Congresswoman Giffords Discussion Thread

Folks have asked for a thread to discuss the ongoing situation with Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot today, along with several others, at a meet-and-greet at a Tucson supermarket. Here you go.

My thoughts on it at the moment:

1. It’s a terrible thing that’s happened, and I suspect nearly all people are properly shocked.

2. At the moment, we don’t have any information about the motives for the shooting and until we do, I am personally going to avoid ascribing political motivation to it. I want to know more about the “why” first.

3. In the thread you don’t need to maintain the same “wait and see” attitude I have, but inasmuch as this is a highly charged incident, I’m going to ask each of you to be on your best behavior with each other while taking part in the discussion. This means both keeping one’s temper and having patience with those you see losing theirs. You can assume I already have the mallet pre-warmed and ready to go, and it’s a lovely time to re-acquaint yourself with the site comment policy.

I’ll have more detailed thoughts on the event later, I’m sure. In the meantime, go ahead and talk to each other.

204 thoughts on “Congresswoman Giffords Discussion Thread

  1. I’m not so sure about your first point, John, much as I’d like it to be true. See this comment on Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish:

    I am standing in the aisle at Costco when I found out my Congresswomen, Gabrielle Giffords, has been shot dead up on the north side.

    While I’m scrambling with my phone, two couples in front of me are talking about it and suddenly I hear one of the women say, “Well, that’s to be expected when you’re so liberal.”

    And the other woman says, “Ohh, so we get to appoint a Republican?”

    I did not trust myself to speak. I’m a Soldier. Please remind me what country I am fighting for? At least seven people are dead. She happens to be the only member of Congress married to an active duty military — he’s a Navy officer serving as an astronaut.

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/

  2. I’m not one to enter into political argument, but whether they believe themselves to be politically motivated or not, most would-be assassins of high profile figures have mental health histories of a rather dark and lengthy nature.

    I do hope everyone will recover fully.

    My 2 Cents.

  3. John – Agreed. I was more commenting on the reaction of at least some people to the shooting vs the motives of the shooter (who seems mentally disturbed from his Youtube page… see Sullivan’s post for links).

  4. I am trying to think of what the proper response is. The TP’s will make all the appropriate words of condolences and I am sure 90% of them did not want anything like this to happen. The question is what will they be able to do to prevent this from happening again, assuming they can see that the manner in which they couched their rhetoric was often close to inciting political violence. It’s too bad we cannot tell them that regardless of the law, they’re not welcome to build their party headquarters and have their rallies within x number of miles of decent folk, as I am sure they would be calling for if random Moslems or immigrants committed some public outrage. But that wouldn’t be my America; so like it or not, I have to hold my nose and just ask them to start showing some sense. Yes, you have grievances. We all have grievances. But you cannot act like America has been “stolen” away from you and you have the right to shoot the burglars, particularly since the most likely thieves are the ones you’re in bed with. A sad, sad, day. I know this is not the most coherent post I have ever written, but I hate to see America start looking like a banana republic or West World.

  5. Granted that anyone who would act out in this way for any reason at all is, pretty much by definition, deranged, it probably is legitimate to observe the responses of people to one another as this becomes a matter of public discourse. So far the major voices (Barack Obama, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, John McCain, and yes, Sarah Palin, just to mention the most prominent ones whose comments I have read) all have spoken appropriately about this being a national tragedy, completely unjustifiable, calling for prayers on behalf of victims and families, etc. These supermarket-aisle conversations like the one overheard by Andrew Sullivan (and, possibly, others just as vitriolic representing opposing political viewpoints) are, for me, the most troubling; because they speak to something like a derangement of the national persona; of all of us. Traditionally the House and Senate have rules of decorum, designed to make sure that fistfights and duels do not break out too often among legislators: persons speaking to and about one another in respectful terms, using honorific titles, or simply terms like “my friend from across the aisle” and the like. The degradation of that decorum, in certain instances (remember “you lie!”?) becomes a national news story in and of itself. We could use some decorum in the larger political discourse in this country.

  6. Another national tragedy. I’ll give a prayer and my condolences for her and her family and the other innocents caught up in this (I always hate to hear about the death of a child.)

    @PrivateIron – I agree, it’s sad to see this sort of thing in America. Unfortunately it’s been a part of our fabric since at least Lincoln. We can hope that, as a nation, we move beyond such things (hope is all we seem to have, sometimes,) but there will always be crazy people that will do this sort of thing.

    Well, you know… unless these mentally deranged individuals get some sort of medical care or something… *whistles*

  7. I was afraid something like this would happen and sure enough it did. I’m trying to hold my tongue respect-wise but it feels like certain people decided to get into bed with crazies and stoke their grievances to the point of violence. That’s all I’ve got in me that sounds even remotely neutral.

  8. Agree that from his myspace and youtube pages the guy just looks completely, non-partisanly, nuts.

    I do, however, think that the situation brings into stark relief the irresponsibility of mixing guns, even in metaphor, with democratic politics.

    See for example the ads featured in Sully’s post here . It is kind of chilling seeing a gun target hovering over the name of the congressowman who was just shot.

  9. My sympathies to the families of U.S. District Judge John Roll and the nine year-old girl who died.

  10. I’m sure this will get mentioned eventually, but Rep. Gifford was on Sarah Palin’s “gun site”, which was annoying prior to this, but enormously distasteful now. Do I think because Sarah Palin put a gun site next to Rep. Gifford’s name on her website that it motivated some crazy guy to go out and shoot Gifford and several other people? No, I hope not. Certainly not on its own. Do I think that Sarah Palin will have to backpedal and spin like mad? Yes. Do I think this sort of “gun site” terminology is appropriate for anyone in the US? Well, it’s a free country. Do I think it’s appropriate for someone who was a candidate for VP of the US and a governor of a state? Absolutely I do not.

    Anyway, here’s a link:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/24/sarah-palins-pac-puts-gun_n_511433.html

  11. The gunman is definitely bat-s*** crazy. Seems to be non-partisan in the paranoid “They’re ALL out to get me” sort of way.

  12. That murdered 9yo child is the same age as my son. I can’t imagine the anguish the family is feeling.

    Condolences to all the victims of this terrible crime, and I urge people to let the news come out slowly. Haste makes inaccuracies.

  13. If the YouTube channel really belonged to the shooter (past tense because I don’t think he’ll be using it anytime soon). He’s a nutcase, no doubt. His philosophy isn’t likely to make much sense.

    I mourn the senseless deaths and shattered lives.

  14. Hold on, my tinfoil hat was in the closet.

    Bristol Palin bought a house in AZ after her turn on “Dancing with the stars.” Sarah Palin a) visits her daughter and grandchild often b) put crosshairs on several Congressional districts, including that of the assassinated Representative, and c) is fond of evocative rhetoric.

    I don’t give a flying blue fuck about the actual politics of the shooter, this cannot and should not be allowed to remain free of the taint of “REPUBLICANS ARE DOMESTIC TERRORISTS.” You’ve got Timothy McVeigh and the assassins of who knows how many doctors who provide legal medical services, all of whose blood is on your hands.

    John, if I need to be nailed up or censored, I’m all right with that. I will still totally buy you a beer if you make it to Dragon*Con.

  15. @8 and 7. Well, a Congressmen was killed in Congress back in the 1850’s…Just hope this is more a McKinley/Reagan attack nut job and not a sign of the times. I would like to believe that, though I remember the riots of the “dispossessed” at Florida state buildings in November/December 2000. I think there actually is something that needs to be raveled or put right with this country, though as peacefully as possible. I think a lot of people have similar feelings to the Tea Partiers; we just don’t have the same theory as to its cause and certainly not the same proposal for solutions. Placing the blame on “Others” and biting anyone who has ideas different from their own: it’s like people in a plague area shooting the vaccinators. It’s always possible the vaccine might not work and some of the do-gooders might be self satisfied gits, but I don’t think the medics are trying to poison you.

    I feel for everyone who was directly injured by this tragedy and I hope time brings them some compensation for their present grief.

  16. If I’d been faster finding some tape this morning, and not been delayed, I would have been there.

    A very awful tragedy. Especially the little girl.

  17. A lunatic, to be sure, but going by those posts? A lunatic who has swallowed, hook, line and sinker, paranoid anti-authoritarian rhetoric. I don’t think he was motivated by Palin or GOP leadership in any real way. Maybe Ron Paul and some of the fringe Tea Party, but it’s more likely he read the collected works of Ayn Rand and decided that every authoritative body in the world–government, education, religion–probably medicine, too–was trying to destroy his “freedom.”

    The slightly amusing part of this is that the righties are always quick to label such anti-establishment anarchists as lefties. They’re not. They’re not proper right-wingers, either. They’re overgrown little kids throwing tantrums when they’re asked to consider the needs of others before acting.

    The issue now becomes: What do we do about guys like this? Yeah, he wasn’t likely driven by any one body to do what he did, but we already know there are thousands out there like him. So how do we keep them in check without getting in the way of civil liberties of people who aren’t going to use weapons to keep themselves “free”?

  18. Just for clarity–though she was reported as dead, the report was premature. She responded well to doctors and is in surgery.

    A nine-year-old child, a federal judge, an aide, and several others are reported dead, still others shot.

  19. I’m beginning to think the right answer is to ignore the interwebs whenever there’s a breaking event like this. No good can come from trying to follow the info, much of it erroneous, that’s thrown out as fast as people can type.

    I remember when Reagan was shot and trying to skim the three major networks back then. That was confusing. This has been confusing on steroid. Trying to follow the various sides blaming each other just makes you feel kinda dirty after awhile.

  20. This is so horrible. My thoughts and prayers are with the people who were hurt and their families.

    Setting aside any blame for “who caused this” – I am assuming that all, of whatever political stripe, who have expressed sympathy has done so with complete sincerity – people of any political stripe who joke about shooting political opponents need to get it through their thick skulls that this is precisely what they claimed would be hilarious and appropriate.

  21. http://twitter.com/caitieparker has been tweeting how she knows the shooter and said he met the Giffords once:

    @antderosa he had a lot of friends until he got alcohol poisoning in ’06, & dropped out of school. Mainly loner very philosophical.
    about 1 hour ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa

    @antderosa As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.
    about 1 hour ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa

    @antderosa he was a pot head & into rock like Hendrix,The Doors, Anti-Flag. I haven’t seen him in person since ’07 in a sign language class
    about 1 hour ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa

    @antderosa He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in ’07, asked her a question & he told me she was “stupid & unintelligent”
    about 1 hour ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa

    @antderosa I went to high school, college, & was in a band with the gunman. This tragedy has just turned to horrific.

  22. I’ve only watched one of his youtube videos, but what struck me was the repeated references to new ‘currency.’ I can’t help but wonder if that ties in somehow with the whole Amero conspiracy theory, in which nefarious actors in high places are somehow trying to merge the US, Canada, and Mexico into some kind of Euro Zone analogue, which in some unspecified way we will lose some part of our integrity as a nation.

    I’m also curious as to whether Federal Judge John Roll was a target, or whether he was just unlucky.

    Either way, my sense is that yes, Jared Loughner was a complete (or near-complete) nutjob, but that he will turn out to have been influenced by the culture of end-times conspiracy fostered by hucksters and politicians on the right (Beck, Palin, et al). It certainly seems to be more a conservative thing to jump straight to shooting your ‘enemies’ than it does on the other side, at any rate.

  23. From the crazy soup of those YouTube videos, I’m sure people from all camps will be able to extract tidbits that “prove” the alleged shooter was a Kossack or a Tea Partier or a Randian or whatever they choose to see. The guy seems to have soaked up lunacy from a dozen directions.

  24. From Paul Krugman’s New York Times blog:

    “You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.”

    Since the 2008 elections, the haters have been everywhere and very loud and making a hell of a lot of money. I believe in the first amendment and understand these public media figures have every right to spew their venom (for money, no less), but I can’t understand how they don’t see, or don’t care about, what they are creating in this country by feeding people’s fears and inciting their hatred of “others”. Disheartening for our country’s future and very sad for everyone touched by today’s tragedy.

  25. PrivateIron @ #19, I think you’re referring to the beating (not murder) of Senator Charles Sumner in 1856 by Congressman Preston Broooks with a cane, a beating savage enough that Sumner was unable to return to work for three years. An ugly, ugly piece of American history.

  26. JD: You’re right in that he was undoubtedly influenced by multiple sources, but there’s a common thread in all of them: Paranoid fear of authority–especially government–and a sincere belief that violence is an acceptable response to any threat of control.

    The only way we combat this, imho, is education, and a willingness to close down violent rhetoric when we hear it. Regardless of the rest of the philosophy or ideaology that these guys follow, we have to make it clear that violence is unacceptable, period. And in that respect, yes, Palin et. al. have a responsibility to knock off the framing of politics in violent terms.

  27. It is unfortunate, but not surprising that people are already assigning or defining the motivations of the shooter (Jared Loughner), when so little is known about him or even who his intended victim(s) were. Violence is not and has never been limited to any one specific group, so to say other wise, is an attempt to politicize a tragedy.

    My prayers go out to the victims and their families.

  28. In addition to John’s thread on The New Speaker, I can only pray today’s events will give Rep. Boehner a sharp wake up call on why he (and the rest of the GOP’s congressional leadership) need to stop enabling the Tea Baggers and write them a reality check instead.

    Do I think Sarah Palin is some Antoinette Soprano putting hits out. Don’t be silly — but on what planet is bullshit like this anything less than totally unacceptable?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/24/sarah-palins-pac-puts-gun_n_511433.html?ref=fb&src=sp

    Palin can delete Tweets, sanitise her Facebook page and have her allies take down the evidence as much as she likes, but the internet has a way of finding you out all the same. And it’s time for Palin and her Tea Bagger allies to stop RELOADing and start calming down, growing up and getting real. It would also be nice if they took some grown-up ownership of the environment their toxic waste rhetoric has created, but that’s one prayer I won’t hold my breath until its answered.

