COMMENTARY: There Is More To The Story Of The Tucson Shootings

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Tucsonans are grieved by the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and shaken by the reminder of mortality. Standing in line to greet their congresswoman, or just going to the grocery store, they could be killed by a malcontent. They are not immune from the violence that is rampant in the world, bringing sudden death from bombs, incendiary devices, missiles, gunfire, or other means.

If the incident involves a gun, it will of course be used as another crisis to justify limiting Americans’ right to self defense or free speech. Those who seek to disarm or gag Americans could try to recruit provocateurs to incite violence and trigger a government reaction. Or they could just wait for an incident.

Two of Tucson’s victims were important public officials: a congresswoman and a judge. Many people know them and will immediately feel the effects of their loss, so unsurprisingly the press will focus attention on them. But the most truly newsworthy features of the story are what did not happen here.

There was no riot. There were, to be sure, some 20 victims and 6 deaths, but not dozens. No one bled to death while people cowered and waited for a SWAT team from the sky. The agony did not go on for hours or days, but was ended quickly.

Aside from the names of the fallen, the names that should be remembered are those of the citizens who acted as Americans should, to protect and help themselves and their neighbors in the event of danger. Roger Salzgeber and 74-year-old retired Army National Guard Colonel Bill Badger, who was slightly injured, tackled the shooter. Joe Zamudio helped pin him to the ground. A 61-year old woman, Patricia Maisch, grabbed the magazine the shooter had dropped while trying to reload, and then knelt on his ankles. Daniel Hernandez, Jr., rushed to the side of his new boss, Congresswoman Giffords, applying pressure to her wound, and keeping her from choking on her own blood. Let us commend and thank all of them, and resolve to act as they did if we are ever in such a situation. Let us remember their names, and black out the shooter’s.

Zamudio told MSNBC that he sprinted from a store toward the scene when he heard the shots. He has a concealed carry permit, and had his hand on his pistol, prepared to down the shooter if necessary. He said he was very glad that it proved to be unnecessary.

The actual shooting was over quickly, but the artillery of blame seems to be just beginning. Targets include the Tea Party, which didn’t even exist when the shooter first became angry at Congresswoman Giffords; the “right wing,” though Tucson is actually a very liberal town, and the shooter apparently a leftist; “vitriol,” which to some means any criticism of the policies they prefer, disregarding the nastiness from their own side; and of course talk radio.

The shooter didn’t acquire his bizarre thought patterns from a Tea Party event, if indeed he ever went to one. We know that he had a history of drug use, especially marijuana. Did he damage his brain or suppress his natural inhibitions with drugs? Was he on drugs at the time of the shooting, whether prescribed or illicit? Will the authorities ever reveal that?

According to a Jan 10 Mother Jones interview of a friend, the shooter holds a “nihilist” view of the world. He said that the world was really nothing—an illusion, and that “life means nothing.” He didn’t acquire that set of beliefs from the Tea Party. They are quite compatible, however, with the curriculum taught in the nation’s government schools. These schools, moreover, tend to discredit or deny the Founders’ belief in a universal higher Law and Lawgiver, and ultimate accountability. Maybe he never saw or heard about precepts such as “thou shalt not murder”—or was taught to disrespect those who believe them.

The shooter, like everybody else these days, exists in a sea of messages that glorify and sensationalize violence, and promote permissiveness and immediate gratification—in television, movies, and video games. From the common media milieu, one might think that rootlessness, experimentation with drugs and sex and violence, and lack of responsibility for one’s own actions are all acceptable. Family values, hard work, religious faith, belief in moral absolutes—the culture of most Tea Partiers — may be demeaned or actually condemned as out of date, discriminatory, or even crazy.

If we are to have peace in our communities, we need deep reflection, and a revival of the virtues that made America great. In this dangerous world, we need people who will rise to the occasion to help their neighbors, as many Tucsonans did. Our people also need the freedom to be able to do this—not more restrictions by a ruling class, which falsely promises security while making us ever more vulnerable to inevitable threats.

Dr. Orient is the Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. She resides in Tucson, AZ.
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January 12, 2011 at 10:03am
I think this was well thought out and written without an ounce of position for either the Right or the Left. Extolling the virtues of the people who took control of the disaster with cool temperaments were recognized in the best way possible. I for one do not wish for this to turn into a debate about censorship, free debate, or blame pinned to any one group. We should see this tragic scene for what it is: An unstable man conducting himself in the worst way possible.
January 12, 2011 at 7:13pm
Let us look at the full meaning of nihilist:

"Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy."

The Doctor says: "They are (nihilist beliefs) quite compatible, however, with the curriculum taught in the nation’s government schools."

Is she saying that these beliefs are taught in our high schools throughout the USA--CCHS?

