Margaret Wente is one of Canada's leading columnists. As a writer for The Globe and Mail, she provokes heated debate with her views on issues from health care to education and politics.
She took questions Tuesday about the Tuscon shooting and her latest column, in which she decries what she calls political opportunism over the shooting of Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. An excerpt from the discussion:
Question: Do you believe the "crosshairs" rhetoric Sarah Palin and other Tea Partiers have been criticized for is completely irrelevant in this case?
Margaret Wente: Yes, I do. In the first place, that kind of language is very common. We all use words like "in the crosshairs" and "targeted." Everyone understands those words as metaphors. They are not incitements to shoot someone. Second, the more we learn about the alleged shooter, the plainer it is that his mind was locked in a world far removed from politics as we understand it.
Question: The only surprise about this whole episode is that it doesn't happen more often. You have a country that basically has more guns than people and many states have a carry and conceal law that permits people to walk around with loaded concealed weapons. I love the USA but we are witnessing the continued decline of this once great power. Since they set the terms after WW 1, American influence has decreased considerably and all it will take is an assassination of the president and you will have civil war and an eventual split of the USA.
Margaret Wente: You make a splendid point. The U.S. may be a violent country but its elections are as peaceful as any in the world.
Read the full discussion below.