Saturday, January 8, 2011

A few words about the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Almost all the coverage I've read and all the people with whom I've spoken have leapt immediately from this shooting to political discussions. I certainly understand that urge, but I think we should resist it. Let's look at the key points.

1. This is a tragedy. As of this writing and using online news sites ( and as my information sources, it appears that a gunman shot 18 people, including Congresswoman Giffords. He killed six of those people.

2. We don't have any data yet that would prove this was a targeted assassination. If you're out for one person, you probably don't shoot 18. Among the six dead people, a group that included a child, was a Federal judge, John Roll, whom President Bush appointed.

3. We don't have any data yet that would prove this was a politically motivated shooting. Sure, it occurred at an event of the Congresswoman, but that could have been because it was an event, something that would draw a crowd. Or not. We don't know.

4. Consequently, let's not blame anyone other than the shooter or any group at this time. Let the data tell the story when it is available.

American political discourse, like so much else of what passes as discussion in our country, has devolved into people repeating their messages, not listening to one another, and fighting to see who can sound more clever or produce a more memorable one-liner or graphic. Let's not use this tragedy as one more topic for such low-end political tussles.

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