She then says: "These schools, moreover, tend to discredit or deny the Founders’ belief in a universal higher Law and Lawgiver, and ultimate accountability."

Again, if one were to go into CCHS or Riverdale or Oakland or WGS--do those schools tend to discredit these beliefs of the Founders? And what are the names of these Founders who are having their beliefs discredited?

If she is not talking about school systems in this area--Middle Tennesse--where are these schools then?

Do last CCHS grads adhered to this philosopy?

She adds: "Maybe he never saw or heard about precepts such as “thou shalt not murder”—or was taught to disrespect those who believe them."

Should that be a function of the "government" schools?

Do these specfic comments from the Doctor tend to give one an impression of neither Right nor Left?

January 12, 2011 at 9:23pm
I agree with you Jeff. It was a well thought out and well written article.

Laying all politics aside is the key to this story. This is a deranged individual who had no remorse, no regret for his actions, and no regard for human life.

The primary target might have been the congresswoman, but the bullets showed no discrimination to age, gender, sex or politics.

I do hope that this does not turn into a political forum on this site or in our nation that will promote more anger because one party doesn't agree with another.

There is only one person who has blame and that is the shooter. He made the conscious choice to take those lives. He is the one who pulled the trigger and he is the one who planned the outcome.

You said it best when you said we should see it for what it is: "An unstable man conducting himself in the worst way possible."
January 13, 2011 at 6:45am
I knew without a doubt that dailyreader could not control his self and not let this turn into a political debate of some sort.

It is almost like watching a dog chase a ball or a cat play with a string. Neither can stop the impulse to chase it and he cannot stop the impulse to write something negative to an already negative situation.

What a shame that someone is so obsessed with making every single thing in life political that they can't just accept the idea that sometimes crazy people do crazy things. No one needs a dissertation or thesis breaking down every idea presented in the article. It is unnecessary and unwanted.

dailyreader you sincerely need to get some form of professional services to help you let go of the anger and O.C.D. that possesses you to the point you need to continuously politicize every single detail of every single sentence of every single article ever written on this site.

What is your goal in life other than to promote anger and discord? What drives your need to blame, argue, and complain about everything? Is your life so without peace that you can’t just have one positive thing to say?

I am fascinated by the compulsiveness that overwhelms you and drives your anger?
January 13, 2011 at 6:45am
This was a blog by the Tucson doctor in "Right Side Blog" on the 11th.

This is the mission of Right Side Blog:

"Our objective is to generate discussion on Christian Conservative thought. We hope to educate, stimulate and activate common sense conservatives who believe in the principles for which our founding fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor."

Her comment that the killer's beliefs were compatible with what is taught in our "government" schools leaves little doubt as to the her tilt.

January 13, 2011 at 7:02am
dailyreader, the column was sent out by e-mail to scores of media outlets, including blogs. The doctor does not get paid by any blog to write columns.

"Her comment that the killer's beliefs were compatible with what is taught in our "government" schools leaves little doubt as to the her tilt."

Your comments and writings leave little doubt as to your tilt, so what's the problem?
January 13, 2011 at 7:32am
Corey, the desperate attempt of some liberal Democrats, and liberals in the media, to pin this attack on conservatives and conservative thinking is the most blatant display of partisan political gamesmanship I have ever witnessed. They have behaved in an utterly despicable manner. I would say they should be ashamed of themselves, were it not for the fact I have come to the conclusion that liberals have no shame. I believe those who have attempted to lay blame for this tragic occurrence on one political mindset, or any political mindset at all, are as deranged as the killer himself.
January 13, 2011 at 10:20am
Kevin I agree with your statement in some sense. I think they rhetoric goes both ways most of the time. Both parties love to use a sensitive situation to try and convince other people their beliefs are right and others are wrong.

I am just desperately tired of dailyreader and his attempts to act like he is so superior and so much more intelligent than anyone by making mundane comments to try and turn everything political when it is not and doesn't have to be.

There are a lot of people in the world who are intent on being angry and complaining about everything and dailyreader has shown time and again that he has that as a primary goal in his life. I have never read anyone who is more intent on complaining about everything while offering no solutions at all.

This was a stupid, mentally unstable guy who thought that his warped sense of reality was the "right" way and he chose to kill people. It is a classic case of an assassin type personality who could not deal with the stress factors in his life and decided that he would for once take control of a situation and use a gun to hold all the power.

The only thing political in his motives is what people like dailyreader and the media try to make it to be. If they can’t make his motives political, they will go to the next step and make a blog political. It is really pathetic!

