From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

Soul Searching

After the “Tragedy In Tucson” (WHY does the media need to title events, as though real life was a series of soap opera episodes?) Arizona’s Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said, among other things:

“I think it’s time as a country that we do a little soul searching. Because the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear from people in the radio business and from some of those in the TV business…this is not the nice United States that we grew up with.”

Of course this quote, this opinion, got wide play in the media. My first thought was “what do we know about the shooter and his motivations? What do we know about what brought him to this violence? Nothing. Zip. Nada. Is he crazy? Did he think he was shooting up aliens from outer space? Was he a Tea Partier? Did the economy drive this guy to desperation? We had no idea. But none of that kept the Sheriff from voicing his political opinion that the “rhetoric that we hear from people in the radio business” had something to do with this event.

Who could he possibly be referring to? Glenn Beck? Shaun Hannity? Rush Limbaugh? Bill O’Reilly? Yep. It’s their fault this happened. If this isn’t politicizing human death and anguish, I don’t know what is.

I do agree with the Sheriff on this – it’s well past time for some soul searching in America (that is, if we still believe we have souls, whatever they are). I wonder if Hollywood will do some soul searching about the kinds of movies they put out. I wonder if the makers of video games will do some soul searching about the products they put in front of our kids. Is it possible that these things had as much effect on the Tucson shooter as the “vitriolic rhetoric that we hear from people in the radio business”? I wonder if the media will do some soul searching about its high valuation of the spectacular, provocative, and inflammatory. I wonder if we’ll all do some soul searching about our need for instant analysis – a way of getting control over a life that is essentially uncontrollable by human beings.

Nah. It will be politics as usual. The tragedy will sell, several will make some bucks, some will further their political careers. Watch – what will be called for is not soul searching but more legislation, more rules, more regulations, more attempts to control life, more attempts to assure ourselves that we really can be God if we just try hard enough.

Oops, am I being rhetorically vitriolic?

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