BLOG: Spades and Crazy People

Rob Burkett

So, I like most Americans, watched some of the coverage of the horrific event that took place in Tucson, Ariz. last Saturday.

Mainly, as a student studying Public Relations at Washburn, I stayed glued to CSPAN since they typically give you the raw coverage of events like press conferences without the talking heads getting in the way. As a result, I was able to watch the initial press conference with the Pima County Sheriff during the afternoon after the event took place.

I was struck first of all by how much he was willing to discuss. In the past, many events like this typically sees a stone wall of silence from officials within the first 24 hours. Not so with this event.

There weren’t specific names given but the detail in which the Sheriff spoke about the attack and the resulting deaths was a fascinating contrast to other incidents in the past like Columbine or the Oklahoma City bombings in which government officials tried to interface less with the media.

The other thing I found interesting about the press conference was the repeated references about “rough politics”

“I think the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what (we) see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that this has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in. And I think it’s time that we do the soul-searching,” the sheriff said.

I’m not sure what nicer United States the sheriff is referring to. This is the country that has, at times, worshipped the likes of Wyatt Earp the gunslinging hero of the west. The same generation of Americans that wanted to play Cowboys and Indians also gave us John Wayne, who always shot the bad guys dead.

This is also the same country that gave us the likes of John Wilkes Booth, Charles Wittman, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinkley and the list goes on.

What I’m saying, is that while many will point to the “vitriolic rhetoric” of today’s politics, I think first we have to acknowledge that the real culprit here is the man himself.

By all accounts so far, the man who opened fire on Saturday, Jared Loughner, is a mentally disturbed man.

Did the political atmosphere have something to do with his actions? Maybe, but this person was a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. If it wasn’t politics it would have been something else.

To blame this on politics is a copout. If this were strictly about politics, this guy could have just walked up and shot the congresswoman and judge and then tried to escape. instead he opened fire on the crowd as well.

Tell me then and better yet, the family of a 9 year old girl that was killed at the scene, what their daughter’s role in American politics was that she should become a target of assassination.

Sometimes, a spade is just a spade. A crazy person is just a crazy person.

While I feel for the families and convey my sympathies over their losses, let us not lose sight of what the issue is here.

A mentally disturbed person committed a crime and will pay the price for what he did.

Those that are trying to make a point or score political points off this incident should take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves what kind of a person they are.  Is this the kind of America they want to create by arguing over who is to blame when the only person who is guilty is the man who pulled the trigger?

I leave you with those thoughts.