I have written about hate speech before. I wrote about it last spring when the tea party was gaining steam and they used a kind of racial rhetoric embedded in their anti-big government, anti-tax, language. The subtle racism and classism that continued and continues to see immigrants and the black underclasses as threats. Or government help for those at the bottom of the economic ladder as a problem is still hate speech no matter how you dress it up.
But with the shooting of Rep. Giffords and the 14 others in Arizona and the murder of 6 at the scene in Tuscon the vitriolic language of those in the political sphere must stop. It has fueled a kind of hatred and intolerance that is outrageous. The language of used on the left and the right is so violent and so uncivil we probably shouldn’t be surprised by this kind of violence aimed at our public officials. Will this help Congress learn to work together again across the political divide? One can pray that this is a tough wake-up call for how business continues to be done. And those like Glenn Beck, Rush and Sarah Palin who whip their minions into a hate-filled frenzy must be held accountable for the way they incite violence by their words.
America is the most heavily armed country in the world. 90 out of every 100 people owns a firearm. Is it any surprise that hateful language fuels such shootings? Yes there is mental illness that may add to the despair and violence. But the availability of guns combined with that illness combined with the vitriolic rhetoric and language of partisan politics these days is a deadly cocktail. There are way too many shootings. Think Columbine, Think Virginia Tech. Yikes.
I remember all too well where I was when Ronald Regan and James Brady were shot. I was in New York City attending a conference for Zionist College Youth when the word came out that Regan was shot. I remember where I was when Robert Kennedy was shot and I remember vividly the assassination of President Kennedy. I remember watching his funeral in black and white.
Is it time to review the second amendment to our constitution? The second amendment allows us to keep and bear arms. But is this really necessary in this day and time? It seems to me that it is time to amend the second amendment and make it more difficult to keep and bear arms. The tragic shootings and murders in Arizona ought to make us shudder and consider this seriously.