  29. #27 – I think he’s referring to Preston Brooks beating Senator Charles Sumner almost to death with his cane for a perceived insult to his cousin. Sumner survived but couldn’t resume his senatorial duties for three years.

    Brooks did it while this piece of work was holding off the other Congressmen with a pistol, by the way.

    In other news, I am so done with Arizona. :(

  30. Definitely a nutcase, and predictably, a bunch of people who should know better are trying to make political gains from it. But hey, never let a crisis go to waste, right? Some of the things on his youtube channel were vaguely right-wing in an anti-authoritarian anarchist vein, and at least some of the literature referenced on his (now taken down) myspace page was left-wing. So we know he was confused, and crazy and not much more.

  31. Left-wing nutcase, right-wing nutcase, does it matter? Once you get out on the fringes they both kinda look the same.

  32. I think what people are getting at in assigning blame (aside from some who are scoring points) is that the constant background noise of “Second Amendment remedies!” and “death panels!”, etc. isn’t exactly going to do /favors/ for an unhinged mind.

  33. Since the shooter was taken alive, at least we’ll actually be able to find the answers to just what his motivation was.

    In any case, the mentally disturbed will latch onto anything they feel supports their world view, no matter what the political provenance. At most this is a “Lone Wolf” action which is always difficult to tie back to any individual, statement, or movement. More than likely he had just finally snapped and moved from paranoid to dangerous.

    Both Gifford and the Federal Judge have had those in the talk-media call for action against them and tying that to guns. Both could have been his target, only one could have been, or they just might have been a targets of opportunity.

    Both sides of the aisle should condemn this strongly. Maybe those who let their passions run wild in the last election might learn something from this.

  34. If I, a private citizen, were to post on my website a map with scoped-in sights of Palin’s house, or Beck’s, or Limbaugh’s, I suspect that my first-amendment rights would be questioned PDQ.

    And yeah, I realize that’s only peripherally related to the topic.

  35. So how did this unstable individual wind up with a weapon? Even a cursory review of background (or website) might bring any ownership into question…

  36. So a lot of you are using the fact that the guy seems like a nutcase to dodge the issue that Palin’s PAC wanted to ‘target’ Gifford and used a gunsight motif in an ad to that effect and that and Gifford’s opponent used violent imagery in his campaign. Sorry, but you cannot use such imagery and then disavow crazies who perform the action. The shooter may well be ‘non-partisan’ but the people using such language are not.

  37. Correlation does not equal causation, so please stop associating others (Sara Palin, the TEA partym, conservatives and others), who at this point have no real or even plausible link to Jared Loughner or his actions. The fact is you do not know, Jared Loughnern, or what motivates him, so any conclusions you are reaching at this point are both highly speculative and tainted by your own political bias.

  38. @#40 – It’s not terribly difficult for anyone to get a weapon in AZ, and it’s perfectly legal to carry on, concealed or not, in public without a permit. I don’t know exactly what weapon was used for the shooting, but there are a lot of places the shooter could have gotten it, including his local Walmart.

  39. Re: 42
    Same way the Virgina Tech shooter did. If the state police don’t have any records of criminal or mental health issues, (something handled by a university’s disciplinary committee wouldn’t appear, for instance) then the background check doesn’t show anything amiss. Walk in to the gun store with 500 bucks, walk out with a Glock.

  40. rickg@43 yeah, we are, because the same imagery has been used hundreds of times, by both sides of the aisle, and both sides in recent years. So people not looking to score cheap political points on a tragedy will do that.

  41. It appears that the shooter was mentally unbalanced. I am sure that most Republicans are as find these acts as abhorrent as I do. That being said both Congresswoman Giffords and Chief Judge John Roll (who was killed) had faced very vitriolic attacks by the radical right including calls for them to die and, for Congresswoman Giffords, being put on Sarah Palin’s aforementioned cross hairs. Congresswoman Giffords has had her offices attacked in the past, and Judge Roll lived under heavy security for a time because of death threats.

    I am not going to say that there is a legal limitation of freedom of speech or that people other than the shooter have committed a crime, but I will say some Republicans, though not most or all, do have some ethical blood on their hands. If a person is among those who have advocated violence in a public manner against these people (not a scary mad wish among friends but a public mass media call to arms), I do believe that they have added sparks to help create a fire which killed people.

    It takes a crazy person to take them up on it, but those whispering or shouting to them are part of a very real problem. If Democrats and Liberals had called for the death of someone, and a killer took them up on it, it would be a moral problem for them. But this is not that case. There is no Left/Right fake equivalency to call out to. This cannot be reasonably separated from our political process.

    John, I appreciate your desire not to give the Shooter a motivation you do not know, but I do think it is of value to address the climate in which this act has happened. If we don’t come out and say calling for political violence is not right because some crazy person might take you up on it. It would seem to me, we might miss discussing reality at the time that it is happening vs. the what-if hypothetical cases that people can and do blow off.

  42. Utterly nausiating. Whilst the shooter was obviously a Complete Whackjob(tm), I don’t think it’s possible to discount the effect that radicalized hate-speech could have had on him. Most people won’t draw a name out of a hat when they decide to advance to within four feet and lay down a headshot.

    I sincerely hope that after this, hateful and violent rhetoric is spurned by the American people, and that our alleged representatives get a fucking *clue* that it’s not acceptable. Keep your 1930s style demagoguery – people will react to it, and that is a taint which even by association is unacceptable to any sane person.

  43. @CrypticMirror at 37: As someone on Twitter said: “Every Muslim “terrorist” is representative of all Muslims. Every white terrorist is a “fringe character” “

  44. @ #47 rickg

    I find it very distasteful that you or any one would use a tragedy, such as this, as a political bludgeon to attack or slander those you have a political/ideological difference with. You have no proof what so ever that Jared Loughner, is even aware, let alone cares who Sarah Palin is and what her political motives are, and you have no idea what kind of political, emotional, or mental environment Jared Loughner lives in. So it is amazing, to me at least to me, that some one such as your self, who is a complete stranger to all parties directly involved in this tragedy, is able to assert with any authority, that Jared Loughner actions were in part or in total, triggered by, inspired, motivated, or cause by something that Sarah Palin or the Tea Party did.

    Tell me where do you get the this kind of insight in to the actions of complete strangers? Or is it just an assertion of your own authority through ignorances?

  45. So tragic, in so many ways. My condolences to the grieving, get well wishes to the injured. To those of you eager to use this as a pot of tar to paint your opponents with [shakes head] — take a grow-up pill lest you further encourage more of the crazies.

    Old Fidonet tagline: Here’s your illegal gun; dust off the cocaine into that baggie.

  46. rickg@43 yeah, we are, because the same imagery has been used hundreds of times, by both sides of the aisle, and both sides in recent years

    Really? Could you cite an instance of a Democratic Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate doing something similar to what Palin did with her cute little “bullseye” page?

  47. The thing I hope most to see from this is a shift in action for days, maybe a couple of weeks. I hope to see the talking heads who normally make their living riling others up instead spend time trying to calm the nation down, to speak out against violence. I hope the Limbaughs, Becks, and Hannitys do their bed to remind the world that this action was wrong, and that change should happen at the polls.

    It would be nice to see sanity promoted across the board now that crazy has shown us its face. Even if it’s just for a little while.

  48. It’s a sad day when we’ve reached the point where we’re thankful that a madman who attempts to kill one of our politicians and does kill a number of bystanders doesn’t appear to be politically motivated, just deranged.

  49. I agree that we have no facts about the shooter’s motivation or politics. But I don’t think it’s out of bounds to mention the “eliminationist environment” that has been fostered, for the most part, by extremists of the conservative persuasion. Even at the height of the left wing’s anger with Bush 2, I don’t recall prominent Democrats or lefties calling for “second amendment remedies” if the “wrong” people got elected.

  50. @ #57 KarenJG

    No, they were much more direct, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/01/AR2006090100858.html. But this whole discussion about environment is a distraction and is a means to politically bludgeon ideological opponents, because why would we assume anything when it come to a crazy person? If (hypothetical) Jared Loughne, is a left wing radical than how is it the “rights” fault that he went crazy and attacked a blue dog democrat? As I said before correlation does not equal causation, so the political campaign of the December election, could be completely irrelevant or it could have motivated him in entirely different manner than we expect, because we are not dealing here with rational thought.

  51. David@54, that’s easy and I don’t even have to go back very far. Our Dear Leader in recent weeks has called Republicans “Enemies” and threatened “Hand-to-hand combat” in the House of Representatives. That’s at least as violent as a fundraising letter identifying target districts to take back as, you know, targets.

    As for the target imagery itself, contemporaneously I know I saw a listing of quite a few similar ads, from all across the Democratic spectrum, but my google fu is weak and I’ve been unable to locate this. But regardless, both sides use rhetoric that crazy people could latch on to, and reasonable people realize that dealing with this is just part of the cost of living in a free society, and blame the crazy person.

  52. @47 Paul

    I find it very distasteful that you or any one would use a tragedy, such as this, as a political bludgeon to attack or slander those you have a political/ideological difference with. You have no proof what so ever that Jared Loughner, is even aware, let alone cares who Sarah Palin is and what her political motives are, and you have no idea what kind of political, emotional, or mental environment Jared Loughner lives in. So it is amazing, to me at least to me, that some one such as your self, who is a complete stranger to all parties directly involved in this tragedy, is able to assert with any authority, that Jared Loughner actions were in part or in total, triggered by, inspired, motivated, or cause by something that Sarah Palin or the Tea Party did.

    It doesn’t matter whether the man had even heard of Sarah Palin or the Tea Party. What matters in this case is that they are suddenly taking down the sites/map that contains the suggestive ideas after someone “targeted” has been shot. It shows that they understand that it quite possibly could have influenced something like this, that they have responsibility.

    I find it hard to believe that they didn’t have any possible inkling that something like this could happen with their increasingly extreme rhetoric going around. It doesn’t matter if one person directly influences someone else. The extreme rhetoric eventually changes the atmosphere of politics and actions or the understanding of actions so that more and more people might be able to justify doing something like happened today.

    It’s anyone that contributes to this rhetoric that is to blame. At this point it just happens that Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are the most visible.

  53. The fact that the shooter is apparently a nutcase isn’t an issue: all shooters are. But creating a climate where extremist rhetoric is the norm is like waving a red flag in front of a bull — when the bull gores, you can’t stand back and say it was just because he was a bull.

  54. @ #60 kino,

    Sarah Palin’s political astuteness to minimize how much of a target she makes is not surprising or unreasonable, anyone would want to try to minimize how much negative publicity they receive, due to this tragedy, nor is it an admission go guilt. As I said before we have no understanding what so ever what kind of mental, emotional, or political environment influenced the actions and thoughts of Jared Loughne.

    I am saying it is not unreasonable to speculate a political motivation to this tragedy because Gabrielle Giffords is a politician, but to define the motivation of Jared Loughne as political or as being radicalised by the TEA party or Sarah Palin, is unacceptable, and is an attempt to exploit a tragedy as a means of making political hay.

    If one looks objectively at this matter, one starts to relies that Jared Loughne, and his mental capacities are pretty far gone and his motivation as pretty abstract. The attempt to rationalize his behaviour as being triggered by the TEA party and Sarah Palin, is a sign of the times and how polarized and toxic our political discourse has become, when a tragedy such as this is so willingly turned into a political bludgeon. I have nothing further to say on the matter, and my thoughts and prayers go out to victims and their families.

  55. Paul – I find your deliberate denial of what Palin at the Tea Party have been doing and your distortion of reality and deliberate attempt to equate them with anything the Democrats have done as despicable. S I guess we’re event.

    My issue with you and Skip (Note skip’s use of Dear Leader btw) is that you have no issue with Coulter, Malkin etc calling people who disagreed with Bush unpatriotic and traitors, with Malkin calling for the editor of the NY Times to be shot… but you get your back up when you’re called on it because you’ve fostered hatred.

  56. What a crying shame. Literally.

    Talk about creating a climate for extremist rhetoric.

    If the first thought you had when you heard of this shooting was, “I hope it was one of those tea party nutjobs!” then shame on you.

    If wishes were bullets, you would have loaded the gun.

  57. I was shocked and horrified, but even more I was and am angered. My mother called me, worried because she knew I was going to try and go see Giffords. Giffords is one of the few reps in this state that actually care about people.
    I am angry though because things like this shooting happen around Border areas pretty regularly. Every day! These crimes aren’t reported though unless someone important dies. This is what angers me, all this attention that is being publicized as a National Tragedy is a load of crap. Every death is a tragedy. The fact that people can’t get health care and education is the real tragedy.
    Over 30,000 people have been killed along the border. Every day people are being kidnapped, killed, smuggled, used in sex pens and tortured. Is this being brought to light? No. All that is going to happen is the GOPs using this particular instance at this particular Safeway as something to raise money for while doing absolutely nothing to better peoples lives, education or security for those who can’t afford a good life. Argh!

  58. No, they were much more direct,

    I wasn’t aware that a British filmmaker constituted a part of the American left.

    @skip:

    No, what Obama said was “”If they’re successful in doing that, they’ve already said they’re going to go back to the same policies that were in place during the Bush administration. That means that we are going to have just hand-to-hand combat up here on Capitol Hill.”

    He wasn’t threatening hand to hand combat, he was predicting that the Republicans were going to undertake it if they won the House back.

    Try again.

    I know I saw a listing of quite a few similar ads, from all across the Democratic spectrum, but my google fu is weak and I’ve been unable to locate this. But regardless, both sides use rhetoric that crazy people could latch on to, and reasonable people realize that dealing with this is just part of the cost of living in a free society, and blame the crazy person.

    This translates as “No, I don’t have any actual evidence, but it makes me feel better to assert it” or “I’m going to ignore the fact that on one side there’s evidence and on the other side there isn’t because I feel really really strongly about it.”

