Chilling news from Arizona. A gunman shot Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ) in the head at a Safeway in Arizona. Ms. Gifford is reportedly still alive and undergoing surgery. It is now also known that a federal judge was also shot and killed during this incident, and several others were injured (18 people, according to the Sheriff's office at a press conference).
A 22 year-old man has been detained for the shooting. The motive is still unclear, but Ms. Gifford's office was vandalized last year hours before the House vote on health care reform, so it is not inconceivable that this might be a politically motivated crime.
Newly-elected Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner said: "Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society." True, and before the motive is ascertained we all would do well to withhold judgement on this violent act. Still, the Tea-Party and the Republican Party have raised the violent rhetoric in recent years (think of the McCain-Palin rallies of 2008 and of the anti-health care reform rallies last year). Obviously right-wing politicians and activists carry a lot of the blame for the current violent climate, and for episodes such as the killing of Dr. Tiller, death threats to the President, and so forth, no statement to the contrary notwithstanding.