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Author Topic: The false meme of irresponsible, violent right wing rhetoric and subsequent violence
Mariner
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I wanted to put this in its own thread because of how serious an issue this is. I thought Ricky was an outlier, and that it was just his attempt to fit in with the rest of the media that led him to spout such nonsense that Palin's rhetoric caused this tragedy. But no, it appears to be something everyone on the left is arguing, which is rather silly. And we need to get this out of our system. I know people aren't saying that Palin's to blame for any of this. But it's just as silly to say the "targeting" and "crosshairs" statement is extreme and out of line. It's barely one step ahead of claiming Paul McCartney shouldn't have written a song about playground slides due to Charles Manson.

And why is that the case? Because Sarah Palin said nothing out of the ordinary! The so called violent rhetoric that Palin instigated is essentially par for the course. For better or worse, it's already a staple of the English language. And, even more obvious, is that Loughner had nothing to do with Palin.

Let's start with the beginning. Using violent imagery in politics? How could she?!? Absolutely unforgivable! Why, how could she possibly use words like "targeting" and "crosshairs" during a political campaign, with advertising blitzes, character assassination, on air attacks, politicians firing back, people getting crushed in debates, and all after intense strategery in the war room. But, needless to say, none of those innocent, flowery, peaceful words would ever cause any violent attacks. Just a map with crosshairs.

Of course, this isn't limited to politics. How was the Ravens 30-7 victory over the Cheifs described? Smashing them? Crushing them? An onslaught? How do coaches talk to their teams? Talking about kicking the other team's donkey? Grinding them to dust? Killing them?

If a football player was murdered by a deranged fan, would we claim this rhetoric had anything to do with it? Of course not.

But wait, let's go back to violent rhetoric from political figures. Maybe its ok for the news to do this, but not the big political celebrities. Or maybe its ok to say it, but not to make a map with targets or crosshairs on them. Well...

Barack Obama:
"A Republican majority in Congress would mean "hand-to-hand combat" on Capitol Hill for the next two years, threatening policies Democrats have enacted to stabilize the economy"
“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”
"Here's the problem: It's almost like they've got -- they've got a bomb strapped to them and they've got their hand on the trigger."
"I want you to argue with them and get in their face!"
“We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”
“We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.“

Rep. Paul Kanjorski
"Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him [sic] and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. "

Rep. Harry Mitchell also had a television advertisement that showed his opponent in the crosshairs.

Markos Moulitsas:
"Well, I'd argue that we can narrow the target list by looking at those Democrats who sold out the Constitution last week."
"Not all of these people will get or even deserve primaries, but this vote certainly puts a bulls eye on their district."

Paul Krugman:
"A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy. . . ."

Columnist Richard Cohen:
"For hypocrisy, for sheer gall, Gingrich should be hanged."

Democratic Leadership Committee:
Targeting Strategy: Behind Enemy Lines: President Bush won nine states by single-digit margine. Those states should be ripe targets for Democrats" (Includes a map with states that have targets on them a la Palin's map.)

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
Targeted Republican: XXXX. (Includes a map with 11 targets on them a la Palin's map.)

Notice that none of the above specifically mention George Bush or Sarah Palin. That's because, if I included violent imagery towards those two, this post would be so long that it would break Ornery's servers. The violent rhetoric against those two is practically limitless.

So, now, after those statements, what would have happened if a Republican was shot? Would RickyB immediately think of Obama's statements? Would he be worrying that Obama was creating a climate of hate? Would he be trying to tie the murderer to Obama?

Of course not!!!

That's because tying the tragic shooting and supposedly violent rhetoric together is an act of idiocy. Well, actually, an act of evil instead. This whole event is nothing more than yet another mainstream media smear of Sarah Palin. Way back when, the meme went out that Sarah Palin and the Tea Party was a violent bomb waiting to happen. As time went by, there was a distinct lack of evidence that this was the case, and more and more evidence continued to never materialize. Thus, the media had to blow up certain events out of proportion. The target map was the first of these. Attempting to find violence at the tea party rallies and then at the town halls. The huge hype about spitting on a congressman (the later revision that it was only accidental spittle due to an argument) and the racial slurs hurled at a group of congressmen (completely burying the fact that, despite videos surfacing of their walk through the tea party gauntlet, there is no evidence this ever occurred) was a big one. Then the media hit paydirt with the Rand Paul rally where someone was pushed to the ground and stepped on, the first truly verifiable violent action by the tea party. And now this. It's all part of the same trend. All trying to paint the Palin/TP/right wing resurgence as a powder keg ready to go off at any moment.

Keep in mind, nothing serious ever happened. The tea party has proven itself to be no more violent than any other group. In other words, the meme is incorrect. However, despite this, the media continues to push the meme. In other words, the media is trying to manufacture a fake story rather than report things correctly.

How do we know this? Because the Palin angle is still being pushed. This is despite the fact that much more about Loughner is now known, including:
- His favorite youtube video was of a flag burning (Palin is strongly patriotic)
- His favorite books include Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto (Palin is neither a Nazi nor a Communist)
- He cracked jokes about abortion in a rather cruel manner in class (Palin is staunchly pro-life)
- He was an avowed atheist (Palin is strongly religious)
- A classmate described him as a liberal and suffering from drug abuse (Palin is not a liberal nor a hero of the drug culture)
- He hated the Constitution and wanted to get rid of it (Palin is a Constitutionalist)
- He hated politics (Palin is a politician)
- He was a 9/11 Truther (Palin is most definitely not)
- He apparantly became obsessed with Giffords in 2007 (Palin was an unknown until 2008)

Given all of this, any speculation that he was a right wing fanatic, even one well outside of the mainstream of right wing fanatics, should have ended by now. And yet everyone is still talking as if Palin is somehow still responsible (or, more accurately, as if her statements were still irresponsible). Palin should have been taken out of the news already, but she is still in it. Why? There is no objective reason for her rhetoric to be included in this story. From all the evidence, Loughner has almost nothing in common with Sarah Palin. There is no evidence that he listened to her any more than anyone else, or that he cared about her at all. So why the focus on her?

Because the media and the Left (but I repeat myself) wants to tie her and the Tea Party to the shooting. Regardless of its accuracy. This is not a new concept.

