Here's one for the Civillity Column
Toward the end of the town hall meeting Saturday morning, one of the shooting victims, J. Eric Fuller, took exception to comments by two of the speakers: Ariz. state Rep. Terri Proud, a Dist. 26 Republican, and Tucson Tea Party spokesman Trent Humphries.
According to sheriff's deputies at the scene, Fuller took a photo of Humphries and said, "You're Dead."
Deputies immediately escorted Fuller from the room.
Apparently Fuller, who was shot twice, has been placed under observation - but the I have to ask is... what set him off in the first place?
Look, there's really no good excuse to threaten someone life - ever. If there's a place where the free speech rights of the First Amendment End, that's universally accepted as it - so I'm not excusing or justifying what Fuller did.
However you have to expect that this person, like the other surviving victims, is going to be suffering symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome which symptoms include:
Untreated PTSD can have devastating, far-reaching consequences for sufferers' functioning and relationships, their families, and for society.
Symptoms of PTSD that tend to be associated with C-PTSD include problems regulating feelings, which can result in suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or passive aggressive behaviors; a tendency to forget the trauma or feel detached from one's life (dissociation) or body (depersonalization); persistent feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt, or being completely different from others; feeling the perpetrator of trauma is all-powerful and preoccupation with either revenge against or allegiance with the perpetrator; and severe change in those things that give the sufferer meaning, like a loss of spiritual faith or an ongoing sense of helplessness, hopelessness, or despair.
Just as we may look at Jared Loughner as being likely having untreated mental health issues, as time goes forward we also need to consider that the damage he created didn't start or end simply with the bullets he fired.
Again, that doesn't excuse Fuller's actions, but it may bring it more into context and make sense.
I saw this story reported on Fox News and on CNN last night but neither of them - so far - has bothered to actually quote what it was the Tea Party member actually said that provoked the "You're Dead" response.
Until somebody sent me this from Raw Story.
One tea party leader says that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) has herself to blame for getting shot in the head Saturday.
The Arizona congresswoman shouldn't have attended an event "in full view of the public" if she had security concerns, according to Tucson Tea Party co-founder Trent Humphries.
Oh, no he didn't?! (Update: Maybe he didn't. The person who sent me the link apparently assumed this was the subject of the comment, but in reviewing the link it's not clear - although it is the same person, so he might have actually said something else, still this is apparently his mindset. Probably going to have to watch the end of the town hall to be sure)
Yes, Maybe, he did - if so, it wasn't the first time.
"But the thing is that the way that [Palin] has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district," Giffords said. "And when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action."
But Humphries thinks Giffords was just speaking out against Palin for political gain.
"It's political gamesmanship," he told the Guardian. "The real case is that she [Giffords] had no security whatsoever at this event. So if she lived under a constant fear of being targeted, if she lived under this constant fear of this rhetoric and hatred that was seething, why would she attend an event in full view of the public with no security whatsoever?"
"For all the stuff they accuse [Palin] of, that gun poster has not done a tenth of the damage to the political discourse as what we're hearing right now."
That's like saying to a father or brother of a rape victim "Wouldn't have happened if the Bitch wasn't a Slut". I mean really, that's just fucking cold. Does he have no decency at all? From this it's clear that Fuller was provoked - like a kid jamming a stick in a bear cage.
What he's doing here is just like what Mark Williams did to try at counter attack the NAACP when they pointed out that some Tea Partiers were walking around with clearly Racist signs, or what Andrew Breitbart did when he tried to back Williams up after he got tossed out of Tea Party express by going after Shirley Sherrod.
Gifford speaking out against having a target sight on her district was just for "Political Gain"? Hey, Why is Palin pointing target sights at people in the first place if not for Political Gain, shits and giggles? Gabby wasn't responding to a theoretical or hypothetical threat, her Offices were ACTUALLY Attacked and she was simply commenting on it. It looks like Loughner wasn't inspired by Palin and/or the Tea Party - and practically no one has said he was - but whoever broke her window back in March probably was - and she had every right to say so.
Their argument is that Gifford's should have hidden away or demanded a police escort everywhere she went like a rank coward? When there hadn't been any violence or threats for 10 months?
The reality is that the security issue that Gifford's had - was related to fact that her office window had been shot out back in March - which for the record is 10 months ago. There hadn't been another violent incident since that time, and even when Rep. Gifford's had previous interacted with Jared Loughner at a prior "Congress on your Corner" event he didn't act threatening and didn't get violent.
It's not like Loughner had been openly and relentless stalking her the way that on man had stalked both Harry Reid and John Ensign back in 1996.
In 1995, when Ensign was a congressman, a man named Michael McCusker starting calling Ensign's office. He wanted help, he said, getting back $23,000 he lost in a Mexican land scam. When Ensign's staff found they couldn't help him, McCusker continued calling the office. He eventually came in and handed staffers a note that said "Justice or Death" and claimed he had a gun.
They called the police, and the officer who came to escort McCusker away promised the man he'd ask Ensign to call him.
Ensign later testified that he called McCusker and spoke with him for an hour to try to calm him down. Instead, the man grew angrier and angrier.
McCusker tried Reid next. One day in 1996, McCusker went to Reid's office and handed staffers a note that said, "I hereby declare war on Mexico." He also mentioned having a gun, prompting staffers to call the police.
He then went outside and got into his car, which was sitting in front of the building, and shot himself in the chest.
