Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at close range outside a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday morning as a gunman opened fire and shot her and more than a dozen other people.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said the gunman, 22-year-old suspect Jared Lee Loughner, waited in line to approach Giffords and shot her in the head from about two feet away. Loughner then reportedly opened fire and at least six people were killed in Saturday’s rampage, with 13 injured, including Giffords.
Federal Judge John Roll, 63, was among those killed, and he was stopping by the event on the way back from attending Mass. He had been appointed by pro-life President George Bush in 1991 at the recommendation of Sen. John McCain.
Church of Christ pastor Dorwan Stoddard, a 9-year-old girl who was shot in the chest, Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, 76, and Phyllis Schneck, 79, were among those killed in the senseless act.
The issue of abortion has been a significant one in the response to the shootings.
The social networking web site Twitter became an early place for people on all sides of the debate to easily weigh in with their comments in response, and it quickly became a bastion of misinformation. Apparently based on early reports wrongly indicating Giffords was shot because she was pro-life, Twitter became dominated by comments from those who claimed she opposed abortion.
“Gabby Giffords voted against amnesty and was pro-life,” a frequently re-tweeted message said.
Yet, according to the National Right to Life Committee, Giffords had a 100% pro-abortion record during the 2009-2010 session of Congress, including supporting the ObamaCare bill that funds abortions. Although she supports legalized abortion, Giffords, who barely defeated her pro-life Republican opponent Jesse Kelly in November, does take conservative stands on other political issues, including immigration.
That didn’t stop prominent liberals from blaming pro-life advocates.
“Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin,” tweeted Daily Kos founder Mark Moulistas after the shooting — in a comment that received significant criticism from conservative activists.
And NOW president Terry O’Neill, the head of the pro-abortion women’s group, blamed “extreme right-wing opponents” just hours after the tragic shooting and called for a Justice Department investigation “to the fullest extent of federal anti-terrorist legislation” to determine whether the shooting was “part of a conspiracy.”
“Conservatives cannot have it both ways, screaming sexist, racist and homophobic slurs at legislators as they vote for health care reform, putting legislators on a violence-inciting ‘Targets’ list, and then simply saying how sorry they are when someone explodes into murder,” she said. “We call on Republican leaders to do more than disavow hatred, hostility and violence-laden speech as a political tool.”
Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz Saturday evening denounced his colleagues for behaving so unprofessionally, according to a Newsbusters report.
“Let’s be honest: Journalists often use military terminology in describing campaigns. We talk about the air war, the bombshells, targeting politicians, knocking them off, candidates returning fire or being out of ammunition. So we shouldn’t act shocked when politicians do the same thing. Obviously, Palin should have used dots or asterisks on her map. But does anyone seriously believe she was trying to incite violence?”
“This isn’t about a nearly year-old Sarah Palin map; it’s about a lone nutjob who doesn’t value human life. It would be nice if we briefly put aside partisan differences and came together with sympathy and support for Gabby Giffords and the other victims, rather than opening rhetorical fire ourselves,” he added.
That didn’t stop MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann from saying, “If Sarah Palin, whose website put and today scrubbed bullseye targets on 20 representatives including Gabby Giffords, does not repudiate her own part in amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics, she must be dismissed from politics.”
Yet the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, and Jane Fonda are trying to use this sad event as an opportunity to silence conservative voices in this nation.
Media watchdog Noel Sheppard noted: “It was fairly clear to anyone with an above room temperature intelligence quotient from the moment this story broke that liberal media members would immediately point fingers at conservatives. I was actually counting the minutes before the first such accusations were lodged, and was by no means surprised by what ensued.
“I’m not shocked, Keith,” he added. “He did exactly what I expected which much like Kurtz leaves me feeling depressed beyond belief for I fear this incident is going to become a clarion call by folks like Olbermann and his ilk to further push for censorship of conservative views on the airwaves.”
Back on Twitter, the conversation has turned towards blaming pro-life advocates for the shooting.
“Who wants to bet whether or not the scumbag that shot 18 people in Arizona was ‘pro-life,'” numerous Twitter users re-tweeted, adding that pro-life people are supposedly “hypocrites.”
Another said, “Pro-life groups in US: full of guns and hate, and they shot people.”
“So the AZ shooter was pro-life. Those pro-lifers sure are violent. A confused bunch of hypocrites. Ever heard of non-violent change? Try it,” another said, claiming Loughner was pro-life but basing the claim on no substantiating information.
Other Twitter users sent out tweets saying pro-life people are never victims of such attacks, despite the shooting death of James Pouillon, who protested abortion outside a local high school in central Michigan and was shot because the shooter didn’t like his use of graphic abortion pictures.
Meanwhile, the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life legal group, condemned the shooting death of Judge John Roll:
“Chief Judge Roll was a great lawyer, sound jurist, and a long-time friend,” ADF general counsel Alan Sears told LifeNews.com.
He added: “Our hearts are deeply grieved over this tragedy. His untimely death is a huge loss for America’s judicial system and for all of us, personally. One consolation we have in our grief is that because of John’s fervent love for the Lord, he is right now rejoicing in the loving presence of his Creator. We will keep the judge’s family and his countless friends and students in our prayers.”
House Speaker John Boehner, who is pro-life, said Sunday morning that flags on the House side of the Capitol will be flown at half-staff to honor Giffords, who is still recovering, and the other victims.