Billie Stanton Commentary

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Former editor of the Tucson Citizen, Billie Stanton, now the managing editor of the Montrose Daily Press in Colorado, wrote this editorial opinion for her friend, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Hate speech? Just bite that bullet (Montrose, CO):

The slender young woman with long chestnut hair slipped onto the patio at the Shanty one Friday evening in May 2004, wearing jeans and a vintage buckskin jacket with long-fringed sleeves.

"Are you the new editorial writer?" she asked. Yes, and what do you do? "I work for the state." Oh. In what agency? "For the Senate." Doing what? "Well, I'm a state senator."

That was my introduction to Gabrielle Giffords, a woman so modest, kind, brilliant, generous and lovely that she can't help but befriend everyone she meets, from right-wing conservatives to left-wing liberals like me.

Gabby now is being described as a moderate, centrist Democrat in her third term in Congress, a former Republican and a leader among the Blue Dog Democrats intent on curbing federal spending.

That's accurate but incomplete. Friends and colleagues know Gabby doesn't simply sit in the middle. She agonizes over every issue, doing deep research, weighing the pros and cons and listening hard to her constituents. Then she votes by her convictions and conscience, ever mindful of what's best for her beloved hometown of Tucson, state of Arizona and United States of America.

She is the quintessential patriot and devoted public servant. And when she recovers from being shot through the head during a massacre Saturday, she will be grieving the deaths of:

• Her accomplished aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30, whose passion in life was helping people.

• Christina Taylor Green, 9, who had just been elected to her school's student council.

• Arizona Chief U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63, a respected jurist and devout Catholic.

• Dorwan Stoddard, 76, killed while shielding his wife, Mavanell, who was wounded nonetheless but is recovering in University Medical Center.

• Dorothy "Dot" Morris, 76, whose husband also tried to protect her and is hospitalized with two gunshot wounds.

• And Phyllis Schneck, 79, a widow who spent her winters in Tucson.

Gabby also undoubtedly will want to visit her dear friend Clarence Dupnik, the 30-year elected sheriff of Pima County, Ariz., who now is taking a whole lot of unwarranted heat.

Anyone who knows Dupnik could read his emotions on television Saturday morning soon after the massacre ” fury at the gunman who perpetrated such senseless slaughter, and grief over the victims, including the judge and the congresswoman he has known for years.

He's a 52-year lawman, a peacekeeper. So Dupnik is understandably concerned by any actions that may incite violence. And rightly so.

Last year, during Gabby's third campaign for Congress, tea party opponent Jesse Kelly ran a notice:

Sat, 6/12/10, 10:00 AM ” Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.

Sarah Palin posted her notorious on-line map with crosshairs overlaying every district held by Democrats including Gabby's. (The ever-perky Palin also infamously intoned: "We don't retreat. We reload.")

Hours after the health-care reform bill was passed, with Gabby's "yea" vote, someone shattered the congresswoman's glass office door in Tucson.

And last Feb. 17, as she headed back to a storm-wracked Washington, D.C., Gabby e-mailed me saying, "The climate at home is not much better."

Congress should be the perfect place for Gabby assuming we want good governance. But an atrocious incongruity looms between a superb, smart, civilized woman and the vile, ammunition-oriented, crude approach taken by those who sought to unseat her.

We all know Saturday's massacre was wrought not by rhetoric, but by a madman. Dupnik never suggested otherwise contrary to the sputtering by those commentators who methinks doth protest too much.

But we also know that ignorant people and unstable people are vulnerable to the power of suggestion. So why use guns and crosshairs as campaign symbols? Why marinate the airwaves with personal attacks and hate speech citing weapons and ammo?

As Gabby noted after Palin's on-line posting: Such actions have consequences.

We may never know what molded the demented viewpoints of shooting suspect Jared Loughner, whose on-line rants reveal his paranoia and hatred toward our government.

But we can and must curb our vicious, violent diatribes. If it will prevent even one person from succumbing to such depravity, if it will save even one little girl, then surely we Americans can return to civilized, respectful dialogue.

Billie Stanton is managing editor of the Montrose Daily Press.

0 responses to “Billie Stanton Commentary

  1. Daniel Hernandez is a remarkable man – no matter what age – for many reasons. My feeling is he will go far & exxcel in any career he chooses. His bravery, humanity & humility SHOULD be a lesson for us all, unfortunately with all the rhetoric Daniel’s grace will go unnoticed except by a few.