Ricci Levy

Fixing the problem - not the blame

Filed By Ricci Levy | January 11, 2011 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: human rights abuses, Sarah Palin

Enough. Seriously. Enough.

loughner.jpgAn insane young man walked into a store and attacked human beings. Each of the human beings, those wounded physically, those wounded emotionally, and those who died, are (and were) individuals with individual stories, but first - human beings.

This is an opportunity to stop the hate speech and inflammatory reporting but instead of any attempt in the blogosphere to do that what I'm reading is just as inflammatory as the speech being blamed for the shooting.

You don't teach a child that violence isn't the answer by beating them. You don't teach them that biting isn't tolerated by biting them to show them how it feels. That's kind of basic knowledge.

We can't screamingly point fingers at Sarah Palin and yell about how she caused it with her hate speech and gun sights because we're being just as inflammatory. Are our motives more pure than hers because we have righteous indignation?

Righteous indignation is dangerous. We've seen it recently lead to the murder of George Tiller by a man filled with righteous anger at Dr. Tiller's obstetrical practice that included abortion.

This isn't an opportunity to find poster children for our various causes and it is offensive to me, personally, to have read plans within a 24-hour period to capitalize on this tragedy to move other agendas forward politically.

It was offensive to me to see the spat of immediate statements from various organizations decrying the violence and, by the way, talking about the work their organization does. I get it, folks. I happen to run an organization too. But all I would have posted, had I decided to do that, was that our thoughts were with the families and the victims... no blurbs about the work of my group.

It's not a fundraising opportunity. It's not a chance to frame this tragedy to forward a political agenda. It's not a chance to prove inflammatory speech has repercussions by using inflammatory speech to enrage our bases.

It's easy to fix the blame. It's easy to point fingers and place blame. It's much more challenging to start the dialog about how we fix the problem. It's not a piece of proposed legislation that makes it illegal to place gun sights on a map. And it's not a time to talk about changing the Second Amendment.

So how do we fix the problem and not the blame? And, by the way, I was as furious as everyone else and immediately started finger pointing until I stopped and thought about what I was doing and realized I was pushing just as hard as "they" were - and to what end?

We can talk about individual responsibility. We can talk about more civil dialog. But folks in the public tend to look at their opponents and nod their heads and say "yeah - s/he should be more civil and take more responsibility" without looking at themselves.

Let's hold up a mirror and look closely at what we've contributed to the fury in this country. Let's look at our tweets and our minute-by-minute reporting and prodding and poking.

Let's talk about what happened and not who caused it by saying this or that. Let's talk about the national grief. Let's talk about the little 9-year-old who lost her life. Let's talk about the men and women who died; the young man who rushed to do triage and cradle a woman's head against his chest because she had been shot in the head. Let's talk about the human beings deprived of their most fundamental human right - the right to life!

In the Jewish religion there is a period of mourning called "shiva." Shiva is the seven-day mourning period that follows burial. The purpose is to grieve intensely and prepare to move on. During that week, friends, neighbors and colleagues come for a short visit to comfort the mourner.

We are all, this week, mourners. Let us look to one another and offer comfort and not anger. Let us grieve for those who died and focus our good thoughts on those still in danger. Let us offer our strength to those wounded and recovering.

And then - after the week of mourning - let us work to fix the problem and not the blame.


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Well, I think there are worse things people can do than to look for a way to stop these tragedies from happening in the future. Asking people to wait 7 days, with our culture's short attention span, is pretty much asking them to forget it happened, move on with their lives, and accept the inevitability of another tragedy.

Also don't know how down I am with the ablism required to just label Loughner "insane" and assume that his actions occurred in a vacuum. Not everyone who's diagnosed with a mental health disorder shoots up a store. Maybe we should be asking why some people do that while most others don't?

Hey the author would make a perfect spokesperson for the Vatican!

