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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tragedy in Arizona

George Wenschhof

Six individuals, including a Judge and a young girl have been killed, with an additional thirteen people injured as a result of a shooting by an individual who was apprehended at the scene. The shooting took place at a Arizona Congresswoman's "Congress at Your Corner" event outside a Safeway in Tucson, Arizona. has more here.

Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was among the individuals seriously injured, suffering from a shot to the head. After surgery, she is listed in critical condition. However, the surgeon who operated on her stated he was as optimistic, as he could be, considering the seriousness of the injury.

Federal Judge John Roll and a member of Congresswoman's staff; Gabe Zimmerman were among those who were killed.

The Huffington Post is reporting the shooter is twenty-two year old Jared Lee Loughner. They have more information on him, including You Tube videos, here. There are additional reports another individual, who, at this time, has not been apprehended, may have been involved.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has announced all legislation in the House has been suspended for one week, including the repeal of health care vote scheduled for Wednesday.

The impact of this event has the potential to be far reaching in American politics. The suspect has invoked his "Miranda Rights" and is not talking to authorities, so his motives are not known as this time.

However, one could argue the mean spirited vitriol often present in political discussions today is at an all time high in occurrence across the country.

The fact this shooting took place at a planned neighborhood event by a member of congress, could dramatically impact the frequency of these type of close interactions by politicians and the public in the future. Hopefully, this is not the case as these type of close interaction between politicians and the people they represent is an important part of what helps democracy work. Surely, increased police protection at these public events is most likely to be a result.

More importantly, in the future, as we all discuss our political views on the issues with others, we keep the old saying in mind; "the spoken word is like the arrow in flight, once released, you can not take it back". Strongly promoting or defending a political position will always be an important aspect of our representative democracy. However, personally attacking or denigrating another for their point of view is not acceptable.


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