McCusker survived and even returned to harrass and threaten both Reid and Ensign again until he was finally arrested, prosecuted and convicted to serve two years in prison.
Gifford's situation is nothing like this on the very second meeting with Loughner, he started firing.
In actuality this situation is far more like the 1998 gun attack on the Congress that Tom Delay has been talking about lately as he advocates that members of Congress carry firearms, only he hasn't been telling the entire story.
On the day of shooting, Officer Chestnut and another officer were assigned to operate the X-ray machine and magnetometer at the Document Door entrance located on the East Front of the Capitol, which was open only to Members of Congress and their staff. Detective Gibson was assigned to the dignitary protection detail of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and was in his suite of offices near this door. Jacob Weston, armed with a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, entered the Document Door at 3:40 p.m. At the same time, Officer Chestnut was providing directions to a tourist and his son while his partner escorted another tourist towards the restroom. Weston reportedly walked around the metal detector just inside the entrance; Chestnut requested he go back through the detector. Weston suddenly produced the gun and without warning, shot Chestnut in the back of the head at point-blank range. According to witnesses, he turned down a short corridor and pushed through a door which leads to a group of offices used by senior Republican representatives including then Majority Whip Tom DeLay and Representative Dennis Hastert, future Speaker of the House and a close protégé of then Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Detective Gibson, who was in plainclothes, was shot after the suspect entered DeLay's office. Despite being mortally wounded, Detective Gibson was able to return fire and wound the suspect, who was apprehended in that office.
Delay has only talked about the death of his friend and guard Gibson, he hasn't mentioned the death of officer Chestnut - who coincidentally was black. Both Officers Were Armed, and ultimately both died. I don't see how this justifies arming members of Congress as it was clear that it was Gibson's cool head and years of training that allowed him to return fire and take down his attacker even when mortally wounded.
Here's another point, if as many on the right feel that Palin Gunsight Map wasn't any kind of literal threat - why then should they expect Gifford's to have guards or police protection? As has been shown at least 11 of the 20 Congresmen on Palin's Hit List received either death threats and/or attacks on their homes and offices as Giffords did. If you widen this out to Glenn Beck you get at least 3 separate cases of threats and or attempted assassinations based on his paranoid rantings. If you again widen out to people influced by Fox News and other right wing sources you finish with 7 people dead from various shootings, and another 7 wounded.
Where an Acolyte of Glenn Beck launched an attack on the ACLU & Tides which wounded 2 CHP officers, where a fan of Bernie Goldberg killed 2 people. wounding 5 at a Unitarian Church in Knoxville Tennessee and where Bill O'Reilly unending attacks on George Tiller ended when he was Murdered by Right-Wing Fundamentlaist/Soverentist Scott Reoder, where James Von Brunn killed a guard at the Holocause Museum as part of an intended spree that included murdering Obama advisor David Axelrod, and where Richard Poplowski who bought into right-wing rhetoric that "Obama is going to take all our guns" andkilled 3 Pittsburgh Police Officers before being taken down.
Since nearly every Democrat voted for Health Care, should every Democrat in Congress hire - out of their own funds - an armed guard, or use public resources by required a police escort for every public event? For people who want so desperately to cut government spending, they certainly are extravagant with our tax dollars.
Or should they keep an eye out for which threats are credible and which aren't?
Was Fuller going to carry out his threat, or was he just speaking figuratively? I can't say that I know, but I would say that we can't know that about Sarah Palin's various gun threats either. Did she want the lives to Democrats threatened and their property vandalized? (Maybe not, but her complete and total silence about it over the last 11 months speaks volumes). The fact that her actions clearly have inspired actual attacks against Democrats shouldn't be ignored or white-washed.
Of course the Righties are going to have a field day with this and accuse Fuller of being a Violent Ultra Liberal (already found a pretty disgusting video-log that does exactly that) when at this point there's no evidence of the kind. If he did what they said then He did break the law, and I personally suspect he probably needs some treatment - but we still have to wonder, what set him off?
(The Town Hall is being Broadcast on ABC, 8-9am pst, right now)
Update 1 Ok, Humphrey's was just asked a question about Gun Control and his response was that we shouldn't really get into the "National Converstion" so quickly. He said we should at least wait until we've buried the dead (which is a fair point), one of whom was his neighbor. ("I loved that man"). He then argued that this situation has turned to political and that it became too political far too quickly. (I disagree, I think Tea Parties took the playing of the Gifford's tape as political, when it was simply factual history and absolutely relavent to consider - there's no way that clip of Giffords talking about the cross hairs wasn't going to be played.) Interesting that his entire focus is what we shouldn't be talking about.
Update 2 Shows over - and they showed footage of Fuller being led out by deputies, but no audio of what happened. (It may not have been close enough to a mic) Amanpour didn't describe the conversation - so we still just don't know.
Overall I find the entire thing puzzling, as Humphreys doesn't seem like a threatening or mean spirited guy based both on the video I provided and his demeanor during the event. It may simply be that Fuller is suffering the worse for wear emotionally after the shooting. Too bad.
Update 3 I've dropped the "Bagger" reference because Humphreys doesn't fit that type IMO. But one other thought just occurred to me, the interview with Humphreys and his public statements - as reported by the Guardian - where he essentially blamed Giffords for failing to have security just might have been what set Fuller off, and it might not have even been anything said at the event what-so-ever. Without details all we can do is wonder and speculate.