    Try again.

  59. The BBC is saying that the local authorities think there is an accomplice still at large, now that is slightly scary for local residents.

  60. My unsolicited and inexpert thoughts based on his YouTube videos. One interpretation I had was this was on-set of schizophrenia (with some OCD components) which is probably a gravitation from something milder, something schizotypal, schizoid, you know, the schizzes. I’m sure he had a problem with authority figures (I know : easy) because of a desire for control, and the threat to that control that they represent. I imagine he’s a believer of a “freedom” (which I think in his context may be interchangeable with ‘control’) which he has never felt.

    He feels out of control (and *is* as he can’t control himself or his thoughts & emotions) so he’ll assign the nefarious role of “controller” to someone else (easy to see how gravitation to conspiracist sentiments and also extremist ideas against whatever he perceives to be the antagonist power can arise). Simple turn of logic : if I cannot control my thoughts (which trouble me, anger me, frustrate me — i.e. with their disorganized chaos, frighten me, etcetera) then someone or something else is.

    The talk of sleepwalking refers to a lot of things probably. I do wonder if he meant “conscious dreaming” rather than “conscience dreaming”, as this could relate to hallucinations–dreaming while awake, things of reality and unreality occupying the same space with little distinction.

    His obsession with ‘controlling grammar’ may be related to clumsiness of his own speech–probably not a speech impediment, exactly, but perhaps an odd way of putting things which causes misinterpretation. Might be related to the disorganized thought processes behind them. Whatever the case, I believe it’s probably related to the way he communicates ideas, verbally and otherwise, and other people’s reactions to it, which makes him feel bad, stupid, etcetera.

    He lays out the information in his videos like philosophical arguments, building tiers of reason, so to speak, unaware that his ability to reason is impaired. He may even sense that it is, which is why he seems to overcompensate further, resulting in redundancy. But it’s important to him that he gets it out in a form which (he believes) is compelling and will validate him, his skewed frame of perception, and his intelligence–a department where he feels an inadequacy (justifiably or unjustifiably so).

    He did this in these videos, of course (which are not that old) because he knew that he was building up to something. Whether he knew precisely what he was going to do is debatable, but he knew that he was going to do something big to take the control (he has perceived to have lost) *back*.

    That’s my impression of his mental space.

    And I do believe the current political climate had an effect. It’s just a matter of : if he had not gravitated to or been exposed (at the wrong time) to the extremist political rhetoric from people with whom he somehow identifies, would it have been something else?

    I look forward to what comes out in the news about this in the coming weeks.

    Of course, understand, I am a random crazy person. Whatever it may be, I had to get this all out of my head on the subject and put it in yours. Do what you will with it. :)

  61. Paul@#58 Having followed your link I see that it in no way answers KarenJG’s statement “I don’t recall prominent Democrats or lefties calling for “second amendment remedies” if the “wrong” people got elected”. British film makers do not fit in the category of prominent Democrats or lefties. Please try again.

  62. Regardless of the political persuasions or mental state of the suspected shooter—which, from what I’ve heard from various reports on the contents of his YouTube and MySpace pages, are not in alignment with the likes of Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck—the fact remains that Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and the Tea Party candidate who opposed Rep. Giffords in last year’s election, all used violent imagery, metaphors, and rhetoric, including the explicit naming of types of weapons, and the placing of crosshairs over the districts of specific Representatives.

    If it was not already blatantly clear that this sort of explicitly violent rhetoric is unacceptable from either side and in any circumstances, then—again, regardless of the motivations of the shooter in today’s event—the fact that things like this do happen ought to be a harsh wake-up call to those who have been making such references. Blame cannot be placed on a particular group or individual besides the gunman himself, but that doesn’t mean that making explicit references to a type of gun as metaphor for defeating someone in an election are in any way appropriate or acceptable behavior. There should be no question of this after today, and I’d be very surprised if such things are ever said again—and if they are, certainly more to the detriment of the person who says them than as a means of gaining support.

  63. @64 Paul

    I believe plenty of people have criticized the way Sarah Palin and other people associated with the Tea Party for how they have been speaking before this event. It has been very publicly discussed.

    Sarah Palin’s political astuteness to minimize how much of a target she makes is not surprising or unreasonable, anyone would want to try to minimize how much negative publicity they receive, due to this tragedy, nor is it an admission go guilt.

    If the content wasn’t suggestive she wouldn’t have to worry, and if there was cause to worry she should have had the political astuteness to never say it to begin with or take it down before anything happened.

    I am saying it is not unreasonable to speculate a political motivation to this tragedy because Gabrielle Giffords is a politician, but to define the motivation of Jared Loughne as political or as being radicalised by the TEA party or Sarah Palin, is unacceptable, and is an attempt to exploit a tragedy as a means of making political hay.

    It is very acceptable to blame anyone who speaks radically for creating the atmosphere you talk about in your next paragraph:

    If one looks objectively at this matter, one starts to relies that Jared Loughne, and his mental capacities are pretty far gone and his motivation as pretty abstract. The attempt to rationalize his behaviour as being triggered by the TEA party and Sarah Palin, is a sign of the times and how polarized and toxic our political discourse has become, when a tragedy such as this is so willingly turned into a political bludgeon. I have nothing further to say on the matter, and my thoughts and prayers go out to victims and their families.

    Even if his “mental capabilities” are far gone his actions are not entirely unassociated with the general climate. There is no rationalization that his specific behavior was directly triggered by the Tea Party and Sarah Palin. It’s a criticism that the Tea Party and Sarah Palin are responsible for polarizing and toxic discorse that is similar to the actions that Jared Loughne has perpetrated. Correlation not being causation and all.

    But that is the problem. Anyone suggesting things like this is the problem. Your staunch defense of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party in this case does not seem objective at all.

  64. On a side note, Gabrielle Giffords graduated from the same high school as me (several years before me, of course). The district she represented is the one in which I lived (before moving away from home to go to college) and in which my family still live. If anyone would have reason to make such reactionary statements such as blaming Sarah Palin directly for this incident, it would be me. But the fact that I’m not doesn’t mean I’m not deeply shaken by this. I spent three hours watching three live news streams and refreshing a dozen and a half news sites from the moment I first heard about it—never mind that I hadn’t eaten yet today, or that I had laundry in the dryer. Things like that are nowhere near as important as such a tragedy that hits so close to home.

  65. You know, I’ve known a couple of hardcore, paranoid delusional schizophrenics. They’ve been known to think that there’s a conspiracy to steal their mail and that their own minor children are actually robots participating in that conspiracy. They might think that their caretakers at the Quaker home are slipping mind control substances in their food. They get a butcher knife to try to solve their problem. Somebody takes the knife from them, or gets them to get off the lawn and put some clothes on. Then their theories shift as they encounter new hallucinations and new delusions.

    I think it’s pathetic and wrong that anybody blames any actual, cohesive political philosophy, whether Republican, Democratic, or Libertarian on what this guy did, and I find it doubly pathetic that so many folks have already co-opted this sick man as a tool in their own rhetoric. I will not tell any of you my personal political stand, because THIS SHOULD NOT BE A POLITICAL DEBATE. This should, I think, be a discussion of the dangers and difficulties of the legal and medical treatment of mental illness.

  66. I’m about as right-wing as they come without being an out-and-out TPer. I’m still saddened and disgusted by what happened to Congresswoman Giffords. Regardless of one’s political/religious persuasion, nobody “deserves” to die because of their beliefs. Sarah Palin showed a distinct lack of judgment in “targeting” her opponents so blatantly. And, as others here have pointed out, even if she didn’t know Loughner personally, even if she didn’t tell him to go out and attempt to murder Rep. Giffords, to a disturbed mind there’s no difference. He may have seen Palin’s “targets” and decided to “carry out her mission” in an all-too-literal sense.

    My deepest sympathies go out to the families who lost loved ones due to this senseless tragedy. My best wishes for Rep. Giffords’ speedy and full recovery.

  67. @Paul #52

    I find it very distasteful that you or any one would use a tragedy, such as this, as a political bludgeon to attack or slander those you have a political/ideological difference with.

    I’ll agree to never use this to smear Republicans if you agree to never use the September 11th attacks to smear a Democrat as “weak on security.”

  68. I honestly don’t care which party/philosophy is spewing it: Violent rhetoric does not belong in politics. Period. There will always be people who take such things as a literal call to arms, and will run with it.

  69. The impression I get from certain pro-gun advocates is that gun ownership is necessary as a final check on the power of the federal government. Setting aside the debate as to whether the 2nd amendment actually means that or not, the larger question I have is: Who has the right to decide when the federal government has gone too far, and is therefore justified in resorting to those “2nd amendment remedies”? Even if it were one of those “well-regulated militias” of which the 2nd amendment speaks, do we really believe that such action against the federal government is acceptable?

  70. @75 Sihaya

    I agree with you to a certain extent that this should not be a political debate, but it also probably should not be taken for granted that he is simply mentally ill. At this point unless there has been new information about the guy released other than those weird youtube videos and myspace, any reason or cause is only conjecture.

    It’s not necessarily invalid to point out a general political climate where it has been acceptable to wish for assassination of public figures for political reasons. Whether is was President Bush while he was president, or President Obama, or Julian Assange, or Congresswoman Gifford. Even allusions to shooting imagery are part of it.

    Jared Loughner should really not have been the reason we condemn this. Today’s shooting has just given people a very sharp example of the possibilities that such speech may bring about.

  71. @79
    Worse, does it require a sane person to make the decision? Right now, *anyone* can decide for themselves that the government has gone too far, and the “state of mind” of that person doesn’t enter the equation. Stable or not, they can make that choice today, with tragic consequences. You would hope that any “well regulated militia” (neatly sidestepping the second amendment discussion as you had) would be able to control the more outrageous reactions of their members, but there’s no guarantee of that, just like there’s no guarantee that every gun owner is of sound mind, has been trained, and believes in the santity of life — and takes responsibility for their actions.

  72. I woke up to find the ‘tubes ablaze with this, and yeah – my knee-jerk reaction was to wait in a mood akin to gleeful anticipation for photos of Loughner with Palin or McCain or some other TP/GOP official. But the nice thing about being a rational individual is the ability to rein in such presumptive thoughts.

    This guy could be a nut-job who shot for reasons that only make sense inside his own head. He could be someone who took the “Crosshairs” ad seriously. We won’t know until investigators have a chance to collect evidence from his home and his computer, and doctors get a chance to talk to him.

    Honestly, I’m glad that Congresswoman Giffords seems to be responsive and, well, not dead. Otherwise we would have to elevate Loughner from “shooter” to “assassin,” and the fewer of those we have the better.

  73. BTW, folks for all the hand-wringing about “politicising” or “ascribing motives’ in this shooting, too many of you are pretty damn quick to make assumptions that the man who shot Giffords (and killed at least six others) is a “nut”, “schizo” or other language used to demean or marginalise the mentally ill.

    Might want to think about that, because I know one reader of this blog who is bipolar and no threat to himself or anyone else. (For those slow on the uptake, that would be me.) Might want to leave that psych assessment to someone who is trained, and in a position, to make the diagnosis.

  74. @ #63 kino

    How is my defence of Palin and the TEA party not objective? I do not try to place blame on some other group, I do not say, that simply because I agree with Palin and the TEA party that they can’t be responsible, I simply refute that fact that because they are your political enemies that that makes them responsible for the actions of crazy people. I unlike you and trying to leave my political biases aside and look at the facts in an objective manner, I don’t try guilt through association, or even paint entire political movements with a large brush as you have done. My support of Palin and the TEA party might be why I defend them but my support isn’t the means from which I defend them.

    You have made the assumption that because of heated rhetoric of conservative and republicans that Jared Loughne was motivated to attack Gabrielle Giffords because she is a democrat and a political rival of the TEA party. You are making several assumptions here; the biggest is that Jared Loughne attacker here because she is a democrat, the second is that he was motivated to do so by the TEA party and Sarah Palin, the third being that heated political debate is the sole property of “right” side of the political spectrum.

    In regards to the third assumption, as my Mom always says it takes two to fight, and that heated political campaigns of the last election is not simply the “rights” fault both parties are responsible for the political climate we find our selves in. Nor is the possible threat of violence by unrelated parties an acceptable reason to censor what you define as dangerous speech, our first amendment is worth the risk. As to the second assumption what leads you to believe that Jared Loughne was influenced in any way by Sarah Palin or the TEA party, from what I have seen in the media and on youtube he does not seem to be aligned with any particular political persuasion or particularly concerned with any one issue, as his you tube videos are very abstract. The first assumption is the most important one because all the rest of them follow this one, I don’t think Jared Loughne attacked Gabrielle Giffords because he was a democrat but I can see how your world view would lead you to this assumption (TEA party dangerous –> TEA party hate democrats —> attacks on democrats must be because of TEA party). Well I simply don’t think this is a reasonable conclusion to make and at this point it is not clear why Jared Loughne attacked Gabrielle Giffords.

  75. I’ve been seeing bits in news reports about the police looking for additional suspects. I haven’t been able to find much more about this, and it may have just been the police wanting to make sure they aren’t missing anything. But if the shooter wasn’t acting alone, then there’s more to this than his own psychological issues.

  76. @85 Paul

    You are obviously not reading what I actually wrote. I would be repeating myself if I responded to your arguments, so you could go look again at what I previously wrote in #60 and #73 if you want my response. Along with #80 which might clarify that I’m not making assumptions of guilt, but holding people responsible for their speech.

  77. @Paul: I’ve stayed out of this mainly but you can’t equate a fictional TV movie from Britain with “liberals”, it’s false and I’m sure you know that. Some conservatives(Palin, Angle, etc.) have been using a pretty out there when it comes to describing liberals and the role of elections(and their second amendment remedies).

