Giffords Shooting Follow-up

Some additional thoughts on the conversation of the weekend.

1. I’m still uncomfortable ascribing a political motivation to alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner — or more to the point, ascribing a political motivation that maps more than tangentially at best to current, popular political trends. As someone elsewhere notes, a guy who lists Animal Farm, The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf as some of his favorite books is someone whose peg doesn’t fit into current rhetorical holes without more than a little bit of hammering (it may suggest a general mistrust of organized government, but such a state is neither inherently “left” or “right”). We know next to nothing about the fellow, he’s currently invoking his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination (if reports are to be believed) and otherwise what we know about him are bits and snatches and rumors.

What little I’ve seen — which is basically what everyone else has seen to this point — doesn’t convince me this is about politics as anyone but Loughner understands it. We may (and probably will) learn more as time goes on. But for the moment, I’m of the opinion that whatever this is about, is about Loughner, rather than the overall state of politics in the United States.

2. That said (and at this point I suspect independently), Loughner’s choice to shoot a US Congressperson whose district was recently mapped by political opponents using a shooting target (a Palin spokesperson’s post-shooting assertion that the images of targets on a Palin Web site were of surveyor’s crosses is one of the more transparent bits of complete bullshit in the aftermath of the event) means that at the moment we’re having a discussion of the current state of political rhetoric in the country. As much as they wish it weren’t so or wish to complain that they’re not the only ones partaking of such rhetoric, the Tea Party folks and their associates are the ones most on the defensive here.

I think this should not be in the least surprising. If your political messaging traffics in rhetoric heavy on gun imagery and revolution of the overthrow-y sort, then when someone shoots a congressperson who you opposed, then guess what: You get to spend some uncomfortable moments in the spotlight being asked if it’s not reasonable to suspect a connection between your rhetoric and the actions of a shooter targeting someone you’ve opposed. You also get to spend time being asked if, in fact, your rhetoric isn’t overblown, simplistic and on balance detrimental to the nation’s body politic. Querulous complaints about the unfairness of this can be reasonably overruled by others; the time to complain about your bed is before you make it.

Bad and obnoxious rhetoric is not solely owned by any party, but I do think the current, predominant strain of it dates back to Newt Gingrich and his rhetorical policy of demonizing political opponents and their positions rather than allowing for the possibility that reasonable people might disagree. Gingrich was not the first to do this, of course (check out the political messaging of the early 1800s, just for fun, nor does one have to go back anywhere near that far). His particular strain of it was both efficient and congenial to the rise of partisanship as entertainment, however, of which both both liberals and conservatives partake, although it’s not (necessarily) an insult to note than in general conservatives are better at it, or at least seem to enjoy it more.

And now is a fine time to ask whether the Gingrich strain of rhetoric is past its sell-by date. I think it is. I think it encourages bad politics; it’s a primary tool in making the manner in which people think of politics in the United States the same as they think about football games. I don’t think it’s going to die without a fight — it’s the morning and evening bread and butter for two of the three major cable news networks (not to mention a whole panapoly of talk radio hosts), so there’s a lot of money invested in its success. But what’s good for the 10-Qs of publicly-traded entertainment companies who happen to own cable news networks and newspapers or the ratings of radio stars and reality shows isn’t necessarily what’s good for the actual political health of the nation.

I wish people were smart enough to recognize this. If one result of this shooting is that we start to think about it more, it’ll be a thin silver lining to a very dark cloud. Even if the shooting eventually turns out to be unrelated to the current state of political rhetoric in the country.

3. A friend of mine who suffers from a mental disorder wrote me a letter to suggest to me that the comments in the previous thread about the possible mental illness of Loughner run the risk of carelessly painting everyone who suffers from a mental illness or a disorder with the same behaviors — i.e., they’re all bad/violent/nasty/evil/dangerous, etc.