January 13, 2011 at 10:51am
Mr. Halpern? I understand your observations concerning the Left. But it's not only the Left that has issues like this. You are correct concerning the media circus that is going on. I wanted to take the stance that we need to not look at each other as enemies since we are all of the same citizenry. Your last comment disappointed me as it shows that age old division. Is there any compromise? Now I am not a ultra-Lefty nor an ultra-conservative. In my opinion we need to omit these positions and work for a middle ground. I am so disgusted with how this Right/Left debate has so distracted our nation to the point of non-functionality. I don't want an America with the right so encased to the point that it's all about guns, scripture, and money. I also do not want a Left inflated government overrun with incestuous lobbyists paying and re-paying for things that aren't there.

If you are Conservative - I am not your enemy.

If you are Liberal - I am not your enemy.

I vote for a little of both.

And I stand by my position stated earlier that this Tucson tragedy is just that, and that he was not motivated by his moral outrage over the Left nor is it Fox news that motivated the killer down the path he chose. He was not lucid enough to put thoughts together in a way logically.
January 13, 2011 at 10:53am
...And I meant to add that Dailyreader needs a lot of work in order for me to ever respect his/her commentary with a sense of realism.
January 13, 2011 at 11:33am
Jeff, I believe there are some political problems of which the left and right will never agree on a solution. I don't hate other people because I don't agree with them, nor they me. I do dislike those people who engage in the character assassination of those who disagree with them, and have come to the opinion that it is more a trait of liberals than conservatives. However, I do admit I could be looking at that situation with tunnel vision.
January 13, 2011 at 11:36am
I too was disturbed and disappointed in your last statement Kevin.
January 13, 2011 at 11:54am
Goober, it's an opinion, not a statement of fact, and if it disturbs and disappoints you it is likely there are one of two reasons: (1) it's completely off base and without merit or (2) it hits too close to home.
January 13, 2011 at 12:02pm
Mr. Halpern. Your response gives me hope. I think we ALL are a little guilty of tunnel Vision! It is not valid to place the Right/Left challenge on a scale and allow a winner to be determined by which side of the scale weighs heavier... I am in full agreement.
January 13, 2011 at 12:14pm
If my beliefs are not in the middle they would lie to the right on economic issues and left on rights and moral issues, so I would tend to say the correct answer is-- reason (1) (..." were it not for the fact I have come to the conclusion that liberals have no shame".). I too ,as most, am also guilty of tunnel vision at times so it is very likely that in your wisdom you overlooked the appropriate option-(3) or a little of both.
January 13, 2011 at 4:16pm
May comment on why I think, and still do, the Doctor tilt is to the left. As noted she is the Executive Director of AAPS and has made numerous speeches thruout the country along with publishing a great amount of material. Wikipedia on the Assocation:


Though it describes itself as "non-partisan", AAPS is generally recognized as politically conservative. According to Mother Jones, "despite the lab coats and the official-sounding name, the docs of the AAPS are hardly part of mainstream medical society. Think Glenn Beck with an MD."

The organization opposes mandatory vaccination, universal health care and government intervention in healthcare. The AAPS has characterized the effects of the Social Security Act of 1965, which established Medicare and Medicaid, as "evil" and "immoral", and encouraged member physicians to boycott Medicare and Medicaid. AAPS argues that individuals should purchase medical care directly from doctors, and that there is no right to medical care. The organization requires its members to sign a "declaration of independence" pledging that they will not work with Medicare, Medicaid, or even private insurance companies.

AAPS also opposes mandated evidence-based medicine and practice guidelines, criticizing them as a usurpation of physician autonomy and a fascist merger of state and corporate power where the biggest stakeholder is the pharmaceutical industry.Other procedures that AAPS opposes include abortion and over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. AAPS also opposes electronic medical records as well as any "direct or de facto supervision or control over the practice of medicine by federal officers or employees."

On Oct 25 2008 the AAPS website published an editorial implying that Barack Obama was using Neuro-linguistic Programming, "a covert form of hypnosis", in his presidential campaign"

End of information--references to all footnotes on the comments above were removed but one can verify assertions by going to Wikipedia.

You have read where she said " They (the killer's beliefs" are quite compatible, however, with the curriculum taught in the nation’s government schools."

I for one, do not believe this killer's behavior is compatiable with what is being taught in any of our "government" schools in this area.

Interesting that not one person has commented directed on the paragraph where shes discusses "government" school teachings.

I also believe that the positions taken by this association are fundamental concepts of the most conservative segment of the Republican Party.

Her not too subtle attempt to show connection between this killer's behavior and the teachings in our "government" schools seems to be a pointed reference to the lack of prayer and/or the inability of the "government" schools to reflect a more conservative Christian atmosphere, which in my mind would be a conservative Christian Republican agenda.

Jeff said:
"I think this was well thought out and written without an ounce of position for either the Right or the Left."

It would appear to me, in view of her comments, an incorrect assumption.

