Saturday, January 14, 2012


It’s been a little over one year since U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot while hosting a community outreach program called “Congress on Your Corner” in Tucson, Arizona. The deranged “suspect” one Jared Lee Loughner in an apparent premeditated assassination attempt on Giffords, killed six and wounded 13 other people including Giffords. The dead included John Roll, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court of Arizona and 9-year-old clear-eyed and optimistic Christina Taylor Green, who was ironically born on Sept. 11, 2001. You may remember Christina as featured in Christine Naman’s Faces of Hope that chronicled one baby from each US state (Christina represented Pennsylvania) born on the day terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York.

This story continues to evolve and is far from over. We have honored those whose lives Loughner took so blindly in his bloody rampage. But we do have survivors including Giffords who continue to inspire us daily. That Giffords survived this attack is testament to blind luck, Gabby’s courage and tenacity and incredible support from her Family, Friends, Colleagues and the medical community.

When we look back at this event in another year or even a decade we hope to find a restored Gabby Giffords living her dream to the fullest extent possible. Well done, Gabby. We will agree that one of the biggest losses of this unthinkable tragedy was the murder of nine year old Christina Green who appeared to have unlimited potential. She was described as a passionate “take charge kind of girl” who appeared on a fast track and the epitome of all that is good in our society. Would that we could conjure a future with her though one without her will be all too easy to assess. In a magnanimous gesture Christine’s parents donated her corneas which saved the sight of two other children. An inspirational President Obama was superb in the memorial held for the victims of this senseless violence charging us all to, “Live up to her (Christina’s) expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.”

Christina’s Mother and many others feel that the now all too common rancorous and divisive political dialogue contributed in part to this tragedy. God only knows what was and remains in Loughner’s head – he surely doesn’t. Loughner is now forcibly and highly medicated and while once violent and confrontational; his most recent public appearances have found him placid, non- communicative and mostly expressionless. His now infamous mug shot smirk is gone. Doctors tell us he is remorseful about those he killed while others opine that he just feels cheated and despondent he wasn’t successful in his assassination attempt.

There is no doubt that the disturbed soul we know as Jared Lee Loughner without any hesitation pulled the trigger on the gun that killed and wounded so many that January day in 2011. He has been charged and indicted for murder though currently held mentally incompetent to stand trial. Jurisprudence aside, it’s a cruel hoax that we still have to call Loughner a suspect or alleged killer though a testament to the integrity and fairness of our justice system. Whether he can be rehabilitated and ultimately held accountable for his actions is unlikely. Loughner will surely be confined for the rest of his life. Your tax dollars at work…

Even at that no one individual or group of folks can mete out what will be considered by all as appropriate justice. I would be pleased to once again believe in that place some call Hell and then put Loughner in there for eternity and a day and slip the devil a tip or two for an additional, unexpected prod every now and then.

I know that I am not in a good place regarding Loughner and frankly surprised that my reaction has been so visceral. I am not satisfied, however, with the explanation that Loughner was/is insane. The deliberate, well planned nature of Loughner’s very specific and then random nonsensical attacks characterized by many as “political insurgency” turn me away from any compassion and has prompted a strong and alarming personal introspection. My apologies, ladies and gentlemen, as there will be no mercy from this writer who thinks that death for Loughner, however ill, would be way too easy. And, as his attorneys have demanded, please take Loughner off all his meds so his pain and anguish will be felt at the highest, most excruciating level.

From what I have read and seen it would appear that much of the anger and rage currently vented on society was fomented because of the prevailing insufferable divisive behaviors and practices that separate rather than join and appeal to the ill and desperate who cannot resist the temptation to act on their paranoid delusions. Loughner is at least partially the surrogate for a much larger culpable body…

So, now to the high road, the silver lining and the positive lessons we can take from this tragedy. That would be the recognition of lives well lived, examples of commendable service to the Community and Nation, a continuing tenacious, remarkable and inspiring recovery by Gabby, the heroics of those who saved the lives of so many and the continuing inspiration of a young girl who has already had such a positive impact on our lives.


Ned Buxton

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