- The media immediately concluded that the death of a census worker in Kentucky was due to right wing hate (it was actually a suicide)
- The media immediately concluded that the shooting of a Muslim taxi driver was due to right wing hate over the 9/11 mosque (it was actually from a drunk liberal arts major)
- The leftist blogosphere immediately concluded that Amy Bishop murdering other professors was due to Tea Party racism (she was an ardent liberal and Obama supporter)
- The media immediately concluded that the man who flew his plane into the IRS building was a right wing tax hater (he was a complete nutball, a la Loughner)
- Michael Bloomberg immediately concluded that the smoking SUV in Times Square was a right winger mad about healthcare (it was from a jihadist)
- The media immediately concluded that the man who took the Discovery Channel HQ hostage was a right winger (he was an environmental extremist)

Again, there's no history of a violent tea party presence, yet we continually hear of any attack blamed on it. This is just yet another one, and it saddens (but doesn't surprise) me to see so many of the liberals on this site forgo rational analysis in favor of joining in with this false meme. In the end, because of the maliciousness behind this meme, it is the constant accusations of the left that tea party and Sarah Palin are a time bomb waiting to happen that is the true hateful rhetoric.

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Daruma28
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What's funny is it was like a knee jerk reaction by "the left" here...it HAD to be a right wing inspired shooting!

Lo and behold, look at what a former friend of his "tweeted:"

Jared Loughner, Alleged Shooter in Gabrielle Giffords Attack, Described by Classmate as "Left-Wing Pothead"

Anybody seen Ricky lately?

[LOL] [LOL] [LOL] [LOL]

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Gaoics79
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Well said Mariner.

My prediction: Watch as Ornery members like Ricky slowly modify their statements to distance themselves from the Palin "crosshairs" connection. Suddenly it won't be about Palin anymore, but about the general "climate" of hatred and "vitriol" on the right. The actual shooting and the motivations behind it will gradually fade into the background as we segway into a "discussion" about how media commentators (right wing specifically) are responsible for creating a climate of bitter partisanship which foments violence.

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TomDavidson
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God, you people make me sick. [Frown]
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vulture
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From where I'm standing (on the other side of the Atlantic) both the inflamed rhetoric and the shooting are symptoms. One is not caused by the other. Both are symptoms of the hostility and division of both sides towards each other, and this is not something new limited to the last few years but has been going on for far longer than that. US political discourse, and more importantly attitudes, have for decades been shifting further and further towards painting the 'other side' as not merely mistaken or of different opinion, but actively wicked.

You can't pick out any one example of rhetoric and say that was the cause - that is almost never going to be the case (although I dare say you could find examples if you looked). And you can question whether the rhetoric is driving or following the underlying attitudes. but ISTM that the real problem is that attitude that keeps looking at the 'other side' and only seeing irreconcilable differences in values, not what is held in common.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
the real problem is that attitude that keeps looking at the 'other side' and only seeing irreconcilable differences in values
Amen to that. Can we please use this as an object lesson to put "wedge issues" to bed as a campaign tactic? Please?

[ January 10, 2011, 01:34 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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RickyB
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"I thought Ricky was an outlier, and that it was just his attempt to fit in with the rest of the media that led him to spout such nonsense that Palin's rhetoric caused this tragedy."

I didn't say it "caused" this. What I said was subtler, if I may. What I said, and still say, is that it fosters an atmosphere that encourages whack jobs to feel that they're not alone in their impulses and that if they act on them, their peers may react with understanding.

Are you saying that if you put cross hairs on someone, talked all the time about guns and reloading, held an event to celebrate the desire to remove someone from office by firing a machine gun, and then that person was shot in the head after having said that your rhetoric was making them fear this would happen, you wouldn't feel the least bit remorseful? Really? You'd shrug, say it had nothing at all to do with you and not modify your approach in the least?

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Are you saying that if you put cross hairs on someone, talked all the time about guns and reloading, held an event to celebrate the desire to remove someone from office by firing a machine gun, and then that person was shot in the head after having said that your rhetoric was making them fear this would happen, you wouldn't feel the least bit remorseful? Really? You'd shrug, say it had nothing at all to do with you and not modify your approach in the least?
The first step in the process, the one that you, Tom and now Vulture have skipped, is to determine if your rhetoric actually was the cause in fact of the shooting. Pinning down causation is the first step before we start wringing our hands and assigning guilt.

Assuming that you could establish a probable causal link beteween your rhetoric and the shooting, you'd then need to look at your rhetoric, in proper context, and try to determine if it would be likely to cause shootings of that type, i.e. make such shootings more likely on the whole, or if the cause was merely incidental. To use a legal analogy, was this person the proverbial "thin scull" who might have gone on his merry way in peace but for your inflamatory rhetoric, or was he the "crumbling scull", the ticking time bomb that would have been set off by someone or something sooner or later no matter what.

When dealing with delusional or paranoid minds, there are any number of triggers that might cause them to act out; what is insignificant to me and you could be profoundly significant to such a person. Just because you happened to set him off, does not mean that you are responsible in any meaningful sense.

If the guy had gunned down a Wall Street banker I wouldn't necessarily blame Michael Douglas and the Producers of the latest Wall Street movie.

quote:
Amen to that. Can we please use this as an object lesson to put "wedge issues" to bed as a campaign tactic? Please?
You want people to forego bitter partisanship and drives for ideological purity, but when some nut fires a gun, without a shred of evidence as to the shooter's true motivation, you're right there with the partisans seeking to lay blame on the other guys you don't agree with. What a hypocritical response.

[ January 10, 2011, 02:56 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
You want people to forego bitter partisanship and drives for ideological purity, but when some nut fires a gun, without a shred of evidence as to the shooter's true motivation, you're right there with the partisans seeking to lay blame on the other guys you don't agree with.
To be fair, I didn't post at all until I saw a bunch of cowards and reprobates spin this thing away from them. If you're going to talk about "Second Amendment remedies," damnit, you should own up to the consequences of that sort of provocation. At the very least, stop and think, "Hey, maybe this guy was the sort of loose cannon who just went off and shot somebody for no reason at all, but maybe the next guy is the sort of loose cannon who was just waiting for my rhetoric to trigger him."

