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The tragic shootings in Arizona that left six people — including a child and a federal judge — dead and Congresswoman Gabriellle Giffords fighting for her life highlights on one one hand just how violence-pr0ne political debate and rhetoric has become in our nation.
On the other, it showcases the fine line between passion and violence.
Political debate is no longer just that — debate. Debate has been replaced by shouting matches, punctuated by threats. Opponents become “targets.” Those whose disagree with us must “be taken out.” You no longer talk of defeating an opponent. You destroy them. You “kill” their careers.
Arizone sheriff Clarene Dupnik pointed to his own state as an example of what has happened to the American political system.
Saturday’s violence, he said, took the lives of several of his friends, including U.S.District Judge John Roll, who stopped off at Mass on Saturday morning before stopping off to see Congressman Gabriellle Giffords. He went down in a rain of gunshire that left five others, including a nine-yea-old girl, dead and Giffords suffering from a life-threatening bullet in her brain.
“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to he vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,” Dupnik said. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that does on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
On Saturday, that prejudice and bigotry erputed from a gun and ripped trough the flesh of a nine-year-old boy, the chest of a federal judge and the brain of a Congresswoman.
But it did more than that. It tore through the fabric of a nation, a country where civility has become a stranger, where reason has taken a leave of absence and where violence has become the quick means to an end.
The six people who died at the hands of a madman Saturday may turn out to be more than just victims of yet another senseless crime. They may well become martyrs to the death of a once-civilized nation.