It did not take long for people who know next to nothing about Jared Loughner to begin speculating about reasons why the 22-year-old opened fire at a Tucson, Ariz., grocery store, critically injuring a congresswoman, killing five, and injuring 13 others.
On Saturday, before CNN even reported Loughner's name or uncovered the bits and pieces of evidence online that indicated the young man had serious mental issues, the network was bringing out talking heads wringing their hands about the heated nature of our political discourse.
Much attention has been focused on the Tea Party and Gov. Sarah Palin for the revolutionary and hunting symbology in their rhetoric and campaign materials. There has been expressed much concern that the language and symbols being used are actually encouraging violence.
Ultimately, it turned out that Loughner's pre-assassination-attempt rantings bear very little resemblance to any politics promoted by Tea Party members or Palin. This has done nothing to stop pundits and critics who already had issues with these political figures from laying the blame at their doorstep (with only the slightest "well, maybe there's no connection this time" concession).
We have no love for Palin, who we feel lacks a number of critical skills to serve as a national leader, and worse, seems to lack any sort of self-awareness that would prompt her to improve herself. However, we fully support her refusal to back down or accept any sort of responsibility for another adult's behavior.
We are consistent in our belief that adults are responsible for their own behavior. We choose what to do with our lives. If we choose to let a politician tell us what to believe, or a pundit, or a commercial, or a professor, or a comic book, it was still our choice and we are still responsible for what we do next.
This criticism by opponents of the Tea Party agenda is simply more political posturing disguised as concern. It is not a legitimate fear because it's simply not grounded in reality. Revolutionary language has been part of our political dialogue from the very beginning of our nation, and it's not going anywhere. If these "concerns" were actually valid, our nation would be awash in domestic terrorism, and it simply is not.
What bothers us is how this fake concern reduces the citizens of our country into oblivious non-actors in their own lives. If you're angry about the direction of leadership in our country, this isn't legitimate anger; you're just being manipulated by the angry rhetoric of politicians and pundits.
What a repulsive concept. Perhaps we should take a lesson from these critics and say that this argument is the ultimate result of politicians and pundits who encourage us to defer to the authority of the government, literally turning the nation into a "nanny state" of people who are no longer tasked to make adult decisions.
The obsession with the anger of the Tea Party is an attempt to dismiss all of the arguments presented by its members as illegitimate.
There is an irony here that those who seek peace internationally know that we have to make an effort to determine why citizens in other countries have such anger against us in order to counter these influences.
But at home, these same folks do not seem to have the strength of will to apply the same principles in order to truly analyze Americans' anger directed toward their own leaders, except to find ways to either harness it to buttress their own arguments or to simplistically dismiss it.
Politcal speeches designed to guilt trip angry Americans into "toning it down" are likely to backfire, inspire defensiveness, and make the fracture even worse.
We'll take a million political advertisements with crosshairs and targets on them over a blatant political agenda insidiously disguised as allegedly non-partisan "public concern."