The LuLac Edition #1434, Jan. 12th, 2011
PHOTO INDEX: OUR "WRITE ON WEDNESDAY" LOGO, DR. JOSEPH LEONARDI AND FORMER CONGRESSMAN PAUL KANJORSKI. THE TWO SQUARED OFF AGAINST EACH OTHER IN THE 2006 GENERAL ELECTION.
WRITE ON WEDNESDAY
Much has been written about the shooting in Tucson Arizona this past week. What better perspective to get on this tragedy than two people who were in the political arena. One for a short time, the other for decades. Here are two points of view from two people who actually ran against each other in 2006. Paul Kanjorski was going for his 12th term in Congress. He was being challenged by Dr. Joseph Leonardi. Here are the opinions of the two men who were in a political battle against each other and their thoughts on the recent developments.
THE TUCSON TRAGEDY
by Doctor Joseph Leonardi
It is Sarah Palin’s fault!
Right wing talk radio was the trigger!
Those angry teaparty folks are at the cause!
Everyone seems to blame everyone. Yet, for some reason, no one wants to blame the alleged gunman. Am I missing something?
I was listening to this morning’s local talk radio. Nancy Kman stated something to the effect that we should be more cautious in what we say and that certain words could be responsible for triggering a mentally unbalanced person. That sentiment immediately brought before me a thought of abused women who stay in relationships. One I knew in particular, after she left, would say; “As long as I didn’t push his buttons he wouldn’t hit me, for the longest time I thought that it was my fault he hit me, you know.... because I would do or say something that would upset him.”
I have to wonder is this what we have come to in society.
Are we all to be so afraid that the wrong word, the wrong comment, the wrong treatment of someone who MAY BE unbalanced will spur him or her onto a shooting spree?
Are we now to apply what is obviously flawed logic in an abusive situation to society at large?
Are we now to reason that we are responsible for another’s illegal and immoral actions?
I am responsible for myself and in turn, no one is responsible for me. I cannot, nor should I be, responsible for the actions of others and in turn no is responsible for my actions. We can’t control anyone but ourselves. It is one of the main points I focus on with people who seek my assistance in losing weight. It is as true in maintaining one’s health as it is in anything else in life. You can only control you, attempting to control someone else is futile.
Additionally, I have to ask how we are:
ONE supposed to know someone is unbalanced and TWO what would be THEIR trigger.
I had a brief flirtation with the world of politics. I ran a losing campaign for Congress and I spent a brief period of time acting as a political analyst for WYOU. In the grand scheme, I was an insignificant blip on the radar.
However, I can relate three occasions that happened during my campaign that caused me some concern. Two of the three involved the same person, so I will relate those together second.
The first incident occurred in Monroe County; I was campaigning at some type of event in which there were many vendors. I was introducing myself, when at one of the booths; the person behind the stand asked my party affiliation. When I answered, I was immediately assailed with a verbal onslaught of how George W. Bush was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. No efforts at reason were helpful; this person just continued raising her voice louder and louder until I simply walked away. The trigger was nothing more than my party affiliation.
The other two occurrences happened at separate times, but by the same person. The first time I was at an event in Lackawanna County, a volunteer was walking ahead of me asking people if it was okay if I introduced myself and spoke with them for a few moments. One of the people we talked with was very eager and I spent several minutes with him. His passion was obvious, and as long as I listened, everything was calm. After a significant period had passed, I advised him that I understood his concerns; I had even jotted down a few notes, and I would look into what he had told me. I went to walk on to the next person and I guess that was the trigger. He became agitated. He claimed that I was not interested in what the people had to say. I nicely tried to reason with him, that there were other people who wanted to speak with me. Finally, he seemed to relax, I’m not sure why, but he did and I was able to go on.
The second episode occurred when I was campaigning with my then wife. We were out doing a downtown tour when I caught a glimpse of this same person heading straight at us. The speed he was approaching alarmed me and I immediately placed myself between him and my then wife. Immediately a verbal barrage of accusations assailed me about our last meeting. He claimed I hid the fact that I was a Republican and his verbiage increased in both vitriol and volume. I attempted to engage him in conversation, but anything I said just amplified his anger. Finally, my now ex-wife whispered to me… and I am paraphrasing, “Subdue him or call the police.” I am not sure why, but something else captured his attention and we were able remove ourselves.