This is a fair concern on my friend’s part, and so I think it’s worth noting that a) a layman diagnosis of mental illness via the very limited information available online is worth exactly nothing, b) any general equivalence between mental illness or disorder and one being bad/violent/nasty/evil/dangerous, etc. is uninformed and pretty stupid. Loughner may or may not suffer from mental illness, but it’s going to take professional and in-person observation by trained folks to determine that. I imagine that will be happening soon if it’s not already happening. But even if he does, his individual manifestation of his illness is just that — individual, and not representative of anyone else’s.

Or as my friend puts it: “Maybe you could remind folks that the people with mental disorders are around them, right now, being mentally disordered? Also, being lawyers, parents, farmers, soldiers, nurses, truck-drivers, teachers, college students, judges, 5th graders, fishermen, mechanics, martial arts instructors, writers, and general good folks. Just like them.”

So noted.

359 thoughts on “Giffords Shooting Follow-up

  1. Thank you, sir.

    I’d add that we should really be applauding the actions of the two men who tackled the gunman when he reportedly still had bullets in his gun. There’s a (contradicting?) report of a third person who prevented the gunman from reloading. I haven’t seen any of them identified yet, either.

    I’m not sure what the reality is here, but as with Flight 93 on 9/11, ordinary people took action to end an extraordinary crime. It’s good to remember that we can still act heroically on occasion.

  2. Yes, it’s turned from a discussion of a reprehensible attack to a discussion of the state of political discourse in this country.

    I completely agree that it’s long past time for the politics of hate to stop.

    Personally, and I may be pilloried for this, but I think part of the problem has its roots in the way people have been bringing religious matters into the political arena. Politics is about compromise, shades of gray and the art of the possible. Religion is more often about absolutes, good and evil. It’s very easy to color someone you oppose on religious grounds as evil, and once that happens, any sort of compromise becomes that much harder, and hatred becomes that much easier to foster.

    We need to stop demonizing our political opponents.

  3. I saw a description on CNN that said a middle-aged woman grabbed the new cartridge the gunman was trying to load. Slate has an article with interesting references and statistics about the readiness to blame violence on “being crazy” http://www.slate.com/id/2280619/ .

  4. I always enjoy the discussion here. I am curious about what actual facts are being withheld from the information-starved news-hound[I'm a news-hound myself].

  5. I dont know what the shooters mental state was. I think part of me wants to think that anyone who becomes an assassin or terrorist or bomber is some kind of “nutjob”. Not neccessarily insane, but mentally… unbalanced? Part of that is probably my desire to hold on to the belief that no one “normal” or “sane” would do something like this.

    and I get thats not true. lots of people indistinguishable from any measurable definition os “sane” commit murder.

    The right wingers and teabaggers are going to push “hard” to either paint this guy as insane or a former lefty or anything that will give them something to wedge betwen their “second amendment solutions” and this sort of behavior.

    They are going to scramble for any excuse to make this guy look crazy so they can try to claim that “sane” people can advocate murder by referencing “second ammendment solutuons” but nthat it would take someone “insane” to act on their relentless rhetoric.

    anything that will allow them to shirk any responsibility for their words, imagery, and symbolism of murdering their political opponents.

  6. I’m inclined to think that your pointing at Gingrich says more about the age at which you became politically aware than anything else (I have the identical fault in pointing at the beginning being the distortions and demonizing of the Goldwater-LBJ campaign in 1964.)

    I feel I must disagree with your last point and say that a layman’s diagnosis of mental illness or defect is worth much less than nothing, and may be hazardous in several ways to the person so “diagnosed”. Some of this babbling is toxic to the victim and can take decades to “live down”, if they ever succeed.

  7. John- I have always appreciated the way you respectfully disagree with the new Speaker of the House and it definitely is important not to equate the vast majority of any group with this one person. I love reading Whatever partially because of how you work to maintain reason and perspective.. Mental illness and vitriolic rhetoric might help explain what led him to do what he did. There is the mental evaluation by Pima community college and the well documented vitriolic nature around both Congresswoman Gifford and Judge Roll. I will not deny nor minimize how awful this is especially for those shot and their families who I can’t but send the best thoughts their way that I can. But this is still a pretty statistically unique situation in the US, and those situations are very hard to definitively judge in regards to all the factors that might play into them.

