"Our Mann in America" is a weekly column discussing the big talking points in the U.S. for an international audience. Jonathan Mann is an anchor for CNN International and the host of Political Mann.
(CNN) -- When a politician is shot, it's bound to get political.
After an assassination attempt against a Washington lawmaker that took the lives of six other people, many Americans debated this week whether their politics, culture and country have grown too violent.
"The anger, hatred, bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," said Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who is investigating the crime.
The U.S. guarantees the right to own a gun in its constitution and millions of its citizens are proud of it. But no prominent political figure is as fond of gun talk as Sarah Palin. The Republican activist has urged her followers "Don't retreat, reload!"
Before last November's Congressional elections, she also posted a map of the U.S. online, highlighting her opponents' home districts with gun-sight cross-hairs, as if taking aim.
One of the districts she targeted belongs to Gabrielle Giffords, the Democratic Congresswoman who is now recovering from a bullet wound to the head suffered in last week's rampage.
Giffords objected to Palin's map at the time. "When people do that," she said, "they've got to realize that there are consequences."
The truth is that journalists and media personalities, politicians and protestors of both the right and left tend to favor violent metaphors. Palin is hardly alone.
There is also no indication that the 22-year-old suspect who was charged with carrying out the rampage ever saw her map or drew his inspiration from any one source in particular.
"Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own," Palin said. "They begin and end with the criminals who commit them."
Is she right? Is it simplistic and inappropriate to blame the crimes of a single deranged gunman on the attitudes of an entire country that is law abiding and peaceful for the most part? Or are America's angry politics and plentiful guns a combination that was bound to turn deadly?
President Barack Obama cautioned against any quick conclusion but suggested Americans do have to be more civil.
"We can be better," he said. "We may not be able to stop all evil in the world but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us."
Many American politicians have tried to keep politics out of the collective grief and mourning that have followed the attack, but they haven't quite succeeded.