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Violent Political Language Did Not Cause Representative Giffords' Shooting

Saturday, January 08, 2011 - 07:25 PM

As we follow the developments in Arizona around the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, we're gathering opinion and reaction from a variety of It's A Free Country contributors. Blogger Solomon Kleinsmith submitted this piece late Saturday night.

The tragic news coming out of Arizona has dominated the news this weekend, and both ends of the political spectrum are jumping all over the issue, trying to use it to their own selfish political ends. Heaven forbid a tragedy like this ever go to waste...

Some on the left seem hell bent on using the map where Sarah Palin has gun site targets on certain vulnerable races as proof that she was somehow baiting loons like this apparent assassin to go ahead and shoot political opponents. This cartoonish assessment is just as stupid as those on the right who are pointing out the same thing on a post on Daily Kos (another more vitriolic post was apparently taken down), in which the author verbally puts a "bulls eye" on her district, along with those of several other moderates.

Others on the left have taken it upon themselves to politicize this event by trying to paint it as an argument for stronger gun control laws. This coming even as we know next to nothing about this Jared Lee Loughner character, where he got his weapon, or if there was any history of violent legal problems.

As with any other crime like this, its not political verbiage that drives people to these sorts of acts -- its insanity. This guy is a nutcase. I could care less whether he was a left winger, right winger or anything in between. He is a MURDERER.

Millions of people watch movies where fictional characters duke it out; they don't leave the theater and take those fantasies out into the real world. People like Sarah Palin and Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga (the founder of Daily Kos) are political firebrands that stoke the flames of the insane culture war that is causing so much damage to our great nation. But they are no more responsible for the violence of an insane listener who takes their hyperbole literally than the Pope is for some insane Catholic who thinks he hears Jesus tell him that his neighbor needs to be sent to hell.

It would be just as easy for me to fall into the pundit trap and politicize this. Instead, I'll align myself with those calling for prayer for the families of the five people who died and others who were injured. I'm siding with those on both sides who condemn this heinous act without stooping to slip a partisan message into the equation, and those who say the violence and hatred needs to subside rather than find reason to spew more hatred at fellow Americans who happen to disagree with them politically.

This event is more than tragic enough as it is. To add to it with all of this garbage is just... sickening.

Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates. He is currently collaborating with other centrist independent and moderate bloggers on a news aggregation and social networking site, and is always looking for ways to help the independent groundswell as more and more people become disaffected with the two major parties.

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Comments [80]

Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"The author blames Markos Malitsos for violence"

The reader apparently didn't read the post. I said *NO* pundits are to blame for the violence. I was extremely clear in saying that the blame only goes to the insane person who viciously executed those people.

Disagree if you want, but please do me the minimum courtesy of actually reading the post.

Jun. 05 2012 03:23 PM
Ellen from New Jersey

The author blames Markos Malitsos for violence-I cannot think of any left winger responsible for shooting ANY right winger (although I can think of several I would LIKE this to happen to). This is just more right wing idiocy, the Sarah Palin school of "it's not my fault". Bull-YOU are responsible for instigating hate and violence through your support of such outlets as Fox News. Almost half of the people in this country are sick, stupid jerks.

Jan. 13 2011 11:02 AM
Ronny from Great Neck, NY

Any politician who paints crosshairs on their opposition and that politician then gets shot, needs to do more than apologize.
They have to accept responsibility and be put on trial alongside the assassinator!

Jan. 12 2011 02:04 PM
Rob w from Levittown, NY

Linda,

The reason for the disassembling of the mental health system is the introduction of new drugs that made it possible for patients being treated outside of a locked facility effectively without a full time staff. It's more cost effective for the system, and more agreeable for the patients. The problem is many patients refuse to accept treatment because of anosognosia.

Rob

Jan. 12 2011 10:56 AM
linda Eckhardt from Maplewood, NJ

From: Linda West Eckhardt, lindaeckhardt2008@gmail.com 973 762 4857
James Beard award winning cookbook author, Journalist, Teacher, Mother
About: The shooting in Arizona of the congresswoman and others
The 24-7 news cycle is alive today with the terrible tragedy in Tucson, Arizona where the congresswoman, judge and other innocent bystanders were shot, and some killed by a lone gunman.
Television programs this morning talk of the growing angry rhetoric in our political system. Newspapers struggle to get the facts straight in this fast moving story.
At this early time in the story, there are murmurs about the shooter having made threats to people before, about his website with the ramblings of an unhinged mind. The reports state that this 22 year old man lived at home with his family.
Why has no one tackled the problem head on? This man is clearly a paranoid schizophrenic in full psychotic episode: full of anger and rage, paranoid, fixated on this poor congresswoman.
How is it that a person so clearly deranged is walking the streets, able to get his hands on a gun, and finally make good on threats that have apparently been building for years?
Why have his parents not been able to get effective help for their son?
The answer is simple. Our mental health system is in tatters. There are few resources for families of the mentally ill. There are walking time bombs all over this country. There are poor, addled souls living under bridges, being attacked in jails – which are now full of the mentally ill- suffering lives of unthinkable pain.
Why? Because this country began disassembling the mental health system as far back as Ronald Reagen’s tenure as the governor of California. In the name of civil rights, we have damned these poor souls to lives of risk, and danger, and doom. We have endangered our society by not putting these folks in settings where they can be protected and where we can be protected from them.
At the bottom, this is a public policy issue. Until we begin reassembling a mental health system that addresses these problems, the mentally ill, and their families, and society in general remain at grave risk.
Schizophrenia is as old as life itself. It causes terrible pain to those who are afflicted, their families, and their societies.
If the worth of a society is measured by how well we take care of “the least of these”, the United States of American clearly gets an F. When are we going to face up to our responsibilities?
President Obama’s health care bill is a beginning. Make your voice heard. Stand up for health care reform. It matters.

Jan. 12 2011 10:26 AM
JAMES DORMON from NEW ORLEANS LA

I DO NOT KNOW WHETHER VITRIOLIC SPEECH BY CONSERVATIVE RADIO PUNDITS CONTRIBUTED TO THE TUCSON SHOOTING. I DO KNOW THAT ON ONE OCCASION RECENTLY I HEARD THE RADIO HOST G. GORDON LIDDY SUGGEST TO HIS LISTENERS THAT THEY "UNLOAD THEIR ORDNANCE ON THEM." THEM AT ISSUE WERE ESSENTIALLY ALL LIBERAL POLITICIANS.

Jan. 11 2011 11:08 PM
Maryah from South Brunswick, NJ

Bravo Mr. Kleinman. I do not usually post comments but I have been feeling for sometime now that the media's attempt to link the tragedy in Arizona to the heated political climate is ridiculous. There might be some mild relevance to the link if radical liberals or conservatives were actually directly preaching acts of violence or if the shooter in question had a history of strong partisanship and was a sane, rational human being who interpreted Palin's targets literally. Clearly this is not the case. None of the vitriolic politicians we love to hate has actually advocated murder (unlike let's say the leader of the nazis) and this Loughner character, according to his youtube posts was clearly unhinged and was probably as likely to shoot his teacher as his congresswoman so the political rhetoric issue hold even less water. Why is it that if someone kills himself because of a web post, we have to have a month long discussion on how technology is at fault and if some whack job kills 5 people in cold blood we have to blame the political climate in this country? Whatever happened to personal responsibility in this country?!?!?

