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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Arizona shooting sends shockwaves nationwide

It is 11 p.m. Saturday. I have CNN on the TV next to the computer. My prayers are with the victims and their families and friends in the horrific shooting at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s “Congress on Your Corner” visit in Tucson. I hope there will be no additional deaths.

Accessibility is a given for our politicians. During her tenure as the representative for this sprawling 20th congressional district, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was diligent about meeting with all sorts of people. “Congress on Your Corner” is a great way to talk with and listen to constituents, and no doubt contributed to her popularity with voters. Her successor, Scott Murphy, held them as well.

Today, this district’s brand new congressman, Chris Gibson, is with his family in the D.C. area, at a retreat with new House members. His office released a statement expressing sadness and extending their thoughts and prayers.

What else must Gibson and his wife – and every other politician -- be thinking? Will today’s shooting put a chill on informal gatherings? I hope not. What do you think?

Perhaps nothing can stop a crazy person. But crazy talk by supposedly sane people – hateful political verbal violence – must not be condoned. How do you know when you’ve gone to far? After the shooting, Sarah Palin pulled off a website a graphic showing gun crosshairs at political targets in the country, including Gabrielle Giffords’ district, with the heading “We’ve diagnosed the problem …. Help us prescribe the solution.”

Of course Palin didn’t mean people should be shot. She had nothing to do with the shooting. But it’s an example of the kind of vitriol that can encourage some nut to take literally.

“Congress on Your Corner” has become such a commonplace event, the media stifle a yawn when a longtime congress member announces yet another get-together at the local grocery store. But the truth is, they are important exercises in democracy, good for both the politicians and the people. They must continue, and they will – but the cloud of today’s mass murders will hover.

CNN is reporting optimism about Giffords’ chance of survival. My fingers are crossed. Saratoga Springs High School grad Pia Carusone, Giffords’ chief of staff, was en route to Tucson this evening from Washington D.C., to be with her boss as she fights for her life, and to be with her colleagues – one of whom is among the dead in this terrible tragedy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Left Wing media will have a field day with this and create more vitrial. Until all facts are known it is difficult and premature to make any conclusion. Just heard that the shooter in custody has a history of mental illness. I think the more the media hypes the story as you are within 24 hours after the event the more it will encourage another loon to do the same thing. If you read the commentary just on the Saratogian website you can feel hate, vitrial and a high level of animosity locally as well. It can happen anywhere.

January 9, 2011 at 8:01 AM 
Blogger Tucker said...

Good posting - well written.

January 9, 2011 at 8:47 AM 

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