  78. Paul @85: If this were an isolated incident I might be more inclined to agree with you. But it isn’t an isolated incident – there have been numerous occurrences over the past year or so of violence aimed at Democratic officials, from gunshots fired into the local offices of Congress-members to the recent mail-bomb addressed to Janet Napolitano. It’s not unreasonable to make a connection between TP candidates’ invective and a subsequent increase in violence against their political opponents.

  79. Paul @85: The issue isn’t whether or not Palin and Angle et al are “at fault”. The issue is that the shooting is the result they were advocating: that disgruntled conservatives address their election losses with gun violence; “Second Amendment remedies”, crosshairs and exhortations to ‘reload’. What, precisely, did the shooter do wrong other than killing bystanders? Shooting Gifford was, according to the reactionary election rhetoric, a correct action. Soap box, ballot box, jury box, ammo box, right?

    And if it turns out that the shooter was enamored of that ugly rhetoric, then the people spewing it shouldn’t be offering condolences to Gifford and her family. They should be tripping all over themselves to say “right idea, but he was wrong to kill innocent bystanders.” Because that’s what they were advocating, right up until it looked like it might get them some negative publicity.

  80. Don’t forget that there has also been violence aimed at Republican candidates and officeholders.

    Amusing discussion, ladies & gents. When I first visited this topic shortly after the shooting news broke, I was pleasantly surprised by the tone of the first comments and had hopes that perhaps the more intelligent heads might prevail. But the last couple of dozen comments have mutated into more or less what I expected: not whether those you hate are to blame, but to what degree, and how can you best use this lone gunman’s crazy acting-out to win political points.

    To that mind-set, I only have two comments:

    1) you should have known right away that this wasn’t a ‘Tea Partier.’ If it had been, it wouldn’t have been a local, mentally disturbed kid with delusions of grandeur, using a pistol at arm’s-length range, going after a lady who was at best a footsoldier in the left-wing army of the night (and from the sound of it, not even that). It would have been somebody from out of town, going after one of the leaders, using a weapon and a method that couldn’t be traced.

    2) you should pray to whatever gods you believe in that this was a lone nutjob and Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, etc. had nothing to do with it … because if he really was a Tea Partier who had decided that ballots have failed and bullets are the only answer, then America is dead and there’s nothing you or I or anyone can do to save it. Because one thing you can be sure of is that he wouldn’t be the only one. If a large number of people lose faith in the system to such an extent that they believe violence is the only answer, and act on that belief, well .. do I really need to spell it out?

  81. The example I gave about the fictional movie of the assassination of Bush was just an example of how there is heated rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum and how it is not simply limited to one side or the other. Today’s tragedy is just another example on how heated that rhetoric has become, when a tragedy is so easily exploited as a means to politically bludgeon ones political “enemies”.

    I am not going to assign a motivation Jared Loughne actions because one isn’t clear, it is quite possible that the heated political climate of the election triggered this, but to blame one political person, party, or movement by cherry picking examples of “dangerous” rhetoric from the past election is intellectual dishonest because it makes the assumption that a.) his decisions were shaped by one group or another and b.) his ultimate decision do so was motivated by that external force. I could easily created plausible motivations for Jared Loughne actions and cite all sort examples, but I refuse to do so because I am not that much of an opportunist.

    I honestly don’t know what else to say, shaping Jared Loughne into a political tool or example, with out understanding who he is and what motivates, is to simply create a lie to further ones political perspective. Because you honestly have no idea who he is or what motivated him, but you exploit the fact his atrocities and victims fit nicely into your offensive political arsenal and you fire away, but whatever the risk is yours to take and when it becomes clear that the guy who list the the Communist Manifesto as one of his favourite books, isn’t aligned or motivated by the TEA party, I won’t bother to say, I told you so.

  82. oh, and lest anyone misunderstand: no, I don’t believe any of the tea-party sympathizers or supporters I know would turn assassin. That kind of extremism isn’t in them. I’m only saying that if they ever did, I don’t think we’d be left wondering about it. It would be obvious right away what had happened.

  83. @Wolfwalker: A sniper is traceable by method, gunpowder levels, caliber, and the remains of their nest. To your second point: There are enough sane gun owners in this country to counter that threat as regrettable as it might be.

    @Paul: I don’t think he’s tea party but I do think that a crazy person hearing other (more prominent and powerful)people say lots of crazy things and being applauded for it by a large percentage of the country doesn’t really set a great tone for all of this. I’ve been called Unamerican for my liberalism enough in the past six months to last a lifetime compared to eight years of the Bush admin.

    All of this is rendered moot if police are correct in their assumption that he didn’t act alone however.

  84. It’s kind of sad that this will be used as a political cruch by either of these 2 political factions. People are hurt or dead and that ain’t cool. With regard to the Palin crosshairs, that’s of very poor taste and she should know better than to do this as it is distasteful for a public figure. Then again, she is just a goofy lady anyway.

    This should in no way be tied into gun cintrol or politics, other than this guy was nuts. Palin will of course capitolize on media coverage.

  85. You are being mind fucked and controlled by a regime that is not even officially in power!! Damn it it makes me sad to see otherwise seemingly enlightened people ruined by this stupidity and ignorance!!

    Its amazing how everyone thinks the same thing about the “enemy”.

  86. wolfwalker @91: Mentioning violence aimed at Republicans doesn’t mean there is no link between right-wing rhetoric and violence against Democrats. And for the record, most of the people suggesting the shooting today was influenced by such rhetoric have not claimed Loughner was affiliated with any conservative organizations, including the Tea Party.

    Paul @92: I would point out that saying it’s not unreasonable to suggest a connection between the shooting and right-wing rhetoric (as I did) is not the same as saying such a connection is correct.

    Fredrik @93: Wow!

  87. I just finished a long blog post on this. What I wrote about was my sadness in the rush to judgment. Then the hate which was spread from there. I wish we could just take a moment and worry about the victims.

  88. Don’t forget that there has also been violence aimed at Republican candidates and officeholders.

    Such as? Links are your friends.

    The example I gave about the fictional movie of the assassination of Bush was just an example of how there is heated rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum

    And as numerous people have pointed out, a British film-maker does not constitute part of the political spectrum here in America.

  89. @wolfwalker

    I don’t really think this is about wining political points. It doesn’t matter what political theory you subscribe to if you’re using rhetoric that suggests violence or you actually use violence. And “blame” or responsibility is for those words or actions personally. Not a degree of blame for this shooting. That blame is for the perpetrators. It’s just that some of that questionable political talk was aimed at Congresswoman Gifford. It was inevitable that the arguments would probably go in this direction.

    @Fredrick

    That’s pretty pessimistic there, but I don’t know if most of what you said is relevant to this specific instance.

    I live in a country of total and utter freedom, where nobody really cares what political orientation you have as long as you are honest and righteous.

    It’d be really interesting to know what country that is.

    Also this is a very good take on the shooting being “politically motivated” and how it might be defined: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/01/the-cloudy-logic-of-political-shootings/69147/

  90. Paul @92: We’re not talking about “heated rhetoric”. We’re talking about advocacy of violent action against one’s political enemies, from the veiled (repeatedly using imagery and terms that suggest shooting the other side) to the blatant (“Second Amendment remedies”).

    You seem to be suggesting that everyone who criticized that advocacy as irresponsible and inflammatory before the shooting needs to shut their traps and stop saying anything negative, now, about that advocacy. Why?

  91. @99 Christopher

    My condolences.

    I just finished a long blog post on this. What I wrote about was my sadness in the rush to judgment. Then the hate which was spread from there. I wish we could just take a moment and worry about the victims.

    It really is bad to rush judgements, but it’s not a judgement to decry “hateful speech,” nor is it spreading hate to do so. The arguments about these things really are not specifically about this incident, but about a larger trend. It’s good to talk about it and it should have happened without a shooting to spark it.

    I appreciate the sentiment of taking a moment, but our worry wont help the victims or their families, blog comments are necessarily distributed over time so many of us have probably done as you’ve asked, and good things can result from death that seems otherwise senseless. I sincerely hope that that specific last point is true and substantive national debate happens that will address things that may have contributed to the shooting.

    This does not mean that I don’t care about their suffering. I do wish them well, but if by talking about this I can possibly help end specific forms of rhetoric in a very small way, I would be very glad.

  92. Oops, decrying “hateful speech” probably is a judgement as to the content of that speech, but it’s not necessarily a mistaken judgment or an incorrect one or spreading hate.

  93. I just watched all of the YouTube videos that people are talking about. I can’t find anything political in them. His MySpace page is down. It looks to me that he was forcibly removed from a college class over a month ago, and that set him off. I’m going to guess that he never saw Palin’s PAC gun list.

    Crud, a gun show commercial is playing right now on the Lexington, KY NBC station. Ugh! They’re back to UK football, so all is right.

  94. Palin….? Really? Seriously? Makes as much sense as calling all Muslims terrorists because of Osama Bin Laden.

  95. The shooter’s political ideology won’t completely line up with anyone. This is because assassins and lone gunmen tend to be a little wacky. No matter what mainstream movement they may align with, they tend to be at its furthest fringe. If they weren’t, we’d see a whole lot more of them.

    But that doesn’t necessarily excuse the movements to which they attach themselves. My own test would be this: Imagine someone who completely believes the rhetoric of your mass movement in the same every-day sense of belief they use to think about things like their job or their family. Would that person feel justified in using violence for political ends? If so, you’re at risk of being complicit in these sorts of shootings.

    And as for my personal judgment of you, if you spend your time making political arguments that you think only a crazy person would really and truly seriously believe, you’re probably harmful on a lot more levels than just this one.

  96. David@68, no, it just means I couldn’t find them at the time – googling on ‘political ad target’ brings up so many hits that it’s almost impossible to sort through them, because it’s extremely common campaign rhetoric. However, others had better memories than I did, so here are a couple more for you. Is the DLC in 2004, and the DCCC in February of last year good enough for you?

    Here it is. It’s been Instalanched so it’s slow loading. Plus, as others have pointed out, the darling of the left Markos put a target on the very same Congresswoman.

    Also, I noticed you completely avoided acknowledging that Obama called Republicans “Enemies”.

  97. Okay, I’m not old enough to remember this personally, but remember how this one nut tried to assassinate President Reagan? His reason was that he was trying to attract the attention of Jodie Foster—someone who was not, at that time, a prominent actress.

    In other words, sometimes the reasons don’t make sense, and using the incident as a political bludgeon only points out how low the level of discourse is in politics right now.

  98. Christopher @99: I would hope (and I do believe) that everybody here is worried about the victims; but we also don’t want more victims. Which is exactly what we’ll get, if the “hurr shoot the bastards if you can’t outvote ‘em” rhetoric continues.

    And before the usual suspects’ knees start jerking on that one, I’d note that this isn’t a liberal/conservative thing. It’s not at all hard to imagine that fringe and/or mentally disturbed people on the opposed end of the spectrum from the current “lock and load” crowd might decide the sensible course is to shoot the bastards first.

  99. Paul, Is it reasonable to assume, in this case that the person (or now possibly persons) who engaged in this act might have had political differences with Congresswoman Gifford? Is it reasonable to think that the killers themselves considered it a political act? You seem perfectly willing to draw on the thoughts and frame of mind on the people on this thread, so I find that limitation somewhat incongruous to just leave the killer(s) out of your musings.

    As a person who believes in Global warming and that we do should something about it I am not necessarily advocating of an Earth First terrorist approach. To equate me with those people would be unfair. Because I do not advocate violence, in that there is a difference. It is a difference between ideology and rhetoric and means one chooses to drive those ideologies forward. i have no problem with stating that I think violent rhetoric from any side is a gross negative for this, or any, country. I would hope that you could condemn not just the act, but that sort of uncivil behavior.

    Most Tea Party followers, like most people would condemn this act. But, this is not the first time that someone brought a gun to one of congresswoman Giffords events, or that Judge Roll had suffered death threats. This is not about the civilized politics that people of many different persuasions can discuss and vote on. But, people don’t act with out thoughts and ideas driving them, and what they think personally is effected by that general intellectual climate. This is why we can discuss movements of people and ideologies in the first place. Ideas can span people, and that can have both good and tragic results. The problem is that Congresswoman Gifford, and Judge Roll were both on the receiving end of very incendiary speech, coming from people who professed more right leaning political beliefs than left. This was not, for these two without a well defined pattern leading up to it.

    Today, we are not dealing with an abstract generality. Today we are dealing with a specific political climate that includes a very specific dead nine year old girl. Very specific families torn apart from death that hits them by someone motivated as a political act.Yes, I do have a problem with people who believe that violence can be part of the solution and I will call out such people for helping move people to this sort of act. Be it talk show hosts who constantly say how such and such politician or political activist should “die”, or politicians putting crosshairs on their opponents. I believe that speech is free, but it is never cheap. Sadly, today we paid a very deep cost.

    I wish we were dealing with a more abstract problem of movies dealing with a fictional account of the death of GW Bush. But that is not actually the specific problem at hand. We are not talking about an abstract problem we are talking about a specific instance, and in this specific instance it spews from the right. Even if this spew is Legal, it does not make it morally or ethical right, and I believe we hold a responsibility in using our own speech to address poor behavior in a hope that our rhetoric might help change things.

    I believe most Tea Party people would agree. In fact if you could let go of a political divide I believe so do you. I can see how you might want to defend a lot of the tea party approach but attacking the left in this instance is very weak tea. You should be able to condemn the vitriolic and incendiary speech, the violence that follows and leave it at that.

  100. Sad. Very Sad. Why?? What possible reason made this worth while? A lot of right wing writing would suggest this is only the beginning. I hope not. I do not agree with a lot the democrats agenda, but this is not the answer. I do not want to see my country fall into violence to solve issues. Just vote. Be active in politics. Gun control to prevent mentally unstable people from having them is not a bad idea. And I am a life long Republican. Wake up America. If more Americans don’t start playing a part in voting for who we want to run the country then where will we end up?

