This weekend’s tragic shooting at a Safeway district meeting in which United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously hurt and a dozen more injured and a District Court judge John Roll, a nine-year-old girl born on September 11th, and a congressional aide were killed has left us all stunned.
Here are some things I’ve read since the event that I want to share:
Nick Baumann has an interview with a friend of the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. The friend describes Loughner’s obsession with Gifford as starting when she didn’t answer the nonsense question “What is government if words have no meaning?” at a rally.
Jessica Valenti writes that when violent masculinity is a country’s norm, violent political rhetoric will resonate more deeply, as it has been for the past two years. The increase in the use of this rhetoric by conservative women is particularly disturbing, as it shows how pervasive the language has become and how politicians must use it to be considered legit.
Jonathan Cohn points out that mental health illness tends to go untreated and insurance is often lax in covering it. Mentally ill people are not inherently violent people, and this tragedy is no reason to stigmatize them or assume they are all dangerous threats. But we should take a serious look at how mental illness treatment services failed to get help to this clearly disturbed young man.
David Dayen reports that the extended magazine used for the 9mm glock wouldn’t have been manufactured under the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. The gunman was tackled when he was reloading; the weapons ban would have given him 22 less rounds to fire. I’d be curious how the “he would have used a different weapon” argument works here. It’s tough to imagine him causing the same mayhem with a hunting rifle. Justin Elliott has more.
As Rebecca Traister explained, Giffords is one of the most promising female politicians out there. She’s had an amazing career so far, and shows a lot of ambitious women paths they can take with their life. Here is to her having a speedy recovery and returning to public life.
SEK actually gives us a working definition about what is violent rhetoric (and rhetoric generally) that will hopefully clarify the debate about what is happening with the public discourse.
Here’s hoping that those who deploy violent rhetoric as part of their political arsenal take a moment to reflect on how ugly this has made the landscape over the past two years and how dangerous and damaging it is to our democracy. People will be more worried about running for office or taking a job on the hill after this shooting and after so many have positioned politics as an act of violence.