Comedian Ron White has a routine in which he says you can’t fix stupid. Despite advances in medical science, there’s a lot of crazy you can’t fix either. So Jared Loughner is under arrest, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is in critical condition, in a medically induced coma after undergoing radical brain surgery, a federal judge, a beautiful little girl who was interested in government, and four other people are dead. One of the victims, 76-year-old Dorwin Stoddard, died shielding his wife. Obviously, he embodied the cliché, and loved her more than life itself. I bet she felt the same way about him, and that right now, she wishes she was killed to spare him. I’d like to think that my wife, and I would try to shield each other in an event like that, but I’m a lot bigger than she is, and she couldn’t win the fight to get between me and danger no matter how hard she tried.
The massacre saddens me, and so do the reports of people in government, politics, and media falling all over themselves to blame everyone in the world except Mr. Loughner.
One of the dead people is Gabe Zimmerman, thirty-years old, and engaged to be married. He was the community outreach director for Rep. Giffords. That strikes home for me because when I was 30, I had a job very much like his. I did community relations, and community outreach for a member of the House of Representatives. I did it for five years.
Was it dangerous when I did it? No and I’m betting that getting killed on the job was the last thing that Gabe Zimmerman ever thought might happen when he worked for Congress. In fact, it may have been the very last thing he ever thought of at all. The only time in five years that I thought my job with Congress was dangerous was when a guy came into the district office about a problem he had while working for the post office. One of the reasons he had a problem with the postal service is he threatened to bomb the place. After speaking to him, I recommended that we never bring a guy who threatened to bomb anyplace into the office again.
I used to bring my pre-school son with me to events sponsored by my boss. Being there began his interest in government. An adult now, he worked for the courts for some years, and is now a lawyer in California, enrolled in a Master’s of Law program and planning to take an internship at a law firm in Shanghai, China in the spring.
Did you see nine-year-old Christina Green’s father on TV? She became interested in government during the last Presidential campaign. She was recently elected to the student council at her elementary school, and went to the event on Saturday to meet Rep. Giffords. Because President Obama sparked her interest in government, her father said through tears that he took some comfort in the fact that the President mentioned her by name in his initial statement. Just how remarkable is the human spirit that a man can find any comfort at all after his nine-year-old child has been senselessly murdered? How can your heart not go out to that family, and the others who suffered in this tragedy?
The rush to politicize this awful thing by some people on the left, and some on the right too, troubles me a lot. Rep. Giffords is a Democrat. President George H.W. Bush appointed federal judge John Roll who was killed. Presumably Judge Roll was a Republican. I think we can all agree that Jared Loughner is a troubled wack-job, but apparently a non-partisan troubled wack-job. There’s proof, if we needed any, that non-partisan doesn’t necessarily mean good.
Some of the things that pass for news coverage have to strike you as odd if you think about them, such as wall-to-wall cable news coverage of a minute of silence. I think we all know what a minute of silence is like. And here’s my advice to the two members of Congress who said they will carry concealed handguns from now on: shut up!
I don’t own a handgun. I haven’t carried one at work since I left the Military Police. When I did carry one at work, I never had any desire to shoot anyone, and never drew the weapon from my holster except for target practice or to lock it up. That said, if I did have a concealed handgun, that’s what it would be, concealed. You would never see it or hear about it until just before I shot you. Since I have no desire to shoot you (or anyone else for that matter), you will never see the gun I don’t own. Handguns are tools, and the specific purpose of a handgun is not to demonstrate how macho you are.
This doesn’t seem to be a political event, so let’s stop politicizing it. It does seem to be the demented act of someone who gave lots of warning that he was at the very least troubled. You hear that a lot. You heard it about the two kids at Columbine. You heard it about the shooter on the college campus in Virginia, and the one at the Army base in Texas. So, instead of playing the blame game, maybe someone could give some thought to identifying, and helping some of these troubled people to cut down the chance of stuff like this happening again.
And, let’s pray for Representative Giffords, for the other people who survived, for the innocent people who were killed, as well as for the families, friends, and loved ones of all of the above. It couldn’t hurt and it might help.