Shooting aftermath: Do we need to reconsider our relationship with politics?

Barry Jantz Barry Jantz 5 Comments


Yesterday, following the shooting in the DC area, a “friend” posted on Facebook, “I guess that’s one way to open Republican seats…”

I assume he thought his comment was both humorous and somehow appropriate.

Therein lies at least some of the tragedy.

Can you imagine following the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, anyone making a “joke” about that being one way to increase Netflix sales?

Apparently, when it’s about political differences, we’ve reached a point where such comments are acceptable.

Speaking of tragedy.

A couple of other friends made some very compelling points on Facebook. I just wanted to share:

Ben Avey:

They say that if you put a frog in a pot of cold water, then turn on the heat, the frog won’t know it’s boiled until it’s too late.

Well folks, the water’s bubbling and I’m starting to feel the heat.

For the past year, the rhetoric that we use in political discourse has ratcheted up to the point that today, someone attempted to assassinate multiple members of Congress. Political assassination, let that sink in.

Before you rush to tell me it’s gun violence or mental health, I’m going to stop you. Today wasn’t gun violence, it was political discourse, by other means. Murderous means.

There is a concerted effort to silence political opposition and many of us have been passive supporters of that campaign. Yes, I’m talking about you.

Casual comments about doing “whatever it takes” to stop your political opponent, quietly cheering violent protesters, and considering cessation from the union, have empowered a systematic campaign to silence the political opposition.

These efforts are no better than what the KKK did to freedom riders in the south or the fear tactics used by men to silence suffragettes at the turn of the century.

I’m well aware of both conservative and liberal attempts to do this, so don’t tell me it’s ok because someone else did it first.

It’s time to stop – everyone. If you don’t like Congress, go walk precincts for their opponent. If you don’t like Trump, go raise money for Bernie or Warren. If you see a protester threatening anyone’s free speech, condemn them without reservation or equivocation.

No more talks of treason and coup d’état. If Trump gets impeached, that’s part of the process. If he doesn’t, that’s part of the process too. If this Congress pisses you off, I promise the next will do the same to me.

Go campaign, go argue, God knows I will. But please, stop with hyperbole and stop passively approving or insinuating that violence is ok. Because that is what led to today.

It’s not too late, let’s jump out of the water.


Steven Moore:

The Congressional shooting took place about two blocks from where I once lived in Virginia. I was a member of the YMCA next to the baseball diamond. I know most of the people who were practicing there this morning.

I have a lot of thoughts on this. Still processing.

It could have been so much worse had Majority Whip Scalise’s security detail not been there. Rank and file members of Congress don’t have Capitol police assigned to them, so it is a blessing that a member of leadership plays baseball.

I find it painful that the over-the-top rhetoric that characterized the last campaign and the last six months has continued to escalate. This seems to be the logical next step of demonizing people with whom you disagree, and the result of an environment where people make money off of driving that demonization.

Some of the reactions I see to the violence are startling. If your reaction is anything other than sympathy for the victims and their families, you might want to stop and reconsider your relationship with politics. You may be part of the problem.

Today is clearly a turning point. I am hopeful that this will be a wake up call for a return to civility, rather than an event that emboldens the radical elements in society and further drives us apart.


I can’t even begin to top the gist of those sentiments. I’ll just re-quote one part:

“If your reaction is anything other than sympathy for the victims and their families, you might want to stop and reconsider your relationship with politics. You may be part of the problem.”


Comments 5

  1. (responding to Ben Avey’s comments)
    I’ve been reluctant to respond to this post because I try to keep positive on Facebook. But after several days it is still bothering me. And after the respected political website Rostra republished it, I feel I must point some facts out, even if I’m in the minority.

    I was shocked by this post. Stunned. Are you kidding? “Today wasn’t gun violence, it was political discourse, by other means.” This statement sickens me.

    Let’s start with basics. The author may be well educated. He may be intelligent. But he doesn’t know the basics of vocabulary. Discourse means words, discuss. It doesn’t mean action. Nowhere in the definition does it say “action.” It always amazes me that some people who don’t know the basics try to impress people by using words that are completely inappropriate in that context.
    1. communication of thought by words; talk; conversation: earnest and intelligent discourse.
    2. a formal discussion of a subject in speech or writing, as a dissertation, treatise, sermon, etc.
    3. Linguistics. any unit of connected speech or writing longer than a sentence.
    verb (used without object), discoursed, discoursing.
    4. to communicate thoughts orally; talk; converse.
    5. to treat of a subject formally in speech or writing.

