Morning After: America Reckons With Itself, Giffords is “Able to Communicate”

Arizona Shooting Updates:

Yesterday, Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot while hosting a public event outside a Safeway grocery store. 11 others were also shot. 6 were killed, including John McCarthy Roll, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court Arizona, three Giffords staffers and a nine-year old girl.

Obama has called for a Moment of Silence for 11 am EST on Monday.

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Gabrielle Giffords Gets Better:

Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head yesterday by a psychotic human named Jared Lee Loughner, remains hospitalized and her Doctors are “optimistic” about her chances of survival. They have been able to control her bleeding and are “very, very encouraged” by her ability to respond nonverbally to commands by doing things like squeezing a hand or showing fingers.

The bullet went through Giffords’ head on the left side of her brain. Paramedics attribute her survival to “good luck” and “the fact that paramedics got her to surgeons quickly – in under 40 minutes.”

The Gay Intern Who Saved Giffords Life

Meet Daniel Hernandez:

Twenty-year-old University of Arizona student Daniel Hernandez is being credited with saving the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was critically injured during a shooting in Tucson on Saturday.

According to the Arizona Republic, Hernandez was standing near Giffords during the “Congress on Your Corner” event when the gunfire began. After running toward the sound of the shots, Hernandez assisted the injured by checking for pulses, and when he reached Giffords, he applied pressure to the gunshot wound on her forehead, then pulled her into his lap so she was upright and wouldn’t choke on her blood.

Hernandez then rode with with Giffords to the hospital.

Hernandez, who confirmed he is gay to Instant Tea, is also a member of the City of Tucson Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. Of Giffords, Hernandez says,  “She’s been a great ally to the LGBT community.”

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Second Person of Interest is No Longer Interesting

The “Loughler did not work alone” theory has been squashed as police are now satisfied that the second “person of interest” was just going to Safeway to get some macaroni or something, and although sometimes waiting in line at Safeway makes everybody feel a little testy, he resisted the urge to DESTROY THE FUCKING COUNTRY AND THE LIVES OF HUMAN BEINGS INCLUDING A NINE YEAR OLD CHILD like Dear Dear Jared Lee Loughner, WORST PERSON OF THE YEAR.

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Speaking Out Against Violent Rhetoric:

Today’s been a big moment of reckoning for many of our country’s pundits and politicians. Yesterday many were surprised but impressed by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s choice to speak the hard truth:

When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government — the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.  And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry… Let me say one thing, because people tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that,” the sheriff said during a press conference. “That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.”

A Republican Senator spoke anonymously to Politico about the state of rhetoric in his party:

A senior Republican senator, speaking anonymously in order to freely discuss the tragedy, told POLITICO that the Giffords shooting should be taken as a “cautionary tale” by Republicans.

“There is a need for some reflection here – what is too far now?” said the senator. “What was too far when Oklahoma City happened is accepted now. There’s been a desensitizing. These town halls and cable TV and talk radio, everybody’s trying to outdo each other.”

The vast majority of tea party activists, this senator said, ought not be impugned.

“They’re talking about things most mainstream Americans are talking about, like spending and debt,” the Republican said, before adding that politicians of all stripes need to emphasize in the coming days that “tone matters.”

“And the Republican Party in particular needs to reinforce that,” the senator said.

Keith Olbermann’s Special Special Comment addressed the fact that “violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in our Democracy.” He apologizes for anything he’s said that may have “even inadvertently encouraged violence” and calls on other pundits and politicians to redact their own incinidary statements, namely Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Jesse Owens.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Jared Lee Loughner charged:

Federal prosecutors are charging Jared Lee Loughner with one count of attempted assassination against a member of congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government and two counts of attempting to killing a federal employee.

Ummm…. what about the attempted murder and murder of non-federal employees? That’s coming right. G-d the world is confusing.

Noel Irwin Hentschel on “America’s Mental Health Breakdown”:

If any good is to come out of this horrifying event it must be for legislators on federal, state and local levels to undertake immediate in-depth hearings that lead to a definitive change of America’s laws for treating mental health patients. Insurance companies must be required to provide the same health benefits for mental disease as they do for all other illnesses so that patients can be properly treated. Legislators must publicly interview expert witnesses who deal on a daily basis with the overwhelmingly bureaucratic and legal obstacles in their efforts to try to help people with mental diseases. To this end, legislators must listen to family members, law enforcement, medical professionals and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); these are the ones who know the solutions as well as the obstacles.

