Palin On The Giffords Shootings

Sarah Palin has released a statement on the Giffords shootings.  The above video accompanied the statement.  Here is the text of the statement:

Like millions of Americans I learned of the tragic events in Arizona on Saturday, and my heart broke for the innocent victims. No words can fill the hole left by the death of an innocent, but we do mourn for the victims’ families as we express our sympathy. 


I agree with the sentiments shared yesterday at the beautiful Catholic mass held in honor of the victims. The mass will hopefully help begin a healing process for the families touched by this tragedy and for our country.


Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic’s core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day. 


There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.


Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.


President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.


The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.


Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions.  And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.


There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.


As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, “We know violence isn’t the answer. When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote.” Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box – as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That’s who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional. 


No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.


Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply “symbolic,” as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just “symbolic.” But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.


It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.


Let us honor those precious lives cut short in Tucson by praying for them and their families and by cherishing their memories. Let us pray for the full recovery of the wounded. And let us pray for our country. In times like this we need God’s guidance and the peace He provides. We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.


America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy. We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.


– Sarah Palin

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. You don’t put out a fire by pouring more fuel on it. While well-intentioned, Palin is only opening herself up to more ridicule. She should go shoot a moose or something to relieve the stress.

  2. “A spoiled child (Bush) is telling us our Social Security isn’t safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here’s your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little b*stard. [audio of gun being cocked].” — A “humor bit” from the Randi Rhodes Show

    Lovely liberals . . . Making the world a better place . . .

  3. “President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them”

    Ironic that Palin could see the beauty of a Catholic mass, but not the beauty of Catholic teachings on original sin, the structures of sin, and the common good (not to mention common sense — i.e., proper attention to the psychotic in our society could reduce psychotic violence).

  4. As soon as you start getting civil with lies and hate, you become a permanent victim of oppression.

    That’s not God-like or Christ-like. Palin’s speech is about as civil as a rational human being can be while having the rhetorical equivalent of burning feces shoveled at her at high speed from 12 different directions.

  5. Nate,

    It strikes me that one of the major differences between progressives and conservatives is the extent to which they believe in free will.

    Obviously, everyone agrees that actions of society have some effect on the actions of individuals. I’m not aware of anyone holding the position that the actions of individuals occur in a total vacuum, uncause and unaffected by outside actions.

    However, progressives generally tend to focus nearly entirely on societal causes, to the point of suggesting that if someone is poor or oppressed or abused as a child, etc, they must commit crimes and can’t be blamed at all. Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to emphasize that while someone may be motivated by such outside forces, each person decides himself whether to commit a crime or not, and those who choose to do so should not be excused because of those motivations.

    The same divide applies, to a great extent, to discussion of “structures of sin” within Catholic circles. Progressive Catholics often seem to feel that all one ever need focus on is structures of sin, and that if they can somehow be eliminated (how exactly this is going to happen is never exactly clear) no one will sin. Conservative Catholics acknowledge the power of temptations and occasions of sin in driving people commit sins, but they at the same time hold that it is the individual person’s responsibility not to sin.

    I suppose that, out of context, one can worry that Palin’s comment (and the quote from Reagan it includes) suggests that the wider society has no effect on a criminal, but I think that pretty clearly her actual intent. For instance, many (especially on the right) have observered that given that this fellow had been making death threats against various people in his community for several years and the police had done nothing about it, there was a very clear opportunity for this whole tragedy to be prevented. I don’t think anyone is against such an idea.

  6. And I agree with her 100%, by the way. Maybe she should be the president – nothing would make the left finally make good on their promises to move to France or Zimbabwe than a Palin presidency.

  7. Nate,

    I don’t know that Palin can’t see the beauty of the Church’s teaching on original sin and the structures of sin or not. I don’t think the remark follows from what was said by her or the Reagan quote. While I will agree with you that our societal handling of the psychotic appears to be lacking, I’m not so sure that it constitutes a genuine structure of sin. Nor do I think that because societal sin exists, that there is no such thing as personal sin. If we were to weight structural sin and directly connect it to every personal sin there would be no personal guilt, a denial of free will and original sin even. In fact, I would consider a system that faults itself for every person’s choice to be a structure of sin!

    Directly to the our deficiency with the mentally ill, I think it’s a very hard call. Currently the default is to err on the side of a person’s will rather than the needs of the collective. It may help ensure justice for individual people, but could lack the the justice due the common good. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible to create a system to benefit the common good at the expense of justice due to individual persons. I think the most unfortunate thing is that state funding for mental health services is not sexy and not something politicians are likely to prioritize. OTOH, stuff like that is prone to become unnecessarily bloated, expensive, and abusive. I think ideally what we need are some specialized charitable orgs that states can contribute funding to and maintain some generally reasonable regulatory oversight. Of course, there are always pitfalls to that too!