I would guess if either meant me harm, they would have done so.
The question must be asked; how is one to know the trigger? In retrospect, I don’t believe either of those folks to be mentally unbalanced, they were passionate about their convictions, but they saw my party as the cause of what was wrong and in turn, I became the object of their anger. Yet, if someone is genuinely unbalanced, inflammatory words or actions may not be something as forthright as calling someone an enemy or having a target over a congressional district.
One life lesson I have learned is that you CANNOT apply rational logic to irrational people --- that itself is a striking contradiction.
Dr. Joe Leonardi ran for Congress in 2006, has been a frequent contributor to TV and newspapers and is involved in the battle to conquer obesity in America through his program Fat Then..Fit Now. http://fatthenfitnow.wordpress.com/.
WHY POLITICIANS NEED TO STAY OUT IN THE OPEN
By Paul Kanjorski
The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords this weekend reminded me of another, similar event in 1954, when I was a page in the House of Representatives. While the House was in session, Puerto Rican nationalists burst into the gallery and shot five members of Congress assembled on the floor.
There were few security restrictions around the Capitol at the time; anyone who wanted to watch Congress in action was welcome to walk into the building and take a seat in the House or Senate public galleries. There were no metal detectors or even many Capitol Police officers. In fact, it was a congressman, James Van Zandt of Pennsylvania, who rushed from the House floor and tackled the assailants with the assistance of a gallery spectator.
Americans were shocked at the assault, but only minor security procedures were put in place afterward. Most people assumed the attack was an aberration committed by political extremists and unlikely to be repeated.
My fellow page and best friend Bill Emerson and I carried several of the wounded members off the House floor, and in the years that followed we often talked about what that searing experience had meant. We recognized that the Capitol building itself was a symbol of freedom around the world and was therefore an inviting target. But we concluded that working in the Capitol required the assumption of a certain amount of risk to one’s personal safety.
Three decades later we were both members of Congress — he as a Republican from Missouri, I as a Democrat from Pennsylvania — and we continued our debate about balancing members’ security with the imperative to remain accessible.
It wasn’t idle talk. During the run-up to the first Persian Gulf war there were threats from Middle Eastern terrorists against Congress, and the sergeant at arms tried to persuade Congress to install an iron fence around the Capitol and to encase the House gallery in bulletproof glass. We both strongly objected, and the plan was rejected.
Bill didn’t live to see 9/11, but I suspect he would have been as uneasy as I was to see barricades around the Capitol complex and complicated new procedures for visitors, who are no longer free to roam the halls without ID cards. Like most of my colleagues who witnessed the smoke rising from the Pentagon in 2001, I accepted that we had to adopt reasonable restrictions to protect our nation’s critical buildings.
Nevertheless, even in this post-9/11 world, the shooting of Ms. Giffords was especially shocking, because it was so personal. She was hunted down far from the symbolic halls of power while performing the most fundamental responsibility of her job, listening to her constituents.
As far as we know, her attacker had no grand political point; I doubt we will ever really understand his motives. What the shooting does tell us, however, is that it is impossible to eliminate the risks faced by elected officials when they interact with their constituents.
We all lose an element of freedom when security considerations distance public officials from the people. Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.
That is why the House speaker, John Boehner, spoke for everyone who has been in Congress when he said that an attack against one of us is an attack against all who serve. It is also an attack against all Americans.
More than 50 years ago, my friend Bill Emerson and I witnessed an unspeakably violent expression of a political message on the floor of the House, and we learned how easily political differences can degenerate into violence. At the same time, regardless of the political climate, there can never be freedom without risk.
Despite numerous threats, Ms. Giffords took that risk and welcomed her constituents at a grocery store in Tucson. She recognized, as we did, that accepting the risk of violence was part of the price of freedom.
Paul E. Kanjorski served in the House of Representatives from 1985 to 2011.
Article from New York Times.