  101. @Skip

    A standard target symbol has a somewhat different subtext than a rifle sight. Neither did the DCCC or DLC ads include references, veiled or otherwise, to “second amendment solutions”. However, arguing about who was most bad somewhat misses the point a lot of people are making here about extreme, violence-implying rhetoric.

    Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the face today. Not some random republican, not some other democrat. Congresswoman Giffords was the one who had a rifle sight slapped on her district and on her name by Sarah Palin in the name of partisan politics. Palin is clearly not to blame, per se, but is equally clearly (in my view) guilty of desperately irresponsible and reckless conduct. I thought this the first time I saw that map last year, and I still think it now. Can we not say that, even if you didn’t think it was irresponsible then, subsequent actions make it clear that such rhetoric was extremely unwise from Palin . It would equally be unwise. and reckless coming from any other massively prominent political figure, Republican, Democrat, whoever it may be. But the people that got shot today? Their district had a target slapped on it by Sarah Palin, not the DLC or DCCC.

  102. Time Line of a Murder:

    March 2010
    Rep. Gabby Giffordss (D-AZ) votes in favor of the health-care overhaul. Due to that vote, Giffords becomes the target of death threats.

    March 2010
    Sarah Palin’s political action committee posts a map of the US, showing the locations of the 20 Democratic members of Congress who voted in favor of Obamacare and “represent districts that Senator John McCain and I carried during the 2008 election”. Each location, including Giffords, was marked by an image of a gun crosshairs.

    Palin links to this Facebook page with this message on Twitter:
    “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!”

    June 2010
    The campaign of Giffords’ Republican opponent in the year’s midterm election places an ad that reads: “Get on target for victory in November/ Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office/ Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” The website for Kelly, a former US Marine, depicts him holding an automatic weapon. Kelly’s website also cross-posts a local news article that carries the headline “Kelly places the crosshairs squarely on Rep. Giffords:

    Today, Saturday. Jan. 8, 2011
    Giffords is shot in the head at a meeting with community member at supermarket in Arizona. SarahPAC removes Giffords name from the list of targets. Later, the entire list of targets disappears.

    Not saying this is all related. But it does make you wonder.

    “”it has been a time of extreme, implicitly violent political rhetoric and imagery, including SarahPac’s famous bulls-eye map of 20 Congressional targets to be removed — including Rep. Giffords. It is legitimate to discuss whether there is a connection between that tone and actual outbursts of violence, whatever the motivations of this killer turn out to be. At a minimum, it will be harder for anyone to talk — on rallies, on cable TV, in ads — about ‘eliminating’ opponents, or to bring rifles to political meetings, or to say ‘don’t retreat, reload.'” – The Atlantic’s James Fallows.

    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/opinions/view/opinion/Was-Shooting-of-Rep-Gabrielle-Giffords-Political-6495

  103. There’s been a lot of hand wringing over the use of cross hairs in an political statement, and how it contributed to today’s events.

    But instead of crosshairs, what if they had used good old fashioned targets instead, such as in this publication:

    http://www.dlc.org/ndol_ci.cfm?contentid=253055&kaid=127&subid=171

    And scroll down.

    The shooter, as it seems all lone gunmen appear to be, looks to be certifiable, with influences such as the communist manifesto and Mein Kampf, yet from the twitter feed of a girl who knows him he was a self described liberal. The man clearly has moved beyond having issues into having a full blown subscription, and in the days and weeks ahead will more will come out. But to ascribe his motivation to a political meme that both sides used is just not right.

    Also, Rep. Leo Ryan was killed in Guyana in 1978 after meeting with Jim Jones at Jonestown. I’m pretty sure there have been other Representatives killed and injured while serving, but any search at the moment comes up with 20 plus pages of today’s events.

    Andrew

  104. I believe most Tea Party people would agree. In fact if you could let go of a political divide I believe so do you. I can see how you might want to defend a lot of the tea party approach but attacking the left in this instance is very weak tea. You should be able to condemn the vitriolic and incendiary speech, the violence that follows and leave it at that.

    @ #113 Malpas,

    This is tragidy no doubt, but to simply say that this is the end result of Sarah Palin and the TEA party’s national effort to focus and gather support for competitive and vuneralbe congressional seats, is a misrepresentation of what has actually occured. Guns, and 2nd amendment refrences are nothing new when it comes to politics, they have been apart of the discource for a long time, the fact that Sara Palin uses cross hair icons to indicate specific districs that they were targeting as competitive elections, these and other references have largely been taken out of context, I seariously doubt that Sarah Palin was advocating for violence against her Political rivals, infact I am sure of it, and so far no one has said she is, they have just hinted at it. Would people be so quick to associate Jared Lee Loughner with the “right” wing if hadn’t used a gun and Sarah Palin hadn’t put her on a list of potential competive congressional seats?

    I hold freedom of speech to be a fundamental component of our political system, and generally any attempt to control others speech, especially political speech, as an attempt to control or frame the debate in their favor, by maintaing that the other can only say what is politically correct or acceptable.

    In addition to what I have stated above I think it is largly a matter of bad luck that Sarra Palin’s campaign, the TEA party’s efforts, and Jared Lee Loughner happen to focus upon the same person, Gabrielle Giffords. I do not see Jared Lee Loughner aligning himself politicaly or along ideoloigical lines with Palin or the TEA party, and I highly doubt that he was motivated by their nation efforts, and in all likely hood, Jared Lee Loughner, motives behind attacking Gabrielle Giffords, are highly personal to him and no one else.

    It is not suprising that Gabrielle Giffords, has a history of death threats or vandalism, she does hold a very high political office, and I think it would be difficult to find a congressman who has not recieved similar threats. As to the history of open carry people bring firearms to political rallies, this is not simply isolated to Gabrielle Giffords, people have brough firearms as a means of making a political statement to many political events here in Arizona, including when President Obama was speaking in Phx, and largly these evens have concluded without any problems, but they have generated a large amount of media attention, which is proabably the reason behind such a political statement.

  105. It’s usually the ‘obviously nuts people’ that pull the trigger in these kinds of things, but it’s ‘respectable folk’ that lay the groundwork and provide the encouragement. Regardless of the specific motivations of the shooter, this is no surprise. It’s a dark day.

    If I were an enemy of the US I’d just continue to rattle the sabers once in awhile and watch us destroy ourselves. We seem hell-bent for it.

  106. If I were an enemy of the US I’d just continue to rattle the sabers once in awhile and watch us destroy ourselves. We seem hell-bent for it.

    Amen, brother.

  107. Skip at 48 says that
    This imagery has been used hundreds of times by both sides of the isle.

    Bias alert, I am a bleeding heart liberal. But I just don’t recall any democratic candidates / office holders encouraging violence. Some examples / proof please?

  108. Andrew @117: Let me see if I am following your argument. Because, in 2004, a DLC article used ‘target’ icons to indicate contested states in the Presidential election where it suggested Democrats concentrate their election work, that is inflammatory rhetoric that is exactly like the infamous (and now mysteriously missing) “crosshairs” graphic. Is this correct?

    It’s one thing to question the extent to which the shooter – who nobody has claimed is anything other than at best mentally disturbed – was directly influenced by the inflammatory, pro-violence rhetoric that has recently come out of a segment of the far right. It’s quite another thing to run around insisting that such rhetoric really isn’t that bad, or is kinda sort of like something the Other Side said, or if you squint at it and hold it sideways it’s not about violence, sheesh, you hand-wringing liberals.

  109. Paul @58

    Your example of democrats urging violence is a foreign film? With, as far as I can tell, absolutely no attribution to any American political party or person? Niiiiiiiiiiiice.

    On the other hand, yo uare right that we cannot possible no with any certainty what the shooters motivations were. Having said that, will you entertain the possibility that having several very prominent, very loud politicians espouse violence against democrats MIGHT have contributed? Because if you aren’t willing to say it might have had an effect, then you are committing the same type of certainty that you are accusing us of.

  110. To me the most telling thing about the relation of Sarah Palin to this tragic incident is the simple fact that in the aftermath, on its own initiative, her organization took down the “crosshairs” graphic. This suggests, at least, that someone very close to that outfit saw a connection, quite apart from any suggestions from those on the Left that any such connection might exist.

    This says nothing about the motivations of the shooter, as such. It says nothing about whether Palin influenced him directly or indirectly. It says a great deal about how somebody within the Palin organization perceived the possible impact of this particular graphic on public opinion, now that violence has actually occurred.

  111. Ah. I see that at 92 Paul did agree that it was a possibility that the rhetoric/environment contributed. Excellent. But why continue to pretend that this foreign film we’ve never heard of equates with inflamatory rhetoric from the left? It only weakens your position.

  112. Maybe Tuscon just breeds crazy. I lived in Phoenix 2001 to 2003 and during that time in Tuscon a young man who had been rejected by a nursing school went back and shot the ethics teacher who doubted his sense of ethics. And a couple of others just for good measure.

    I’m being a little bit flip about Tuscon, but don’t doubt the environment as a factor. It’s like the wild west out there, more so than the relatively cosmopolitan greater Phoenix area or the tourist friendly northern mountain area in AZ. I think the Palin “crosshairs” site and the victimization of left-leaning of Rep. Giffords is a horrible coincidence. Witness the 9 year old girl who is now dead thru no political affiliation of her own.

    That doesn’t mean that we can’t use this as a wake-up call about the violent rhetoric in our political discourse, but holding that discourse responsible is just another brand of rhetoric.

  113. Mythago,

    You’re not arguing that the use of targets instead of crosshairs makes the DLC graphic less…inflammatory, are you? The two graphics are thematically the same (and similar graphics have been used in election cycles for years) yet only one is being used as an accessory to today’s events, because up until today that particular sort of graphic wasn’t seen as offensive or inflammatory. I would bet it will be a long time before any similar graphics are made/published in an election cycle. But the fact of the matter is such graphics were political tools, after today they’ll be seen as evidence.

    As for your assertion that nobody has claimed at as anything other than the actions of a deranged man, it only took Paul Krugman three hours to make the political connection.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/08/assassination-attempt-in-arizona/?ref=politics

    But then, to many people, Krugman is a nobody, so your statement does have an element of truth to it.

    Violence on both sides of the political spectrum has been up as of late, and both sides are guilty when it comes to exploiting it for their own ends.

    Andrew

  114. @124,

    therevr, what would be the reasoning behind Kos removing webpaqes relating to people ranting against Gifford’s today then?

    Andrew

  115. @ #125 Joel,

    First, I have never rule out that this act was politically motivated, that possibility always existed because of who the victims are a judge and a congresswomen. What I was talking about is the fact that because of the victims politicall asociation with the Democratic party, that the attack must be a “right” wing crazy or at least influenced by the “right” wing, when no such affiliation is immediatly obviouse, especially given how little we know about him.

    In reguards to rhetoric either forgin or domestic influencing a political enviorment, I really doubt the crazies care either way, if they care at all. It was just an example of the times, also political perspectives are not limited by borders either, but I am sure I can could come up with other domestic examples of how toxic the political eviorment was during the Bush years, if I was inclined to, which I am not. Can you imagine how crazy it would get and how we would never stop hearing about it, if a similar film was made today?

  116. Andrew @127: “Up until today”? People have been, in your sneering terminology, “hand-wringing” about violent imagery, including the crosshair graphic, long before today. As I believe has been pointed out repeatedly here, Congresswoman Giffords expressed her concern about that ‘crosshair’ on her and her district last March.

    Where does Krugman say that the shooter was a Tea Party member? I must have missed that, because all I saw was an article pointing out that – as lots of people have already noted – when you have a political climate where it’s everyday discourse to exhort your followers to violence, it’s not surprising that some deranged person is going to tune into that vibe, regardless of whether he agrees with your position on the gold standard.

    “Well both sides do it” is truthy, but it’s not true. There’s a very ugly, very loud, very aggressive segment of the reactionary right that celebrates this kind of violence. When Michael Moore starts putting targets over named Senators’ districts and telling people to lock and load, or when Harry Reid suggests that people should resort to “Second Amendment remedies” if he loses his seat, by all means point that out and we’ll shun them, too.

  117. I’m not going to get into the politics of this, but I am going to express my condolences to the families of those who died and my hope that the Congresswoman and the others who were wounded recover from this.

  118. Andrew@127 You’re not arguing that the use of targets instead of crosshairs makes the DLC graphic less…inflammatory, are you? The two graphics are thematically the same (and similar graphics have been used in election cycles for years) yet only one is being used as an accessory to today’s events, because up until today that particular sort of graphic wasn’t seen as offensive or inflammatory.

    “Don’t retreat. Reload.” There’s nothing like that in the DLC. There is a qualitative difference there.

    As for the film, keep in mind that, on that handy wikipedia link there, it mentioned how Hillary Clinton decried the film. Sarah Palin endorsed said target crosshairs. Had Democratic politicians praised the film, I’d grant the moral high-ground to the Republicans. As it stands, there is no equivalency between the right’s rhetoric and the left’s. One group is repeatedly using violent phrases, one group is not.

  119. “Drill, baby drill!” “Reload!” These are not mere gaffes. It is irrefudiatable that Mrs Palin should go away.

  120. I am not from your Country; I am Canadian.

    Regardless of the politics of the situation, I am shocked that this has happened. This does not tar merely the right in America. This tars all of America with the same brush. One could reasonably say at this moment that you are all crazy violent and that you all ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

    Sorry.
    Andrew

    P.S. My thoughts do go out to the families of the victims and I do genuinely hope that the wounded make a full, complete and speedy recovery.

  121. A gunman goes on a killing spree and attempts to assassinate a politician, and you people are blaming it on Sarah frickin Palin? I can barely believe what I’m reading.
    I guess you’ve all worked yourself up into a paranoid frenzy about how C-R-AAAAA-Z-Y the Tea party is, that this just slots nicely into place. Even though, there is no evidence at all that it’s Tea party linked or inspired.
    Recent reports are that the shooter has left wing views. I expect to see zero humble pie eaten, because delusional beliefs (such as, oh let’s see… a paranoid fear of the Tea Party for example) will always be rationalized even in the face of contrary evidence. So, why am I writing this? It makes me feel better to at least point out the irrationality, even if it has no impact.

