The murder spree in Arizona and the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords puts our nation, once again, into a state of shock and dismay.
Violence against elected officials always seems most shameful in the land of the free. It rocks our world beyond the point of introspection and into the realm of self-doubt. Now comes the finger of blame: that tea partiers, political commentators and campaign ads have crossed the line; that invective and vitriol lead to violence; that symbols and words have meaning -- and must be controlled.
Yet Americans are a passionate people, and their debates, heated or otherwise, are protected under the Constitution. This latest tragedy is not about figurative speech: Democrats got "murdered" in the mid-term elections; marketing "targets" accounts for sales; we use "bullets" in PowerPoint presentations. Nor is it about flaring tempers in the heat of ideological discourse. To argue that these are the culprits -- and not a lone, crazed gunman -- is itself provocative. To imply that this behavior must be curtailed is an insidious and dangerous step toward limitation of First Amendment rights. (And predictably, arguments to curtail Second Amendment rights have already begun.)
Some will "hate" this letter and want to retaliate. That is their prerogative. But words must not devolve into violent action. We must love and respect the law, if not each other.
Mike Raymond Bluffton