Are we agreed that lines like "if ballots don't work, bullets will" are examples of irresponsible provocation?

[ January 10, 2011, 03:09 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Are we agreed that lines like "if ballots don't work, bullets will" are examples of irresponsible provocation?
Yes.

And can we agree that bringing Sarah Palin and the tea party into the mix without even knowing the first thing about the shooter (like whether he even listened to, followed, or had the slightest interest in Sarah Palin or tea party ideology) is also irresponsible provocation of a different sort?

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RickyB
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He was interested in politics. Enough to meet with Rep. Giffords. To assume he never heard Palinite/TP rhetoric is disingenuous.
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
quote:
Are we agreed that lines like "if ballots don't work, bullets will" are examples of irresponsible provocation?
Yes.

And can we agree that bringing Sarah Palin and the tea party into the mix without even knowing the first thing about the shooter (like whether he even listened to, followed, or had the slightest interest in Sarah Palin or tea party ideology) is also irresponsible provocation of a different sort?

Provocation that, at worst, offends people's pride. As I said on the other thread, Palin's ad was objectionable regardless of this event. These more direct references to killing the opposition are just beyond the pale. Heck, I remember saying this back when Ann Coulter was "joking" about McVeigh killing liberal journalists, and receiving the same kind of shrugs in reaction. Its hardly a new phenomenon, nor is it the first time people have complained. I would (and do) say the same thing about people who were burning Bush in effigy, or lynching, or whatever.

I think its pretty well established that there is no link between Palin and this shooter. I also think that Palin and her political and media allies use over-the-top, inflammatory rhetoric that edges ever closer to inciting violence. The point isn't "Palin caused this tragedy." The point is "shouldn't a congresswoman (politically moderate, and by all accounts a genuinely good person) getting shot in the head be a wake-up call to ANYONE who uses this kind of rhetoric?"

I'm not speaking to you specifically, Jason, since I've never heard this kind of stuff from you, but consider this question: if you had designed this ad, and even if it were PROVEN that the shooter had never seen the ad nor heard of you at all, wouldn't you still feel like a giant a-hole after hearing about the attack? It just seems like a kind of automatic human response. And honestly, it would be good for these kinds of people to re-examine the ethics of their rhetoric. Which is what is so frustrating about attempts to completely absolve them of culpability, 100%. God forbid that some good might come from a senseless tragedy; that it might dawn on some politico somewhere to treat his opponents like human beings, much less fellow Americans.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
To assume he never heard Palinite/TP rhetoric is disingenuous.
If he owns a TV or a radio I'm sure he heard it. The question is whether he was remotely influenced by it.

I'm sure I've heard about 1,000,000 things for every one thing that actually influences me in a meaningful way.

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RickyB
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Daruma - he may have been liberal and left wing in 2007. That means nothing. You were a Bush/GOP dittohead in 2007, or not much longer ago. To describe you such NOW would be completely inaccurate, nest ces't pas?
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Gaoics79
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quote:
wouldn't you still feel like a giant a-hole after hearing about the attack? It just seems like a kind of automatic human response.
Possibly. It's a human response. That doesn't make it a rational one.

quote:
And honestly, it would be good for these kinds of people to re-examine the ethics of their rhetoric. Which is what is so frustrating about attempts to completely absolve them of culpability, 100%. God forbid that some good might come from a senseless tragedy; that it might dawn on some politico somewhere to treat his opponents like human beings, much less fellow Americans.
Adam, I think serious introspection may be warranted here. But like I said, you (not you personally) pretty much demolish any small hope of that occurring when you go off half-cocked making spurious allegations of complicity and blame without any evidence.

The approach of Ricky and others on this board has been to make the rhetorical climate worse.

Wagging your hypocritical finger at some while making self-serving politically motivated accusations against them isn't the best way of encouraging frank and open dialogue or of restoring honour and civility to politics.

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RickyB
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"If he owns a TV or a radio I'm sure he heard it. The question is whether he was remotely influenced by it."

The point is not that he was *influenced* by it in the sense that it gave him the idea, caused him to get angry at these things, etc. The point is an atmosphere that would make him think that reacting violently to that which angered him would not be perceived as out of line. Do you understand the distinction? You can have an idea independently, but take away an impression about how others view it by hearing them, even if you're not swayed by their specific arguments. It's a matter of making the psychos feel normal.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The approach of Ricky and others on this board has been to make the rhetorical climate worse.
If by "others" you mean G2 and noel, I agree with you.
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RickyB
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"Wagging your hypocritical finger at some while making self-serving politically motivated accusations against them isn't the best way of encouraging frank and open dialogue or of restoring honour and civility to politics. "

Look, I don't know anyone on this board who's an actual Palinite, or if there is it's someone like noel, so the point was utterly not directed at anyone I converse with. Nobody here talks like that, so I wasn't trying to throw it in anyone's face. I was talking about Palin herself (and that idiot kelly with the machine gun) and I stand by that point. Why that should impact open discussion with people here I have no idea.

Speaking of Palin - this is priceless:
http://twitter.com/#!/Bristol_Palin/status/24175501618716672

[LOL] [LOL] [LOL] [LOL] [LOL]

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
The approach of Ricky and others on this board has been to make the rhetorical climate worse.

You mean like saying genuinely outraged and emotional people were cold-blooded opportunists just trying to score political points?
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michaellve
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I think that what is interesting and worth talking about is the fact that a moderate has been attacked. The sad thing about these "conversations" is that the moderate voices are being crushed by factions on the right and left. Both of which in my opinion would be more than happy to control society with their versions of what is right.

What doesn't belong in our political system is crass over the top incendiary language, and imagery. What we need to look at ourselves and realize that the direction that our political discourse is on is dangerous. We cannot allow our politics and society calcify to the point that we are unwilling to compromise. Our society or any society that looses the ability to compromise and change is doomed.

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Mariner
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Whee, I'm inciting hatred! Good, cause I'm pissed off.