Jan. 11 2011 09:19 PM
Maryah from South Brunswick, NJ

Bravo Mr. Kleinman. I do not usually post comments but I have been feeling for sometime now that the media's attempt to link the tragedy in Arizona to the heated political climate is ridiculous. There might be some mild relevance to the link if radical liberals or conservatives were actually directly preaching acts of violence or if the shooter in question had a history of strong partisanship and was a sane, rational human being who interpreted Palin's targets literally. Clearly this is not the case. None of the vitriolic politicians we love to hate has actually advocated murder and this Loughner character, according to his youtube posts was clearly unhinged and was probably as likely to shoot his teacher as his congresswoman so the political rhetoric issue hold even less water. Why is it that if someone kills himself because of a web post, we have to have a week long discussion on how technology is at fault and if some whack job kills 5 people in cold blood we have to blame the political climate in this country. Whatever happened to personal responsibility in this country?!?!?

Jan. 11 2011 07:28 PM
Rob W from Levittown, NY

As someone with a mental health diagnosis (including features of paranoid psychosis) I can say when i'm symptomatic there can be triggers that might as well be directives from God telling me what to do. What I'm saying is while the particular language and words may not mean much of anything, when psychotic, seeing a bullseye on a map might mean 'i am meant to target this' irregardless of who put it there (pro or con, left or right) and if i were gun-inclined it would lead me moreso to a specific kind of attack. Of course, the kind of paranoia i have might lead me more likely to believe i'm being targetted if my area is in the bullseye as his was rather than a directive, but it happens both ways with this illness.

Jan. 11 2011 06:57 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"Question: Do you think it would be possible to condemn Washington Republicans for fanning the flames of hatred without it being partisan or political? "

Technically no. If there was a partisan group that existed in the center, I'd be one of them, but just being partisan isn't bad, its the hyperbole, rancor, etc that I have a problem with.

I just don't think its a fair thing to try and put blame on either party for this particular event. I think both do damage to our democracy with their speech, but neither can be blamed for how an insane person might take their words and use them... which isn't at all clear what we did anyway.

Jan. 11 2011 11:26 AM
Louis from Queens

I would just like to clarify that when I said "we each experience the result of our own actions" I was referring to the shooter and how finally we have to be responsible for our own actions and their consequences. This also applies to our politicians.

Jan. 11 2011 10:56 AM
Louis from Queens

Dear Solomon,
I share in your disgust of people using tragedies for selfish ends. I would like to reply to this comment you made:

"As with any other crime like this, its not political verbiage that drives people to these sorts of acts -- its insanity. This guy is a nutcase. I could care less whether he was a left winger, right winger or anything in between. He is a MURDERER."

It is incorrect to say politicians fanning the flames of hatred are to blame because we each experience the results of our own actions and no one else's. However, that being said it is also incorrect to say that Republican demagoguery from Washington is unrelated to this incident. Everything we do affects the minds of others and everything they do affects us.

Question: Do you think it would be possible to condemn Washington Republicans for fanning the flames of hatred without it being partisan or political?

This question is important because if any criticism of selfish intention is branded as mere partisanship then we have no leeway for legitimately discussing whether our leaders are engaging in demagoguery and the consequences of those unethical actions.

Jan. 11 2011 09:50 AM
Enn from MI

Look people, the only reason this nut-job choose Giffords is because she (unfortunately) happened to be an accessible and familiar "target" in his imaginary war - "we covet what we see" - remember?

However Palin in the wake of this tragedy could of easily found an opportunity to show her dignity and remorse. I am not saying what she has to take a blame, but she would of risen in the eyes of many
by saying - "I condemn that has happened and regret that my words has been paralleled in any way with this tragedy... " or similar. Instead she (as expected) just being herself - cold, small-minded and self-serving.... but hopefully with a little luck her political luck has run out...

Jan. 11 2011 01:02 AM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

solomon smugly (but not wisely) asks: "Where EXACTLY, be specific, did I say Kos and Palin were the same?"
This is the same Solomon who wrote: "People like Sarah Palin and Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga (the founder of Daily Kos) are political firebrands that stoke the flames of the insane culture war that is causing so much damage to our great nation."

Solomon, do you even read what you write?

===========

Are you serious... or is this some sad bit of sarcasm that I'm not picking up on?

Do you REALLY not see the difference between saying that "these are two examples of people who did this thing I don't like" and "these people are the same"?!?

I really couldn't have asked for a better illustration of someone so blinded by their ideology that they change the meaning of things others say, instead of just disagreeing. If you don't think Kos is a firebrand, or that he's damaging our country, thats certainly a position you can take... I catch flak all the time from righties who think I'm insane for thinking that Palin is even in the same league as the left leaning loon they see Kos as.

Jan. 10 2011 07:16 PM

rep. giffords was on daily kos "target list" w/ her name bolded for "added emphasis":
http://bit.ly/hjfGmm

daily kos blogger boyblue declared rep. giffords is "dead to me" after she voted against pelosi for dem leader:
http://bit.ly/dM7v7s

democrats used similar map, with bullseyes to indicate "ripe targets":
http://bit.ly/aV1QBt

president obama urged his supporters to "punish our enemies":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAhwTQ784IY

in 2008 candidate obama said "they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun":
http://on.wsj.com/bwpVM

so are president obama & the left also responsible for the shooting?

Jan. 10 2011 03:00 PM
Rabbi Lafonque from Brooklyn

solomon smugly (but not wisely) asks: "Where EXACTLY, be specific, did I say Kos and Palin were the same?"
This is the same Solomon who wrote: "People like Sarah Palin and Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga (the founder of Daily Kos) are political firebrands that stoke the flames of the insane culture war that is causing so much damage to our great nation."

Solomon, do you even read what you write?

Jan. 10 2011 02:28 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

I see the forces of "false equivilency" are out in force today, hahaha

Where EXACTLY, be specific, did I say Kos and Palin were the same? In fact I didn't... just another example of people reading their own views between the lines.

Jan. 10 2011 02:09 PM

I think an important question is "why have the 'culture wars' become so vitriolic?"

IMO, the atmosphere of continuous criticism and failure to solve problems together encourage people to see conflict and violence as a normal part of society instead of an abhorrent affront to civility and culture. In other words, we've created a world that can at times encourage disturbed individuals to see violence as an expected expression of their discontent instead of showing them through continuous role model example that there is a better way to solve conflict.