  8. My main thought has been that the escalated use of eliminationist rhetoric probably has a direct effect on the escalated number of attacks on persons engaged in politics. This might be the first mass murder that will be linked to eliminationist rhetoric, but there have been a couple of hundred attacks that have occurred over the last 2-3 years when this rhetoric began to escalate.

  9. People just have to remember that mental illness is not a disease, it’s a category. Just like being physically ill doesn’t mean you have AIDS, being mentally ill doesn’t mean you have whatever you would have to have to shoot a stranger in the head.

    I do believe that anyone who would do something like that is by definition mentally ill in some way.

  10. Hmmm…

    I think that less attention needs to be payed to the shooter who is or is not insane. There are more insane and mentally unstable people in the United States than we can shake a stick at. The more people loose health care and jobs for themselves and their family just worsens the nations “stable” population. When unstable people become criminals or murderers are not when they have bad thoughts, but when people who are supposed to lead our states and government point guns, make targets out of those who do not follow their directions. When our leaders can only lead with fear and panic, those leaders should not be allowed to lead.

  11. There’s no need for a “hard push” by anyone to distance themselves from this guy. Look at his messages, he was either stupid, confused, or, yes, suffering from a seriously debilitating and undiagnosed mental illness (my guess is schizo). He was obviously not a Tea Party affilliate, though the first stories I heard and read about him painted him as such. So-called “journalists” claiming that he may be part of a “right-wing terrorist group” while I was already scanning his list of favorite books…cognitive disconnect, much?

    Political ads are just ads. they’re not going to make any kind of normal person go crazy, but there’s no way to stop the crazies from being what they are.
    The gun is just a gun. It’s a machine. Just like a car, airplane, or baseball bat, it isn’t going to make normal people into killers any more than the lack of a gun will prevent a violent or homicidal person from killing…it may make it easier to commit a crime, but it will just as easily allow an ordinary person to step up and stop something like this from going past the first shot or two.
    If he’d used a steak knife to kill 6 people, would we hear calls for the end of cutlery? No.

  12. @ #6 Greg: i think it would be pleasant to think that such people are “nutjobs” but i think it is far more likely that the kinds of people who do such things are as normal as you or i (or perhaps some other, more ‘normal’ people you could think of). and you’re right about what will happen to this guy’s image, just so the people who use the same rhetoric can continue doing so. but honestly, i don’t think one comes to such as choice as this man did without a long period of careful thought about motivations, opinions, beliefs, etc. carefully considering options and consequences, and doing what you feel to be the ‘right’ or best thing–that’s about as rational as one can be. reprehensible, despicable, repugnant, even cowardly–all those things. but yes, also rational.

    i agree with scalzi that you can’t use words in the ways that so many politicians and pundits do and then claim no responsibility when something like this happens. i don’t think they are responsible, but they certainly deserve some very stern scrutiny for their verbal choices. the funny thing is, it was the previous incarnation of the same political movement that wanted to put musicians on trial for what people did after hearing their music. now they want to deny our right to question their own words when something awful like this happens? typical.

  13. I don’t think the shooter’s beliefs map very well to anyone’s ideology. I’m also completely willing to believe that the vast majority of those on the right who identify with the Tea Party movement are genuinely disgusted with what happened in Tuscon. What I’m most interested in seeing, though, is whether their rhetoric going forward will be dialed down. Now they’ve seen a concrete example of what happens when someone decides to apply a Second Amendment remedy to political opposition. It’s been my observation that many — not all — on the right have trouble with shades of grey (“You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists,” etc.). So it seems to me that from here on out it’s not really going to possible for them to merely ignore the Becks, the Limbaughs, the Coulters, the Malkins and, yes, the Palins when violent imagery is used. They own it now. Unless they say they don’t. It’s their choice.

  14. Thing is… There WAS a political motivation for this guy. That it doesn’t fall neatly within the borders of one of the current iterations of the (arbitrary and inaccurate) left-right binary doesn’t change that.