First, let me clarify some things. 1)There are two types of violent rhetoric: One in which the imagery is simply there because it's convenient, and the other is hate filled. The vast majority of the rhetoric is in the first category. Take Obama's statement about bringing a gun to a knife fight. Guns vs knives is a clear metaphor for one side being superior to the other. It's not meant to be violent at all. It just so happens that violence and war makes such clear imagery that we tend to substitute those words when talking about any other peaceful conflict, including sports games and politics. The other imagery is, say, writing an article about the top 10 Republicans we want to rape. That is not only sexist, but hate filled, demeaning, and dehumanizing. Any specific desires about killing or harming a specific person fall into this capacity as well.

Sarah Palin's comments fall into the first category

One has to be extremely sensitive to think that "targeting" candidates is hate filled. It is a clear imagery. Crosshairs are a clear imagery for targeting. The focus was on the district, not the person. The fact that this is inocuous violent imagery is evident by the fact that even those criticizing her for it have used it themselves. It's a common approach. It's a common phrase. Clearly, no violence was meant by it. But because this is Sarah Palin and there is a large crowd intent on destroying her, it somehow becomes larger than life.

Same thing with "Don't retreat. Reload" This is exactly the same as Obama's comment. It's a clear metaphor. It creates a clear imagery of not backing down in the face of strong adversity despite not able to claim victory with a previous effort. It's an effective message that stretches the imagination that it's a call for violence. After all, "reload" means the first shots were fired. If the first shots weren't violent, then why would the second shots be construed as such? If this falls under hate-filled violent rhetoric, then so does the knife to a gun fight.

Mentioning that if the ballot doesn't work, one should use bullets? Definitely the second type. But that wasn't Palin. And if every comment from a righty commentator can be used to paint an entire organization, then all Americans are drowning in paint due to the rhetoric of both sides.

Kelly had a very unfortunate advertisement for a rally, that much is true. I doubt it was intended as hateful, probably more playful. But the fact that you're holding a machine gun at an event heald at a machine gun rally means it is hate filled? I don't think so.

So, rather than the big players (Palin) using hate filled imagery to incite violence, we have a few minor characters (that just so happen to be in every organization). If that is enough to blame an entire organization for a tragedy, then everyone is responsible for everything bad in this world.

2) It is obvious that there is no link between Loughter and the Tea Party. By now, most people have figured this out. But not all. Ricky still said "The point is not that he was *influenced* by it in the sense that it gave him the idea, caused him to get angry at these things, etc." Ricky is still convinced that it was the Tea Party rhetoric that sparked this idea. There is NO evidence that that is the case! Yet he still states it as if it was true. As does much of the rest of the media. As do so many of the Democratic politicians. Why? Because they WANT it to be true. Because it's a useful tool to attack their ideological opponenents. Truth doesn't matter. Objectivity doesn't matter. All that matters is the narrative. And the media and the politicians and apparently even intelligent members of Ornery are clinging to that narrative no matter what the facts are.

3) Blaming people for the acts of deranged individuals is pointless. Vulture, you're an intelligent, reasonable poster, so I'm not sure how much you've read of this. But your claim that both the rhetoric and the shooting stem from the same place doesn't seem to be true. This guy wasn't politically involved. His classmates and friends described him as philosophical, not political. He didn't vote in 2010. According to the news story I read, his question to Giffords in 2007 wasn't political at all (it was some meaningless mumbo jumbo about language). If you were to ask him his opinion about health care or the stimulus or whatever, he probably wouldn't recite talking points. His response would probably be enough to have both sides looking at him funny.

We're political, and so we hear a lot of this inside information. We hear all this rhetoric. But if you aren't political, you don't know about any of this. Loughter, by all acounts, wasn't political. His shooting probably wasn't politically motivated in the same sense that we tend to think about it. The rhetoric is a function of partisanship and strong feelings regarding how to run a government. By all acounts, Loughter did not have any of that. Hence why the connection is silly.

Colleagues said he became more depressed and isolated after he broke up with his girlfriend. Should the girlfriend share any responsibility in this action?
He apparently abused drugs and alcohol, which probably screwed up his brain even more. Should the people that acquired these drugs for him and drank/smoked/whatever else with him share any responsibility?
Giffords essentially blew him off at the 2007 meeting. Should she share any responsibility?

Of course not. Nobody knows how things will turn out, and nobody knows how a deranged mind like his works. My guess is anything could have triggered this. If we were to live our lives in fear that something could trigger a deranged individual, we would be paralyzed into inaction. As I said way back at the beginning, all these people are no more responsible than Paul McCartney is for Charles Manson. And I know you didn't say one caused the other, but others did.

Tom still talks about "owning up to the consequences." Tom still thinks that people should be worried that the next one will be inspired by the Tea Party. (Of course, no one could be inspiured by the daily violent rhetoric against Sarah Palin...).

Well, what if the next nutcase is a Tea Party member and thinks "well, heck. Tom Davidson (and the media, and the Democratic politicians, and...) keeps saying I'm hate filled and filled with violence, so I might as well give them what they want. KILL!!!!!!"? Will Tom own up to the consequences of his rhetoric? I doubt it.

There's nothing to own up to

If people want to argue that we should all tone down on hateful, violent rhetoric, and that this event should serve as a reminder that, despite political differences, we are all human and all one nation, well, duh, I agree. But, 4) That's not what the media and the Left is saying! The fingers are all exclusively pointing at the Tea Party. Sure, there's the occasional acknowledgement that "both sides do it", but never with any serious retrospection. Any time anything that might be construed as violent is stated by the Tea Party, it gets blown out of proportion. By the left? It gets ignored. And it will remain that way for all eternity.

If this was just about toning down political rhetoric, there would be no attempt to accuse the Tea Party of inciting this event. There would be no need to constantly single out Tea Party rhetoric rather than pointing out the rhetoric on both sides. And it wouldn't follow the same pattern of blaming the Right for everything.

Thought experiment: suppose Sarah Palin was shot in the head. Would there be concern about the constant violent rhetoric from the Left against her? Or would we hear crickets? Actually, I think a meme would appear. "It is a sad tragedy that Sarah Palin fell victim to the same divisiveness that she spent her career promoting" I'm sure it would be something like that. A way to absolve the Left (note, no absolution would actually be needed for this) and to blame the Right at the same time.

