[special whatnot] on gabby giffords

It feels like far more than thirteen hours since I awoke and began compiling my daily whatnot. I was going to say something very different today. I was going to tell you about talking bears and Egyptian solidarity; I was going to find other links that might or might not be of interest to anyone but me.

Instead, I have the sad duty of recording, for posterity, that today a member of Congress was shot through the head. Today a judge, a child, a Congressional staffer, and three others (no less important) lost their lives to a madman. Of a crowd of three dozen, fully half were in some way injured. The shooter’s name has not been released; in the interests of accuracy, I will refrain from identifying the media’s chosen candidate. If you must know, you can look that part of the story up for yourself.

It is understood, at this hour, on this night, that Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) stands a reasonable chance of surviving her grave injury. Her family is with her, with the exception of her husband’s twin brother, who has had to follow this story from the International Space Station. Yes, a single bullet can hit clear into the heavens. She was awake at one point, responsive to commands, and able to communicate. However, with head injuries, absolutely anything is possible; recall the case of Natasha Richardson, who felt perfectly fine until… she didn’t. As such, no doctor has come out and guaranteed any kind of recovery.

Representative Giffords (“Gabby” to everyone from President Obama on down) was well aware of threats to her security prior to this tragedy. Even as she lies in Intensive Care tonight, fighting for her life, a suspicious package has been found at her Arizona headquarters. She knew as early as March that she wasn’t safe, but she went on making herself available to her constituents because she saw it as her duty to them. Ms. Giffords is not a progressive. She has made real efforts to reach out to her counterparts on the red side of the aisle; she is the product of a swing district and its voice in Washington, its voice, not that of her party. Neither is she an object of controversy. If ever the House has had a diplomat, it is Ms. Giffords, who is, if not friends with, then regarded as kind by everyone who could be reached for comment today.

No, I believe Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, in his eight p.m. press conference, made perhaps the most salient point of all: that this violence was inevitable in the face of the hatred we spew at each other. Consider especially that Ms. Giffords was one of Sarah Palin’s “targeted” twenty, with crosshairs over her district on a map of the United States. Consider the increasingly violent rhetoric used in American politics, and our reliance on gun-related metaphors. Anyone listening to our news would think we were embroiled in a second Civil War! We’re certainly speaking as if we want one.

Let us then come together and prevent one.

I reiterate to all of you that this space is for all of you: left, right, and center. No matter whether we agree, you will have your say, unless that say is too personal for me to show the world — and then I will ask you to take it to email or a private message. I do not believe in silencing my opposition; I do not believe that I have one, as we are all human beings deserving of love and respect. If you keep faith with me, I will keep faith with you. Let’s make the social contract a reality. Let’s remember that our society is only as strong, morally speaking, as its weakest link and strive to better ourselves each day. Uncover your hypocrisy. Open your heart. Broaden your horizons. Have a conversation with someone new. Have a new conversation with someone you know.

Be good to each other. What is so damned hard to understand about that?

I leave you with a wish for peace, and the hope that we can become part of the effort to bring it about.

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