Sarah Palin made headlines this morning by saying that she was the victim of "blood libel." In the wake of the tragic Arizona shootings this past weekend, Palin has drawn heat for her previous use of gun-related imagery in speeches, and for releasing a map that featured a cross-hair symbol over Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' district. In a video statement, Palin dismissed her critics for attributing Jared Lee Loughner's actions to Tea Party rhetoric. That set off a flurry of commenting on the It's a Free Country message boards.
Here are some of your thoughts:
This video is clearly an attempt to reassert a political ideology, rather than an attempt to address the issue at hand. She keeps emphasizing the exceptional American way, but anyone who has spent time abroad knows, first of all, that many countries have passionate debates of ideas without resorting to talk of guns, and second of all, that most of the world does not see us as a light. People see this kind of rhetoric as barbaric and they worry about even visiting America because they are afraid of being shot. If we're exceptional, it's because we're the only developed country that's more interested in protecting gun rights than taking care of its citizens.
-TC from Brooklyn
I admit that I did jump to quick conclusions about the potential role of Sarah Palin's map in the tragic shootings. But I think it's unfortunate that Palin's video is so defensive and so focused on herself. We should be celebrating the lives of those who were killed and injured and lifting the country up, not pulling the country back into partisan controversy. This moment is not about Sarah Palin. This moment is about those who lost their lives or who were injured.
-Pamela from NY
No, the fact that the shooter has mental health problems does not end it.
Connecting to repeated rants tolerated by the mass media does not imply proximate causation. The context of the right-wing scream machines on radio & TV + the copy used in many political ads have to be taken into account as part of the context.
Also, part of the health & political context in this incident is the lack of services for those suffering and/or recovering from mental illnesses are also a contributing factor. Support services, housing, peer groups, counseling & monitoring are all below modern medical standards as found abroad.
In this case, our health "system, " educational "system," & law enforcement/judicial "systems" all failed to communicate & in fact worked against a peaceful intervention that might have prevented this incident from occurring.
So, like, what about countries in regions like the Middle East, Africa, and Southern Asia, where violence and indiscriminate murder in politics are much more prevalent? I suppose it's simply because those countries just happen to have tons more crazy people per capita? That is the logical implication of saying that the political climate plays NO PART in this tragedy. What is "reprehensible" is not our lack of decency or whatever in attempting to connect dots when the pot boils over, but rather that we remain willfully ignorant of the very conditions that are causing the pot to boil in the first place.
In the United States, if somebody publicly and literally called for the assassination of anybody else, that would be the end of their airtime, which is a good thing. Instead, these people spend great amounts of energy planning out ways to whip up and tantalize their audience as much as possible while maintaining just one degree of removal from actually calling for violence. But if you're listening to the country's most popular broadcasts on a daily basis, you believe that the country is either on the brink or already in the midst of civil war.
It's not so much "hey, this violent rhetoric/videogame/rock-n-roll song isn't very nice, mister," as much as it is that the systemic fixation on mindless conflict is A) driving us crazy, and B) suffocating the possibility for rational and constructive discussion.
-Peter from Queens
One thing that strikes me about the rhetoric question is that if a child in a public school were to say one of these things about another student or teacher the police would be called. Why is it okay for adults to put crosshairs on each other or call for anyone to be killed? We are setting a horrible example for our children. This kind of discourse has happened before in the past - just before the Civil War and just before the Civil Rights movement. Factions are becoming well defined in our country and the middle ground is shrinking. It makes me nervous about what is coming.
Those that speak the language of hate must understand the consequences of their ill will. It is time that we open our eyes to what truly lies behind such platforms, however masked they may be. Sadly, this was another missed opportunity to cease additional rhetoric. I pray that our country will begin to understand our great need to come together and move ahead as a unified people.
-R. Thornhill from NYC