I don't think most people are surprised when individuals coming from dysfunctional, abusive, violent environments act out and break laws. In a similar way, as our own society becomes more dysfunctional and less able to solve problems, engages in blame and partisanship instead of solutions as the ship sinks, it shouldn't be surprising that we seen increased neurosis and insanity in our populations.

Can we change our society for the better through education?

If we start teaching ethics and critical thinking to children throughout their educational careers and adults we can change the fabric of our current society. Only when the majority of people can think clearly and independently will the socially learned behaviors of negative attacks verses constructive engagement be reduced.

If we elevate the ideas of compromise and healthy debate, we can make our society stronger and create environments conducive to people helping one another and reaching their full potential.

Jan. 10 2011 01:47 PM
maria from fairfield, ct

I disagree with Solomon Kleinsmith's comments. It is a simplistic view of a huge american societal problem. I think that we need to face our society "as it is" and not as we like to think it is. We are a society where violence is fanned by a perverted notion of what liberty and freedom really are. Freedom and liberty do not entitle me to put someone who disagrees with me in the crosshairs. That is a visual image conducive to an incitement to violence - crosshairs are the visual equivalent of a gun. This, to me, is not a sign of civilization. it is a sign of tribal barbarism. We are reverting to a state where the use of violence itself - Michelle Bachman saying that we "should be armed and dangerous", Sarah Palin's crosshairs, Glenn Beck's lunatic rantings, Rush Limbaugh's racism, the tea party perversion of our Constitution and the government roles and Fox news spewing out 24/7 right wing rant is not making us better. it is making us weaker because we are more divided than ever .To say that we should stop pointing fingers is completely idiotic and, again, tries to whitewash a real problem. The incitement to violence has become a banner of the right wing, where there is no place for dialogue with those who do not see their point - as expressed by their leadership with a stated vow of "no compromise". In no compromise you are effectively saying - it is my way or no way", and this is what tyranny is to me. We should stand together in acknowledging that we, the american society, have a problem and that we are going to talk about it and solve it together. But for that, we need to acknowledge and take responsibility for our roles in getting here. And please, do not put on the same footing the likes of Maddow, Olberman and Schultz who engage in sardonic and caustic left wing rant, on the same footing as the violence demonstrated by the right wing.

Jan. 10 2011 01:29 PM

Solomon, I have to admit that I did not read your blog post from beginning to end. What I gathered upon reading the first few lines was that you rail against the right and the left and I find your railing as boring as theirs. I picked through your blog post and saw words like "nutcase" and "sickening" "garbage" and murderer in capital letters. You may speak of prayer for the families but I experienced no compassion. Your posting lacked the wisdom to bring readers to a higher level of intellect and humanity. It is more than a matter of seeing the complexity in this very sad situation but transcending the anger it triggers in ourselves and our fellow citizens on all sides to bring about both the solace and healing we seek and political action that moves our society forward.

Jan. 10 2011 12:44 PM
Rabbi LaFonque from Brooklyn

Good Lord, what an amazing lack of understanding of the workings societal processes and history this blogger displays! Yet another holier than thou sermon from a self proclaimed representative of the mythical "center" that piously equates forces of reaction with forces of progress (Kos is no saint, but the equal of the demonic (yes, wise Solomon, I am a name calling partisan) Palin? But that's pretty irrelevant; the cluelessness of the author is the more startling aspect (well, it is the blogosphere). Brother Solomon--humans through the ages have understood and wrestled with the fact that murders do not occur in a social vacuum ( you may refer to Cain and Abel and all the literature it has generated just for starters).
I suggest you examine your own "strident centrist independent" ways before casting stones at the beliefs of others.

Jan. 10 2011 11:52 AM
Michael of Brooklyn from Brooklyn

I find it poignant that WNYC played a clip of Congresswoman Giffords reciting the First Amendmendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Free speech is a guaranteed right unless it is inflamitory, like shouting "Fire" in a theater.

I would suggest that placing gun-styled crosshairs on locations is such an abridgement of this freedom. Sarah Palin and all of her right wing looney followers have blood on their hands.

Jan. 10 2011 10:59 AM
Marsha Andrews from New York City, NY 10023

Whether the shooter was directly influenced by Sarah Palin we might never know. However, Palin's rhetoric from the beginning has been unbelievably dangerous. Her rant that Obama "pals around with terrorists" and her revving up the audiences etc. are incredibly irresponsible and dangerous. Many on the right have created a climate that makes it ok for violence to support your opinions and desires. It doesn't matter if it's words or actions, we as a species can be easily influenced by those we admire and are attracted to, many times irrationally. All this dialogue about "arm yourselves" has to stop!!

Jan. 10 2011 10:57 AM
Fred Mendel from Sherman, ME

Only the gods knew why the fellow shot the congresswoman Gifford. However our government has travelled down a road of corruption, stupidity and warmongering in various parts of the globe that fills me personally with contempt and complete disrespect for our "representatives on the Federal level (includes those blockheads in the Senate) Many folks either ignore our government these days just to preserve their sanity.
It does not help matters to slaughter innocent bystanders either. This phenomenon is totally foreign to my generation. Born in 1941, we had our hands full getting fed and clothed sheltered. The use of firearms were for hunting sports and war (as in WWII). WE didn't resolves our beefs wth whoever or whatever by mass murder with guns.

Jan. 10 2011 07:28 AM
GenSpec from San Diego

And don't forget Newt Gingrich who blamed liberal society when that woman murdered her own two children (and blamed it on a black man), whereupon Gingrich said "vote Republican." Was that crass or what? After two children are murdered to actually ask people to vote Republican.

Or Pat Robertson blaming 9/11 on gays and liberals and the ACLU.

All this blaming is nonsense.

Jan. 10 2011 12:13 AM
left, right, crap from san francisco

i can't really say if this kid laughner did it because of palin, but i do think really strange how gifford's name was "on a list" of targets.

palin is popular. and why is she popular? she is stir up the frenzy. you can't deny the built up anger created by palin.

Jan. 09 2011 09:55 PM
Cheffry from Michigan

Sorry Solomon...great first name but your an idiot... The fringe are the most vulnerable to this type of crap... And Sarah Palin thrives off these people... You have put yourself right in their camp ... You are as dangerous as she is with your defense of this ...There is a difference between fee speech an inciting violence... yelling fire in a theater is still illeagle...

Jan. 09 2011 09:10 PM
Sunny

@ Solomon Kleinsmith
Re your comment
"@Sunny - I've been about as crystal clear as I could be. Are you being purposefully dense?
I said they didn't CAUSE it. I see how some insane people could construe what these firebrands say as condonement of violence, but its just not the case. Someone's actions or words are not fairly judged by how a crazy person interprets them."

Could you be more arrogant and condescending? I don't see how.

Jan. 09 2011 08:16 PM
shipoffools

It's pretty simple, really. In 2008, Palin comes on the scene, gives her acceptance speech. She throws out the *real American* bull****, which was basically, IMO, a way to imply that candidate Obama was somebody sinister, dark, untrustworthy, un-American, etc. She has become louder and gaudier as time has marched on. She's the Mama of Inciters, the Hag of Hate. Period.

