First, let me say that I am a fan of neither the US or Canadian governments. But, I'm not going out to buy a Glock and start shooting people. The vast majority of people will follow the same path as me. It's always the one exception that manages to ruin it for the rest of us.
The details are still unfolding as I write this, but the facts are these: Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is lying in a hospital bed after being shot in the head by 22 year-old Jared Loughner. Federal Judge John Roll was killed, supposedly for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A 9 year-old girl named Christina-Taylor Green was also killed. This is an unspeakable tragedy, perpetrated by an individual who had a beef with the US government. A lot of people are not happy with the state of government, but that doesn't give them the right to go out and kill people. Last time I checked, murder was against the law; lately, more harm than good has come from all the political rhetoric in the mainstream, so it was only a matter of time before someone paid the ultimate price for all the crazy-talk.
It's one thing to exercise your right to vote in a democratic society, but to combine it with violence-tinged campaign rhetoric is just plain wrong. The use of gun-related euphemisms, such as Sarah Palin's "Don't retreat; reload", and her use of cross hairs in images on her Web site may or may not have incited violence among right wing Americans. Their use was completely inappropriate, not to mention disturbing. We've spent enough time bastardizing the First and Second Amendments of the Constitution, and now 6 individuals are dead, and about a dozen others are injured because of it. Threats against politicians have increased exponentially. Why? Because a bunch of ignorant Americans are afraid of the government having a say in their health care. Give a certain segment of the population any excuse to insert a firearm into the equation, and this is what you get.
I come from a place where guns were never a part of my life. I understand that's not the case for all of us. Our life experiences notwithstanding, none of us has the right to take the responsibility of gun ownership lightly. We all bear the burden of responsibility for places where gun laws are lax and liberal (for lack of a better term), by giving access to people who in no way deserve to have it. The irresponsibility of soft gun laws gives access to people like Jared Loughner, and Seung-Hui Cho, who legally purchased guns, but had no business doing so. The gun laws in the states of Virginia and Arizona allowed this to happen. And if nothing is done to shore up soft gun laws, this will keep happening again, and again, and again. The NRA can squawk all it wants about how "people kill people, not guns", but the reality is, the person is pulling the trigger of, you guessed it: A GUN.
There will be much more rhetoric about this tragedy in the coming days, and by writing a blog entry, I am contributing to it. I realize that is my right, as both a Canadian and an American citizen. Much as I'd like to place the blame squarely on the head of Sarah Palin, I can't do that. There are many forces at play here, especially the profound ignorance that runs rampant through both the US and Canada.
It's too much to expect to believe everyone pays attention to what exactly it is government does, but too many are focused on what it is government does wrong. The 24 hour news cycle doesn't help, nor do loudmouth, ignorant agenda pushers like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann. Yeah, Olbermann belongs in that group because, even the left has its loudmouths. I don't even know how to categorize Sarah Palin; I just hope she goes away. If there is anything good that could possibly come out of this horrific scenario, it would be for her to crawl under a glacier, never to be heard from again. Like remedying ignorance, that might be a bit too much to ask.
My heart goes out to the people who were affected by Saturday's tragedies. My fear is that, going forward, things will get much worse before they get better. The underlying reasons for why this happened are speculative at best, and although I have an opinion, I don't think it is appropriate for me to share it at this time. What I will say is that I consider myself lucky to have both an American and a Canadian perspective about things like government, health care, and the cultural differences between the two countries. Having this perspective makes me understand why things like single-payer health care and liberal government can be scary, but at the same time, they have their advantages. Change can be a tough thing, but if you open your mind, and do your homework, you can embrace it, just like anything else. How I wish more people felt that way.