Express anger responsibly

At the congressional batting practice earlier this month, we all saw what can happen when a disturbed person turns to violence. James T. Hodgkinson, after finding out members of Congress practicing baseball at the field in Alexandria, Va., were Republicans, retrieved a rifle and opened fire. In the end, he was killed by police, but not before injuring others, including U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.

The fact he targeted Republican members of Congress suggests strongly that he was upset with them — and that he believed killing some of them was an appropriate reaction to his displeasure.

In a nation of more than 325 million people, it is inevitable that a substantial number will be mentally unbalanced enough to commit violent acts for any number of reasons.

It is worth asking whether the hysteria over Republican President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers played a role in Hodgkinson’s shooting spree.

That frenzy has reached the level that a New York City drama group is staging a production of “Julius Caesar” in which the lead character is played by an actor dressed and made up to resemble Trump. In the play, he is assassinated.

Defenders of the production say they have a First Amendment right to express their anger at Trump that way. They do. But legal sometimes is not right.

Our very freedom to speak our minds in this country means our disagreements are very public.

But there is a difference between questioning someone’s policies and insisting they are evil. The latter is an invitation to people like Hodgkinson to take matters into their own hands.

Surely, we as a nation can resolve our differences without sinking to that level.

By Patricia Older

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