Unfortunately, this incredibly tragic story threatens to have a local angle for other communities given the over-the-top tone of many community blogs.
On a national and local level, I am sickened by attention-starved persons whose paycheck and/or self worth is derived from creating a spectacle via over-the-top rhetoric and name-calling. They may claim, "Hey, this is just like professional wrestling; it's entertainment and I'm just playing a character!" -- but they -- we -- need to be aware that our words and images are available to diseased minds who are waiting for reinforcement.
Left or right; conservative or liberal -- there are consequences to the tone of rhetoric we deploy. Being a cartoon character may get you mic or camera time and sell some books, but you're also pouring gasoline on a fire.
"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
"It's not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. That's the sad thing about what's going on in America. Pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.
"People tend to poo-poo this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American people by people who make a living off doing that. That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences."
-- Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, speaking Saturday on the shooting in Arizona that claimed at least six lives and left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition