Jon Stewart Addresses Arizona Shooting Like a Human Being


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In the race to politicize the killings in Arizona at the hands of Jared Loughner, amid blame and spin and false equivalencies, it’s alarming what is made secondary, namely that people lost their lives, and some in the name of public service. It raises many questions that might not have answers. “How do you make sense of these types of senseless situations?” Jon Stewart asked last night on The Daily Show, in an episode where no one will recall any joke. “I don’t know if there is a way to make sense of this senseless thing.” He did not lecture and he skipped any smugness. He just spoke, and as winding and answer-less as it seemed, it was a comfort.

“Many are reflecting and grieving and trying to figure things out, but it’s definitely true that others are working feverishly to find the tidbit or two that will exonerate their side from blame or implicate the other,” Stewart said. “Did the toxic political environment cause this? A graphic image here, an ill-timed comment, violent rhetoric, those sort of things?”

He paused. “I have no fucking idea.”

“We live in a complex ecosystem of influences and motivations and I wouldn’t blame our political rhetoric any more than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine,” Stewart said.

But he didn’t stop for a soundbite, instead favoring nuance. “I do think that it’s important for us to watch our rhetoric,” he continued. “I do think that it’s a worthwhile goal not to conflate our political opponents with our enemies if for no other reason than to draw a better distinction between the manifesto of paranoid mad men and what passes for acceptable political pundit speak.” Let’s consider it something to aspire to.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 11, 2011

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