I learned that Representative Giffords was shot shortly before leaving home on Saturday morning. I was preparing to co-host the Inside Track radio show with its owner, Emil Franzi.
We opened the show with what little we knew of the attack, and took a call. The caller wasted no time in blaming our show in particular, and talk radio in general, for inspiring the attack. He had no evidence, of course, nor did he have much in the way of reasoned thought, just the meme.
Good News Communications, which owns a number of radio stations including KVOI on which Inside Track is heard, organized a non-denominational prayer vigil for the victims of the Laughner attack. It was scheduled for 12:00 PM, on Sunday. My wife and I attended.
We arrived around noon, and stood quietly with others waiting for the event to begin. I noticed an acquaintance of mine talking to someone, a bit too loudly. I was not close by, but I caught phrases like â€œ…Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, thatâ€™s why these things happen…..that bumper sticker, Voice of Freedom, thatâ€™s a right wing code word….â€ I thought of saying something, but checked myself and we moved farther away from her.
The head organizer addressed the crowd. He explained that the purpose of the event was to bring the community together in prayer, and that it was held in front of the old courthouse instead of a church to be inclusive of all faiths. I noticed that my acquaintance had disappeared – I guess she figured out that it was not a political rally. The speaker proceeded to deliver a tone-down-the-rhetoric speech. I cringed. Though it was a somewhat eloquent speech, it assumed that political rhetoric had something to do with the attack.
A new speaker stepped up to lead the gathering in prayer and a period of silent meditation. Finally, the speaker offered anyone an opportunity to recite a prayer aloud. I had a bad feeling about this. After a half a dozen or so prayers, an old guy with a ponytail was given the nod. It was not long before hisâ€œprayerâ€ slipped into a rant with phrases like, â€œwhere were you when the haters passed SB1070!?â€, and more subtle condemnations like, â€œand now theyâ€™re attacking the school children,â€ a reference, I assume, to the controversial TUSD La Raza Studies program. The speaker slowly walked over to where the pony-tailed guy was standing and whispered something. The pony-tailed guy got a few more licks in as the speaker walked away.
Sunday evening, I reluctantly took a look at Facebook. To my relief, most of my friends, regardless of their politics, were not engaged in finger-pointing or political opportunism. It was comforting.