Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shocked by the Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords

The tragedy that happened at a Safeway in Tucson, Arizona yesterday is something I am still having trouble comprehending. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had been shot. My brain clearly was not reading that tweet on my phone correctly. But no matter how many times I read it it came out the same.

Then it got worse. A few tweets later and the news had shifted to her being dead. What in the world was going on. Clearly no one was making sense. This just couldn't be happening. Luckily, that report turned out to be wrong. But all of that set the roller coaster of the day in motion.

I had wanted to blog, to report, but there were no words I could write.

Rep. Giffords was someone I had come to know through my work with the Human Rights Campaign. I had been in Gabby's office in Washington, D.C. several times. I would go to lobby her on issues from Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). I had pressed her on some issues and asked her tough questions even though her track record with HRC was very positive. Gabby always was gracious, thoughtful and happy to be a supporter of LGBT rights. She would meet with us personally which is something not all members would do. Recently, after the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell our local committee received this message from her:

I just wanted to congratulate you and all of the HRC team for the DADT repeal. This was one of the most extraordinary accomplishments I could have hoped for. As much as I am sad to lose the majority, when I look back on all that we accomplished, I have no regrets.

Have a wonderful holiday and thank you for all of your great work against this discriminatory law.


I was lucky to meet her husband and spend some time with them and Gabby's parents after an awards event. I was taking a picture for someone and Gabby was excited they wanted to include Mark Kelly, her husband, in the picture. She said, "He's an astronaut you know?" Clearly proud of her husband and his accomplishments. Her parents couldn't say enough about how proud they were of Gabby. However, Gabby was just as proud of them. It was actually her parents that had been honored that night and the Congresswoman had beamed on stage discussing how they had raised her and how proud she was of them.

But now things had changed. 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner had shown up to Gabby's Congress on Your Corner event and shot her at point blank range in the head.

I have known two people with head injuries, one from a gun shot wound. These people survived, but they are not the same people. Head injuries are tricky things. Doctors can't predict how anyone's recovery will be and Gabby's doctors are no different. They are staying far away from discussing recovery. A smart thing to do.

The roller coaster continues with erroneous reports still cropping up. I hope there will be less of those.

There has got to be something positive that comes out of this. Of course, the fact that so many survived and the doctors are extremely hopeful Gabby will continue to recover is the most positive. But on a bigger picture I think there will be more. Gabby has a way of working with both sides of the aisle. There has been much discussion about whether the increasing negativity of the political rhetoric drove Loughner to do this awful act. We may never know that. But I believe Gabby is working her magic right now through this incident. Both sides respect her too much to not take a hard look and check themselves. At least this is my hope.

Something good has to come from it...

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  1. There is something you can do to stop these violent mass murders.

    Laughner's rambling psychotic posts on YouTube say he was having a mental break.

    Forty years ago designers and engineers accidentally discovered a problem with human physiology when it caused mental breaks for office workers. The cubicle was designed to stop it in offices by 1968.

    Today home computer users can create the same exposure and have the same mental break.

    There is circumstantial evidence that the Atlanta Day Trader shooter, the Redlake, Virginia Tech, and Jokela Finland school shooters all created this exposure.

    So far no one from OSHA to major colleges have been willing to investigate this forty year old problem.

    If you have influence to get the investigation started go to my site and read the 400 word introduction. There are pages that explain and illustrate the problem and others with pictures to show the connection between mass shootings and Subliminal Distraction exposure.

  2. Political rhetoric is what caused this. If only Republicans were not so rabid in picturing those who think that we should care for others as commies. Now they are trying to distance themselves and calling Loughner insane.

    In a charged political environment, anything you say can push the unstable to doing something crazy. The Republicans had the guts to dish out violence, they should be man enough to accept that their vile words push this lunatic over the edge.

  3. @lk Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I had not heard of subliminal distraction exposure. Some interesting stuff when you google that.

  4. Joel, while I can't deny the political rhetoric is out of control I am not convinced it caused this attack. Loughner first contacted Giffords in 2007 well before we Sarah Palin was a twinkle in McCain's eye. There is more to this than Sarah Palin's map. While I think this is an opportunity for everyone to take a step back I have a hard time saying they caused this. Just like I never thought Marilyn Manson caused Columbine. I think many factors came together to cause this. I think if I was a politician I would try very hard to not put myself in the position Sarah Palin is in where she is having to cover up pictures she posted and things she said.

    While I have trouble saying this is THE cause, I absolutely share your wish that Republicans take ownership of their words instead of running from them.