  122. Mythago,

    The outrage over the Palin PAC graphic was done to try and secure some political points, which it did at the time. Politics? Yes. Good Politics? Debatable. I don’t frequent the websites often as I used to, but I don’t recall the vitriol of today being used when the graphic was first published, do you? I follow most of the mainstream publications, and most of the bigger political blogs, maybe thats my problem :-). I am sure there may have been a talking point or two about the Palin PAC graphic when it was first published, and Giffords herself did say something about it, but I don’t read the arizona papers on a daily basis, and I don’t recall her concerns making the mainstream media. Likewise, I don’t recall any such outrage and umbrage over the DLC graphic of 2004. That could be for a variety of reasons. The fact of the matter is such graphics have been commonplace in campaigns for years, decades even, and Palin’s PAC graphic was highly politicized because of the current political climate in the country.

    I would say that until further evidence comes to light, using what happened today to criticize the Tea Party, Sarah Palin and others with whom people disagree with is just wrong at this point. Trying to do so implies some sort of connection between a graphic every major party level campaign has used at some point in time and the shooting, which as far as we know is not the case, and those people trying to make such a claim are no better than liars. On the other hand, using today’s events to try and make some cheap political points is just as shameful.

    Political rhetoric has risen on both sides since the turn of the century, neither side can lay claim to being more virtuous than the other about it IMO.

    Andrew

  123. Andrew @136: You’re going to need some WD-40 for those goalposts. First nobody cared about ‘shoot our enemies’ rhetoric and images until today; now, okay, perhaps they did care before today, but if they did, it was simply a cheap political ploy and none of the important blogs talked about it so who cares, and even if it happened the Democrats probably did the same thing or something we can kind of argue is the same thing because, look, Google Images and stuff.

    During the last election, several specific public figures advocated violence as a political tool. Do you think it’s wrong to condemn that?

  124. DA Munroe@135:
    Dude, I’m manic-depressive not paranoid – get it right.

    Andrew@136:
    Your fatuous moral equivalence is first in line, so sorry for singling you out but FMI, over the last couple of years how many Republican congressmen have been seriously wounded — and members of their staff KILLED — at public events?

    Yes, I’ve deleted the overwhelming majority of political blogs (left, right and otherwise) from my RSS feed to help keep the blood pressure down. I regard Michael Moore as a second-rate stand up not a documentarian. And there’s plenty of points of difference I have with the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party.

    But, seriously, I don’t accept “but they do it too/did it first” as an excuse for douche-bag behaviour from children. Why the frak am I going to swallow it from (alleged) adults, let alone those who aspire to positions of political and civic leadership?

  125. This is a perfect example of why the macho swagger of guns and politics has to end. It has no place in a civilized society. It is even worse when the macho swagger comes from women.

    I am truly sorry for all of those wounded and killed by this deranged man…and we need to stop giving other deranged persons the opportunity to vent their anger with high powered weapons. If EVER there was an example of why guns need to be controlled in this country, here it is. I do hold Sarah Palin and others who follow her calls for violence (real or threatened.) It is making violence part of our “normal” society and therefore, acceptable in the minds of some who may not have considered it before. I hope that if anything good can come out of this horrendous tragedy it’s that some people finally realize that the words designed to grab a 10 second sound bite on the national news may be interpreted by troubled minds as a call to action. Measure your words and your actions.

  126. @skip: My original question was: “Really? Could you cite an instance of a Democratic Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate doing something similar to what Palin did with her cute little “bullseye” page?”

    So, no, the DCCC or DLC doesn’t count. And no, President Obama referring to the Republicans as “enemies” is nowhere near the level of Palin’s bullseye page.

  127. Hey @Paul …. Amazing you have time to be here AND gawker with your brilliance at the same time! Fancy seeing you here…

    I just scrolled through this time after actually Reading what you wrote over there (huge mistake)…

    People here are feeding you much more than those of us wise enough to ignore you over there, I must say…

    I feel like Marla Sanger for calling you out, being that I have also been on the same threads as you, but I assume more legitimately…..

    If there is nothing I despise more about yesterdays slaughter than the six actual Fatalities ( including a child and other completely literally Non-political byatanders!) it is your supposed “intelligent” (and far too long winded) comments on threads of my favorite pages trying to intellectualize and/ or justify palin’s crosshairs….

  128. A massive case of psychological displacement, I hope it isn’t contagious; John you might have to initiate quarantine procedures, hopefully we will avoid a repeat of the Nostromo incident, but if not, I hope it is you who survives, John.

    In Freud’s psychology, displacement (from German Verschiebung, literally meaning ‘shift’ or ‘move’) is an unconscious defense mechanism whereby the mind redirects affects from an object felt to be dangerous or unacceptable to an object felt to be safe or acceptable.[1] For instance, some people punch cushions when they are angry at friends; a college student may snap at his or her roommate when upset about an exam grade.

    Displacement operates in the mind unconsciously and involves emotions, ideas, or wishes being transferred from their original object to a more acceptable substitute. It is most often used to allay anxiety.

    In scapegoating, aggression is displaced onto people with little or no connection with what is causing anger.

    I think the last part is the most relevant one and it is a good reminder of how scary it can be in practice, especially when it is so widely accepted.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Displacement_(psychology)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_(film)

  129. I must also note, as for my opinion at this point… The person from Canada (like I said before I scrolled through the Paul skree alot to get to the “bottom” here to comment on his blatant trolling) was completely correct about how it makes ALL of America look BAD…. That there are those HERE who support and adore Palin, Rush, Blech and the like (who are mere “Death Eaters”, to use a metaphor) is Maddening to me, and the longer that good people do nothing and don’t stop it even moreso…

    Also, to the Other bipolar person on the list (I should do better at remembering names on these conflabbing threads I comment on!) I could not agree more! People are QUICKer to jump on the “crazy” (and FAR worse mental namecallibg have I seen!) bandwagon than to call this a possibly quite rational response to the blatant goading of a former US Vice-Presidential candidate. Sad.

  130. #141 @ Persephonesunset

    Lol, I think you are confusing me with my evil twin, because I haven’t posted about this anywhere but here.

  131. Hey, could be…. But I think your Thousands of words in this thread speak for themselves quite literally.

    Enjoy watching yourself speak, man… Justify away! It’s a free country! I just hope it stays that way because of the first amendment than the second….

    My peace is said now…. Quite literally.
    Have a nice thread,all!

  132. @#84 Craig.

    Thank you.

    As a psych nurse, I am tired of the sweeping generalizations about “whack jobs”, etc. None of us know the accused shooter’s mental state. None of us have done a face-to-face assessment. Yes, he seems delusional and disorganized from his internet postings. Psychosis can have many causes including drugs and to label him schizophrenic at age 22 from a distance without knowing his history is ridiculous. People with mental illness are infinitely more likely to be the victims of crime rather than the perpetrators.

    Regarding Sarah Palin’s graphic: My question is why was it still up on her website until yesterday? The election was 2 months ago. The “reload” rhetoric she uses has always disturbed me.

    My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and all who are involved in this tragedy.

  133. This guy might have been a right-wing lunatic — we will see — but the idea that this sort of wacko violence is a provence of the right is just not borne out in recent American history. See, e.g., various bombings in the 1960s. Puerto Rican nationalists shot up the House of Representatives in the 1950s (fortunately missing everyone). Sarah Jane Moore’s attempt on President Ford in San Francisco in 1975. Leo Ryan, the last Congressman to be killed while serving, was murdered by Jim Jones, et al., and that guy was well seeped in SF liberal politics. Of course, those guys were completely and utterly unhinged from reality.

    There are also a few examples, here and there, of using rhetorical targets against Republicans. (http://www.verumserum.com/?p=13647 (scroll down past the SarahPAC map).

  134. N.B.: I mean ‘the idea that this sort of wacko violence is *SOLE* provence of the right.’ Lots of violence right wing nut cases, too.

  135. If someone puts a gun into the hands of a monkey (or a child, or a whack job, etc) and then spends considerable time and energy pointing at things that are bothersome or threatening, they should not be surprised if the target of their “harmless rhetoric” suddenly develops a case of lead poisoning.

  136. I love the right-wingers, in this thread and in various forums and punditry on television, clinging desperately to the “fact” that “a friend” of the shooter said that he’s liberal.

    Actual fact: Some girl who said that she went to school with him in 2007 said that he was liberal. With no corroboration of her relationship, her opinion, or even her attending the same school, by any other source.

    Even if we take it as given that she did attend the same school — 2007 was 3-4 years ago. So she knew Laughner in High School, when he was about 17 or 18. How many of your classmates in High School could be trusted to accurately describe your political leanings — especially when media attention is in the offing?

    Just sayin’. People were quick to jump on the un-sourced “Giffords is dead” report, and that was roundly criticized. One unsourced rumor that he was totally liberal, fer sure… Not a peep of circumspection from the right.

  137. Okay, I’m not old enough to remember this personally, but remember how this one nut tried to assassinate President Reagan?

    In one of those odd little coincidences, Hinkley is the son of one of once Reagan-rival George HW Bush’s financial supporters. At the time of the shooting, GHWB was VP and would have replaced as President the man who defeated GHWB for the position of Republican presidential candidate.

  138. Generally speaking, sane people do not fire dozens of shots into a crowd of unarmed civilians, or blow up non-military buildings, unless they’re officially licensed to do so in their capacity as police or soldiers. Those authorized actions may well be wrong, but the people carrying them out aren’t insane.

    That means that terrorists, whether lone gunmen or al-Qaeda, are all basically whack-jobs. Some have well-defined political or religious agendas. But a whack-job can be swayed by an Ayatollah or a Glenn Beck.

  139. From link in original post: “Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. … “I don’t see the connection,” between the fundraisers featuring weapons and Saturday’s shooting, said John Ellinwood, Kelly’s spokesman. “I don’t know this person, we cannot find any records that he was associated with the campaign in any way. I just don’t see the connection.”

    This guy is a fucking douche bag.

    M16s are a military weapon that were designed to kill people. What the fuck kind of message did you think you were communicating? Peace love and happiness?

    Imagine someone having a political rally, and then doing something like, oh hell I don’t know, burning a big pile of Qu’rans, and then feigning surprise when Muslims get upset. “It’s just books with paper with ink on them, I don’t know why they would get upset”

    Hey, asshole, you created a political rally around miilitary weapons for the same reason some other idiots wanted to have a political rally around burning Qu’rans: because those things mean something, and you used them at your rallies specifically for that meaning, and then you douchebags try to say “but they’re just things, they don’t mean anything…”

    Next up, you’ll be saying you support “second ammendment solutions”, but that those words are just bits of ink on paper or pixels on a screen, and don’t really “mean” anything.

    Fuck you, you fucking douchebags.

    This is like the opposite of reification fallacy. What do you call it when someone tries to say that something symbolic has no meaning? As if burning a Qu’ran is merely an exothermic chemical reaction and any offense taken from its symbolism is purely the fault of the offended rather than the guy with the can of gasoline and match?

    There’s got to be a name for this kind of idiocy. And if there isn’t, it’s time to give it a name.

  140. An important point: we should give kudos to the two people who wrestled the shooter down. I haven’t seen their names yet, but going after a killer is a laudable act. We need more people like them in this country.

    Now for speculation: I keep wondering if this is the Tea Party’s “Helter Skelter” moment. If so, it would be both sad and ironic.

    The sadness is obvious, and I’m glad that the incident wasn’t worse. I hope all the wounded heal, cleanly and quickly.

    The irony is that the Manson gang dealt a huge blow to the Baby Boomer’s Summer of Love, and now that so many Boomers are in the Tea Party, it would be ironic if this atrocity sidelined the Tea Party movement.

    I’m also interested by an all-too-familiar plot line. Lone deranged gunman: check. Police search for possible accomplice seen leaving the scene. Check. My guess is that the authorities will not find Man #2, giving rise to decades of conspiracy theorists. Bets, anyone?

  141. Arizona is an open, unlicensed carry state (or used to be, it’s been a couple of years; this means that if it’s legal for you to possess a handgun, it was legal for you to put in in a holster and wear it unconcealed to the Safeway, no further license required.) Watching shoppers (and clerks) closely, you could see that at least one or two in a hundred were carrying a firearm. That there wasn’t a massive gunfight shows that the typical American citizen is entirely capable of “gun control”. It’s humans that control guns, not laws, and it’s humans, not laws, that commit crimes using firearms by violating laws.

    Even if her staff erected some kind of “gun free” zone around her (unlikely, given her positions) there were many ordinary citizens, armed, within a couple of hundred feet of the shooting, who did not take part in it.

  142. @124, therevr: Could it simply be that somebody in Sarahpac considered the poster to be in bad taste in the light of recent events? Or, considering that might be hard to believe, realize that others would think that poster to be in bad taste?

    It is probably a great testament to modern democracies that participants in its debates can resort to extremely violent metaphors and yet expect to die in bed at a ripe old age. But then another great testament to these democracies is that they have working governments who will arrest and try people for incitement to violence.

    The suggestion that Sarah Palin should somehow be exempt from state scrutiny because she belongs to the ‘right’ political faction is delusional. The people who made such a suggestion also seemed to be in an extreme hurry to point out (without of course any actual evidence) that the killer was a crazy—it appears to me that if you need crazies to execute your political targets, you might want to rethink the validity of those targets.

    What the victims and those they leave behind need the most now is not likely to be obtained by us; but we can hope they get justice.

  143. Paul- There is a difference between the freedom to say something, and the content of that speech. I am sure you could condemn the content of someone’s speech without having any desire to make said speech illegal.

