweep them back into power?

 

- Advertisement -

Many feel we need to engage in a "national dialogue."   That citizens from different persuasions need to sit down and talk about our hopes and dreams for America; we should search for ideological common ground.   While this approach does need to be encouraged, the logistics are daunting.   Americans tend to live in communities of like-minded individuals; those of us who want to dialogue would have to travel miles outside our comfort zone to be part of an assembly that represents the diverse sentiments that characterize our nation.   And the dialogue groups would have to be expertly facilitated; for example, would non-gun owners feel comfortable in discussions with citizens packing weapons?

 

While the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords seems like a teachable moment, there remains the vexing question of how to take advantage of this.   In his stirring memorial speech, President Obama said, " let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together."   But the President didn't suggest next steps for us to take.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

Bob Burnett Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Ten Telltale Signs of Republican Disease

Big Liars and The Voters Who Love Them

Obama vs. Romney: The Bottom Line

The GOP Chooses Fascism

2011 Budget Battle: Obama Wins While Democrats Lose

Obama vs. Romney: The Popularity Contest