Arizona Shooting: Is talking now impossible?

“Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,” Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the effort to open up discussion as to how we move forward after Tucson shooting comes ironic evidence that talking about it is harder than ever.

Shooting victim James Eric Fuller was arrested last week when he began to rant at the end of a town hall meeting. The meeting, hosted by ABC News, was intended to bring together victims, first responders and heroes. Fuller reacted to comments by Trent Humphries, a local Tea Party leader, who was urging people not to politicize the shooting. Fuller was taken away by law enforcement and later charged with threatening and intimidation, and disorderly conduct.

Perhaps it was just too early. Perhaps ABC News had some idea that there would be fireworks and didn’t mind that idea. Fuller, a 63-year-old disabled Vietnam veteran who had been shot in the knee only last weekend, had already been among a vocal group who blames Tea-partiers for fostering an atmosphere of animosity that lead directly to the shootings. The Friday before, Fuller had done an interview with Media Matters in which he had denigrated Fox news and Sarah Palin who he said, Palin “should be incarcerated for treason for advocating assassinating public officials.”

Leslie Sorrell, founding principal and political strategist for Magnolia Group, a political fundraising group out of Dallas, manages public events for political figures such as Republican Rep. Mike Conaway and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. She says most politicians are “very committed to keeping the same routine when it comes to public discussion.” Not wanting to let the increase in tension stall positive dialogue, she believes it is more important than ever to hold events like these.

Certain precautions will always be warranted. Even before the Tucson incident, she routinely hired off-duty police officers as security. With the heightened tensions we may see more “tele-town halls” that operate like a mass conference call” and thus provided less direct access to speakers.

But was it a bad idea to push this so early in Tucson? “Well, hindsight is 2020,” Sorrell says, “but it still was a good idea to try to get everyone together to move forward. Clearly tensions are high, but it is always good to come together and discuss ideas.”