You know, there has been a lot of talk about whether or not the deranged guy in Arizona was influenced by political ads and stuff posted online by candidates or former candidates. In my mind, the issue of the violent imagery and language in politics is separate and regardless of whether this guy ever saw a single political ad, it's time that our politicians realized that their words and images have weight.
These people are supposed to be representative of our society, our country and ourselves. They are thus the definition of role models and should realize that people are going to give their words credence. The violent words and imagery are not confined to one side or the other. Both sides are equally guilty - regardless of who used this form of demonization most in the most recent elections. They need to understand that there are deranged and unstable people out there and be responsible for their words. They need to realize this responsibility prior to a tragedy unfolding.
Yes, we have "free speech" in our country; but in fact of law, you are not free to shout "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre. Nor should you be free to call for "reloading". Nor should you be free to place gunsights or bullseyes on cities where your opponent in an election lives and list those opponents or give any address information that is not a public record. I am not free to call the state trooper who pulled me over any names, I would get arrested. I am not free to call for the death of any public official (nor would I ever) in writing or in verbal form. I am not free to post or utter lies about anybody without there being legal remedies for the person who I transgressed against (Libel/Slander). I also am not free to publish national secrets or sensitive information about armaments and gun placements in any battles. We are free to question whether our elected officials are doing their jobs properly, if we are involved in a war that is morally or legally correct, if a candidate for public office is telling the truth about their own pasts and positions. THIS is what "free speech" is about. The ability to call to task or question our elected representatives about their activities and beliefs and how they are representing us. This is direct opposition to what the colonists were allowed to do in terms of the King.
I think it's time that we as a people take our representatives to task and require that they be responsible for their postings and utterances. We should turn our backs on any person either currently in public/elected office or aspiring to a position in public or elected office and deny them our votes if they use violent imagery or language. We should allow criminal proceedings against those who use violent imagery and words which is then used as justification to kill or maim another living being. Our public officials should be held to a higher standard than the average person in our society. They sought out an exalted position and thus should realize that there are standards to holding it. There are responsibilities to holding it. Their words carry weight and are used to influence and convince others. If they didn't think their words had weight and could influence people, why would they use them? Why, then, do they choose the words that they choose? I think that this grass-roots effort could cross party lines and unite us as a society in ways that politicians actually dream about.