My Thoughts on the Tucson Shooting

“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” 1 Corinthians 10:23. Paul is writing about freedom in Christ, but his reasoning applies equally well to our First Amendment freedom of speech. We may never know what role gun metaphors and unchecked vitriol played in the shooting in Tucson last Saturday. Perhaps it inspired a tragically unbalanced young man to direct his violent rage toward a member of Congress. Perhaps it was merely a coincidence that his victim’s district had been identified in a campaign ad behind the crosshairs of a gun. Assuming it is the latter, viewing those ads now is still painful. Surely those who created the ads wish they had not. Whether or not vitriolic rhetoric is to blame for the murders, why shouldn’t we use this as an “excuse” to exercise our rights, our freedom to speak more constructively and beneficially.

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