Guy W. Farmer: A time for taking stock of what we say

President Obama spoke for me and millions of our fellow Americans in Tucson, Ariz., last Wednesday as he called on all of us to tone down our rhetoric on divisive political issues.

Speaking at a memorial service honoring the six people who died and the 13 people who were wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, when a crazed gunman opened fire at a Tucson shopping mall last weekend, the president said "it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds." I couldn't agree more.

Obama reminded us that it's possible to disagree with our political opponents without being disagreeable, and said too many Americans "are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do." He also warned against blaming any particular political ideology for the Tucson tragedy.

My friend and fellow columnist Sue Morrow got it right last Tuesday when she asserted that "there's too much vitriol in the rhetoric of today's political climate," which reinforces what I wrote last Sunday when I urged Gov. Brian Sandoval to work across party lines to resolve Nevada's looming budget crisis when the 2011 Legislature convenes here next month.

Sue went on to lament the overheated political rhetoric coming from the far right, but I condemn such rhetoric no matter whether it comes from the far right or the far left. If we're going to call out right-wingers who put targets on political opponents or suggest "Second Amendment remedies," we should also condemn those on the far left who called ex-President George W. Bush a "Nazi" and those who say that Republicans want to starve old folks and young children to death.

Left-wingers who want to shut down Fox News should take a good look at MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who regularly spouts hateful vitriol against his enemies on the right. Both sides should tone down the rhetoric. I was encouraged last week when Fox News chief Roger Ailes told his program hosts to "shut up (and) tone it down."

As we attempt to understand the Tucson tragedy it's important to remember that there's no evidence linking accused shooter Jared Loughner, a 22-year-old misfit loner, to any political ideology. Rather, as Sue Morrow wrote, he appears to be "a mentally disturbed, pot-smoking community college dropout."

An insane gunman killed six innocent people and wounded Rep. Giffords and 12 others in Tucson last weekend, leading me to wonder why we can't keep guns out of the hands of crazy people.

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a political moderate who hates violence.


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