I gave a list of other ways the media/Left has worked this meme. It is continuous and perpetual. Tom said he only started it after the Right started spinning. Well, no, you started it, neener neener neener. The attack on the Tea Party came first, then the meme began on the Right regarding the pushback. As is always the case.

So why am I so pissed? Because of the hypocracy. I have no way of knowing the true intentions of the people on Ornery, so I won't speculate. But I know the meaning behind this constant drumbeat of accusing the TP of hate and anger and violence, even if the lefties here don't. It is worse than any so called responses to violence. It is not, as Adam stated "Provocation that, at worst, offends people's pride." It is much deeper.

It is dehumanization

The TP is not a rational animal. It is racist, reactionary, and unable to act in its own self interest. It cannot think for itself, and instead blindly follows impulses or orders. It does not feel. It does not think. It cannot see. It is not something that can be reasoned with, it is not something that can be understood. It is alien. It is ugly. It is beneath us.

That is what we constantly hear. From the media, from the Lefty pundits, from the talking heads, from the celebrities, from the politicians. We are the ultimate "other", completely unworthy of trying to understand and completely unworthy of treating as human. That is why Palin is simultaneously dismissed and scrutinized by the media. What she says, what she means is unimportant. But what her weaknesses are, how she can be stopped, how she can be exploited, that is important. Hence why you never hear about any TP proposals behind the hyperbole. To put the proposals out there would be to admit that there is humanity there.

For those that think I'm exaggerating, you really need to see the media from the perspective of the TP. Just last week, I read an enlightening account from the disgusting Seth McFarlane denigrating the TP. He claimed we're stupid and irrational because Obamanomics helps us. He then said that TPeconomics would help him more, and so he should by all accounts agree with them, but he knows Obamanomics is better for everyone in the long run.

Do you see what I'm saying, or did you miss the subtext? McFarlane allows the possibility that he can be enlightened enough to choose beyond his own self interest, but does not comprehend the possibility that the Tea Party can do the same. He doesn't just think the TP is stupid because they disagree with him on the issues, but he thinks we're stupid because we are not capable of rational thought.

It's deeply insulting. And this is prevalent everywhere.

And this response to the shooting is yet another example. A horrible assassination happened, it must be by a TP member! Wait, it's not? Well, he obviously has TP sympathies! Wait, he doesn't? Well, he was obviously inspired by TP rhetoric. Wait, he wasn't? Well, the TP rhetoric is kinda like him. How? I don't know, but people don't like assassins, so they're connected, somehow. It just shows how out of touch Sarah Palin is with us enlightened intellectuals (who were joking about killing her last week, but don't mind that). How could she use such rhetoric??? She's not a real person, like these poor victims...

Over and over and over. We are not human. We are angry, hate-filled, racist, reactionary animals at the edge of our leash, just waiting to lash out. The KY suicide. The IRS plane attack. The Discovery Channel hostage. The Minnesota bridge collapse. The town halls. The rallies. The Pentagon shootings. Over and over and over. We are not human.

And for all of you Lefties wringing your hands over the potential for violence due to rhetoric, ask yourself this. What makes it easier to convince someone to kill another: simply shouting kill them over and over, or convincing them that the other is not human?

Disgusting.

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Viking_Longship
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Mariner do you think liberals felt any better about being called traitors. Do you think they like it when Ann Coulter says "liberals hate every religion but Islam."? Do you think liberals like being endlessly described as pathetic weaklings? Do you think they like posters showing Obama in the Joker make up? (WHich looks like a negative version of minstrel make-up. Don't tell me that's a coincidence.) You think that's not dehumanizing? You think they like the Dixie Chicks being called "Sadam's Angels"? Is it nice for them when anything negative said about Republicans, conservatives and the Tea party is left-wing media conspiracy, but any liberal objection to Fox news, Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter is because liberals "can't handle the truth."

Is that not dehumanizing?

You're a good writer and you've got a legitimate gripe, but the Tea Party and the conservative have dished it out too.

Do you think, btw if a Republican had been shot by the same man conservatives would be taking their time to determine whether the person was really leftist before they reacted in anger?

[ January 10, 2011, 10:54 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Mariner
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VL, I'll answer your last question first. No, the Right's reaction would not be the same if a Republican was shot; this is something exclusive to the Left. Part of it is because the Right has been burned so many times by this line of attack from the Left that we know better. But the response would be a clear denunciation that this probably isn't due to Leftist rhetoric (with the underlying message of see, we're not like the Left with their accusations!). Al Gore was only blamed ironically (as an example of what the Left does) after the Discovery Channel situation. I'm trying to recall the atmosphere after the Kenneth Gladney beating, and I seem to recall the main memes were horror at what happened, anger at the specific union thugs who did it (but not at the left as a whole), anger at the media for burying the story after warning of TP violence for so long, and general bemusement of just how many of the MSM's stereotypes were wrong in this account. No blaming the Left as a whole.

In general, the Right sees the Left as having its own lunatic fringe elements. The problem is not that the mainstream Left exacerbates the lunatic Left with its rhetoric, but rather that the mainstream Left is too comfortable associating with the lunatic Left (see Jeremiah Wright/ Bill Ayers and Obama as a typical example). In comparison, the Right is constantly called upon to denounce any association with its lunatic fringe.

As for the first paragraph, of course it's dehumanizing. Of course it's wrong. But you don't notice the difference? You mention Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter. Ask the average person on the street what they think of when they hear these words, and undoubtedly the answer you get is "rightwing". The masses already know these as participating in the partisan political theatre. Thus, everything stated by them is filtered using the rightwing label. Most likely, it's never heard by the masses, because the masses don't care about politics. If it is heard, it's dismissed as more of that same old political rhetoric.

If the "TP is a racist hateful violent group responsible for this atrocity" meme was being stated only by MSNBC or Michael Moore or Markos Moulitsas, there wouldn't be a problem. But people don't think of CNN or ABC or the sheriff in charge of the investigation in terms of partisanship. The "leftwing" filter doesn't get turned on. Thus, the attacks against the TP are coming from the supposedly reputable news sources, from late night talk show hosts, from celebrities, from everywhere. Thus, they don't get filtered out as easily.