Thank you again, Mr. Halpern

January 13, 2011 at 4:31pm
Sarcasm, personal insults, disrespect based only on a difference of opinion... All such derisiveness are not considered elements for a good debate. The problem often arises from the idea that we must always win the discourse. It seems you yourself have some concerns and feel you must defend your position as a Republican. You may be one, but that is not in itself the essence of who you are. When this occurs then I interpret the content as fanaticism. I fear fanatics. I fear fundamentalism. I would not hold court with the likes of some of the media because they are not at all interested in what people say or want. All that matters is sticking to the "plan" - whatever that might be. I would learn from individuals who follow civil rules of engagement that to not entail offensive rudeness to those they wish to educate. Nor do I admire those who spend days upon days upon DAYS defending their position when something comes along that can be seen as a detriment to the positions they take.

I suggest that you may wish to consider ignoring Dailyreader. If you think long and hard about my recommendation after reviewing everything that has been posted here you will see this is the wisest choice. The least offensive response to something not relevant is the most logical. Soon you will only interpret Dailyreader content as filler to be swiftly overlooked like a garish advertisement...

Why fight an ad?

Do you understand my meaning?
January 14, 2011 at 5:55am
Kudos to Mr Halpern who has encapsulated and expressed my thoughts exactly. He said "if it disturbs and disappoints you it is likely there are one of two reasons: (1) it's completely off base and without merit or (2) it hits too close to home.

While I admit (not hard to do if you are rational and intelligent) my post on the Right Side Blog was "without merit" (my thanks for Mr Halpern to note it so), it does
seem some of my comments have "hit too close to home."

Study word for the day: obsession
January 14, 2011 at 9:53am
use to be comical and amusing but now very old and pathetic to say the least.
January 14, 2011 at 10:37am
If a debate construct means that the goal is to induce a reaction of offense then this is not debate.

If a person pokes you with a stick and it hurts, they will get a reaction - what's that got to do with egg in your beer?

The point is: Just because you're vociferous enough in your position to get knee-jerk reaction, this does not imply that your argument has merit.

You're just poking people with a stick.
January 14, 2011 at 5:07pm
Corey, rarely do dailyreader and I agree on any issue or subject, but I enjoy the banter and the opportunity to hear the other side. I believe that dailyreader is often his own worst enemy. Why do you want to spoil my fun?
January 14, 2011 at 10:47pm
If family values & hard work are EVER "condemned as out of date", we are all in a lot worse trouble than we could possibly imagine.
January 15, 2011 at 12:44am
I hope that you are not taking what Wikipedia says to be the truth. MTSU will not let their studentys quote Wikioedia because they are solicitation people who have "answers to include them in the article. They are letting anybody write and post all material. They are not to be taken seriously.
January 15, 2011 at 6:55am
I don't enjoy it. I had much rather debate ideas and thoughts without the arguing, blaming or the hate that is proceeded by being a Democrat or Republican. All of that is non-sense.

I enjoy learning what other believes and why they believe it. I learn things from time to time from people who disagree with what I believe.

Arguing, blaming, offering no solutions or sarcasm can never lead to wisdom, understanding, compromise or solving the actual problem.

I love this county dearly and I take great offense to his constant bickering, meddlesome attitude and mockery of the citizens and officials who live, work and try to make it a better place when all the while he lives outside of our county.

I will champion the cause of defending my town all day with no remorse at all.
January 15, 2011 at 7:28am
Mr Halpern, I probably get as much fun out of all this as you do. I also enjoy that banter, even when smacked in the face by my own foolish words. And it would be terribly dull if all agreed with me.

Keep in mind, all may not actually be as it appears, sometimes one might be dangling bait out there just to see what fish are biting.

If one is looking for serious instruction or an expansion of their intellect from comments made on these web sites, I can arrange for a bridge or some swamp land.

It is all fun and games and that is what life should be.
January 15, 2011 at 9:39am
I have a solution for you to a big problem that faces the few of us who still try to enjoy this site--DONT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
January 15, 2011 at 12:09pm
You need to just let Daily Reader go. Do as I suggest. There are others who read these comments whom you can discuss issues with, Corey.

The fact you respond with such intensity only feeds the flames...

I love the discourse here but I don't lose sleep over a disagreement with another participant.

January 15, 2011 at 1:28pm
The decision makers of the world would be lost without our opinions.
January 15, 2011 at 3:58pm
During the Revolutionary War the middling or common folks found themselves in positions that played heavily in the outcome of that glorious struggle. Here to fore, only the elite and/or wealthly and educated men controlled most aspects of determining the welfare and fate of all.

The War over, that same segment of society demanded and insisted and won for themselves much more important roles in the governing process.

George Washington labeled these upstart folks as "the grazing multitude" and John Adams called them "the common herd of mankind."

I suggest both of those gentlemen would be even more dismayed to see what is happening now.

I, most likely, would be summarily dismissed by both.

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