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Additional News Items That Will Not Surprise You

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Sarah Palin uninterested in accepting the consequences of her actions:

Sarah Palin’s people are totally excusing themselves from being held accountable for the Culture of Violence they’ve created:

But SarahPAC staffer Rebecca Mansour, who has been tweeting in defense of her boss since the tragedy took place, is stating that the crosshairs were never intended to be gun sights.

We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights,” she said in an interview with talk radio host Tammy Bruce Saturday. “It was simply crosshairs like you’d see on maps.”

Um, duh? But maybe it’s time to take a look at the UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES of your rhetoric, weirdos. Further backpedaling:

Tammy Bruce suggested that they could, in fact, be seen as “surveyor’s symbols.” Mansour added that “it never occurred to us that anybody would consider it violent” and called any attempts to politicize the Arizona tragedy “repulsive.”

However it was perhaps Sarah Palin herself who suggested that the symbols were gun-related:

On March 23, Palin tweeted to her supporters a note about the aforementioned Facebook message, writing, “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: ‘Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!’ Pls see my Facebook page.” And as Politico’s Jonathan Martin points out, in November Palin boasted about defeating 18 of the 20 members on her “bullseye” list.

(Um, taint reference anyone?)

And? Back in March 2010, Palin’s rhetoric garnered complaints from her number-one fan Elisaebeth Hasselbeck:

Also, Whoopi Goldberg is the Oracle:

Whatever comes down from this — it’s on your hands. Okay? When you say ‘wipe em out’ and when you sort of gently suggest that people do stuff… let me tell you about the people who tell you to do this stuff, they’re not doing it. They’re at home, they’re not going to jail… your behind is going to jail… your family is going to suffer… and we’ve seen what happens when people listen to other people. We’ve seen it happen here because someone told someone to do something when people flew planes into the World Trade Center… watch yourselves, talking heads, because this is dangerous.”

Mhm.

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Westboro Remains Evil

Meanwhile, much to nobody’s surprise, guess who’s planning a vaycay to the funeral of the 6 people killed on Saturday?


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59 Comments

    • I did as well. How they can be so heartless and cruel in the wake of senseless violence is beyond me. A child is now dead. All because she wanted to meet a real live congresswoman after being elected to her student government. Now they’re going to picket this child’s funeral?

    • I understand the sentiment, though I just see those people as such whack jobs that I don’t give them much thought. The “soft kill” prejudice is what gets me: “love the sinner” crap, conditional fair treatment of LGBT people (the condition being that we remain asexual), any situation where homos are tolerated as long as compulsory heterosexuality and gender conformity remain at center stage, etc.

      Also, maybe it’s the fact that the poster sounds like it was written by a ten-year-old that takes some of the edge off for me, ha. I hear you though.

    • I threw up a lot, like my whole dinner I just ate. It’s hideously unsettling that anyone would rejoice and declare victory over the loss of other peoples lives. Those Westboro Kansan Baptists are deranged.

      I hope Gifford miraculously gets better. This sucks.

  1. Glad to hear that Giffords and some others are still alive.

    I don’t believe in the death penalty, and I have a question for others here who feel similarly. If Loughner is guilty, what do you think should happen to him? What should we do with people like that (child murderers, mass killers, etc)? There’s life in prison, of course, but that means you and I pay for his ass for the rest of his living days.

    “Ummm…. what about the attempted murder and murder of non-federal employees?”

    My thoughts exactly.

    Lastly, Palin = moron. Westboro Baptist Church = attention whores.

    • “here’s life in prison, of course, but that means you and I pay for his ass for the rest of his living days.”

      Executing him would actually cost you more.
      http://www.deathpenalty.org/article.php?id=42

      And yeah, I think he should spend the rest of his life in prison, if proven guilty. We as a society (and I’m not American, but I’d say the same thing had this happened in my country) set rules and principles. The responsibilty for their enforcement comes with their benefit.

      • *responsibility

        Oh and I forgot to say that he’ll also need medical attention while he’s in jail (if proven guilty)
        And the article covered this way better, but there’s a dire need for more comprehensive ways to take care of mental illnesses.

      • Yeah, opposition to the death penalty is an ethical thing for me, so my view on it wouldn’t change whether it was expensive or cheap. However, being forced to take on the responsibility of paying for someone who has harmed the community – that is an ethical issue. Kill the person or take on the responsibility of maintaining them for years… these seem to be the main options out there, but they both seem wrong to me.

