Much Ado About Rhetoric

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(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

(WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 11: Flowers left by well wishers are stack on the center steps of the U.S. Capitol to honor the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting in Arizona January 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. Six people killed and at least 13 others wounded including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) when a gunman opened fire at a public event held at Tucson Safeway supermarket.(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti
In the attempt to try to make sense out of a senseless situation, it’s common for all of us to try to assign blame to someone or something, regardless of the logic involved.

It happened after Columbine when parents blamed Marilyn Manson music and violence in video games, both of which are tame by 2010 standards.

And it’s happening again right now as many are coming out blaming the current state of political rhetoric for contributing to the cause of the shootings in Tucson.

Again, it’s natural to seek a scapegoat, especially when the situation is still very raw for the entire country. We haven’t even had a chance to bury the victims, or allow the injured to heal.

But my problem with making political rhetoric the scapegoat is how hypocritical the accusations are.

The hypocrisy is not limited to political persuasions, but it certainly starts there. While I am not a particular fan of Glenn Beck, or Sarah Palin, to blame their comments as a contributing factor to this kind of violence is the height of folly.

The critics of conservative commentators are assuming that the conversation has been one sided, that while Beck and Limbaugh have been apparently inciting violence, liberal commentators have been bastions of decency and humility.

And while many talk about Sarah Palin’s cross hairs graphics used during the election as obviously connected to gun violence, those same critics seem to forget how bitter election year ads were from both parties and how few punches were pulled, including accusing some candidates of supporting rapists.

I am not defending the current state of political rhetoric in our country. I just feel that no matter how bad the current state of our rhetoric is, it has nothing to do with a psychopathic whack-job shooting innocent victims.

Even if the murderer claims that he was inspired by a commentator, or a book or a Beatles song, the fact of the matter is that millions of other people have heard the very same words and not felt compelled to murder people.

We are also forgetting that as a society we have accepted a far greater level of violence and anger than ever before, without breaking down the fabric of the social contract.

What I mean is that we can get dressed up as a warrior to go to a football game and urge our team to kill the other team, come home to watch a murder victim autopsied on CSI: Fresno, settle down with a nice Stephen King book and still not feel the urge to kill innocent Americans.

If our society can survive all of this other violence, then no rhetoric at any volume can be blamed for setting a psychopath off.

It comes down to the simple fact that we don’t like to accept that sometimes, individuals can be evil for no apparent reason. It is our curious nature that urges us to find a reason, some way to explain the unexplainable. But try as we may, sometimes there simply isn’t a reason.

We must allow ourselves to accept this fact, as frustrating as it may be, or else we will add to our suffering a heavy yoke of insufferable hypocrisy, which is about the last thing we need right now.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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