Commentary: Can we end the political trash talk please?

The Fresno BeeJanuary 11, 2011 

The echoes of bullets still could be heard in Tucson, Ariz., when the political spinning began.

It's an indictment of the times that political schemers of all stripes believe it's a sin to waste a tragedy -- especially when there's an insatiable media to feed.

So, the elected sheriff of Pima County told us to cool down the overheated political rhetoric.

The left pointed out that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been targeted for defeat in the mid-terms by Sarah Palin with a bull's-eye marking Giffords' district on websites.

The right answered that Giffords, a centrist Democrat, had been targeted with similar imagery by left-wing bloggers.

The reality is that the alleged shooter was a troubled young man whose political leanings were all over the map. Six people are dead and a congresswoman clings to life, most likely because a man with mental illness listened to the voices in his head.

I would love for the demonization of people and ideas to stop. But it's not soon happening for several reasons.

Technology has afforded everyone a megaphone and, amid all the shouting, many politicians and pundits feel the necessity to shout louder or make news with outrageous statements. Some of those megaphones are bigger than others, and those with the loudest voices bear the greatest responsibility.

Sane voices are drowned out. Cool heads are judged to be from another generation. Civil disagreement is found boring or even weak. Evil intentions are assigned to legitimate differences in policy. Attention goes to the name-callers and the professional polarizers.

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