Moving right along in our discussions of the top events that happened in the busy month of January, 2011. . . .
On January 8, there was a shooting at a Safeway supermarket just outside of Tuscon, AZ. U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was the primary target. She was shot in the head and has been recovering ever since. In total, 19 people were shot, and of them, 6 of them died. Those who were killed included federal officials and, therefore, made this an event that really got the attention of the federal government.
There has been much question as to what drove Jared Lee Loughner, the accused gunman, to commit such a crime. It has been proposed that he was angry at Giffords for having an unsatisfactory answer to a question that he had asked during one of her earlier public forums in 2007. OK, so that might explain his shooting Giffords (although it still seems awfully unforgiving), but what does that have to do with everyone else at the public forum where he shot so many people? Was his anger directed more towards the government in general?
Sarah Palin has been criticized for her "crosshairs map" of districts she was targeting during the midterm elections in 2010, districts which had democratic representatives and which she wished to replace with republican ones. Giffords' district was one of those targeted. Could it be that Loughner was aiming his gun where Sarah Palin had suggested he point it? While I hardly view Palin's tactics as appropriate, I also seriously doubt that she had much influence on Loughner's gun plans.
In an ABC news interview with Loughner's "friend" Zach Osler, Osler mentioned that Loughner appeared to have been greatly influenced by The Zeitgeist Movie and the subsequent movies produced by The Zeitgeist Movement. While Loughner is reported to hold many of the same views as those presented by the series of films released by The Zeitgeist Movement, The Zeitgeist Movement officially is against violence of any kind.
One of the claims made by The Zeitgeist Movement is that there will be a New World Order--a global government. There is also the belief that a New World Currency would be established globally. Loughner supposedly was interested in establishing his own local currency as a means of blocking such a global currency effort. Some regions in the United States have already done just that, such as the Berkshires region in Western Massachusetts, for example, through their Berkshares program. The Zeitgeist Movement itself, however, proposes not the localization of currency, but the total eradication of currency all around. So while some of Loughner's beliefs about how the world operates might be based on information presented to him through The Zeitgeist Movie, he clearly chose a different approach to solutions.
Nonetheless, it's hard to ignore a very curious fact about the timing of this shooting. It happened exactly one week before the release of The Zeitgeist Movement's latest film, "Zeitgeist: Moving Forward," in theaters. Is this really a coincidence? Could it be that the U.S. government was seizing this as an opportunity to smear The Zeitgeist Movement right before their big new film came out? Could it be that Loughner was convinced to do what he did and when he did it for that reason? Or could it be that Loughner committed his crimes when he did so that The Zeitgeist Movement would get publicity and get the public's attention some more? After all, "any publicity is good publicity" is a phrase sometimes uttered.
I personally do not know how and if The Zeitgeist Movement was linked to this event in any way whatsoever. I do not know if Loughner was rooting for them or was a secret agent for the government. I do not know if the government is just seizing the opportunity to smear Zeitgeist. All that I do know is that this is likely not totally innocently a coincidence all the way around.
At the end of the day, however, I think we need to step back and take a look at what's most important here, and that's the issue of violence. We can argue all we want to about legislation and politics, but that doesn't necessarily mean people have to die because of it. Why did Loughner have to shoot?
Some have criticized Arizona (and, on a larger scale, the United States as a whole) for being too laissez-faire about gun ownership. Let's face it, if most adults can buy a gun, then most adults can shoot a gun--and most adults can kill people with a gun. The claim is that the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States ensures that citizens have the right to own guns. In reality, we're taking that statement out of context; it was always intended to be applied in a time of war, and not in a time of peace. And more importantly, just because we're allowed to have a gun, does that mean that we SHOULD have a gun? Just because I'm allowed to eat rat poison, does that mean I SHOULD?
The most modern explanation behind civilian ownership of guns is protection. The idea is that if you show a hooligan a gun, then they'll be scared and leave you alone. But if that's really the sole purpose, then why couldn't we just use toy guns? They still look all scary, and that's all we're using them for, anyway. . . . Why do we need to be able to shoot?
What it all boils down to is a very inconvenient truth: American culture emphasizes the importance of violence. Even if we took all of the weapons we could away from people, there would still be punching and kicking in the streets. Why? It's because we glorify this behavior. This is the stuff we put in video games and computer games that kids play. This is the stuff that we put in popular TV series. This is the stuff we put into the lyrics of our music (and it's not only rap, too). As long as we insist on submerging ourselves with media that are all about violence, is it any wonder we're fighting each other all the time? And is it any wonder that politicians argue so fiercely with each other?
Until we, as a society, embrace peace as a virtue, then we will always be doomed to such tragic outcomes. Until that happens, we can never truly be guaranteed safety anywhere, really--not even in front of a SAFEway supermarket.
God help us all, every one!