    Death threats actually are illegal in most cases, and our police generally look into them. I am sad to think that you can’t seem to see that it was Congresswoman Gifford’s rights were the ones that were horribly torn apart here. Not Sarah Palin’s, Not the Tea Party’s, and certainly not your own. This is the essential difference between this instance and all the arguments you have put forward.

    Further, in most cases bringing guns to a political rally not being a problem ignores a very fact that in this instance it was a big problem. Attempts to minimize that again fall short.

    The thing is- this isn’t about you. I don’t believe that you have advocated for violent action. I am personally willing to say, as I have written here that I condemn that sort language by all sides. Condemning speech is not the same as taking away someone’s right to say it. Again deal with what is at hand. If it ain’t right- just call it as such. Your arguments ring to me of Defense of those who have gone the incendiary route by appealing to a claim of common bad behavior is just sad. We can have a better society if we want it, and not through taking away rights.

  144. As the father of an eight-year-old daughter I am horrified that this happened, and also by the comments of the two people in the store that were mentioned in the first comment of this thread.

    One thing that does concern me, and that this incident seems to be bringing out, is the increase in extremism and polarization in American politics, I’m also concerned with the growing acceptance of the idea that violence is a valid expression of political will. It’s yet another step away from democracy, and I think there have been far too many of those in the last decade.

    Political opponents are not enemies. At least in theory, both sides want the best for every citizen of the country, they may disagree on the details of what constitutes “the best,” and how to bring it about but they share that goal. That concept seems to be disappearing from political dialog, and it’s a pity.

    I don’t want to blame anyone on either side, but I do think it’s time to move back from the violent imagery and good against evil mindset in politics. It really is.

  145. From a AP news article talking about the videos apparently put on youtube by the shooter: “In one of the videos, the poster indicates he applied to the Army, professed nonbelief in God, made reference to “treasonous laws” that contradicted the Constitution, and said he did not trust the government.”

    three out of four things that point to right-leaning thinking and messaging. nonbelief in god being the only one that is generally not associated with the right as much.

    It doesn’t really matter if this guy was a teabagging nutjob or a progressive-liberal nutjob. What matters to me is that this guy acted on the messages of “second ammendment solutions”, acted on the messages of violence from certain political parties and individuals, and then those individuals and parties attempt to claim their message is completely unrelated to the messenger.

    The problem is not that we need to censor the teabaggers from saying the braindead idiotic things they say, the problem is they claim their statements and symbolisms and speech are totally unrelated to anyone acting on their statements, symbolism, and speech. As if their statements of “second ammendment solutions” were sound vibrations in the atmosphere and anyone taking it to mean actually taking up arms is crazy.

    The other problem is people seem to let these assholes get away with it. Teabaggers talk about “second ammendment solutions”. People complain. Teabaggers say, in effect, “it’s just words, it’s not actually killing someone”. And then the public seems to swallow that bullshit and let the teabaggers off the hook.

    We don’t need censorship. We don’t need to restrict the first ammendment right to speech.

    But what we DO need is to hold these teabagging assholes accountable for their words and their meanings and their intents and their symbolism and NOT let them off the hook with “we said it, but we didn’t think anyone would actually DO anything about it” nonsense.

    We can’t let these assholes shirk the responsibility that should be tied to their words. If they talk about second ammendment solutions, then we can’t let them say “it doesn’t mean anything. I didn’t expect anyone to do anything”. That is irresponsibile. We need to hold people responsible for their words. That doesn’t mean they pulled the trigger. But it does mean they were suggesting violence and we can’t let them shirk the impact of their words.

  146. 14 June 2008 (dateline on Politico column)

    “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said in Philadelphia last night. “Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

    “… they were suggesting violence and we can’t let them shirk the impact of their words.”

    The only control is self-control.

  147. Greg @ 153

    Nihilification OED definition: “The action of disregarding something; slighting; valuing at nothing.”
    “Nihilification‥the reducing of a more or less substantialized reality to ‘nothing’.” Philosophical Review

  148. Blame Sarah Palin: Check
    Blame the Tea Party: Check
    Wait you guys forgot to blame Bush or the NRA. Come on guys you need to step up your game.

  149. In re the shooter’s acquaintance who said he had liberal political ideas:

    Let’s remember that “liberal” means different things to different people. It’ll mean one thing to a Texas Baptist, and something else to a New Englander. I recall that NPR did many interviews during the ’08 campaign, and in one of them an interviewee said that while McCain was liberal (something I’d personally disagree with), she’d hold her nose & vote for him because Obama was, in her words, ultra-liberal.

    tl;dr: most people think they’re centrist.

  150. Most of the cooments here are by people who are part of the problem; if the problem is defined as excessive political pollerization, not part of the solution as you may think.

    Garett @150

    So what if the guy turned out to be a Liberal rather than a Conservative? The fact is it doesn’t matter. A Left-wing nut job or a Right-wing nut job has the common denominator of nut job.

    Dave Robinson @158

    I do not think there is a growing acceptance of violence in politics. I have heard nothing but abhorrence from all sides of the political discourse. There has always been violent metaphors with regards to politics: battleground states for instance. No one assumes that means people take to the streets with guns. At least not here and not yet.

    From my point of view, Clausewitz had it backwards: politics is war by other means. The history of the human race until quite recently has been to settle political questions with guns or swords. It is still this way in a depressingly large part of the world. Politics has replaced that in some places most notably in the US where we have had over 200 years of peaceful transfer of power at all levels of politics. I predict this will continue.

    We have replaced guns with rhetoric. And no matter how dirty it gets, it’s still better than armed political parties taking to the streets in each congressional district.

    No matter what anyone says, this incident is not that. People should not in anyway be implying that it is. It disrespects everyone, the American people, the victims and those doing the implying.

  151. The Director of the FBI just held a press conference in which he stated that the shooter attended a similar function in 2007, at which the shooter may have become upset at something the Congresswoman said.

    Oddly, this would have been before the Tea Party movement or Sarah Palin’s debut on the national stage.

    In a striking break with the enlightened commentary of “Greg” from posts #153 and #159, the director never mentioned the words “Tea Bagger” or “Douchebag”, although clearly douchebags, were in use in 2007.

    Is this a coverup? We can only wait for Greg, who seems to have an unhealthy fascination with douchebags to let us know.

  152. From his youtube and myspace, it seems clear that the alleged shooter suffered from a mental illness. Many of you may not know the following things: 1) schizophrenia is an illness that comes on in late adolescence and early adulthood; 2) schizophrenia consists of disordered thinking, hallucinations (often auditory), paranoia, and several other issues; and 3) a minority of people with severe mental illness commit violent acts. They tend to have a history of violence, have a substance abuse history, be living with family or restrictive settings (like a halfway house).

    The level of violence and violent rhetoric in a society are possibly related, but let’s not lose sight of the tragedy of someone with probably undiagnosed mental illness committed a terrible violent act. What could have been done about that? To me, you can bring in politics when you are interested in the solution – what is society’s role in treating those with severe mental illness? I would argue that there are examples from either side of the aisle who have worked on this problem (Domenici, for instance, or Gordon Smith, as republicans). However, the weight of the evidence seems to favor more proactive approaches and democrats have been more consistently behind these. So, in that sense, perhaps politics plays a role. But to ignore the mental illness is to ignore a greater tragedy – that diagnosis and treatment may prevent many such deaths, yet our political discussions rarely seem to address these issues.

  153. Dave: true that. Correct me if I’m wrong (please), but the Republican approach to mental health care seems to be to close sanitaria and move the patients into the community, where they’ll be under less supervision, and where it doesn’t cost so much money per patient.

    Problem is that some forms of mental illness really do need an institutional level of supervision, and without it the patient gets worse, possibly being a danger to himself or others.

    I truly wish we had a good enough understanding of mental illness and its cures to let these people live on their own and have happy, productive lives like everyone else, but we’re not there yet.

  154. 14 June 2008 (dateline on Politico column)

    “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said in Philadelphia last night. “Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”
    “… they were suggesting violence and we can’t let them shirk the impact of their words.”

    The only control is self-control.

    Quoting a generic line from “The Untouchables” is equivalent to putting bullseyes on specific people? Not even close.

  155. Frank @ 165

    “200 years of peaceful transfer of power at all levels of politics.”

    Do you really regard the assassination of Kennedy as a peaceful transfer of power? The Civil War? Barring miracles there will need to be a new Congresswoman for Arizona, not peaceful at all.

    There are a few horrible wars going on in the world and some civil wars. Some of them are due to the United States deciding to fight rather than talk. This is how you export “Democracy”. Most of South America is still suffering trauma from the United States foreign policy of destroying any legitimately-elected government that was not right-wing by American standards, allowing the most horrible dictatorships to establish themselves with US support. There are many other examples. There are worse places but the US has not been a leader in civilised politics. I predict this will continue.

    My thoughts are with the families of these innocents who have been slaughtered irrationally.

  156. Kevin at #168, since you asked. Ok you’re wrong. I’ve worked on Republican (and Democrat) campaigns since 1984 and I can assure you that closing mental institutions is not one of the party planks. Think about it for a minute, if you would stop believing the other side is full of hate and evil, you would realize how ridiculous an idea this is.

    Everyone I know wants people with mental problems to get the help they need, and it’s one of the things that even those who advocate smaller government don’t mind their taxes going toward.

  157. Kevin #168: Correct me if I’m wrong (please), but the Republican approach to mental health care seems to be to close sanitaria and move the patients into the community, where they’ll be under less supervision, and where it doesn’t cost so much money per patient.

    OK, you’re wrong. The core push for deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill was the Community Mental Health Act, part of the New Frontier legislation pushed through by that notorious Republican President, John F. Kennedy back in 1963. Deinstitutionalization accelerated after 1965 changes to the Social Security Act under that other notorious Republican, Lyndon B. Johnson.

  158. Gabby Giffords is my representative. She was speaking at my Safeway. Jared was from my neighborhood and attended my junior high and high school. My best friend is the ICU nurse caring for the victims.

    The only thing I have to say is that all of this hurts. Whatever political motivations, mental instability, and everything else everyone wants to analyze… I just wish Gabby Giffords and everyone else could be unshot.

  159. Dave @ 167

    You may not know the following things:
    a) only some forms of schizophrenia start with late adolescence and early adulthood. Depending on the type of diagnosis used this type may be referred to as hebephrenia.
    b) The symptoms which determine a diagnosis of schizophrenia are much debated and are often in the form “Several from the following list…” Very few sufferers will have the full range of classical symptoms.
    c) Many more sufferers from mental illness are attacked violently than attack. This can be due to the confusion caused by their inability to act normally towards other people, touching off severe mental dysfunction in uneducated, intolerant bigots which they can only assuage by violently assaulting, torturing or killing the source of their distress. Joyce referred to this @146.

  160. Re the question of how culpable eliminationist rhetoric is for the shootings:

    1. Did Palin, Kelly, Angle, et al. use eliminationist words and images in their political ads? Yes.
    2. Did their eliminationist words and images include cross-hairs, firearms, and calls to implement a “second amendment solution”? Yes
    3. Did their eliminationist words and images specifically target Giffords? Yes.
    4. Does advertising work? Yes.

    Advertising works. The GOP/RW use eliminationist advertising to sell anger, fear, and violence against Democrats. Violence against Democrats over the past few years has escalated from “mere” heckling and vandalism to personal threats (which have been taken seriously enough that law enforcement has assigned security details to Democratic politicians and judges) and assassinations (of judges) and attempted assassinations (of US Congresspersons).

    Both sides do NOT do this.

    Both sides do NOT equally use eliminationist rhetoric to delegitimize the other side as barely human, much less American.

    Both sides do NOT equally suggest, encourage, and celebrate brutish treatment of elected officials, candidates, voters, and attendants of political rallies.

    To play the “both sides do it” game in the face of these facts is vile and mendacious.

  161. Dave @ 158 Well said.
    Greg @ 159 In this case- It is some members of the right. Not all are members of the Tea Party. Frankly, calling them Tea baggers is fightin’ words. Insulting, and not really appropriate. There is a valid point in that many members of the left can and do use violent rhetoric and don’t get called for it. It is not the problem in this case, but one must be very careful in making ones outrage selective. It is human nature to forgive people who greatly share our point of view more easily than those who don’t. I do think that many members of the left forget themselves over a lot of their rhetoric. Of course, they haven’t been using the presence of firearms to make a point, or advocating 2nd amendment solutions which is the current issue.
    Frank @ 165 Although it is important to keep a historical perspective and that assassination is a relatively rare phenomenon in the United States, it is important not to mythologize it as Pat @ 170 has rightly pointed out. I remember a former head of London Police stating along the lines (forgive me that I don’t possess the exact quote) that although the numbers of murders were down, in each individual instance of a murder a great wrong had been done. The fact that murder was down was a good thing,but it says nothing about the moral acceptability of the murders that actually happen. I think that applies in this case.
    Lastly, political polarization is not a problem, it is how one expresses and deals with those differences that matter in this case. I would not want a one party state where everyone must agree- or even should. There can be a horrible Tyranny in calls to bipartisanship and the like.

  162. CaseyL#175 don’t let the facts get in your way. Just because you think that Sarah Palin is the root of all evil does not make it so.

    Check out this site for years of hate and death threats against President Bush by hundreds of liberals.

    http://www.zombietime.com/zomblog/?p=621

    No one even knows if the shooter saw any of the things that you are so desperate to condemn.

  163. Ultimately, it’s all random. I am a former staffer to a NY State Senator, and last April we had an incident that made us briefly wonder if a gun was present. It couldn’t have been (and wasn’t) – security is too tight in the state Capitol building – but when you are serving a public official you can never rule out the possibility of assassination attempts.

    I wrote the attached blog this morning to Congresswoman Gifford’s valiant staff. They are heroes, and God bless them and all the victims and their families.