My girlfriend isn't American. She hates politics and pays absolutely no attention to them. She reads no newsy blogs, no newspapers, watches no news. Yet she was shocked when she learned I was a Republican and supported the TP. Democrats were just better. The TP was just bad. She had no reasons for it. Just that it was.

The one TV show I watch is NCIS. This was on the list of most watched shows by conservatives that we saw a few months ago. They threw a gratuitous cheap shot at Sarah Palin last season that was completely out of place. They also turned the obnoxious jerk character into an ignorant Constitution lover who hates immigrants but doesn't know anything about his country for a few episodes. Remember, this is a show that is catered towards conservatives!

My girlfriend likes watching Law and Order SVU (not surprisingly, on the liberals Top 10 list). One episode had the Rush Limbaugh stand-in guilty of inciting the tea party guy of mass murdering children. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest: it is exactly the same meme as the Left is pushing now with the current tragedy. Like I said, this meme was stale long before last weekend, and it's no surprise to see it shoehorned in here.

People tend to dismiss the idea of liberal bias in the media as thinking it requires some sort of conspiracy or something. It doesn;t (journolist not withstanding...). Anyone who reads multiple political blogs knows how easily memes can arise among multiple supposedly independent writers. There's even a major website dedicated to tracking these memes. When you put like minded people together, they're going to start sounding like an echo chamber. The same thing happens in the "real world" as well. We know that the media is dominated by liberals. Like minded people looking at the news will create an echo chamber, regardless of its facts. Sometimes it is innocent. Sometimes it is maliciousness. Given the vitriol spewed towards Palin and the Tea Party, I cannot help but believe they are permanently stained as illegitimate to the media, and hence any attack on them is suspect.

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
VL, I'll answer your last question first. No, the Right's reaction would not be the same if a Republican was shot; this is something exclusive to the Left
I would say that if Palin had been shot Liberals WOULD be considering seriously how their rhetoric had contributed. I know you don't believe that. I don't believe you're right about this statement.

[ January 11, 2011, 12:23 AM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Chael
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I just wanted to say thank you, Mariner. I may not approve of this kind of rhetoric (the crosshairs map et all), but your post helped me to fit it into a broader rhetoric-scenerio and see it didn't just come from nowhere.
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Viking_Longship
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quote:
The problem is not that the mainstream Left exacerbates the lunatic Left with its rhetoric, but rather that the mainstream Left is too comfortable associating with the lunatic Left (see Jeremiah Wright/ Bill Ayers and Obama as a typical example). In comparison, the Right is constantly called upon to denounce any association with its lunatic fringe.
This your example contradicts the point you're trying to make. Obama was relentlessly called on to disavow Wright and his relationship with Ayes vastly and decietefully exagerated.

If you want to say the Tea Party has been treated badly by people who can't be bothered to learn anything about it I agree. Most of the statements about the Tea Party are elitist and lazy. (In the interest of full disclosure I think the Tea party has been hijacked by the Boomers to look after their economic concerns, but I know that's not where they started.)

However I think you're suffering from grass being greener on the other side of the fence in regards to what liberals get to deal with. Try being politically liberal and an evangelical Christian. Try finding anything on talk radio when NPR isn't on which isn't actively hostile to liberals often to the extreme.

And how would you feel if my only response to your protest about the way Tea Party members are portrayed on TV is to say "Tea Partiers just can't handle the truth!" or "Tea Partiers are trying to undermine our military and hand the US over to the terrorists. (Which you may well hear from the right should the anti-war faction of the tea party convince the rest of the movement)

BTW I am told all the time by my mother that Fox News isn't conservative, it just looks that way because the rest of the media is so liberal. [Smile]

My point is things are rough all over.

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TommySama
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quote:
For those that think I'm exaggerating, you really need to see the media from the perspective of the TP. Just last week, I read an enlightening account from the disgusting Seth McFarlane denigrating the TP. He claimed we're stupid and irrational because Obamanomics helps us. He then said that TPeconomics would help him more, and so he should by all accounts agree with them, but he knows Obamanomics is better for everyone in the long run.
Well now I see that the Tea Party cherry picks producers of crap television as examples of the media victimizing them.

quote:
Do you see what I'm saying, or did you miss the subtext? McFarlane allows the possibility that he can be enlightened enough to choose beyond his own self interest, but does not comprehend the possibility that the Tea Party can do the same. He doesn't just think the TP is stupid because they disagree with him on the issues, but he thinks we're stupid because we are not capable of rational thought.
So its wrong for Family Guy creator to say this, but when the Toilet Paper party tells America that it cannot interperate the Constitution for itself... I think you are being ironic here. But I've been drinking, so I'm not positive.

quote:
And this response to the shooting is yet another example. A horrible assassination happened, it must be by a TP member! Wait, it's not? Well, he obviously has TP sympathies! Wait, he doesn't? Well, he was obviously inspired by TP rhetoric. Wait, he wasn't? Well, the TP rhetoric is kinda like him. How? I don't know, but people don't like assassins, so they're connected, somehow. It just shows how out of touch Sarah Palin is with us enlightened intellectuals (who were joking about killing her last week, but don't mind that). How could she use such rhetoric??? She's not a real person, like these poor victims...
Wat.

quote:
Over and over and over. We are not human. We are angry, hate-filled, racist, reactionary animals at the edge of our leash, just waiting to lash out. The KY suicide. The IRS plane attack. The Discovery Channel hostage. The Minnesota bridge collapse. The town halls. The rallies. The Pentagon shootings. Over and over and over. We are not human.
Well I'm sorry to see you have such a low opinion of yourself and your political party. Who blamed the Teabaggers for the bridge collapse? Was the TP even visible back then? I seem to remember blaming our regressive ex-governor.

quote:
And for all of you Lefties wringing your hands over the potential for violence due to rhetoric, ask yourself this. What makes it easier to convince someone to kill another: simply shouting kill them over and over, or convincing them that the other is not human?

Disgusting.