        I’ve been rethinking the whole concept of prison for a long time, but especially recently. Evidently, the concept of doing time in jail as a punishment in and of itself didn’t really form until the 1800s. Before that, people were only in jail to wait for something like a trial to take place, and then they would leave (perhaps to go be horrifically tortured or put to death, but they would leave).

        I’ve read that in some Native American societies, the commission of evil acts was regarded as a kind of sickness. People who committed atrocities could be completely excluded from the community, and they would have to go live out on their own. Sometimes they would be readmitted into the group, other times not.

        “The responsibilty for their enforcement comes with their benefit.”

        Absolutely. If Loughner did this, he should be made to bear the responsibility. And for now, the best solution we’ve come up with is life in prison, so that’s what I hope takes place. I’m just wondering what other options are out there, for instance what other societies have done with people like this.

        • I wasn’t saying your concerns were purely monetary, but I just wanted to point it out, because people usually assume executing someone costs less to the taxpayer.

          My concerns are ethical as well, especially regarding the fact that this individual exhibited signs of mental disease / confusion. Of course no one will know anything right now, and I don’t want to form an opinion before all the evidence has emerged.

          I don’t buy the whole “punishing those who break the rule”. I don’t think it deters people from doing so, and second-time offenders prove it doesn’t even prevent those we punish from doing it again. I do think however that some people aren’t fit to be in society with the rest of us, because they present a threat to our safety / well-being, which is why I support the idea of incarcerating some people. But I don’t have an answer to your (interesting) question.

          What I meant by “responsibility for their enforcement” is that it lies on society’s side. If we make rules, we have to be prepared to deal with those who will break them. The death penalty is unacceptable to me for a plethora of reasons, so yeah, this is a stalemate.

          • “I wasn’t saying your concerns were purely monetary, but I just wanted to point it out, because people usually assume executing someone costs less to the taxpayer.”

            I didn’t think you meant that. Sorry if I gave that impression.

            “My concerns are ethical as well, especially regarding the fact that this individual exhibited signs of mental disease / confusion. Of course no one will know anything right now, and I don’t want to form an opinion before all the evidence has emerged.”

            For me, it wouldn’t matter if the person was insane or not. You said later on in your comment that some people are unfit to live in society. In my view, it wouldn’t matter what the cause of the unfitness was (unless there was some kind of clear, tangible solution to the problem). It would just matter that other members of society not be subjected to that person’s behavior ever again.

            “I don’t think it deters people from doing so, and second-time offenders prove it doesn’t even prevent those we punish from doing it again.”

            Yes, which I think relates to my comments about guns on this article:

            Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Shot, 6 Killed and 10 Wounded by 22-Year-Old Jared Loughner

            Laws restricting gun ownership are not a deterrent for people who are bent on committing acts of violence with guns, but they do take away law-abiding people’s ability to defend themselves against such acts.

            “What I meant by ‘responsibility for their enforcement’ is that it lies on society’s side. If we make rules, we have to be prepared to deal with those who will break them.”

            OK, I now see what you mean. Yes, I agree. Though society should not have to take on ANY of the responsibility for the criminal acts themselves, and by subsidizing the housing and feeding of criminals for decades, it seems like that’s exactly what we are being forced to do.

            “The death penalty is unacceptable to me for a plethora of reasons, so yeah, this is a stalemate.”

            Yup! If I pull any wonderful answers out of my ass, I’ll let you know, ha.

          • Well, I have a differing stance on gun ownership.

            I’m not so sure the Second amendment is about that, and I don’t even think carrying a gun could have prevented it. These things happen so fast, unfortunately.

            I of course agree with the concept of legitimate defense, but from where I stand the lack of gun control is very concerning. Purchasing a weapon of that kind is much, much harder in France and the incidence of gun related crimes is much lower.
            Now of course, firearms aren’t the only weapons on earth, however they’re the most rapidly destructive – therefore the most problematic. But that’s another complicated debate (and I have to go to classes in 6hours)

            Take care.

  2. I know I can’t reason with Westboro, because they’re fucking crazy. But really? They know that one of those 6 people killed was a NINE-YEAR-OLD LITTLE GIRL, right? I feel like this is low even for their standards even though those standards start somewhere around -500,000.