  164. Billy@177:

    There’s a difference between what an ordinary citizen says on the web and what an official representative of a political party says. I’ve seen several calls in this discussion for any case where a Democratic candidate for office has used anything corresponding to the gunsight imagery, and so far no-one has produced any.

  165. Pat@161: Nihilification

    Hadn’t heard of that one before. Looked it up. It might work. Only problem is it wasn’t in very many online dictionaries I tried.

    The root word “nihilism” meaning “everthing is meaningless” does fit what they’re doing. Sort of. They more specifically want to drain their words and symbols and imagery of meaning so they don’t have to take responsibility for them. But they don’t think existence is meaningless. They think they’re battling evil and they’re the good and righteous crowd. So, I don’t know if nihilism or a derivative thereof is exactly what I”m looking for.

    It’s almost like a bully grabbing a kid’s wrist, and then forcing the kid’s fist into his own face, while saying “stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself”. As if because it wasn’t his fist that hit the kid that he has no responsibility whatsoever in it happening.

    These nutjobs are saying something just short of “someone should murder this politician” and then when it happens, they’re like “stop murdering politicians”

  166. Billy @177: So you would agree, then, that it is absolutely wrong for any office-holder or pundit, of any political stripe, to call for violence as a way of trumping what happens at the ballot box? If so, then “well they do it too, nyeah nyeah” is not much of an argument.

  167. Mythago you bet I would agree that no office holder should call for violence to trump the ballot box.

  168. Billy @182: Then I’m not understanding the rush to defend those who have called for violence as a political tool, or criticism of those who have called out – and continue to call out – public figures exhorting others to violence.

    While our host is not the first to make this suggestion, it is still a good one. Ask yourself: if the situation were reversed so that my political opponents were doing it, would I be saying the same thing? If Michael Moore had repeatedly argued that the best way to talk to a conservative is with a baseball bat; if Harry Reid had suggested that Nevadans might seek “Second Amendment remedies” if he lost the election; if Joe Biden had made wink-wink references to shooting Republicans, with ‘crosshairs’ and urging losing Democrats to ‘reload’ such that a newly-elected Congressman from the Tea Party said that he felt threatened and that such rhetoric was dangerous; if a Republican elected official in a polarized district were shot by a disturbed person…

    ….would I still be saying the same things? Would I be arguing that such rhetoric is OK because some conservatives do it too? Would I be scolding anyone who suggests that perhaps Joe Biden should not have said those things, or that Michael Moore ought to be ashamed of himself? Would I be saying that Obama has gotten death threats to conservatives are just as bad? Would I be diligently Googling for sound bites and images to “prove” that those calls to violence really weren’t any such thing? And how would I react to liberals who said that I was just looking to score political points and that if anyone on my “side” behaved badly it all cancels out?

    (By the way, while I didn’t specifically mention candidates for political office, I would assume you condemn such rhetoric from them; I’m also assuming that you would agree with me that it is irresponsible and inexcusable for anyone with a public platform – liberal or conservative – to suggest using guns or baseball bats or bombs to settle political scores.)

  169. When I say extreme polarization is part of the problem I’m not so much talking about polarization of political belief as I am about the way it has been seeming to move from “your ideas are very wrong,” to “you are evil.”

    A wide range of political beliefs is very healthy, but when more and more people abandon the center and move to the edges, it’s much less so. Politics is the art of compromise, and the further apart people are the harder it is to find common ground in the middle.

    People should stop focusing on hatred and oppose ideas rather than demonizing those who hold them.

  170. Mythago if you really believe that Palin put those crosshairs on that district because she wanted someone to shoot the Congresswoman or hit her with a baseball bat then I can’t help you. It is patently ridiculous.

    If Howard Dean, Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi had employed the same symolism on Congressman Joe Barton or some other Republican would I think that they wanted you or others to go out and whack him, no I wouldn’t.

    I don’t think you really believe it of Palin either. I think you just can’t stop yourself from using this tragedy to further your political agenda.

  171. If Howard Dean, Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi had employed the same symolism on Congressman Joe Barton or some other Republican

    But they didn’t, and that’s the difference.

    Further, why are you defending it? So she didn’t want someone actually to shoot the Congressperson. Great. But using that kind of terminology in the age of Timothy McVeigh is a really bad idea. Why favor it?

  172. @Pat : See #3 : a minority of people with severe mental illness commit a violent act – and there are usually other complicating issues. So, I definitely tried to say that. I’m sorry it wasn’t clear.

    I also completely agree with you on the other points, although I am not sure they make a different point, just a more nuanced one. Hebephrenia is considered by the DSM to be a form, or subtype, of schizophrenia. A synonym, and an important one, since the subtype has a poorer prognosis.

    My main intent was to say that people with severe mental illness are vulnerable, that being proactive and investing in good care for them is important to prevent problems, and that the issue of politics seemed secondary to these points.

  173. #169 David — that it’s a line from a move does not remove the image or threat. Sauce for goose, sauce for gander, ….

  174. that it’s a line from a move does not remove the image or threat. Sauce for goose, sauce for gander

    Sure, it does. And even if it doesn’t, a generic comment like that comes nowhere near putting bullseyes over specific people.

  175. David, I didn’t know it was from a movie when I heard it; I thought it was just stupid imitation gangsta talk. And it’s little different than the DNC ad with rifle targets on districts. Or the images with Bush in rifle sights. If you can’t see that some on your side have been doing this sort of thing too, this discussion is not going to be productive.

  176. David, I didn’t know it was from a movie when I heard it; I thought it was just stupid imitation gangsta talk. And it’s little different than the DNC ad with rifle targets on districts. Or the images with Bush in rifle sights. If you can’t see that some on your side have been doing this sort of thing too, this discussion is not going to be productive.

    My original question remains: has any Democratic Presidential or VP candidate gone to the length that Palin has? No, random movie quotes are not comparable.

  177. How about Biden’s talking about strangling Republicans? Obama’s equating of Republicans with hostage-taking terrorists? Sorry, but violent hyperbole knows no party lines.

  178. calling the teabaggers is fighting words.

    no. putting crosshairs on someones picture and calling for second ammendment solutions is fighting words.

    when you get as upset about calls for murder as you do about the word “teabaggers” then give me a call. until then, I hold to my original point that teabaggers want to use “fighting words” as you so elequantly put it witbout actuallly owning up to them being fighting words.

    As it is, I find your double standard to be hilarious except for the fact that a whole bunch of people just got murdered. It isnt funny anymore. Just hypocritical and irresponsible.

    “many members of the left can and do use violent rhetoric”

    pics or didnt happen.

  179. Biden immediately followed his remark with “To the press, that’s a figure of speech.”

    Obama didn’t use the word “terrorist.” And I’ll put the entire quote in here:

    “Well, let me use a couple of analogies. I’ve said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts. I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. Then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed. ”

    Oh, yeah. That’s right up there with putting bullseyes over specific people.

    But, hey, I don’t think they rise anywhere near what Palin’s done, but I’m perfectly willing to say that Obama (and Biden) shouldn’t have used those formulations, that in the current atmosphere, they aren’t useful. You (Tully & htom) willing to do the same for Palin?

  180. Billy @187, I think you may be confusing me with somebody else, because I am not asking you about people’s subjective intent: only their actions. Someone else may have said that they think Sarah Palin is secretly pleased at the shootings, but if so, I would respectfully request that you direct your ire at that person.

    Am I, in fact, wrong in assuming that just as you would condemn an officeholder who calls for violence to trump the ballot box (as you noted in #184), you would condemn similar calls from a candidate for political office? Am I also wrong in assuming that, too, you would condemn the same language coming from a political commentator, particularly an influential one?

    Myself, I don’t see that “If I lose this election, people may well turn to Second Amendment remedies” is any more justified when the person saying it is running for their first election as opposed to re-election. I don’t see that “the best way to talk to [liberals/conservatives] is with a baseball bat” is funny or appropriate public discourse when it comes out of the mouth of a famous news commenter, but not if it were said by an elected official or one of his/her staff.

    But perhaps you disagree, and if so, I would be interested to hear your reasoning.

    And, as I noted, it’s a useful exercise to consider how one would react if the roles were flipped. Would the folks now defending the Tea Party be saying “Hey now, you can’t tar all liberals because Michael Moore shot his big mouth off”? Would they be countering criticisms of Joe Biden’s famous ‘crosshairs’ map by presenting a 2004 GOP article showing ‘targets’ on states that are a close call? (And, conversely, would the folks now condemning Palin and Angle et al be saying something other than “Hey, conservatives did it too, sauce for the gander”?)

  181. But, hey, I don’t think they rise anywhere near what Palin’s done, but I’m perfectly willing to say that Obama (and Biden) shouldn’t have used those formulations, that in the current atmosphere, they aren’t useful. You (Tully & htom) willing to do the same for Palin?

    Wow. Silence in here is deafening.

  182. I’m probably showing my age, but I’m beginning to be terribly disturbed by both the tenor of many people’s comments and by the points that are being listed by politicos, commentators, and journalists about this incident.

    You see, I was raised to believe that you should assume that people have meant what they said (especially when they uttered threats), but, even more, that you should assume they have meant what they did. The standard of what they meant was based on something called “the average reasonable person” standard; if “the average reasonable person would believe a person meant “x” when they said or did “x,” then the baseline assumption should be that they did, in fact, mean to say or do “x.”

    I was raised to believe that you should collect all the details of WHAT a person said or did (“Just the facts, ma’am!”) long before you could begin to question WHY they did or said “x.”

    In other words, I was raised to believe that people are responsible for their words and actions. Irresponsibility on the basis of being a “nutjob” was for the “nutjob” to prove (in a court of law, not on the basis of a few YouTube posts).

    As a result, I’m disturbed that so many people seem to be jumping to the conclusion that a man who showed up at a pre-announced political rally with multiple 31-shot clips and a semi-automatic weapon are so eager to call this a “tragedy”. In my mind, the acts leading up to Congresswoman Giffords’ shooting are deplorable. They are despicable. They are treason against our Constitution.

    Anyone who has aided, abetted, or encouraged Jared Loughner (or however it’s spelled — which uncertainty should, in itself be a cautionary tale to anyone who wants to comfort themselves that this was a singular event, triggered by the demented ravings of a person in the midst of a psychotic break) should be held to the same standard.

    Should “the average reasonable person” have assumed Sarah Palin’s posting of a map of her enemies locations (with or without the “cross-hairs”) was for purely informative purposes? Should “the average reasonable person” assume that anyone defending her or any of the other vitriolic “usual suspects” can be trusted that they (for all values of “they”) “meant nothing” by their comments?

    To me, that’s a bit like the old adage: “poor people are crazy; rich people are ‘eccentric.'”

    And, just to haul out another bit that will confirm me as a product of my generation, I was taught to believe that every political act, spoken or not, was intended to garner power to oneself and one’s (actual) constituency/power base.

    I’ll leave the local and federal investigators and (I fervently hope) the jury to determine the final balance in this case. (However, I note that the accused has reportedly already taken the 5th, which, to me, does not indicate that he is completely incapacitated and friendless!).

    I only ask that “We, the People” should carefully consider this episode, along with current events, our history, and our hopes for the future.

    It has been a little more than 24 hours since the actual shooting. Let us not jump to any conclusions that will imperil the notion that our “… government of the people, by the people, and for the people [must] not perish from the earth.”

  183. But, hey, I don’t think they rise anywhere near what Palin’s done, but I’m perfectly willing to say that Obama (and Biden) shouldn’t have used those formulations, that in the current atmosphere, they aren’t useful. You (Tully & htom) willing to do the same for Palin?

    In the absence of a response to this, I’m going to take it that htom, at least (since he/she has posted this morning), is quite willing to whine about how awful charged language is when Democrats do it, but is curiously reluctant to do so when Republicans do it.

  184. There are plenty of Whackos out there who will be encouraged by this event. Hopefully they won’t be using the Free Speech Card to justify more violence. Left Wing Wackos with violent tendencies are out there too, and they might just look at this event as an opportunity to practice their own special brand of politics. Please don’t let this turn into a cycle of violence…I would hate to see us become, as someone put it, a Banana Republic.
    The political rhetoric that was aimed at Obama only served to encourage this assasin’s violent behavior, I am certain. These unstable and violent people are encouraged by the venomous lies and propaganda, and feel that what they do is the right thing. Everybody wants to be called a hero, right?
    Free speech is what makes America so wonderful but the Tea Party and their supporters should be ashamed. And they need to lighten up! Unfortunately, it will only be a matter of time before they are blaming Obama for this shooting.
    The bottom line is that this all started with 9/11. I truly believe this. We began our downward economic and social spiral after that other tragic event. Because of those stresses we are a country divided in a way that we have not experienced since the Viet Nam War.
    Bin Laden and his Terrorist trash are rejoicing.
    Let’s cool the rhetoric down and stay united against our REAL enemies!

    I do have a question about Congresswoman Giffords and would like an answer:
    The damage to her brain was on the left side so if she is right handed then that would be the dominant side of her brain. If she is left handed then it would be the right side of the brain that is dominant and her long term prognosis would be much better. None of the reports that I have seen have mentioned whether or not she is right handed. Anyone?
    Congressman Giffords is someone who devoted her life to the people and did not deserve this. What a horrific tragedy…I am sick to my stomach.
    Thanks to the Head Blogger…this has been good self therapy for me.

  185. David, I didn’t bother to reply because early in both threads I complained about both. Perhaps I did it twice in one of the threads and not in the other. I’m not going to bother to look. Condemnation is not the solution, that’s what they’re doing!

    The only control is self-control.

  186. If “Second Amendment solutions” means what I think it means, it’s time to put repeal of the Second Amendment on the table. We don’t need guns to fend off the natives or the French any more.

    And if citizens have to carry guns for “personal protection”, we don’t have enough police. I’d rather pay higher taxes than have to pack a pistol to go to the supermarket.

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