Paul A. Carter: Crying wolf over the Arizona shootings

Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 2:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 2:33 p.m.

As the tragedy of six dead and 14 wounded in Arizona sank in to our collective and individual psyche, political opportunists clicked into their file folders for essays written in anticipation of the “inevitable.” They pulled them up like the prefilled obituary of octogenarian celebrity, to fill the empty brackets with the place, the when, the how. And the cry of wolf was heard throughout the land.

In an era in which political partisanship has increased both the friction and heat of governance, many (myself included) have observed the evaporation of civility and reason. Vilification and dehumanization of the opposition is the air fuel mixture that revs today’s electoral engine. And a day may come when a zealot from the ranks of a party will react to a steady diet of pious propaganda with violence, hatred, rage and slaughter. But the carnage in Tucson was not the bellwether the opportunists had been waiting for.

And now their voices on this concern have been disqualified for leaving the blocks too early. This was not a politically motivated act, but psychosis unleashed in a political setting. A knee jerk reaction is not new or unexpected, and certainly not the ward of any particular ideology. But yet again the impulsive words of the opportunists have emboldened the like minded, galvanized the opposition and served only their egos. And in this case, boiled away a little more of the civil discourse they claim to cherish.

Paul A. Carter,


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