I was saddened and disappointed by events that unfolded Saturday. I was saddened by an act of violence in Tuscon, Ariz. that took the lives of six people, including federal judge John Roll, and injured 12 more, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. But I was disappointed by the reaction from the public, specifically reactions from various social media platforms.
It was the perfect storm of political tension, knee-jerk reactions and a 24-hour news cycle. After the initial reports, the story was misconstrued, misrepresented and initially caused a controversy when, really, there was none.
On Twitter, I saw statements proclaiming that Sarah Palin had blood on her hands. They were in reference to a chart she posted on Facebook for her political action committee, SarahPAC, last March. The chart used gun sights to “target” Democrats that needed to be ousted from office. Giffords was one of those Democrats.
Her choice of imagery for the chart was undoubtedly in poor taste, especially in a country with such significant gun violence each year. Certainly, the chart was also indicative of the heated bi-partisan political atmosphere in country. So, yes, it was irresponsible for an influential political figure (whether she actually deserves to be influential or not) to widely disseminate material with violent undertones to her followers. The only problem is that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, wasn’t one of her followers.