Can't we just all just talk about this?

In the wake of last week's events in Tucson in which a deranged man shot and/or killed numerous individuals, including a Federal Judge, a Congress-woman and a child - not to mention several other innocent by-standers, a number of people seized upon an opportunity to talk about an issue of great concern to them: the ways in which violent rhetoric used by politicians in their campaigns help to foster an atmosphere charged with fear, hatred and violence in our country. People also went so far as to cite specific examples of such rhetoric, and then to draw a connection between those examples and the shooting.

Naturally, those who felt suddenly under attack and blamed for the tragedy in Tucson responded by making something abundantly clear, a fact I don't think any rational person could disagree with: as individuals no one is to blame for the shooting in Tucson, except Jared Loughner. Blame is his and his alone.

So, to all opponents of the Tea Party and the GOP, concede that this was a random act of violence committed by a sick man, that it was in no way politically motivated, and that attempting to connect the shooting with any political party is a non sequitur. Can we do that please?

Good.

Now, can all of us please begin a rational debate in this country about the appropriateness of violent rhetoric in our political discourse? Can we all agree that in spite of what freedoms the First Amendment gives us, that the use of violent imagery, rhetoric and metaphor as a means to stoke and rile political constituencies really has no place in our government or on the campaign trail? And can we all agree that anyone who considers themselves a leader in this country should not only lead by example, but also actively and consistently denounce the usage of such rhetoric among their constituents?

So can we stop the finger pointing, and defensiveness and acknowledge that this is a topic worth talking about and then actually start to talk about it?

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