The lessons we must learn from the Giffords shooting

As Eesha pointed out yesterday, Representative Gabby Giffords announced that she would step down in a moving video. This, of course, was just over a year after being shot, along with 11 others, six of whom died, by a man should never have had access to a gun. It was also nearly two years after Sarah Palin put Giffords in her crosshairs, “targeting” her for having voted for Obama’s healthcare plan.

And props to Eesha for alluding to how toxic gun-toting language, celebrated by so many on the right, contributes to tragic acts of violence such as these. Giffords, herself, warned, prophetically, that people

need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up and, you know, even things, for example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district.When people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.

Sadly, the media has been reluctant to analyze, in any real way, the issues that led up to the shooting. Perhaps they are afraid to politicize personal tragedy. But to ignore the policies and politics that led to the shooting is not only irresponsible, but trivializes the deaths and the injuries sustained by the survivors. A real media critique of the context in which the shooting happened could raise consciousness, impact legislation, and literally save lives– and would could be more personal and honorable than that?

Enter, as always, Amy Goodman and DemocracyNow!, who restore my faith in responsible journalism. I really recommend that everyone moved (as they should be) by the shooting watch the segment aired on January 9th, the one-year anniversary of the Tucson shooting. If we organize around the issues of gun violence, the deaths, suffering and trauma, will not be in vain.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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