Palin. started. the. whole. damned. thing. Period.

You're an idiot or a revisionist (if not both), if you believe otherwise.

Jan. 09 2011 08:10 PM
Ron from Tucson, Arizona

"Did Palin's "crosshairs" directly cause the assassination attempt in Arizona? No. Did it, and the vitriolic rhetoric of the right add fuel to the mega of hate and bigotry in the U.S.? No doubt."

WELL SAID. I, for one, would be willing to unite with you on this position. Let's see if a few million more might join us.

Jan. 09 2011 06:16 PM

This is the best article out there on this issue. Well done!

Jan. 09 2011 05:39 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"It's becoming tedious to see yet another self-proclaimed "liberal" denouncing "the left" and "the right" and proclaiming him/her/itself as being the sole possessor of truth."

Oh, please tell me you're talking about me.

Jan. 09 2011 05:21 PM
Gary Rosenberg from Walnut Creek, CA

Interesting comments from folks. I've read a lot of anger and soul searching. Since we don't have the facts as to what caused Loughner to act, we can at best speculate. My guess is that there were multiple factors in his decision to kill: mental disposition, family upbringing, influences in society such as the polititical vitriole everyone's talking about, easy access to very dangerous weapons and a media which continues to glamorize violence.

This is yet another moment in our history to reflect on why our society is violent, overly obesessed with material wealth and gain, disassociated from each other, continually seeking power over others, fearful of the future, economically bankrupt and unwilling to address this issue (why is it that the richest Americans can't pay their fair share to help dig us out of the economic mess Wall Steet put us in?), ongoing military adventurisim which has cost our country trillions of dollars and only spreads ill will to other nations and a general lack of respect for those different than us.

We are all responsible for this one action by Loughner, because our society has encouraged an environment in which this kind of behavior thrives.

As individuals we need to take our country back from those who spread evil, angry ideas; from those who would consolidate power and wealth to the detriment of the majority; from those who fear change; from those who stubbornly beleive in an American dream of unceasing material exploitation; from those who enjoy the celebrity of spreading lies; from those who demand the freedom to carry weapons of destruction (without cause); from those whose fears keep us from addresssing the environmental changes affecting nearly every aspect of our society in the very near future; and we need to take our country back from those who would destroy it based on their own personal greed.

So, while we wait for some answers to this horribly sad example of our society I suggest we all reflect on what we indivudally can do to help move our country forward as a more loving, compasionate, caring, concerned, generous and positive force for change in the world today. Changing direction takes hard work and sacrifice. It takes the political will of our society to make the necessary choices for a better future. I beleive we can do this. I just wonder how bad we will let things get before we finally act.

Jan. 09 2011 05:05 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"You're calling for condemnations and prayers, which are well and good, but I don't see any reason why this shouldn't be used as an opportunity to push for an actual reduction in the vitriol of politics rather than just empty condemnations."

I don't think its an empty condemnation to assign blame to the correct place. You can disagree with me on where that lies, but either way it isn't empty.

And I chose my words carefully. I never said I don't think the partisan vitriol isn't damaging out country... if you read my blog you'd know it would be hard to find someone out there that rails against it more than I do on a nearly daily basis. No, what I said what THIS EVENT is not any talking head's fault.

"I hear, however, that one of Palin's spokesmen, the same one who said there is nothing irresponsible about posting incitements to shoot congressmen online, blamed the shooting on liberals. No sign of a retreat from caustic and violent rhetoric. So maybe there really will be no change other than empty condemnations."

And voices on the left are blaming it on conservatives. Neither side is retreating, and both are using this event for their own selfish political gain.

Jan. 09 2011 04:48 PM
NABNYC from SoCal

It's becoming tedious to see yet another self-proclaimed "liberal" denouncing "the left" and "the right" and proclaiming him/her/itself as being the sole possessor of truth. "The Left" says gun control; "The right" says something else; They're all stupid, but luckily I'm smart enough to point it out.

Of course right-wing hate speech incites violence. It's what they want. They want outbreaks of violence to create chaos and undermine Obama, or force Obama to declare martial law. In either event, the right-wing wins. So it's childish to dismiss arguments that these people on the right-wing are desperately trying to get their listeners worked up into a state of sexual frenzy (drill baby drill with Sister Sarah humping an imaginary pole) and irrational emotional breakdown (Lunatic Beck sobbing uncontrollably about his fears for the nation and Cry-Baby Boner weeping big tears) in the hopes that a few of their fringe followers will take up weapons and go shoot somebody. It's exactly what they want.

But more importantly, the analysis is not advanced by simply demeaning positions raised by others. Instead, we need to consider an approach that balances the various interests.

For example, is it possible that hate-speech could incite someone to violence? Yes. Of course it is possible. Assuming so, should the speech be banned (government censorship)? Should it simply be banned from radio or TV like swear words, but otherwise allowed in a group meeting, or in print? If the speech is censored, does that violate the first amendment freedom of speech? Probably so. If it is not censored, and it does incite violence, can the speaker be held criminally or civillly liable? That is actually the most important question.

The issue probably is whether it was reasonably forseeable that a listener would be incited to violence, and would act violently as a result of hearing the language in question.

"Fire in a crowded theatre" is just an example, not the beginning and end of the analysis.

As far as gun control goes, it's a separate issue. The 2nd amendment does not guarantee individuals any right to possess guns other than when acting as part of a militia to protect the state. To the extent the courts unfortunately misconstrue it to allow private ownership of guns, there is nothing that says they must be allowed to carry guns in public, to own handguns, or semi-automatic weapons. If our courts were not corrupted by the Federalist Society and its NRA sponsors, we could and we should have gun control under health and safety regulations to protect the citizens. But that is an entirely separate issue.

Jan. 09 2011 04:31 PM
Sean O'Keefe from Richmond Virginia

I can see where the sentiment in this article is from, tiredness of partisan politics, but I can't fully agree with it. Frankly I would be very happy if it weren't mainly partisan leftists calling to use this occasion to reduce incitements to violence and hatred in American politics. That is a goal that should be embraced by partisan rightists as much as partisan leftists. But if it is partisan on only one side, that doesn't mean it's wrong.

You're calling for condemnations and prayers, which are well and good, but I don't see any reason why this shouldn't be used as an opportunity to push for an actual reduction in the vitriol of politics rather than just empty condemnations.

Yes, it is using a tragedy, but it can be right to be spurred on by a tragic event to make actual improvements. In other words, rather than trying to score political points off Sarah Palin for baiting loonies... if this just got her to stop baiting loonies I would be happy.

I hear, however, that one of Palin's spokesmen, the same one who said there is nothing irresponsible about posting incitements to shoot congressmen online, blamed the shooting on liberals. No sign of a retreat from caustic and violent rhetoric. So maybe there really will be no change other than empty condemnations.

