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Thoughts About The Arizona Shootings

Over the weekend, everyone was asking for prayers for those injured and killed in the Arizona shootings. As a person of reason, I cannot give any prayers because I don’t believe there is anyone to answer them. But I do wish to share my thoughts and hopes.

As a progressive Democrat, I don’t always agree with Congresswoman Gifford on some issues (like immigration), but her strong support for America’s Space Program is something that has earned her my deepest respect. For a Humanist like me, the Space Program is a symbol of human potential. Congresswoman Gifford as been a tireless advocate for that program and her husband has been an active participant in that program, going where few people have gone before. I hope for Congresswoman Gifford’s quick recovery so that she can go back to the House and continue the fight for America’s future in space.

But even if she were someone who I disagreed with on every issue (like Sarah Palin), I would not wish for her to be harmed. We live but one life and taking life makes us less of who we are. Violence is an attack on the intellect. It is an acknowledgement that we can’t change minds with logical and reason. Violence therefore is the last resort to only be used in self defense. Our political system is based on dialog not violence.

This is why I object so strongly to the term “militant atheist.” Aside from Stalin, atheists really aren’t militant. You will no doubt hear in the coming weeks that the shooter, Jared Loughner was an “ardent atheist.” This is both a good and bad thing. First, the term “militant” generally is identified with the fringe of a movement. The Religious Right doesn’t want Loughner to be a fringe atheist. They want him to represent the main stream so that they can use him to attack us all.

Second, as a point of fact, he wasn’t a militant atheist. His atheism had absolutely nothing to do with his attack. Aside from probable mental issues, Loughner was an anti-government/conspiracy theory kind of guy. When the right wing rail against the government they are speaking to him.

Loughner planned his attack in part because he was mentally unstable and from some reports probably a sociopath. That added to his paranoia of a “New World Order” and the view that all government is evil (as propagated by the Right) pushed him over the edge.

More thoughts to follow in the coming days.

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