01/08/11 — Just wrong: Saturday's shooting a tragic affront to true freedom

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Just wrong: Saturday's shooting a tragic affront to true freedom

There is nothing wrong with criticizing your government, and there is nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in.

That is the foundation of who we are supposed to be as Americans.

But when people take their protests and their anger to violence -- because of any political view -- they are not patriots or heroes, they are thugs and criminals.

This weekend's shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was nothing short of a tragedy, which was made even worse by the fact that 19 innocent people were hit and six lost their lives -- one of whom was a 9-year-old girl.

The congresswoman was holding a community event in her district, talking to the people she serves, something she did on a regular basis, according to those who knew her. She should not have had to worry about her personal safety or the safety of those around her.

There will be more to know about the man who shot Rep. Giffords and damaged the lives of so many others. It is likely he will have a story, too -- a trigger perhaps for why he decided this was the way to make a statement. And, he might even claim a higher calling, a motivation prompted by a need for action in a world that is spinning out of control.

But like all those who look for legitimate explanations for their irrational actions, he is nothing but a nut case, a criminal, a murderer looking for justification of an unspeakable act.

He speaks for no one who values freedom, justice or fairness in this country -- or any of those who are currently fighting for what they believe will make this country a better place.

He is as much an enemy of the United States and what it stands for as those who threaten us abroad.

There will be some who will want to assign blame for this tragedy. They will point to the angry discourse in the last election and to the calls by members of the Tea Party for patriots to take back their country. They will blame them for this man's actions.

And that is wrong, too. No one is responsible for this man's horrible act but him. And to imply otherwise is, quite simply, irresponsible.

We will likely never be able to explain why this tragedy occurred, but it should unite us as Americans to resolve that this nation will continue to be a place where all can express their views freely and where violence is not tolerated in any form.

We should not let one man's lunacy destroy the very thing that makes this country great -- freedom to agree and disagree.

After all, he speaks for none us.

Published in Editorials on January 8, 2011 11:47 PM