January 9, 2011

First Oklahoma, Now Arizona – Tragedy At Home


Gabrielle Giffords

Image Source - www.giffordsforcongress.com

Yesterday, your average Saturday, started out with checking email, making breakfast and checking in with friends on Twitter. Then the tweets started. Becca from Our Crazy Boys tweeted that Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) had been shot. What? Shot? A congresswoman? In Tucson, Arizona? It seemed like a mistake.

Immediately I check CNN and MSNBC as well as NPR, which was one of the first to report the shooting. A quick search for Rep. Giffords finds her Wikipedia page updated to indicate she has died. Several news outlets reported she died, having been shot in the head at close range. I tweeted that information. I thought it was correct. It was not. I tweeted some more. I exchanged tweets with others. We’re all in shock! The reports were wrong and Rep. Giffords was rushed to University Medical Center in Tucson (a Level One trauma center) and is in critical condition after surgery to remove the bullet from her brain.

The shooter wasn’t a foreign terrorist. He was a 22 year old guy who was rejected for military service, who ranted on MySpace and YouTube recently and had a disdain for the American government and political system. Fortunately someone had good sense to tackle the guy so he didn’t go and kill himself. Our judicial system should be able to put him on trial for what he did. He killed, at the time of this writing, 6 people, including a 9-year old girl, a Federal Judge and a man who put himself in harms way to protect his wife. Twelve people were injured. Many more witnessed this heinous act and will forever be changed.

Within hours it was national news that Rep. Giffords’ Tucson office had been vandalized nearly a year ago. There was also talk about Sarah Palin’s PAC targeting Rep. Giffords in the 2010 election using a map that had gun cross-hairs as its graphic to depict ‘targeting’ 20 districts. And the political finger pointing started. Sarah Palin wrote a note on her Facebook page saying she was saddened by the shooting. After all of her talk about ‘targeting’ and using gun references, I find her note insincere at best and spin-control at worst. Rep. Giffords was seen as the enemy in need of being killed, and yet Ms. Palin took to social media to chime in. This wasn’t about her or anyone she was close to or supported but she had to clear her conscious, I guess.

Was this politically motivated? We may never know. The suspect is in custody and not speaking. I’m sure his lawyer will argue he’s insane. Crazy, sure. Legally insane, I doubt. But it’s not about Republicans or Tea Party followers or political hate. The shooter was detached from reality. He didn’t live within the world we live. Innocent Americans were shot and killed because a man hates America.

Upon reading the first tweets I was taken back 15 years to what would have otherwise been an average day in law school, but instead changed the lives of many people I knew personally when a nobody bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Killing innocent Americans. Shattering lives. Rocking the foundation of a strong city. But not destroying the resilient people of Oklahoma City.

Like Oklahoma City, Tucson will rise above the hate this killer has for our great country. In tragedy, we all will rise up to say intolerance will not be tolerated. Intolerance toward people who believe differently than you, whether that is politics, religion, immigration, health care, abortion, or sexual orientation, should never be tolerated! We are civil people. We all need to start acting like we are and stop the hate talk. It’s OK to disagree. It’s OK to argue your point. But it’s NOT ok to think killing is how civilized people deal with people who are different in some way. It’s unacceptable to suggest that people who are different or believe differently should be killed because they are different.

On Saturday we saw the worst of humanity. Someone so overtaken by whatever was going on in his head that he set out to take the life of another human being. On Saturday, we also saw the best of humanity. People putting themselves in harms way to save others. Strangers reaching out and coming together to offer prayers for a Jewish Congresswoman and the others fighting for their lives.

To the six who died, may their memory be a blessing. To those injured, may they have a full and speedy recovery.

This shouldn’t happen. But now that it has, what do we do so it doesn’t happen again?



AZLB January 10, 2011 at 8:02 am

so true, what a tragedy and I have to admit with all the social media outlets now it is amazing how the information just flows. Watching the youtube, balanced with tweets of someone’s husband being at the store, to watching the news on TV….made it feel so much closer.

Becca - Our Crazy Boys January 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm

What do we do? I honestly don’t know.

I feel that maybe we should take it more seriously when we see someone acting “strange,” as he did at the community college. Maybe security for the congressional leaders will become commonplace?

It’s still hard to comprehend. I haven’t quite gotten to the “what do we do” yet.

Sara January 10, 2011 at 11:30 pm


Having lived in OKC and going through that situation, you don’t know what to do. Or if there is anything that you have to do. Life will return to the previous normal. Like the killers in OKC, this guy will be tried years later and it will come up again. It will be a cycle, and the memories will come back.

Like OKC, the 24/7 news cycle gets old and the minutiae that the media will dig up to keep this alive will get tuned out. Normalcy is what people want. You won’t forget. But will you will go on. And you’ll feel uneasy for awhile. But safety will return and while life will never be the same, it won’t be changed for the bad.

I lost 5 friends and colleagues in OKC. OKC recovered. I recovered and so will you, the people of Tucson, Arizona and the American people.

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