In response to the massacre last weekend in Tucson, when a troubled young man killed six people including a child and attempted to assassinate a Democratic congresswoman, reporters pointed to the disturbing trend in the writings and statements of some conservative leaders: language that encourages people to consider 2nd Amendment remedies in order to take back our country.
Right-wing commentators and politicians who have used such imagery, laughing all the way to the bank or ballot box because they so successfully appeal to the dangerous fantasies of troubled souls, cannot now distance themselves from their biggest fans actions.
But are they to blame for Jared Loughner?
They bear some responsibility for contributing to an atmosphere in which such violence is to be expected. Palin, Beck and everyone else who encourages others to reload and aim for Democrats should be shunned rather than celebrated.
But two people had more influence over Loughner than Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck.
Moms and dads have more influence over their kids than anyone on television, in the newspaper or online. When they squander that influence, or are found to have failed their kids, they fail the rest of us, too.
Various reports show that Mr. and Mrs. Loughner ignored or otherwise incorrectly responded to warning signs that their son was in trouble. Police officers at a local community college informed them at least once that their son couldnt come back to campus without the consent of a certified mental health counselor. Its quite obvious now that the Loughners failed to provide the help Jared so clearly needed, and yet they are now allowed to hide from a public that deserves answers.
We are not prisoners in a world constructed by hateful conservatives. Parents can counteract negative energy with their own important influence. I should know. I do it every day.
For months, Ive noticed the rhetoric getting darker, uglier. My family listens to the radio and hears Tucker Carlson saying Michael Vick should be killed. We read the newspaper and see Mike Huckabee calling for the execution of Julian Assange. Several weeks ago, my family and I were looking for the Bruins game on television and happened along NESN where two broadcasters were talking about Jane Fondas recent breast cancer diagnosis. One said she should have been executed for treason based on her actions as a young woman in Vietnam.
In each instance, we took our children aside and explained that good people, true patriots, do not kill those with whom they disagree. Kind and loving Americans do not advocate violence in any form. My 10-year-old sons are aware of those who spew hatred, and my husband and I counteract those images with logic, a reverence for life and an appreciation for those who disagree with our views.
I remember too well the Columbine murders, when many blamed Marilyn Manson and negative pop culture influences for the unthinkable violence and carnage. My fellow liberals suggested that such reasoning was flawed, because, really Manson was simply a rehashed Alice Cooper wannabe. Fine, but now those same liberals are pointing a finger at Republican politicians, along with so many other vitriolic right-wing pundits, without any sense of irony.
Granted, todays conservative fundamentalists are more pervasive than a lone rocker who never advocated violence in the same way, but we must remember that we are not powerless under Palin. If parents raise their children with positive values, administering mental health counseling and medication when its needed, then the haters of the world wont win.
If moms and dads do their job properly, troubled young men and women would be at home right now, learning from the hatred in others instead of acting on it. That little girl would be alive. And the rest of us would be a whole lot safer.