    I really wonder what’s going to happen with Loughner, because on one hand, 6 people are dead including a little girl and that’s obviously no where near okay, but on the other hand, he (possibly, probably?) wasn’t in his right mind. To what extent can he be held accountable for his actions?

    • What do you think about insanity pleas? If it’s true that we incarcerate people because it is unsafe for them to be out in society, then it wouldn’t matter if they were in their right mind or not – they’re unsafe either way. Your thoughts?

      • I really just don’t know. The entire thing is one huge mess. In general, I just can’t get behind the death penalty, because fighting violence with violence is senseless even though I can understand the sentiment behind it with certain offenders. The other option is to incarcerate someone for life which means they’re living off tax dollars, yes, but more so existing as non-productive members of society. I would think that any offender such as Loughner would be considered too violent/unstable/risky to be able to participate in some of the work programs, so they’re just stuck sitting around for the rest of their lives.

        From what little I do know, I think the insanity plea ends up determining the stipulations of your sentence more so than giving you a Get Out of Jail free card. Meaning, someone might be placed in a mental institution vs. a prison and the sentence might be shorter if the person is considered only partially responsible for her/his actions due to mental insanity/instability.

        As far as Loughner goes, I think he’ll either end up in an institution or prison unless they decided to make an example by crucifying him.

        In general, we need to rethink our justice system, because all we’re doing is helping fuel criminals considering the conditions/structure of our prison systems. No one is really being rehabilitated. They sit in a pressure cooker for x number of years, get out, re-offend, & go back to prison. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

        • I think a lot of the same things. Thanks for your answer.

          “From what little I do know, I think the insanity plea ends up determining the stipulations of your sentence more so than giving you a Get Out of Jail free card. Meaning, someone might be placed in a mental institution vs. a prison and the sentence might be shorter if the person is considered only partially responsible for her/his actions due to mental insanity/instability.”

          That seems reasonable. My concern there would be for the staff at these institutions. On the other hand, they are free not to work there, and as soon as you start thinking about these employees, you have to trace things up to a more systemic level. Why do we have these places? Do they fulfill their intended purpose?

          Heh. Only more questions – no answers.

  3. That thing from the Westboro people made me cry. I can’t believe there are people like that in the world, it’s terrifying.

    I’m glad Rep. Giffords is recovering, and my heart is filled with grief for the other victims and their families.

  4. As I said yesterday when they were playing that View clip, when Elisabeth freakin’ Hasselbeck is calling you out on your crazy? Look at your life, look at your choices.

    That Giffords has spoken out against violent rhetoric in the past just makes this even worse. For the record, if I was living in her district, I would’ve voted for her in a heartbeat. My prayers are certainly with everyone affected by this senseless tragedy.

    And seriously, are people still actually shocked by what WBC is saying? They are SUCH a one trick pony.

  5. WBC= I’m waiting for, their God because I don’t pray to that one-apparently, to smite them.

    DO IT! DO IT!

    Aside from that, my entire school community is rallying behind Rep. Giffords, she’s an alumna and we hope that she pulls through. I was devastated to hear about the other deaths and I hope those families and those victims receive due justice. Although, I’d like to point out that giving Loughner the death penalty is just using the same violence we’re condemning in his actions, so perhaps concurrent life sentences instead of one death sentence.

  6. Thank you all so much for the comprehensive and timely updates on this. Over the last two days, I’ve consistently found Autostraddle to be the best place to look for accurate, extensive news on this issue.

    I sincerely hope that the people responsible for creating the climate of violence in which this could happen pay for it by losing their popularity, their votes and the respect and trust of their followers.

    My thoughts are with the wounded, and with the families of the dead and wounded. Their shock and horror must be just overwhelming.

  7. So as anyone who saw my post on this story yesterday knows, I was a wee bit overwhelmed as this story first started to break. But with the seemingly positive updates that are starting to emerge-Giffords’s signs of recovery, the act of heroism by her intern (tangential: So happy he’s now a public face of the queer community; that boy deserves hugs, kittens and anything he ever wants ever), the fact that people are FINALLY paying attention to the fact that hateful speech in politics has consequences-are making me really proud of my fellow Americans.
    I second Megaera’s thanks to Autostraddle for providing great coverage on this. You guys rock.

