By Debra Opri
“Take one mentally-ill, delusional college student…
Add a whopping overdose of long-term media saturation of ‘commentary’ in the form of political ‘news reporting’…
Absorb both sides of the argument and their ‘subsidiary’ partisanship politics emanating out of Washington DC
Discard saneness, equilibrium and rational dialogue…
Replace with anger, bedlam, lack of compromise, intractability….
Let it brew for a generation.
Season to taste with more media controversy, more infighting, less compromise, and the ‘accessibility’ of internet podiums…
Then, sit back and wait for events to unravel as they did in Tucson, Arizona on January 8, 2011.”
A brave new decade has revealed itself in which, at the press of a button, anyone – including a deranged young man who posted disturbing inner thoughts online of his ‘take’ on the country, politics, the Constitution, treasonous laws and similar rants – actualized his anger by targeting a US Congresswoman and gunning down as many innocent people as possible. Among the 6 dead, a U.S. District Judge, Hon. John Roll, known for his tireless work in the federal courts; and critically injured, a Democratic U.S. Congresswoman, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. There was also a 9 year old who died. And a 76 year old woman died as well. This “brave new world’s” slayer was equal in his anger as in his aim.
I came away from this story looking for answers where there can be none. But I have lots of questions.
1. Why was this individual pushed to this limit to take aim at an event of and by representatives of our political system;
2. Were Saturday’s actions the beginning of a new form of the ‘political stream’ of consciousness one which has disintegrated the relationship of elected official and their constituents?
3. Is the reflection of what we are seeing everyday in our political culture, now evolving to a level of anger and insanity such that public ‘comment’ will be of a violent and deadly nature?
4. Can this new oppositional rationality reverse itself if each of us assume responsibility in not engaging in vitriol?
I have been a casual observer of the political scene my entire life. The fights were there, but they were always in the “back rooms.” The vigor and vitality of public debate was there as well but it was seasoned with respect for the views of the opposition. Compromise was not a dirty word, and at the end of the day, the politicians got along for the good of the country and its people. ‘Take no prisoners’ was not a political manifesto back then, it was a battle cry properly kept for wartime.
The media wasn’t there to place a spotlight on an element of an issue and make it a conflict and then watch it grow into a monster of a story where the only thing to report was hatred rather than issues and substantive elements. The internet wasn’t around to disseminate negativity at the speed of light spreading like a cancer that becomes inoperable.
The formula for fear need not be perfected and carried out as harmfully as it was this weekend to endanger all of us as a society. It is not only a mentally deranged individual named Jared Lee Loughner. who found himself, perhaps, caught up in the vitriol of politically dangerous dialogue. In fact, Loughner first became angry. Very angry. At a system – and a political dialogue – that is out of control. I think we should all look deep within our souls, and start by telling ourselves…..no more.