    See…that something is not perfect, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is bad. It may be not as good as some, or better than others, but to think there could be any sort of mental health system (or any system for that matter) that could not be accused of being a structure of sin is not dealing in reality. It all hinges on the free will, knowledge, intelligence, and selflessness of these things we call fallen man.

  8. Yeah, the statement is actually one of the best written and most balanced ones that has come out from a major politician. I was pretty impressed.

    Well, okay, I’ll admit that I also thought, “Wow, I wonder who her writer is,” but then, that’s the case with any politician. Even the notoriously silver-tongued Obama writes virtually none of his own stuff.

  9. “Ironic that Palin could see the beauty of a Catholic mass, but not the beauty of Catholic teachings on original sin, the structures of sin, and the common good…”

    Of course authentic Catholic teaching on original sin teaches that one can avoid mortal sin in all cases (murder included.) It also teaches that structures of sin are the result of individual, personal sin and not impersonal forces that one is overwhealmed by. It also teaches that even in the face of structures of sin, the person is free to resist sin and live a life guided by grace.

    That is the beauty of Catholic teaching.

  10. The Catholic teaching on structures of sin:

    “Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (December 2, 1984), n. 16: “Whenever the Church speaks of situations of sin, or when she condemns as social sins certain situations or the collective behavior of certain social groups, big or small, or even of whole nations and blocs of nations, she knows and she proclaims that such cases of social sin are the result of the accumulation and concentration of many personal sins. It is a case of the very personal sins of those who cause or support evil or who exploit it; of those who are in a position to avoid, eliminate or at least limit certain social evils but who fail to do so out of laziness, fear or the conspiracy of silence, through secret complicity or indifference; of those who take refuge in the supposed impossibility of changing the world, and also of those who sidestep the effort and sacrifice required, producing specious reasons of a higher order. The real responsibility, then, lies with individuals. A situation – or likewise an institution, a structure, society itself – is not in itself the subject of moral acts. Hence a situation cannot in itself be good or bad”

    I find it interesting that identified as contributing to structures of sin are those who “exploit” evil. That is certainly the case of those seeking to make political hay out of this event. Even some of our fellow Catholics.

  11. The last major politician I can think of to write most of his own speeches was Reagan. He would use speech writers, but he would almost alway use their efforts as first drafts, and he would make extensive changes and revisions, not counting the changes he would make often as he was giving the speech. Most politicians act as if they haven’t even read the speech written by staffers before they deliver it.

  12. the structures of sin

    Nate, I am not sure that phrase means what you think it means. Some of the biggest “structures of sin” are perpetuated by progressives – the legality of abortion, the twisting of freedom into license, the attempt to destroy the family structure, the promotion of the culture of death, and on and on. It seems many progressives are the ones who fail to the the beauty of the Church teachings on the structures of sin.

  13. I wish that all the sons and daughters of the Church who hold elective office in this Country had the same position on abortion as Palin does. If they did, abortion would be illegal before the end of the year. When it comes to abortion, Palin is a lot more “Catholic” than many people who claim the title but don’t walk the walk.

  14. Art, by taking the bait, Palin will spark yet another round of name-calling (see separate post with twitter comments), ratcheting up the rhetoric. However, I understand her reaction and I suppose it is necessary to counter the ‘blood libel,’ as she puts it. In defending herself, however, she will be recast as the ‘aggressor’ in the eyes of some. Either way, she can’t win.

  15. The problem is that she has already been cast as a bad guy in the minds of her detractors. Nothing she can say or do is likely to change their minds or hearts. However, to the degree that she states the truth it matters not what else they say or how they think of her.

  16. Palin 2012!

    Sarah Plain is pro-life, pro-family, pro-personal responsibility, pro-economic growth and development. She is closer to true Catholicism than the hypocrites that habitually vote for abortion; gay privileges; brainwashing public school children into ignorant, useless, immoral hellions; class hatred and warfare, i.e., any dem candidate, e.g., Obama.

    I’m pretty sure you won’t be getting into Heaven if you vote for all-abortion, all the time dem candidates . . . Lord, have mercy.

  17. On Intrade, Palin’s odds of winning the GOP nomination is down 25% since the shooting and is now at the lowest point since resigning as governor. Romney’s up over 20% but still well below his high. The odds of a 2nd term for Obama are also up sharply but well below its high.

  18. Art, by taking the bait, Palin will spark yet another round of name-calling (see separate post with twitter comments), ratcheting up the rhetoric.

    And you’re holding her responsible, you poseur. She is not under any obligation to adopt the psychology of the wife-beater.

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