Jan. 09 2011 04:05 PM
Michelle

"EXACTLY what this post is about... to try and steer the discussion away from political gamesmanship and towards the crux of the issue... assigning blame to the man who did it and empathizing with the victims."

Without a doubt I empathize with the victims and I blame the the shooter for this tragic event. That said, there is more than enough blame to go around. And I am multi-talented.... I can feel sympathy for the victims while assigning blame to the culpable all at the same time. I remember when 9/11 happend we were placing blame within hours. Were we not empathizing with the victims just because we were blaming someone? No. We managed to have both feelings at the same time.

It's no different now. The reason I am so quick to assign blame is because you can't go running around (as Angle did) telling people to shoot someone if they aren't happy and then sheepishly say that they didn't really think anyone would actually shoot someone. The term "2nd amendment remedies" doesn't mean politely walk up to someone and socialize about a gun you have stored away in a safe location. It means take out your guns and start shooting. And that is what happend.

And everyone (politicians and the public as a whole) should be talking about the violent rhetoric. You know why? That could have been any one of us standing outside the Safeway store. I don't want to be afraid to go to the grocery store just because a politican might be there and national figures have implied he/she needs a little intro to the 2nd amendmendment.

Jan. 09 2011 03:45 PM
Paul d. from Omaha

Well, they are now saying that this guy acted alone (the 2nd suspect has been found and cleared). It is apparent if you watch this man's videos that he was crazy. If you couple that with his drug use, its very easy to see how this bad series of events could have occurred.

This guy was going to kill his congresswoman and it didn't matter that she was democrat or republican. His indiscriminant killing of bystanders showed that he was lashing out wildly rather than this being a targeted assassination. There's also talk that they found a suicide note on his person when they caught him. Iwatched all his videos and he makes no mention of democrats or replublicans or Tea Party, nor does he mention "The left" or "The Right". He has a chaotic political philosophy that could only exist inside the mind of a very depressed crazy person.

Any of you who wish to paint this incident as the fault of any political party or somehow blame Rush/Beck/Hannity are merely wishing desperately for facts that don't exist.

It's just like when John Hinkley shot Reagen and said he did it to impress Jodie Foster. Loughner is just another crazy man with a gun who unfortunately slipped through the system.

Jan. 09 2011 03:33 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"Sarah Palin - please move to Russia and take your Tea party with you else we will hve to start a "Coffee Party"!"

They already did start a Coffee Party. I was even pretty active with the national Coffee Party group, until it became clear their nonpartisan messaging was a cover for a liberal agenda and the founders were using the groups to promote their documentary... among other things.

"I disagree with some of the things you're saying, but who cares, right? I really just wanted to say that I am really bothered by the tone you're taking with your readers--calling people dense, saying they can't read--it's so sad. I wish I could ignore it, but I just can't today."

Actually *I* care. I don't mind being disagreed with. The only people I'm being combative with are those who are twisting my words into all sorts of garbage I didn't say, so they can find imaginary chinks to exploit, rather than just say they disagree and why. I don't appreciate it and I'm not going to mince my words in response.

I'm not some professional pundit who's concerned about a polished image. If people want to debate, I'd much prefer that. But if people want to throw stones at me, they can expect them to be thrown back in their face.

Jan. 09 2011 02:16 PM
Greta from Phoenix, AZ

I would like to say that I appreciate someone waiting for all the facts before drawing conclusions about an event. I am sick of media and individuals jumping to conclusions and believing the first thing they see or hear without finding the truth first.

We are so hell-bent on winning (politically speaking) that we don't realize that everyone is losing.

The focus should be on the victims and finding out what happened exactly, not political punditry.

Jan. 09 2011 01:53 PM
Simbaraja

I blame this incident solely on Sarah Palin and her grizzly talk. We need to convince her to move to Russia where she would fit well with rest of the Russian mafia. As Barbara Bush said eloquently "she needs to stay in Alaska - better for her and the rest of the country too".

I a not sure why people in this country are obsessed with SP. She is an insult to an average person's intellect. This insane person who shot these 20 people in Tucson may turn out to be only a nutcase but those are the very people SP excites with her so annoyoing voice and style.

Sarah Palin - please move to Russia and take your Tea party with you else we will hve to start a "Coffee Party"!

Jan. 09 2011 01:42 PM
Tara Gellene from New York, NY

Dear Solomon,

I disagree with some of the things you're saying, but who cares, right? I really just wanted to say that I am really bothered by the tone you're taking with your readers--calling people dense, saying they can't read--it's so sad. I wish I could ignore it, but I just can't today.

I'm sure you're upset. I think a lot of people are. I hope that you feel better soon and that in the meantime, you'll try to disagree with people without insulting them.

And I'm sorry if you feel attacked, but you have a pretty appreciable forum to express your views. Why not be proud of that and take the high road, huh?

All the best.

Jan. 09 2011 12:56 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"You are naive if you don't think Sarah Palin's rhetoric did not indirectly contribute to Gifford's shooting...the parents of the 9 year old girl who died would likely beg to differ with your desire to make a political point...."

And you can't read if you think I said anything of the sort.

"The immediate concern is not Sarah Palin's image."

Boy, if you think I care one bit about Sarah Palin's image, you really haven't been paying any attention.

"Never forget that the rhetoric of the Nazi party fueled a nation into a frenzy to kill Jews."

Aaaand... the Nazi card. How predictable.

"Did Palin's "crosshairs" directly cause the assassination attempt in Arizona? No. Did it, and the vitriolic rhetoric of the right add fuel to the mega of hate and bigotry in the U.S.? No doubt."

This is a pretty good summary of what I've said actually, regardless of what some of the weirdos on here are reading between the lines.

"All politicians, bloggers, media and people need to condemn divisive, hate-filled rhetoric, which as everyone know comes more from the right than from the left."

EXACTLY what this post is about... to try and steer the discussion away from political gamesmanship and towards the crux of the issue... assigning blame to the man who did it and empathizing with the victims.

Jan. 09 2011 12:23 PM
Greg from Denver

In the last 2 years it has been the right wing who have used violent rhetoric towards Democratic values and platforms. This rhetoric has gone unchecked by the right wing and Republican representatives and leaders. Not only has it gone unchecked, Republicans have endorsed these nut cases and have developed platforms to appease them.
"A tea partier who is angry about Congressman Tom Perriello’s vote for health care reform published what he thought was the lawmaker’s home address on his blog, just in case anyone wanted to “drop by” and offer a “personal touch” to express views" http://www.alan.com/2010/03/23/tea-party-harassment/.

You have rhetoric of "dont retreat, RELOAD", "Second Amendment Remedies", "Government takeover of healthcare", "Death panels", "Obama is a racsist, a Muslim, not American, Socialist, etc"

You've also seen the same sort of violent rhetoric from the right wing towards Muslims and Illegal Immigrants (mostly those with brown skin).

Now, with all that said, did it cause this guy to shoot 19 people, killing 6, and critically wounding a Democratic Congress-Woman? I say, ABSOLUTELY!

