I've said for a long time that the words and images we use have consequences. After witnessing the violent rhetoric ramped up over the past couple years, and its perpetrators treated with kid gloves by the media, it's actually surprising that the shooting of a Congressional representative hasn't happened sooner. Giffords has been the target of violence in the past, when her office window was smashed after her vote in favor of the health care bill last year. And of course the Queen Bee of Tea, Sarah Palin (whose motto is "Don't Retreat - RELOAD") last year released a graphic that included shooting range style targets aimed at a number of Democratic Congressional members who had voted in favor of the health care bill. Gun-themed events aimed at "removing" Rep. Giffords certainly don't help matters. Last year, we had a Senatorial candidate from Nevada who'd spoken in the past of the need to resort to a "Second Amendment solution" in order to achieve political objectives. It doesn't take much imagination that these political leaders (mainly tied these days to the "Tea Party") and their counterparts on cable "news" channels and talk radio have been inciting violence for a long time. You reap what you sow eventually. In this case, there are several people dead, including a 9-year old kid. As a parent, I can tell you that bit of news in particular sickens me, every bit as much as the goons who bombed numerous kids to death in OKC did back in 1995.
At the moment little is known about the shooter, Jared Laughner, but it is safe to say that if the news media isn't all over the story, plenty of bloggers are. (note that now we're learning his name is Jared Lee Loughner - apparently a gun nut and conspiracy nut).