MoveOn.org and Credo Action are circulating online petitions calling for an end to violent rhetoric in the political arena after the senseless shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others at a political event in a Tucson, Arizona shopping center on Saturday. Six people died and 14 were wounded.
Across the world, columnists are writing about the ugly and confrontational political climate in the U.S. In Los Angeles County, over half of all registered voters are Democrats, and local residents are upset about the violent rhetoric coming from right wing Tea Party extremists. Los Angeles is home to a large percentage of the nation's Jewish population, and Jews in Los Angeles are shaken by reports that that the shooting may have been motivated by Gabrielle Giffords' Judiasm.
Credo Action lists example after example of violent rhetoric in the political arena. A map on Sarah Palin's PAC website shows Representative Gabrielle Giffords' congressional district among 19 others targeted with crosshairs of a gun.
In March 2010 Representative Giffords' Tucson office was vandalized, and she received threats because of her vote in support of health care reform. Representative Giffords spoke to MSNBC News and asked for an end to the escalating and heated rhetoric. Representative Giffords stated, "Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they've gotta realize there are consequences to that action."
In March 2010, Sarah Palin's Twitter feed encouraged her followers to "RELOAD."
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele spoke about getting then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ready for the "firing line" in March of last year.
Of course, politicians who engage in violent rhetoric are talking and not literally pulling a trigger. Clearly, however, they give legitimacy to unstable people on the fringe who do pull the trigger to commit brutal attacks.
Politicians who engage in violent rhetoric are irresponsible. As leaders of our nation, they need to set an example and encourage open and peaceful debate - not violence.
For more information, click here for MoveOn.org's petition to Congress and TV news networks asking for an end to violent rhetoric in our politics. Click here for Credo Action's petition that asks Sarah Palin to stop using shooting images.