The terrible shooting in Tucson yesterday is extremely disheartening, not least because the victims seem to have been decent people exercising their Constitutional right of peaceable assembly.
Almost as soon as I heard the news, I began hearing people on each side of the political spectrum either placing blame, or deflecting blame. Indeed, it is too early to know much about the motives of the alleged murderer. He may be an entirely apolitical lunatic. As NPR reported yesterday afternoon, there have been a few instances of assassins and attempted-assassins acting with no apparent political motives. John Hinckley simply wanted to impress Jodie Foster, for instance.
Conversely, we may find that the murderer in this instance was an avowed political reactionary, and Representative Giffords was his ideologically enemy. Or, perhaps, the attempted assassin is a radical, and the congresswoman was not liberal enough for him. Again, we do not know anything yet.
Whatever the facts, the New York Times ran an outstanding Op-Ed today that offers good advice for all of us. I won’t quote the piece, because each paragraph requires the context of the next paragraph to make its argument. I will simply suggest that you read it.