Sarah Palin continues to fall short when it comes to acting in a way that creates value for herself and others as evidenced by her statement on the Arizona tragedy last week. In her eight minute statement, she says that:
President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election. [....]
Fortunately, in this instance, the silver lining in Palin’s comments leave us with pause for thought and reflection as to what kind of a society we wish to cultivate as we move into the second decade of our new century.
With freedom comes responsibility to not yell FIRE in the middle of a crowd. The consistent references to violence in a political arena by prominent individuals, where fact becomes fiction, has all too often turned into something ugly. The health care debate is a glaring example of this. Media Matters reports on the vitriol we have been experiencing that has been increasing at an alarming rate.
Palin’s words should have carried a message of unity and healing. Instead, they defend the horrific statements of people like herself and others who engage in similar irresponsible behavior. In 2009, Michelle Bachmann horrified some of us with her irresponsible statements about a bill in the legislature that she disagreed with:
I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States. [....]
How about some of Beck’s shinning moments when he mused about whether he should kill Michael Moore himself or hire someone to do it; or “When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I’m just like, ‘Oh shut up’ I’m so sick of them because they’re always complaining.” Or, “Al Gore’s not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them. It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization…And you must silence all dissenting voices. That’s what Hitler did. That’s what Al Gore, the U.N., and everybody on the global warming bandwagon [are doing].” [....]
Are there groups within our society that thrive on hate and bigotry that may watch and listen to irresponsible statements and possibly take regrettable actions? History unfortunately says yes. Check out the statistics on the National abortion Federation History of Violence that includes murder, arson, kidnapping, buytric acid and anthrax attacks and more. Or the list of hate groups on the Anti-Defamation League’s web site that includes the Westboro Baptist Church who, because of their hatred against the gay and lesbian community, “protest” at the funerals of our fallen brave men and women by taunting their mourning survivors with hateful statements. Or the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map, showing fringe groups across our country whose ideology is based on hate, bigotry and violence.
Vandalizing the offices of political representatives because you disagree with their vote on health care — or anything else; bringing guns to town hall meetings; urging the public at large that it “may” become necessary to exercise one’s second amendment rights because you disagree with a public official for any reason. These kinds of actions carry with them the potential to ignite the worst in all of us, let alone those who are hateful and violent, and especially those who are mentally unstable and prone to violence.
The great freedoms we collectively enjoy in our society comes with great collective responsibility. Our open society will disappear and become something that our great-grandchildren will never know unless each of us takes responsibility for the other and ask ourselves is what I am about to say or do going to create value for myself and others.