It is clear that the right wing along with the Republican party have used false propaganda to gain political power, anyone who cannot see this is delusional, unfortunately, about 50% of the citizens of this country are either stupid enough to buy the lies of the right, or are delusional enough to beleive that both sides are using the same tactics.

Jan. 09 2011 12:21 PM
Jess from Brooklyn

Solomon-
I know you didn't say "everyone outside of a government entity who kills a political figure is insane", and I didn't mean to imply that you did. The point I'm getting at is that it *may* be that this kid, while not holding the values of the vast majority of the culture, DOES hold the values of a popular subculture that is very active and getting more active all the time (http://www.splcenter.org/blog/). Taking some of his postings out of context may sound like the ravings of a lunatic, but so would any number of people, especially people at the tail-end of adolescence (no disrespect to adolescents). I think it's important to make this distinction because I'd be willing to bet there are a number of relatively sane people who belong to militias, who attend anti-immigrant rallies, who picket soldier funerals who might look at this kid as something of a hero. We can't say that all these people are merely insane. These are people who have been educated, who have had most, if not all, the privileges and wealth of the U.S. at their disposal and who are actively engaged in their communities- whatever those communities may be.
It may be that Loughner is a sociopath, or it may be that he just thinks of himself as a revolutionary.

And on another note entirely, the folks who tackled Loughner to the ground.... amazing.

Jan. 09 2011 11:31 AM
Michelle

People in the media will exploit this? Certainly. Especially those media figures who said "stop this rhetoric.... someone is going to get hurt." They were right. Twelve somebodies got hurt and six somebodies got killed. This story needs to be "exploited" so that the people who implied that violence is the answer will stop.

Do I think Palin, Angle or people who talked about the liberty tree directly conspired with this guy to shoot people? No. Do I think this guy heard this kind of talk and believed there would be people out there who thought his actions would be acceptable? Yes.

Say I went to a park and held a meeting where I explained what the 2nd amendment was and that people should consider using that right if they aren't happy about something. Unbeknown to me an entire Elementary school is at the park listening to me. Later that week one of those kids shoots someone. Am I legally responsible? Probably not. Am I morally responsible? You better believe it. Why? Because if I'm going to imply that shooting people is okay (even if I really don't want them to) I need to understand that someone who really will do it might be listening and think it's acceptable because I said it was. Hell, I encouraged it.

There is no difference in this situation. Palin, Angle, Tea Partiers, etc. all spoke publicly about liberty trees, 2nd amendment remedies and bullseye posters with no regard for the FACT that everyone would hear their garbage, not just the saner members of society that wouldn't actually go out and shoot people.

I hope the next time anyone holds a sign or wears a t-shirt with the Liberty Tree logo on it they have the decency to tell people it was just refreshed with the blood of a nine year old little girl.

Jan. 09 2011 10:29 AM
Mary from Carbondale, IL

You use terms like "nutcase" to describe the killer. I would wager a bet that you have never worked with mentally ill people. Violent language can indeed stimulate violent thinking and responses in people who are mentally unstable. Unfortunately, a great many people, like yourself I suspect, are either unable or unwilling to acknowledge that their own personal view of the world and the way that they respond to it are not constant and universal. Stop pushing your narrow opinion and learn from others for a while.

Jan. 09 2011 10:20 AM
Harry the Cat from NYC

As others here have stated, words & images do in fact matter. Words motivate, inspire, and give comfort. They also enrage, demonize and bring call to action.

Did Palin's "crosshairs" directly cause the assassination attempt in Arizona? No. Did it, and the vitriolic rhetoric of the right add fuel to the mega of hate and bigotry in the U.S.? No doubt. To believe otherwise is to stick your head in the sand.

The GOP is pulling out a version of infamous "some want to play the blame game" guide to crisis communications popularized during the aftermath of Katrina.

All politicians, bloggers, media and people need to condemn divisive, hate-filled rhetoric, which as everyone know comes more from the right than from the left.

Jan. 09 2011 09:52 AM
Jackie Hecht

I hear the point you are trying to make...it was an unstable person in this case.

But, don't rationalize everything...and please don't forget there are points to be made on the other side of your commentary.

Never forget that the rhetoric of the Nazi party fueled a nation into a frenzy to kill Jews.

The Germans weren't all crazy...but they shared an intolerance that was fed and nurtured.

Think about it.

Jan. 09 2011 09:23 AM
mvsck4

It is both predictable and pathetic that many on the both the left and right are trying to use these murders to political advantage...before more is known about the killer and maybe some accomplices.

That is the key...we still don't know what stimulated this guy(s) to do what they did. It may be that they are just insane or rotten people...but it may also be that some other outside stimulas (political or ???) had a significant affect. That knowledge is yet to be known or at least released by the police.

Jan. 09 2011 08:27 AM
BC Armstrong from Flushing

"This event is more than tragic enough as it is. To add to it with all of this garbage is just... sickening."

You're right. Follow your own advice, man. A nine year old girl is dead. Please put your half-baked little essay back in the oven until the funerals are past, at least. The immediate concern is not Sarah Palin's image.

Jan. 09 2011 06:10 AM
bill

You are naive if you don't think
Sarah Palin's rhetoric did not indirectly
contribute to Gifford's shooting...the parents of the 9 year old girl who died would likely beg to differ with your desire
to make a political point....

Jan. 09 2011 06:06 AM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

What is the deal with straw men arguments today?

"First, the "event" as you call it was a "political assassination [attempt".

I... never said that...

"Secondly, your quaint little alternative blog is engaging in exploiting the event.""

How am I exploiting the event if I'm neither saying that its either side's fault, nor saying the center is somehow the champion here? All I'm saying is that those who are blaming this on anyone other than the guy who pulled the trigger are spinning it for their own reasons.

Wait... maybe you're right. I should be more fair to the lobbying arm of the insane murderers association.

Jan. 09 2011 05:03 AM
Josey

Interesting blog.

You make the statement "Some on the left seem hell bent on using the map where Sarah Palin has gun site targets on certain vulnerable races as proof that she was somehow baiting loons like this apparent assassin to go ahead and shoot political opponents."

Later you say: "Others on the left have taken it upon themselves to politicize this event..."

The gist of your blog is the politicization of this assassination attempt, presumably for the purposes of exploiting it.

First, the "event" as you call it was a "political assassination [attempt". Secondly, your quaint little alternative blog is engaging in exploiting the event.

Do you have any shame at all or are you just another self-serving sociopath with narcissistic personality disorder like a Sarah Palin, a Rush Limbaugh, or a Glenn Beck?

Jan. 09 2011 02:33 AM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

@Sunny - I've been about as crystal clear as I could be. Are you being purposefully dense? I said they didn't CAUSE it. I see how some insane people could construe what these firebrands say as condonement of violence, but its just not the case. Someone's actions or words are not fairly judged by how a crazy person interprets them.

