Tragedy in Tucson

The shooting at a Safeway supermarket in Tucson last Saturday has dominated national news for the last several days. Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman, left 6 dead and 14 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Initial investigations indicate Loughner planned the shooting in advance.

The motive behind the shooting has become the subject of intense scrutiny and the genesis of much discussion. Media and political pundits have turned the shooting into a debate over political rancor. There is a growing number of people who seem bent on turning this event into a referendum on divergent civil discourse.

Of concern is the growing evidence Loughner was not motivated by political concerns. He is a mentally disturbed individual who apparently had an obsession with Rep. Giffords. Though the investigation into moves the motive for the shooting into a different realm, commentators have turned the shooting into a ‘cause celeb’ to urge a review of laws regarding acceptable public speech.  Their conclusion is this: Problem—Conservative leaders and speakers are rabble-rousers who stir up lunatics like Loughner then send them out to commit violence against liberals. Solution—Make it illegal to criticize or say anything negative about the other side.

What lends weight to their agenda is the utterly obscene actions of the Westboro Baptist church. You may have heard of these folk. They are the people who for a while now have been going to the funerals of US military killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan to protest! Yes, you read that right; these fools protest at funerals. They claim that every US soldier killed in action is an act of God Who is judging our country for its wickedness. They hold placard & signs at the funerals for soldiers expressing a sort of glee that our men are being killed.

These imbeciles from Westboro Baptist Church said they intended to show up at the funeral for Christina Green, the 9 year old girl who was one of Loughner’s victims.  A statement from the church said, “God sent the shooter to deal with idolatrous America.” When informed of Westboro’s plans to picket Thursday’s funeral, lawmakers in Arizona passed a unanimous resolution prohibiting such protests near funerals.

Take careful note of that. As utterly reprehensible as Westboro’s actions are, lawmakers unanimously passed a law gutting the right to free speech.

PLEASE don’t get me wrong. I’m outraged by the misrepresentation of God Westboro Baptist Church is giving. They couldn’t be more wrong. God may indeed be judging our nation. But the God of the Bible doesn’t send mentally-deranged killers to gun down 9 year old girls! To say He does suggests to me the requirement of intense divine displeasure. Just ask Moses what happens when you misrepresent God as a petty and angry judge. God is a righteous Judge who judges in righteousness. He doesn’t “send” the insane to murder the innocent.

But Westboro’s idiocy pushes forward the agenda of those who want to silence “the other side.” Just as millions of Americans assumed most Muslims shared a similar mindset as the terrorists who flew plans into buildings on 9/11, so millions will assume many Christians share a mindset similar to the fools from Westboro Baptist Church. Today, it’s illegal to protest at a funeral. (Common sense should prohibit such foolishness, not a civil code) What will be prohibited by law tomorrow?