  8. It’s unfortunate that the Westboro Baptist Church is a real thing, you know? At first that poster seems too absurd to be real. And then you realize that those people exist and they actually believe terrible violent nonsense about their weird version of the Christian God, and it’s like, is this real life? Is this seriously the world we live in? This is probably going to be the impetus for my own existential crisis. I’m serious.

  9. Thank you, WBC, for helping me to justify my agnostic ways.
    If YOUR god sent this shooter out there, then I couldn’t be happier to know that YOUR god is not who I believe in.

    And, thank you, autostraddle, for helping people like me, who are scared to watch the news and be afraid to go outside, keep up to date as to what the hell is going on in our dysfunctional country from the comfort of my own phone/internet connection.

    • “Thank you, WBC, for helping me to justify my agnostic ways.
      If YOUR god sent this shooter out there, then I couldn’t be happier to know that YOUR god is not who I believe in.”

      Yup. Even if it were definitively proven that such a god existed, I would choose not to worship it.

  10. Thanks for covering this so well- one thing though. I don’t know, referring to Jared Lee Loughner as a “psychotic human being” just kind of hit me the wrong way. Maybe he does have mental health issues, but it seems that this was being used to describe him in a negative way. I don’t know, maybe I got the tone of the article wrong.

    I think we just need to remember in all this that regardless of what he did or what his mental state was at the time, he is as much a human being as the people he killed. And there were probably a lot of factors influencing him besides just whatever was up inside his head.

    • Whaaaat.

      I’m sure he’s a wonderful person.

      If you murder a child (not to mention numerous other people), you need to fucking go. We put you in a room, and shove food in through a hole.

      Whoever did this (whether it was Loughner or not) truly is a psychotic human being. No problem in calling them such.

  11. I actually live in Tucson, and have been to that Safeway before, and voted for Giffords. This whole Westboro thing is going to be met with a LOT of resistance when they get here, I assure you. Tucson is the tiny isle of gay semi-acceptance and Democrat values in Arizona, so we will not deal with their hate. Sadly I am worried it might cause a riot, Tucson is not in any frame of mind to be nice to such stupidity and bigotry, we are trying to make sure it all goes down peaceful..but its a tough sell.

  12. i can’t even fathom the idea that people are so mad that progress is being made, that they would encourage anger. sarah palin and company may not have intended for actual violence to occur, but don’t they know that rage is dangerous? don’t these people know this? i have a knot in my throat, and i just can’t comprehend this. its anger. its dangerous.

  13. I dunno, I kind of of like having WBC around – when *those* are the people protesting your equal rights, they help make other homophones look even more absurd by association.

    That’s on a macro, political level, though. When they’re picketing your loved one’s funeral or your university or your high school play, that is still teh suck.

    • Yeah, I agree! I honestly thought it was almost a light-hearted ending to a really depressing post? clearly i am insane. to me, WBC is so fucking off the wall that it’s like, you can’t have feelings about them anymore. But I guess people do and maybe it’s ’cause I watched Fall From Grace last week so I’m just like, over it. It just seemed ridiculous and nbd but that’s what everyone is reacting to so I agree. I’ve stopped writing about them in general, and never would’ve given them their own post, but thought as part of a bigger post, might work. but eh. i think i just re-wrote the same sentence 10 times. taco soup is spicy

      • i think its just been so bleak, i liked to have thought that we (i.e Americans and everyone else) could come together and then its like “nope! more hatred” but idk i normally have a lot of feelings anyways and have been listening to imagine on repeat soo…

  14. Just wanted to point out that federal prosecutors can only charge Jared with the congressional-related stuff. State prosecutors have to bring the other murder/attempted murder charges.

    I still can’t really believe that WBC isn’t just some giant tasteless troll pulled by 4chan or something.

  15. Update:

    “Loughner is charged with one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee. Those are federal charges.

    State prosecutors, meanwhile, are researching whether they have to wait until after the federal case is resolved, or if they can proceed with local charges at the same time, an official said.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110111/ap_on_re_us/us_congresswoman_shot

  16. There has been a plethora of conversation regarding this Arizona tragedy. We know that the president and most of his immediate administration are protected by secret service and military.
    I wondered once before what protections Congress and Court justices were afforded. I was surprised to find that they get very little government assisted protection.

    This tragedy may have turned out quite differently if the government had made sure those appointed by the people to serve the people were properly protected.

    Even now there has been little mention of the security the event had or who was responsible for not protecting the Congresswoman and Judge. The media has failed to bring the subject up at all. Why is that?

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