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Perspectives on Arizona Shootings

Perspectives on Arizona Shootings

UC Riverside experts offer views on the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

(January 10, 2011)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – UC Riverside faculty are available to offer commentary and expertise on the Saturday shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz. , and the killing of six others, including congressional staff members and a 9-year-old girl.

Vorris Nunley, assistant professor of English
(951) 827-1927

“Rhetoric is often erroneously linked to deceit, overheated tone, and superficiality. However, as the horrendous Arizona shootings make clear: rhetoric has real effects in the world. As both Aristotle understood and Republican political strategist Frank Luntz understand, rhetoric is about persuasion and identification through language. Effective rhetoric works precisely because it does not appear to be rhetoric (one person’s rhetoric is another person's truth) and resonates with commonplace beliefs around which individuals structure their lives.

“As long as it is suggested that this tragic shooting is only about a mentally unbalanced individual, then the misunderstanding of rhetoric, its effects upon the everyday lives of individuals, and the centrality of rhetoric to the very meaning of what it means to be American will continue. At our peril.

Toby Miller, professor and chair of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies
(951) 827-

“Why individuals act violently is difficult to know for certain. For many hundreds of years, folks have sought correlations between media messages and violent conduct, and the links have been tough to establish beyond doubt. The same may well be the case here. Ms Palin's web images, for example, were tasteless and ill-considered, but showing they were causes of violence is difficult to do.

“What is beyond doubt is that the U.S. is an intensely violent society. It locks up more people in both proportionate and absolute terms than any other democracy; has more – and more brutal – killing than elsewhere; endorses the proliferation of violent technologies, notably guns; has a massively militarized society (for those who are anti-government, why do you almost always place such great value on the biggest aspect of government – the military?) where the military is the largest employer of young people; and is a country where invasions of other lands and the garrisoning of troops abroad are seen as right and desirable.”

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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