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Stop the Hate-filled Rhetoric

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There is no evidence that the man who shot and seriously wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six other bystanders was directly influenced by the heated rhetoric that has dominated political discussion in recent years. This angry dialogue has reached a feverish pitch since the election of President Barack Obama, especially on right-wing talk radio.

But there is also no denying that the divisiveness on the radio and Internet and the ease with which guns can be purchased outside New York City has created a dangerous environment throughout the nation.

State Sen. Malcolm Smith joined Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and other leaders outside the 113th Precinct last week to call for tighter gun restrictions in light of the incident. McCarthy, whose husband was killed and her son critically wounded in 1993 by a shooter on the Long Island Rail Road, said, “It almost gives them permission. They say, ‘I don’t like this person. I’m going to go after them.”

The Arizona massacre should strengthen the call to make it harder to buy a weapon, especially for people who are mentally unstable. Hopefully, it will also cause talk-show hosts who make millions playing on people’s fears and whipping them into a frenzy to stop and think about their rhetoric.

A Flawed but Backbreaking Effort

Lost in the anger over the city’s performance following the December blizzard is the fact that hundreds of city employees worked night and day to get the city back to normal. Sanitation employees worked 12-hour shifts to clear the snow and then overtime again to pick up trash.

They were paid for their efforts, but the exhaustion on the faces of these workers when they returned home after 12 hours of plowing and shoveling snow told the story of their remarkable effort.

This effort was ignored because poor planning by commissioners and city managers left thousands of New Yorkers stranded for days. It is clear the mayor got the message. Last week, when the weather forecast was for less than a foot of snow, the mayor staged a press event carried live by most networks to announce the steps the city was taking.

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