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Editorial: A senseless tragedy

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In the aftermath of the horrific shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson, Ariz. on Jan. 8, there have been several stories of heroism.

Dorwin Stoddard, a 76-year-old man, used his body to protect his wife. Stoddard was killed, but due to his bravery his wife survived.

Another incredible story is that of the Giffords' intern, Daniel Hernandez. After Giffords was shot in the head, Hernandez raced to her and applied pressure to her wounds until medical personnel arrived. There's little doubt that this brave 20-year-old's actions helped save the congresswoman's life.

Yet despite these stories and others, a common theme among some has been to blame political rhetoric for the shooter's actions.

Former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, one of those being blamed for inciting violence, quoted former president Ronald Reagan in a video statement last week. "We must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker," Palin said.

President Obama said at the memorial service in Tucson Wednesday that we should talk, "... with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds." However, later in his speech the president also said, "But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other."

Both Palin and Obama are right on this issue. While we all should measure our words before speaking, it's ridiculous to lay the blame for this insidious act at the feet of political rhetoric.

Our democracy is strengthened by a healthy debate. And while the shooting in Tucson is a tragedy, it's important to remember that it is just that, a tragedy.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims. And we continue to pray for congresswoman Giffords and the others recovering from these senseless acts of violence.


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