Tucson and Washington

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This is not a political issue. This is not an excuse for accusations against any individual or group besides the one accused young man who is in custody. As of now there is no evidence that he acted under the influence of, or on behalf of, anyone or any issue other than his own personal psychological demons. Those on the left or right, who are using this tragedy as a justification for insinuating that the other “side” should be blamed, are equally deluded.

What we can do, and should do, is let this event motivate all of us to tone down the vicious rhetoric that has been spewing from both sides of the political spectrum. The tea party, Glenn Beck and FOX Media, Rush Limbaugh, and all the right-wing bloggers and commentators, are no more and no less at fault than the liberals, Keith Olbermann and MSNBC, and all the left-wing bloggers and commentators. Politicians who scream ‘liar!’ at President Obama, politicians who speak about ‘cross-hairs’ and ‘targets’, politicians who maliciously mock their opponents, politicians who speak hatefully and violently about former President Bush, and all the rest of the childish and disgusting political rhetoric that we have listened to in recent years from all sides of the issues — this all has to stop.

And it’s not just these professionals. It’s all of us. Newspapers across the country have been forced to eliminate on-line participatory ‘Comments’ sections from their websites because the conversations have become so ugly and hateful and threatening. Despite my wish to engage people and let people find out about my writings, I long ago stopped participating in Amazon Forums and other internet Forums for exactly this reason.

All of this has to stop. Not because it caused the attack on Rep. Giffords and the other victims. It very likely did not. It has to stop because it is wrong, it is despicable, it is vulgar, it is beneath us, and it is dangerous. Sooner or later it will lead to violence, and violence damages and belittles us all.