What has become of our country when a Member of Congress, holding a meet-and-greet in a suburban supermarket, can be gunned down along with others in an act of senseless violence?
During the 2010 mid-term election campaign, the rhetoric from the "far right" "tea party conservative" crowd was filled with violent imagery, the language of war and conflict. See the map from sarahpac.com with target bullseyes on several democratic districts, including the Tuscon district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a moderate Democrat.
Even worse, Rep. Giffords' opponent, Jesse Kelley, prominently displayed guns and camouflage uniforms in campaign ads and materials.
Of course, it is way too early to tie the shooter to these overt political messages. But it is not too early to speak out against phrases like "Reload, don't retreat," against carrying and displaying weapons at political events, against literally targeting political opponents with the language and images of weapons.