Monday, January 10, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords Shooting

This post is seemingly way off topic to the world of wine law.  However, with the fact that wineries/retailers and distributors are in a political dispute over HR 5034, I for one think that anyone involved in politics needs to sit back and think about the shootings in Arizona.  The events in Arizona are a tragedy that will be made worse, if we do not learn from them.

In reading about the events, I wanted to quote from Marty Kaplan's blog, as it resonated with me for two reasons.  "If you're worried that violent video games may make kids prone to bad behavior; if you think that misogynic and homophobic rap lyrics are dangerous to society; if you believe that a nipple in a Superbowl halftime show is a threat to our moral fabric - then surely you should also fear that the way public and media figures have framed political participation with shooting gallery imagery is just as potentially lethal."  Marty is specifically refering to the Palin Pac ads with gunsights on Ms. Giffords district, and the fund raising efforts of Ms. Giffords opponent that included the opportunity to shoot a fully automatic M 16.  This resonated with me for two reasons.  The first is that rhetoric does matter.  The second is that there is no way to correlate these events with any rhetoric, as opposed to the mental imbalance of the shooter. Finally, I am not advocating the we regulate anybody but ourselves in the face of this tragedy.
When we look back at history, we see the strong effect that rhetoric has had.  I do not think anyone in England during the World War II era would doubt the part that Winston Churchills speaches played in keeping England strong and unified.  The civil rights and politics of the 60s immediately bring up images and language of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy in my mind.  Words have power, and I am not just saying that as a lawyer.

Back on the issues of winelaw, I have not seen any sort of incendiary language used to describe the battle between wholesalers and those that wish to ship wine from out of state.  However, I do know that the two sides are very polarized and assume that both sides want to ruin the other.  Last fall, I attended an event in Chicago, where I was very excited to see a debate on HR 5034, as I know that I have strong opinions about the motivations of the two sides.(The true debate did not occur, because the representative for the wholesalers could not make it.) Going forward, we need to remain mindful of the force and affect our choice of lanuage may have and continue to remember these events in Arizona.  We need to remember that we can disagree on issues, without using the symbolism and rhetoric that links the issues with war.  Finally, we do not need to waste any time trying to change anyone but ourselves.

God Bless and keep all of those harmed in the recent shootings in Arizona.

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