@Donald McKenzie - Where EXACTLY did I say that "any murderer as a nutcase"? How about you actually READ what someone says, rather than read some kind of BS between the lines?

And I hope the guy gets put into a hole for the rest of his miserable life, if you must know.

And I totally agree with what Caitlin says at the end of her comment... not optimistic of where this will go.

Jan. 09 2011 12:58 AM
Caitlin

This is tough. Yes, plenty of people on the far right have said stupid, over the top, things. And I don't agree that the other side is just as culpable, or that a politician calling for second-amendment solutions is the same as watching a violent movie or video game (for one thing, there are far more people fighting to keep kids away from those! But that's another matter entirely).

I DO think a lot of people (at least judging by the tiny, biased sample size of my twitter stream) are using this as just another great excuse to complain enthusiastically about how awful Sarah Palin is. And I think that's disrespectful to the people who died today, and cheapens the tragedy. Let's at least wait til we get some facts to start pointing fingers.

My optimistic side hopes this will at least get people to take the rhetoric down a notch, and maybe talk about crazy things like *facts* instead of whatever the 2011 "death panels" end up being. But my cynical side is seeing everyone reveling in blaming the other side, and it's not looking too hopeful.

Jan. 09 2011 12:17 AM
Donald McKenzie from Phoenix, AZ

First off, stop writing off any murderer as a nutcase to ease your political parties collective conscience. As I understand our legal system, there is no way this guy will ever get off on an insanity plea. This guy knows what right and wrong are, and chose to be wrong, not just wrong but evil.

When a party calls its opposition traitors and terrorists (terms pulled from tea party signs from Tucson in 2009, check the you tube vids) , it paints them as lessor and expendable.

Gifford won her races because she worked and listened to the people she lived with in Arizona, unlike what the Tea Party of Tucson did. As a whole the tea party wanted to make their opposition fearful of leaving homes and offices by posting opposition home and office locations on the internet, but Gifford held strong and did what she always did, today. Gifford is more brave than any Tea Partier, because she had to stand alone with her own voice. Bravery is easy when your voice in muffled by the mob,

We all knew this was going to happen, but some of us spoke up against it before.

To end this I would like to say that Solomon Kleinsmith, you are a horse's ass.

Jan. 08 2011 11:42 PM
Z

Political motivation= assassination. You are familiar with the case of Charles Guiteau, aren't you? The rhetoric of hate and violence causes these problems, feeds into the madness of certain individuals.

Jan. 08 2011 10:57 PM
Sunny

I was a volunteer safety escort at an abortion clinic for many years and frequently would have misguided people such as yourself say to me "Both sides of the abortion debate are equally extreme", to which I would reply "But only one side is shooting people, and bombing clinics."

All of the murderers of abortion providers were fired up by the constant violent and hateful rhetoric and anti-choice fanatics there is absolutely no question of the connection. Bill O'Reilly was constantly calling Dr. George Tiller a murderer and a baby killer on national television, I can't believe anyone doesn't see how this rhetoric would encourage violence, and sadly, it did.

Jan. 08 2011 10:53 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

@Jess - I didn't say that everyone outside of a government entity who kills a political figure is insane... I said THIS guy is insane. Thats pretty darn evident from all that has come out about him so far.

Insane people don't always act crazy. The son of Sam guy was an upstanding member of his community, for instance.

I don't think political speech should be curbed by legislation either, barring overt calls for violence and whatnot.

Jan. 08 2011 10:45 PM
Jess from Brooklyn

Solomon-
Agreed: government backed assassination is very different from a person shooting wildly into a crowd. But I don't think it's fair to say that anything outside of a government sanctioned murder is insanity. Even if an act seems particularly brutal and senseless, if the culture your living in deems it okay, then you will too. Jim Crow era South comes to mind: people who were called pillars of the community and were thought of in every way as "normal" committed brutal acts based on a racist, political, theological and pseudo intellectual culture of hate.
It is too easy to just look at an event like this and chalk it up to insanity.
That said, I don't think that expression should be curbed by legislation. It should be curbed by cultural snubbing.

Jan. 08 2011 10:06 PM
nb from ny

This is the first article I've read tonight that attempts to point out that this incident is due to insanity, and should not be spun by left or right wing media. Any attempt to use this incident for political gain is absolutely disgusting. After reading this individual's youtube rants, it is obvious that this person suffers from terminal psychosis not unlike the Columbine and Va Tech shooters. The point to this is for all of us to recognize insane individuals in our society and do what we can to alert someone, anyone, or anything that can intervene. The community college he was going to did intervene and would not allow him to continue going to school. This individual needed mental health services and perhaps needed to be housed in an institution. I am not an advocate of big brother. However if we respect the technologies we have available, we can create a society that looks out for us all. This person should have been getting evaluated regularly. In every single one of these cases, there were always warning signs. This case was no different. Our only logical route here as a society is to try to better identify individuals who exhibit psychopathic tendencies, and somehow try to better prevent them from ultimately acting out like they always do in this typical vitriolic and fatalistic pattern.

Jan. 08 2011 10:04 PM
tpo via Brooklyn from NYC

you so missed the point dude,

your prose became moot at the Pima county press conference....sorry but if the Sheriff says it was in light of the racist rhetoric of those on the radio and some on TV....your logic became vapid of the facts and exposes your political leanings to the right like Jaun Williams...

.....I would have suggested that you listened when AZ was called the center of racism and bigotry by this very sheriff, you could have done better waiting for more facts before you write something...you dolt...

the idea of "2nd admendment remedies" were called for if the ballot box did not meet the satisfaction of the tea partiers..that is on display today...ignorant as your post was, sadder is the fact that nyc posted it...

Jan. 08 2011 09:53 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

@xian - Yes, these ARE opportunistic. We don't know almost anything about this guy or where he got the gun he used. Until we do, leveraging this event for political cannon fodder is the worst kind of opportunistic crap I could think of. If it turns out he got it through some loophole at a gun show or something, THAT is a reasonable angle.

Talk about straw men xian. Where EXACTLY did I say that events like this shouldn't raise questions in regards to political vitriol? As a matter of fact, I attack that very thing in this post, and I think I was crystal clear in that they are not TO BLAME, as some are saying.

@Jess - Political assassination by professional assassins and slaugher by insane guy... two very very different things.

@Mike L - Right, because his ability to potentially conceal a weapon was the kicker that set him over the edge to kill these people. Give me a break.

@Vegan Vicki - I'm not an official of any kind, and if what I read is true, this guy sprayed a bunch of people with bullets and was tackled as he ran away, with a ton of witnesses. You're in la la land if you think it inappropriate for a commentator to condemn acts like this, in this manner, given consistent accounts of the event.

@Sunny - The distinction is Palin, Kos, etc AREN'T advocating it, they're just using violent language. I think the comparison is apt.

Jan. 08 2011 09:35 PM
OM from CA

Your metaphors are embarassingly innacurate. A public political figure is obviously much more accountable for their choice of violence-promoting words than an image of Jesus produced by the imagination of a mentally unstable person.

