On Palin and the Arizona shooting

Sarah Palin's graphic of 20 House Democrats, including Rep. Gabrielle Gifford, in crosshairs. Palin removed the image from her website Saturday after a gunman in Arizona killed six and injured 14, including Giffords, who was shot in the head.

I’ve been following the Arizona shooting story with sadness and bewilderment. There have been mind-boggling responses from left to right, contributing to a massive shit-storm in which the main messages are lost.

Sarah Palin did not cause this shooting spree; nor is she free of guilt.

The issue regarding Palin’s “crosshairs graphic,” pictured above, it that it is entirely inappropriate for the former Alaskan governor and past vice-presidential hopeful — someone who has spoken of running for PRESIDENT of the U.S. — to run on gun/violence-fueled campaign ads, imagery and slogans. “Violent rhetoric” is the term being used.

A March 23 tweet by Sarah Palin

To say that she caused the Arizona tragedy is ridiculous — almost as ridiculous as Palin aide Rebecca Mansour saying there is “nothing irresponsible about our graphic,” the crosshairs had nothing to do with violence, and rather they’re simply “crosshairs that you would see on a map” (???).

Giffords said in an interview back in March, when the graphic was released, that “when people do that, there’s consequences to that action.”

Following Saturday’s shooting, the graphic was removed from Palin’s website and some questionable “violent rhetoric” was scrubbed. (The “Don’t Retreat – Instead RELOAD!” tweet remains.)

Palin issued a pretty feeble statement via Facebook, saying only:

My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona.

On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.

This all said, the Palin connection is not — or at least should not — be THE story of this tragedy — that would be 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner opening fire at Giffords’ meeting with constituents outside a Safeway in Tucson, killing six and injuring 14. One of the people who died was nine-year-old Christina Green, a children’s charity volunteer who was just elected to student council, who had gone to the event to “learn more about politics” and one day wanted to serve her country, according to her mother, Roxanna Green. She was also a 9/11 baby, a “Face of Hope” following the fall of the Twin Towers.

For anyone to attempt to gain political points from this tragedy is foul, but it would also be remiss not to address the connection. The fact the graphic was taken down is also a validation of sorts: Is this what it took for the Palin clan to realize it was inappropriate?

On a side note, it was reckless of people to automatically play up a possible political motive yesterday, immediately after the shooting occurred, and give more weight than deserved to the fact Loughner had a “mental illness” — a broad term that, by definition, I’m willing to wager most of us have in one form or another.

Related:

  • The New York Times’ live-blog on the shooting
  • Jared Lee Loughner’s YouTube channel

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