It Would Appear that I am Wrong (Further Thoughts on Tucson)

I don’t like to admit that I’m wrong, but it would appear that my post from yesterday was a bit naive and short-sighted. On most of the other blogs I usually read (and while no one has mentioned me or commented on my post), I have seen a host of responses that argued against what I have said (generally – with all the commentary out there I doubt I come on anybody’s radar for anyone to use my thoughts as a basis for a post). These are people whose opinion I respect because they are more well read and more thoughtful. It would appear that I jumped to quickly to making associations of political rhetoric with what happened on Saturday.

One of the biggest mistakes I made was including Sarah Palin’s name, and I felt quite ashamed when another blogger commented that she didn’t want to demonise Sarah Palin. I had done that when I let my political feelings for her govern what I wrote. I still don’t think using the language she does is appropriate. But also, my stomach still turns every time I hear Keith Olbermann call someone ‘the worst person in the world’. I didn’t mention the latter, and my post was not meant to say only one side uses this language. I think what bothers me in this area is that Sarah Palin and many other on the ‘right’ call themselves Christian and still use the language they do. But, that’s not the point. There doesn’t seem to be any correlation between their language and what happened, and my post suggested that it did (because I had assumed it did in some way).

I don’t often comment on issues like this because I am feel I don’t know enough. In this case, I would be right. The more I read, the more it looks like this was the action of a deranged person who was simply spiralling further and further down a dark pit of mental illness. If anything, maybe this should be a wake up call to how we give treatment to those with mental illness.

Scott McKnight (among others) has posted a reminder to us that the nature of political discourse has not changed and there has always had the highly volatile rhetoric. This, and the shooting itself, only finds a commonality in the brokenness and sinfulness of humanity. To paraphrase McKnight, we can legislate until our hearts content but there will always be one who can get through and cause plenty of damage. I have used that same argument myself against the government here that somehow believe (and people expect) that we can regulate every factor into creating a perfectly safe environment. Certainly, I would have done better to follow John’s advice when he wrote, ‘But let us also have the patience and the prudence to learn the facts before we encourage pastors to take to pulpits and use outrage to fill the voids where our knowledge is incomplete.’

In the end, I don’t think I would take back what the rest of my post from yesterday said. I made a mistake in tying it to the shooting and it just simply was the wrong time to talk about political discourse during this tragedy. As I said, I do think our political discourse is creating a harmful environment, whether or not someone gets shot because of it. Yes, political discourse has not changed, but I hope we can give a better try of it within the church and among those who call themselves Christians. While I agree with much of what McKnight says, I am still left with a feeling of, ‘So you’re saying there really is nothing we can do so I should just accept it?’ I understand not tying the debate to this tragedy, but when do we get to talk about it and even dare to hope for better?



3 thoughts on “It Would Appear that I am Wrong (Further Thoughts on Tucson)

  1. Will, thanks for posting this. I do think the issue of incendiary political rhetoric is important and Christians should not approve of it whether it comes from Sarah Palin or Keith Olbermann. But I think Scot brings us back to the all-important center of our theology and how it helps us understand the human situation we are all mired in.

    What I struggle with in reference to volatile political debate is at what point do I as a Christian bow out of the argument because I simply cannot be party to such demagoguery?

  2. Thank you for your comment, Allan. I appreciate what Scott McKnight is saying, and perhaps there is nothing we can do overall. That’s why I mention that it is a lot of Christians who engage in this. I am blind to the times when I do it (though I hope my rhetoric isn’t as volatile!) and I need to be reminded of this! But, I still hope we can talk about it!

    Your question is one I wrestle with, too. During my stint in the US back in October, I finally had to excuse myself from health care conversations. Actually, I never got into them because when it was brought up, the statements were so loaded that the debate had already gone a little hostile! I would generally say, ‘Look, I have had two children born on socialised medicine and I had a good experience. There are good points to both sides, but I am not going to demonise it.’ I can understand passion and I can understand urgency, but I can’t understand beginning by calling it evil.

  3. Pingback: Mental Illness and the Tucson Tragedy « Ramblings from Red Rose

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