Just as obviously, it is different to watch a cartoon with violent content that has no political message, and instead to hear political figures directly or indirectly incite towards violence for the promotion of their own political agenda.

Jan. 08 2011 09:15 PM
Steve from Ohio

Mr Kleinsmith,

I must disagree. Words have power. They move people to action. We know this as a society.

If we did not believe this to be the case, no business or political party would spend a dime on advertising. I personally have never known a starving adman.

Angle and Palin and the rest of the far right bear responsibility for this event, just like the guy who shouts fire in a crowed theater bears responsibility for the ensuing panic, and for the injuries that accompany it. In the last 15 years, the right has consistently and knowingly used extreme rhetoric for financial and political gain.

Shame on them.

Unfortunately, some of us can't see through them, and are vulnerable enough to be influenced by their inflammatory rhetoric.

The remedy is not to censor their speech, but to repudiate it. Do not go to their events. Do not buy their books. Discourage them by withholding money.

America gets the government and politicians it deserves.

I am saddened to say that we deserve Angle, Palin and other right wing hatemongers.

I wish we were too smart for them, but we are not.

Steve

Jan. 08 2011 09:09 PM

Although I agree with you for the most part, I don't think we should condone any kind of verbiage that is violent in nature or can be associated with violence. I would like to see a free thinking country that is also responsible for communicating clearly and intellectually without violent inuendos and overtures. Whether we want to believe it or not, there are plenty of sick individuals that ARE provoked and influenced by the words they see and hear.

Jan. 08 2011 09:00 PM
Patti

Of course it's political, he shot a state representative, and a federal judge.

Oh, and that map with the gun sight graphics showing Democrats up for reelection, was taken down from Sarah Palin's website after the shooting.

Jan. 08 2011 08:53 PM
xian from dallas from Dallas, Tx

Your argument sounds like one of those great level headed, rise above it kinds of statements a good centrist should make, but you've missed the mark this time.

First of all, this isn't the same as political gamesmanship. If this event lets people say that they are tired of the tone of discourse and loss of civility among public representatives, it isn't a bad thing. There are no elections or opportunities to review the gun laws, so you can't call this opportunistic.

Second, your comparison of the speech of political leaders to that of shootem up movies is disingenuous. These people are leaders who drape themselves in American Flags and claim patriotism. Their sophistry is tuned to motivate the least common denominator who are completely committed to the notions of God and Country. Whether or not their rhetoric had anything to do with the shooters motivations should not make us stop and reflect on how we are accountable for our words and their effect on others. You are simply naive to think that an event like today wouldn't raise these questions.

Third, it is words and speech that drove the insanity in Rwanda and many many other places. We've seen people go after teachers, doctors, judges and politicians when there is a fever pitch in certain rhetoric. So when you say it is pure insanity, you are right, but that doesn't mean that words don't insight.

The events today are horrifying as they are, but utter terrifying if in fact a political movement could have something to do with it. It is good to pray, but it is just as good for us to ask for more reason, virtue and civility from one another.

Jan. 08 2011 08:51 PM
Patricia Kissinger from Kansas City, MO

I agree for the most part, but still think words are powerful enough to influence sick individuals to take action that could lead to violence and murder. I believe we should be both a free thinking country and responsible for the words and thoughts we share. Using words laden with double meaning is only asking for trouble in a country full of disgruntled citizens...among them, some whackos.

Jan. 08 2011 08:49 PM
Jess from Brooklyn

While I agree that most people who hear the rhetoric will not take up arms and that Palin's map, while hateful, is not to blame I do NOT agree that only insane people commit (or attempt to commit) political assassinations. Various government entities around the world and through all of history have relied on sane members of society- people who not only can tell right from wrong, but are maybe (in their minds) hyper aware of the distinctions- to carry out assassinations.

Jan. 08 2011 08:49 PM
Mike L, NYC

The alleged shooter recently became able to legally carry his concealed weapon without a permit.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2011/1/8/934334/-New-Arizona-gun-law-allows-concealed-weapons-without-permit

Expressing this simple yet important fact is not politicizing this incident. It's facing the reality of a relevant, already-political policy change in light of new examples that directly pertain to that change.

Why delude oneself by avoiding such obvious connections?

Jan. 08 2011 08:46 PM
setay

Yes, there's a difference. If someone with left tendencies does something crazy it is an example of how the left hates America and are coddling terrorists. Right-wing crazies are all isolated incidents, always. Makes perfect sense. God, you live in a Fox News bubble.

Jan. 08 2011 08:45 PM
Sid from Portland,or,usa

The Cop who is leading the investigation just broke down on TV as he begged hate radio to calm the fock down.

I respectfully suggest you do the same.

Jan. 08 2011 08:39 PM
Lannea Rae from Las Vegas

Have we lost all ability to be civil? Politicians have stooped to a new low and continue the violent inSINuations. Has anyone on either side considered what this is teaching our children? Shame on all of you. There are many unstable people that will react to the verbal attacks.

Jan. 08 2011 08:39 PM
Vegan Vicki from Vinegar Hill, Harlem

"Nutcase", "murderer"? Let's hope the defendant's lawyer can find jurors who haven't read the vitriolic prejudgment by you and countless others.

Jan. 08 2011 08:38 PM
Southern Beale from Nashville, TN

No, violent political language did not cause Rep. Giffords' shooting but it most certainly did not help! It takes very little to push a mentally unstable person over the edge. In this era of easy access to weapons, violent political rhetoric is asking for trouble.

Jan. 08 2011 08:37 PM
Sunny from Brooklyn NY

There's a huge difference between fictional characters engaging in violence and real people advocating it. Rep. Gifford had been the target of threats, harassment and vandalism ever since the health care vote and the link between the hateful rhetoric of the Tea Party no doubt encouraged these acts.

And when has Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga pasted crosshairs over the districts of congressional representatives he doesn't like or suggested "2nd Amendment remedies" or "taking him out" to get rid of disliked government officials?

It's ridiculous to imply that both sides of the political spectrum are engaging in this hateful rhetoric and violence when it is clearly coming form the Tea Party side.

Jan. 08 2011 08:30 PM
Michelle

Seriously? You sound just about as insane as he is..... no, I take that back. You are an idiot. Sarah Palin aside, you had that fruitcake Sharon Angle who said people need to look into their second amendment remedies (as well as a guy in Texas) if they aren't happy with their polititians. And you have a shooter who said on his myspace page he was going to take up his second amendment rights and I'm supposed to, I don't know.... not connect the dots? Okay. I tried. It didn't work.

The people who used the cross-hairs inuendos and second amendment remedies remarks did so knowing full well that the entire public was listening, not just the saner members of our society. Wing dings have ears too. If I were Sarah or Sharon I would be ashamed of myself.

Jan. 08 2011 08:16 PM
Karol from NYC

Love it, Solomon, well said.

Jan. 08 2011 07:51 PM

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