The recent massacre in Tucson has reignited the debate in several areas: gun laws, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI ) effectiveness, political rhetoric, news media accountability, and personal responsibility.
The debate will go on and then die down just as it did after previous shootings in schools, colleges, shopping malls, restaurants, etc. The shooting at Virginia Tech on Sept. 16, 2007 by a deranged individual claimed 33 lives -- more than in Tucson and yet nothing changed. The Standard-Examiner posted a cartoon in the Jan. 17 issue showing the various shootings in the past several years.
Every one of those mentioned above share responsibility for what happened. It is incomprehensible to me that a mentally ill individual, turned down by the military is able to go into Walmart and a sporting goods store and buy bullets and guns with oversized clips capable of firing 33 bullets without reloading.
Doesn't speak highly of our gun laws. We have become an irresponsible nation when it comes to freedom to bear arms. I recall when Obama became President, stores actually ran out of guns and bullets because of the crazy rumor that he was going to institute gun control. Now I read that there is a run on oversized clips because they may be banned. The drug runners in Mexico love us for the artillery we are providing them.
NAMI is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with mental illness. It is not clear if the deranged Tucson individual sought any help. It is also not clear if his parents reported him. But it is clear that his friends and classmates knew he needed help. So did the campus police. But it looks like they took the easy way out by expelling him from school and assuming they had done their duty. If the campus police -- who are supposedly better trained in these matters than the general public -- don't know what to do, then how are we supposed to know?
Political rhetoric is making us all edgy. I yearn for the return of statesmanship and true leadership in government. It was only 30 years ago that we had the two parties with a wide range of ideas as well as their own liberal, moderate and conservative wings. Today the parties have turned into hate machines. Some leaders are basically linguistic terrorists who will say anything to further their careers.
We want our leaders to tell us the truth and choose their words carefully. We want them to take a deep breath before sounding off, and not make politics a reality TV show. Finger pointing doesn't do any good. Both sides have used language that is demeaning and unnecessary.
Real change starts with self-control over the all-too-human tendency to rant against those who don't hold our same beliefs. There are too many nut cases out there ready to go hunting. Who knows? One derogatory statement could set them off.
It was an eerie premonition on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' part that irresponsible talk, such as "Don't retreat, reload!" and actions like posting cross hairs on her district by Sarah Palin would result in consequences. We now know that Giffords and her husband talked frequently about her safety.
Drawing Hitler mustaches on candidates' faces or drawing crosshairs on districts is no way to get your point across.
I believe that noteworthy people in the news media and other institutions can effectively silence the demagogues of today. Just as CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow did in 1954, when he challenged Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Balanced, informed reporting could set the record straight rather than rile the populace with lies.
News must be corroborated with facts, not opinions. I can form my own opinion based on facts.
FoxNews seems to have the knack for collecting the worst demagogues amongst us: Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Sarah Palin. Rush Limbaugh is another one. Their respective websites are full of hatred and dangerous talk. Take for example Glenn Beck's statement on former House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (Aug. 6, 2009). "So Speaker Pelosi, I just wanted to -- you gonna drink your wine? Drink it. Drink it. ... By the way I put poison in your..."
How do inflamatory words improve our ability to get along with each other or solve our problems?
I am pleased that the Standard-Examiner has been running editorials, pointing out the fallacies of what some of our state leaders are promoting in the wake of this tragedy. Its Jan. 18 column "Experts doubt GOP claims that health care law is a job killer" was another eye-opener. It refuted the Republican mantra on this subject.
My hope is that we have turned the corner.
But my gut tells me that the only thing that will tone down the rhetoric is enough escalated violence for people to finally agree that enough is enough!
Kulkarni lives in Perry.