“Don’t Blame Me…”
What happened on Saturday in Tuscon, Arizona? A disturbed young man resorted to violence and decided to destroy innocent human life as a group of people participated in one of the greatest freedoms our country offers.
I found it ironic that when the House of Representatives read the Constitution last week, when it was her turn, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D, AZ-08) was handed the 1st Amendment to read:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
What happened on Saturday was not a young man airing his grievances rather someone with a disturbed mind, and such a darkness in their heart, that he could abandon any form of decency and respect for life.
The commentary on radio, cable TV, and print that has followed can be best described as irresponsible. Blame has already been lodged against the so-called “far right.” What is lacking thus far any real debate about what is going on in our country that keeps producing children with these thoughts. While some never act on their feelings, nevertheless there are many young people frustrated with life and lacking any hope for their future.
Was it the political climate in Paducah, Kentucky in 1997 when Michael Carneal killed three students killed and wounded five as they participated in a prayer circle at Heath High School?
Was it the political rhetoric of the left or right that produced Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who walked into Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 and began shooting their classmates?
Was it outside political groups in Virginia that led 23-year-old Virginia Tech student, Cho Seung-Hui in 2007 to kill two in a dorm, then kill 30 more 2 hours later in a classroom building making his shooting rampage the most deadly in U.S. history?
Or, was it the lack of mental illness screening for those purchasing guns that led to any of the other forty mass shootings carried out by young people at their schools and public events since 1996?
Instead of the public debate now launched by the tragic events in Tuscon on January 8 taking the “don’t blame me” approach from all parties, it’s about time America has a genuine, serious debate about what is going on in our culture that keeps producing these violent children and, thus, violent young men.
The public discourse in politics and the nightly noise found on cable news channels can be vitriolic but only a small percentage of the country pays regular attention. This tragedy was not about liberal groups like Moveon.org comparing President Bush to Hitler or some Tea Party groups placing communist symbols on pictures of President Obama.
We as Americans need to start moving away from our defensive nature of “don’t blame me” and start looking around us at the environment we are creating for our children. We need to start addressing the larger issues once again revealed by the violent acts in Tuscon.
By Matt Smith, Vice President of Catholic Advocate