    This post is frightening for the simple reason that the author may believe it. The post talks about “casual comments” and goes further to state “These efforts are no better than what the KKK did to freedom riders in the south or the fear tactics used by men to silence suffragettes at the turn of the century. I’m well aware of both conservative and liberal attempts to do this, so don’t tell me it’s ok because someone else did it first.” My God, how can you really think this is historically accurate? The KKK used physical violence. And when you say, “don’t tell me it’s OK” I will tell you it’s OK because it is called Freedom of Speech.


    The attempted assassination of Republican congressman is political discourse? The author shouldn’t be surprised if the secret service comes knocking on his door…

  2. I am well aware of the definition of the word “discourse,” which is why I said “…political discourse, by other means. Murderous means.” I can share the definition of murder if that helps you process my statement, but I’ll assume you know all the big words I use to make my point.

    This post reflects on the fact that our society has been building a foundation of highly elevated rhetoric that subtly, and not so subtly, gave this assassin tacit approval for his action. Just as elevated rhetoric in the south gave tacit approval to the KKK and built a foundation for violence. I stand by the statement.

    I said it’s not gun violence because that implies the weapon is the problem, not the fact that it has become socially acceptable to talk about, hope for, and cheer violence as a way of advancing a political cause.

    There is no greater threat to our democracy than interjecting violence into political debate, and we are going down that road. That’s my point and I hope that helps you better understand my meaning.

    P.S. Please use red ink for any grammar or spelling errors. I appreciate you proof reading my work.

  3. John – Based on your Facebook post I will apologize for asking if you know the definition of murder. I was unaware of your family history.

    With that being said, the basic premise of my point is this – political rhetoric keeps ratcheting up to the point at least one person felt justified in attempting to murder his political opponents. That is an incredible threat to democracy that cannot stand. I support talking, debating, protesting and every other kind of speech available, but we need to recognize that when we flippantly talk about violence against our political opponents, which has become more common every day for the last year, we form a foundation for the real violence we saw last week. It needs to stop. I’m going camping so I won’t be able to respond further, but I hope you understand. Respectfully, your friend Ben.

  4. Since I posted Ben’s comments on Rostra…

    I thought both Steven Moore’s and Ben’s comments were relevant and great food for thought. As opposed to flippant, vile comments such as “That’s how to open some GOP seats,” I thought their comments were reasoned and passionate.

    I appreciate John’s perspective, but he and I are clearly reading it 180 degrees opposite from each other. Ben didn’t say murder was appropriate political discourse. He said that what took place was political discourse by other means, murderous means. He was clearly condemning it.

    I agree, discourse is discussion, not action, but I read it as Ben differentiating the two. Political discourse that escalates to the point of being no longer talk but murder. The escalation needs to stop.

    I get what John is saying, but I’m seeing it differently.

    I hope everyone has a great Father’s Day weekend, whether you are one, celebrating one, or taking time to remember one.

  5. If we take everything literally, then, of course it is gun violence. It was violent and a man used a gun. But in this country, gun violence has come to mean an act of violence that justifies removing the Constitutional right to bear arms from our populace. That is what Mr. Jantz was referring to, the fact that this was not an act that justifies the knee-jerk reaction by most to remove a constitutional right from the citizenry. Those who think with their emotions will eventually demand ideals that will enslave us all in a false utopia.

    The passage of time has removed this issue from the front pages, but I believe it remains one of the key political issues of our time. People are angry, on both sides of the political spectrum, and while I believe that Liberals are dead wrong and wish they would all disappear, I remain committed to peaceful discourse. It’s a commitment I have to renew daily because after 12 years of Liberal economic policies, our small business is smaller and less successful than it should be as a direct result of Liberal economic stupidity. That makes me angry, the same kind of anger the colonists held in their hearts as a government far removed from them played with their livelihoods. Their anger lead to a revolution, and in this Post-Constitutional period in our history, the only peaceful way forward that I can commit to is Convention of States, our opportunity to reassert power to the states and drive the money from political campaigns, the only hope I believe my progeny has to live under freedom and a functioning Constitution. Without that, without the commitment to this peaceful means to reinstitute constitutional principles, I believe we are doomed to solving our problems “by other means.”

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