"Stop blaming the Catholic Church for raping little children! I am offended by your godless accusations and blames. This isn't a time to point fingers at the church. How dare you criticize the church for your atheist propaganda. Look at the society, take a look at yourselves! It's easy to blame us, but what have you done to stop these little children being raped? We are all victims of sexual abuse! Let us offer comfort and not anger. Let's think good thoughts for those raped children. let's keep our little children from those evil homos. Let's talk about how these little children are scared for life. Let's talk about how much good the church has contributed to the world. Let's fix the problem and stop the blaming!"

There's also the fact that, as far as the United States goes, the use of violent force, government-sanctioned and otherwise, to impose one's ideology on others is almost totally exclusive to the right wing. It is ludicrous to claim that aggressive rhetoric by the left is morally or ethically equivalent to ACTUAL VIOLENCE by the right.

Kathy Padilla | January 11, 2011 1:39 PM

Please do a Google search on false equivalency.

Why is gun control not even mentioned as a possible solution? Does the US love its murder weapons so much that we can't even acknowledge how absurd our gun laws are?

I'm not going in and responding to each comment, but will take a moment here to respond.

Let me begin by repeating, so there is no confusion, that I think there is blame and that responsibility needs to be taken for the inflammatory discourse in this country.

Let me also say, since the analogy was apparently missed, that the shiva period was used as an illustration. I didn't seriously think anyone would or should wait a week to address some of this (or all of this).

The child abuse in the Catholic Church is a problem of epic proportion. Even the Church acknowledges that (finally)! I don't excuse the Church for covering it up and I NEVER blame the victim! But let me ask you this - what do we accomplish by just saying the Church is at fault? How does that help the hundreds of thousands of abuse victims. Do we make sure we talk about the blame and spend our time pointing fingers or do we try to solve the problem?

Lastly, look at your comments. There's no need to answer me here, but I invite you to answer yourselves. Did you take a moment before you responded with ridicule and sarcasm to see if there was any merit to what I posted? Did you take a moment to ask if what you wanted to put out in public would advance a less divisive dialog?

If you did - and you posted anyway - then good for you and I acknowledge your point of view. You're one of the people trying to fix the problem.

So how do you define "blame" exactly? When a child is raped by a priest, I blame the priest for sexually abusing the child, and I blame the church for covering it up. What's wrong with pointing out that someone has done something wrong? Blaming is just the first step to have the offending party acknowledging (or denying) that they have done something wrong. When we have identified where the problem lies and a probable cause, that's how we can begin to fix a problem.

Maybe your heart is really in the right place - and I apologize if I mischaracterized your motive since I'm new to Bilerico and I've never read any of your articles before - but reading this paragraph just makes me wonder if you're someone Sarah Palin hires to censor the negative comments on her facebook:

"We can't screamingly point fingers at Sarah Palin and yell about how she caused it with her hate speech and gun sights because we're being just as inflammatory. Are our motives more pure than hers because we have righteous indignation?"

Maybe I don't watch enough TV nor do I read enough blogs, but just how many journalists/bloggers are actually "screamingly pointing fingers at Sarah Palin"? I have read plenty of articles reasonably pointing out that Palin's campaign tactics and languages may have contributed to the tragedy. Call it blaming if you want, I call that trying to find where the problem is so we can try to address the issue.

Secondly, I think I have a right to be indignant about Palin's suggestive and murderous language. Please don't condescend us by calling us righteous or having ulterior motives. Palin has been promoting violence and irresponsible behavior and that is sickening even if the tragedy in Tuscon never happened. Your comparing journalists/bloggers who call out on Palin to right-wing Fundies who murdered Dr. Tiller is bizarre to say the least, and the whole article with Palin as the sole example of some "righteous" media attack reads something like, "Stop blaming Palin! What good does it do? Our society is sick! Let's fix our society!" which is just vapid happy talk.

funny how if this guy was muslim or arab this would be a terrorist event.

but white people, especially christian, are never terrorist. when they shoot up a bunch of civilians they are just "mentally unstable."

ooooof.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the clamor to have everyone talk about how the intern who saved her life is gay. Is that important to the story in your opinion?

Bil - in my opinion it's not important to the story. Is it important in other ways? Yes.

It will be interesting to see how the city/state deal with a hero who happens to be gay.