My liberal heartstrings have been torn by all of this victimization rhetoric. Of course the TP can't think for itself and is irrational. Its a political organization. It is composed of a wide variety of people with a wide range of complaints, AFAICT. GirlfriendSama even organized for the Teabaggers when it was just a baby, but she left because she got the impression it was hijacked by business and the Republican establishment. GirlfriendsMama is still in it, though.
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TommySama
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quote:
My girlfriend likes watching Law and Order SVU (not surprisingly, on the liberals Top 10 list). One episode had the Rush Limbaugh stand-in guilty of inciting the tea party guy of mass murdering children. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest: it is exactly the same meme as the Left is pushing now with the current tragedy.
Seriously? SVU is the main cause of overdose on statist propaganda, by way of suppository. It's the nether world of American politics where the political left and right join hands (always a bad sign) to stare in frozen terror at the abyss of sexual deviancy crashing all around them, in which scandalized and frightened soccer moms are locked into a holy dialectic with the forces of evil: rapists, torturers, homosexuals, drinkers, Malthusian lovers, BDSMers, and couples that do not only engage in missionary position sex. This show transcends typical political partisanship and oppresses equally every man, woman, and child that becomes entangled by its icy tentacles.

Stop buying the Law & Order channel, dude.

[ January 11, 2011, 02:12 AM: Message edited by: TommySama ]

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TheRallanator
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Okay so I just found out what the shooter's worldview (and possibly motive) was like, five minutes ago, and it looks like a mess of incomprehensible crazy stuff. I applaud the good people of Ornery for finding a way to already fit it into their own grand political narratives and make yourselves look like victims to boot. Bravo you selfless questers for the truth. Bravo!
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Gaoics79
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quote:
The point is an atmosphere that would make him think that reacting violently to that which angered him would not be perceived as out of line. Do you understand the distinction? You can have an idea independently, but take away an impression about how others view it by hearing them, even if you're not swayed by their specific arguments. It's a matter of making the psychos feel normal.
And do you have one scintilla of evidence to suggest that this specific psycho was triggered as a result of this "atmosphere" that you speak of? More to the point, can you say whether this guy wouldn't have been set off anyway?

You make this completely non-falsifiable statement that an "atmosphere" contributed to the shooting, which of course you attribute to political adversaries, and this is supposed to be taken seriously? We may as well blame the shooting on bad karma.

quote:
Look, I don't know anyone on this board who's an actual Palinite, or if there is it's someone like noel, so the point was utterly not directed at anyone I converse with. Nobody here talks like that, so I wasn't trying to throw it in anyone's face.
My skin crawls every time I hear Palin speak. I will go on a killing spree myself if I have to see another ad for that woman's reality TV show on TLC. But the way you and others jumped on her for this shooting before we even knew whether this psycho was remotely influenced by her (as opposed to being influenced by Al Gore, Rush Limbaugh, his pet dog, or Ronald McDonald) was just ridiculous. That damned woman is already too popular for people like you to make her into a martyr with spurious half-assed allegations that are only going to give her more support, not less.

You want to talk about hate? Every time I watch Bill Maher on TV that guy just oozes it. I used to like the guy when he was a libertarian, but right now he may as well have a big "D" branded into his forehead. That guy spends every show reaping venom onto the tea party and Palin. And there are half a dozen other prominent figures just like him.

But their hate is okay because they didn't use violent imagery. Is that it? Except, of course, when they do. When Obama says that he doesn't want to bring a knife to a gun fight that's just a metaphor, but when Palin says not to retreat, but "reload", that's incitement to violence. Uhhh huuhhh.. Sure.

I'm going to suggest a radical thing. It makes no difference at all what imagery you use. Hate is hate. When you spew hate, that creates the "atmosphere" Ricky et al. are suddenly so eager to address. And some psychos are going to be influenced by that. Today it might be a Democrat, tomorrow it might be a Republican.

If you want to have a frank discussion about toning down hate in politics, then that's fine. But all this self-serving claptrap about how the guys you don't agree with are the cause of the atmosphere and insinuations that they caused the shooting (with 0 evidence of course) is just annoying.

quote:
You mean like saying genuinely outraged and emotional people were cold-blooded opportunists just trying to score political points?
I call it like I see it. A cheap shot is a cheap shot. Don't want to be called out on it, don't do it.

Mariner, great post.

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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
God, you people make me sick. [Frown]

You know what makes me sick, Tom? Things like this. I mean, listen to Maddow go on and on and on and on and on about "coded messages" and how shocking (shocking, I say!) that anyone would compare a democratically elected president to Hitler.

Crosshairs are bad, but missile targets are good, right?

The hypocrisy makes me want to hurl.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Kelly had a very unfortunate advertisement for a rally, that much is true. I doubt it was intended as hateful, probably more playful. But the fact that you're holding a machine gun at an event heald at a machine gun rally means it is hate filled? I don't think so.
Might you concede that what looks like hate to one person might not look like hate to another, and vice versa?

I would have to hate someone a great deal to wave a machine gun around while talking about getting rid of him.

==========

quote:
But all this self-serving claptrap about how the guys you don't agree with are the cause of the atmosphere and insinuations that they caused the shooting (with 0 evidence of course) is just annoying.
See, here's the thing. Democrats regularly have conversations about all the vitriol in politics, and how it should be toned down. Republicans only have those conversations when they've been accused of being vitriolic, at which point they agree that, yes, vitriol is a problem, but the Democrats are just as guilty.

If we can, just for a moment, agree that vitriol is a problem, why not actually work on getting rid of it? (The answer: because that would be extremely inconvenient for Republicans, as I've said since 2001. This is not the first time we've had this conversation on this forum; in fact, we have a version of this conversation every time a conservative gets caught saying something stupidly inflammatory, and the Freepers mobilize to explain why everyone else does it, too.)

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Gaoics79
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quote:
See, here's the thing. Democrats regularly have conversations about all the vitriol in politics, and how it should be toned down.
Well of course they do. Democrats just love to have conversations about how vitriolic the Republicans are.

quote:
If we can, just for a moment, agree that vitriol is a problem, why not actually work on getting rid of it? (The answer: because that would be extremely inconvenient for Republicans, as I've said since 2001. This is not the first time we've had this conversation on this forum; in fact, we have a version of this conversation every time a conservative gets caught saying something stupidly inflammatory, and the Freepers mobilize to explain why everyone else does it, too.)
[LOL] Hilarious. If only those whascally Wepublicans would just admit how bad they've been, how it's all their fault and beg for foregiveness, we could all let go of this petty partisan vitriol and get along? [Big Grin]

I take it "working on" getting rid of the vitriol means them surrendering and Democrats accepting the surrender.

