Ever since we heard the tragic news from Tucson, there’s been lots of speculation about why a young man like Jared Loughner would go on a shooting rampage, severely injuring Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killing six of her constituents.

There are those who deny this has anything to do with politics. Nonsense. It has politics written all over it.

Where did Loughner go to commit mass murder? To a political event. Whom did he target? An elected politician. And what congresswoman from Arizona was targeted by Sarah Palin on a map with crosshairs over her district and the admonition to “reload”? Gabrielle Giffords. Any attempted assassination of a member of Congress is, by definition, a political event.

No doubt about it, in this case, it was an act of political violence fueled by violent rhetoric from the right. It’s no accident something like this happened in Arizona, said Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, because “the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital.”

And it’s no accident something like this happened in America after a season of gun-filled rhetoric from right-wing politicians. Sharron Angle called for “Second Amendment remedies.” Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Bachmann'Real Housewives' producer 'begging' Conway to join cast Ex-rep admires furs amid PETA inaugural gala Why Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog MORE (R-Minn.) urged her constituents to be “armed and dangerous.” Jesse Kelly, Giffords’s Republican opponent in November, invited voters to shoot a fully automatic M16 with him in order to “Remove Gabrielle Giffords from Office.” And, of course, there was Sarah Palin’s disgusting crosshairs map.

Make no mistake about it. Words have consequences. This is one more case of anti-government hate rhetoric leading to violence against government officials. And the more we tolerate this kind of toxic talk from politicians and right-wing talk show hosts, the more of this senseless violence we’re going to see.

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