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TomDavidson
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Does it constitute a "surrender" for someone to say, "Yeah, in retrospect, I probably shouldn't've joked about shooting a machine gun to get rid of a congressperson, and I hope other people don't do it." Or "yeah, you're right; calling them traitors and hoping for their deaths on air was out of line."

Is that really too much to ask?

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Greg Davidson
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Any of you remember the polling data from multiple pollsters identifying large percentages of the population who believed that Obama was not an American citizen and may be the anti-Christ? When a broad population is subject to relentless vile and false propaganda, and many tens of millions of people start saying that they believe it, the odds of there being mentally ill people within those populations who may take action due to this false propaganda is high.

I have not said that one assassination attempt makes a definitive connection. But this is exactly consistent with predictions made in advance by many people, including myself, and more importantly, by Rep. Giffords herself.

Here's a deal: If it turns out that there is no more violence, and absolutely no links between this shooter and any of the hate messages of the past few years, then I will take back my carefully chosen words that this shooting may linked with extremist political rhetoric. And if there is more violence, and/or there is more of a link established, which one of you is going to take back the bullets that killed those people in Arizona?

[ January 11, 2011, 10:40 AM: Message edited by: Greg Davidson ]

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Does it constitute a "surrender" for someone to say, "Yeah, in retrospect, I probably shouldn't've joked about shooting a machine gun to get rid of a congressperson, and I hope other people don't do it." Or "yeah, you're right; calling them traitors and hoping for their deaths on air was out of line."

Is that really too much to ask?

When two people hate each other because of mutual grievances (real and imagined) leading to a toxic relationship, I am all for burying the hatchet, letting bygones be bygones, etc.. etc...

However, further recriminations and calls for your adversary to apologize (with no reciprocity) is more likely to worsen the situation than improve it.

You can't ask someone to bury the hatchet while whacking him over the head with it.

quote:
Here's a deal: If it turns out that there is no more violence, and absolutely no links between this shooter and any of the hate messages of the past few years, then I will take my carefully chosen words that this shooting may linked with extremist political rhetoric. And if there is more violence, and/or there is more of a link established, which one of you is going to take back the bullets that killed those people in Arizona?
You should not need to "take back" your words in any circumstances, not if you are speaking responsibly and with rational thought behind them. If you need to take back your words, that means you spoke imprudently in the first place.

For example, I will not "take back" my words that Sarah Palin was not responsible for this shooting, even if we find out that the shooter explicitly based his actions on her rhetoric. She is not responsible for the actions of a crazy person, not criminally and not morally either, even if her rhetoric was some proximate cause of the violence.

I will also not "take back" my words that people who used this shooting as a pretext to attack political adversaries were acting prematurely, even if their conjecture eventually gets vindicated.

You can spend your retirement money on lottery tickets and win the lottery, but that doesn't make you any less of an idiot versus the guy who didn't win and ended up living under a bridge in his golden years. Spurious and baseless conjecture doesn't suddenly turn into reasoned commentary just because it happens to be true in the end.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
However, further recriminations and calls for your adversary to apologize (with no reciprocity) is more likely to worsen the situation than improve it.
Has any Republican out there actually asked for reciprocity?
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
She is not responsible for the actions of a crazy person, not criminally and not morally either, even if her rhetoric was some proximate cause of the violence.
Bull. The core of responsibility is dealing with the the consequences of your actions intended or not. And if this were just the first instance of such there might be more room to argue that it was just a simple mistake, but after years (decades, really, if you go back to the inception of the Southern Strategy which is probably the most prominent root of the current game plan) of escalating rhetoric and a number of such incidents that have already occurred then deniability wears a bit thin.
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michaellve
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So here is a question what does it matter if the rhetoric of the right has anything to do with this particular shooting? Does the violent language and imagery belong in our political discourse? Should pundits on both sides (Maddow, Obermann, Limbaugh, Beck, Palin) control our political discourse? What responsiblity do we the electorate and they the politicians have for the current political climate?

I am a firm believer that we make our own choices but we can certainly be influenced by what others say. I am sorry but the voices of the radical right do far outwiegh the voices of the radical left right now and both are shouting down the middle. We are in a time of radicals and they on both sides are trying to silence the center, which I believe is irresponsible. I think that there is nothing wrong with being liberal or conservative (I myself have been discribed as a pinko commy liberal)but ideological views do not translate into good governance. Most good governance is interplay and compromise between different groups not obstruction and villification of those who disagree with us.

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hobsen
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That was an excellent first post, Mariner, which got me thinking.

Something else which got me thinking is that I just learned that this crime was committed by a deranged young man using a weapon capable of firing about thirty shots very rapidly. In Arizona opponents of gun control just passed a law making it entirely legal for him to purchase such a weapon and carry it concealed to a public meeting with no permit required. This shooting makes me think such a policy may be a mistake. Of course, he might have purchased the weapon illegally and carried it anyway, but this was a man who could not have passed the most cursory of background checks.

Over the years I have also noticed that most violence tends to occur where populations are changing rapidly. Arizona has been a prime target for white flight by conservative Republicans leaving areas falling into the hands of minorities who vote Democratic. Now these people see their preferred environment threatened by the fact that two out of three babies born in Arizona are Hispanic. While the concern there over illegal immigrants in the state is real, I think a lot of Arizona citizens would be very unhappy with the movement into the state of a million Hispanics with legal immigration status. So some of them are trying to drive the Hispanics out, and that creates a climate which makes violence more likely. While the races involved may be different, this is really much like the tensions in southern Mississippi over a large black minority looking for greater recognition and political power.

Ayway, it is sad so many innocent people got hurt. However the legal process plays out, this person will not be walking around free for the forseeable future, and he should not be. Let us hope the survivors mourning the various victims may be able to rebuild their lives.

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