    His politics were simple: Hatred and fear of authority, whatever form that took. And honestly? That’s a common enough ideaology right now that it’s worth addressing in terms of a political movement. Just because we can’t label it as Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, w’ev (though it is somewhat libertarian) doesn’t mean it’s not a real phenomenon, and one worth watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t spawn any more of these guys.

  15. I know someone already referenced this Slate article on violence and mental illness (http://www.slate.com/id/2280619/), but I wanted to quote from some of it:

    “A 2009 analysis of nearly 20,000 individuals concluded that increased risk of violence was associated with drug and alcohol problems, regardless of whether the person had schizophrenia. Two similar analyses on bipolar patients showed, along similar lines, that the risk of violent crime is fractionally increased by the illness, while it goes up substantially among those who are dependent on intoxicating substances. In other words, it’s likely that some of the people in your local bar are at greater risk of committing murder than your average person with mental illness.”

  16. Cormac @12

    The question is not whether this shooting was caused by hateful rhetoric and eliminationist advertising. The question is now that our attention has been called to those issues can and should we continue to ignore them and ignore the effect they are having on the state of political discourse in this country?

  17. I think the question is… Why are so many guns out there? Why is that easy to grab a rifle in the US to point out an opinion? Nobody is talking about that!

  18. You can do two things: inform candidates that you favor that you won’t vote for them if they indulge in such speech or provocation, whether in public or private, whatever the provocation; and inform candidates that you don’t favor that such speech or provocation will increase your donations to other candidates. Those doing this are doing so because they think or feel it will help them (or those they support) be (re-)elected.

  19. Giffords is a Democrat in a conservative/Republican stronghold. Giffords’ office was shot at several times previously. Threats on her life have been reported. A newspaper column printed just before the Nov. election had her opponent (Jesse Kelly) inviting people to voice their opposition to her by coming out to join him in shooting an automatic M16. Her name appeared on a list associated with gun cross hairs published by the most prominent member of the Tea Party. An Internet Conservative Encyclopedia recently published an article (now removed from their site) reminding people that, constitutionally, if Democratic Senators in states with Republican Governors happened to be unable to complete their terms, it would fall to the Governor to appoint a replacement (which could be Republican).
    But let’s be careful not to allocate any responsibility to Giffords’ political opponents. Right!

  20. The Communist Manifesto is libertarian? Really?
    Or Mein kampf (however it’s spelled, I really could care less).

    The rhetoric is not the issue here. Not unless you want to excuse every crime committed by anyone as being a result of “rhetoric.”

    Anything can be taken too far or misinterpreted.
    Looking at this woman, who would want to kill her? Even a right-wing nutjob would be unlikely to single her out. She’s a truly moderate Democrat…could he have seen her political motivation as being a betrayal of the socialist utopian end result? …duscuss amongst yourselves…

  21. Ah, the memories come flooding back. At the risk of outing myself I can remember one of Gingrich’s lists of terms to tar and feather liberals with in draft form, and one of them was “traitor.” It was one of the mileposts on the way to my deciding that the GOP was not for me.

  22. One of the most significant after-effects of this whole debacle is the fall-out over how we outsiders view US politics.

    Y’see, after the deafeningly loud election period you guys had, politics in the US seem to be nominally rational. Sure, you have those Tea Party folks, but they only make the international news on the odd occasion. Overall, though, it seems like the US is less terrifying / bewildering / foreign than it was, say, four-to-eight years ago.

    That has just gone through a bit of a backslide. Now you’re in the ‘countries where politicians incite people to shoot their opponents’ category. Whoops.

  23. I agree that violent rhetoric is probably a bad idea. However, as you correctly pointed out it has been in use for centuries, and not just in politics but even in friendly gaming.

    More to the point, however, is that the political “right”, or “conservatives”, do not own a monopoly on “violent” or warlike rhetoric. As just a couple of minor examples HERE illustrate, if we assume that rhetoric is the culprit, then the “left” is also culpable. There are many other examples, I don’t expect just those to sway anybody. But I am weary of the pot calling the kettle black.

  24. So let me get this straight.

    Even if this guy had nothing to do with the Tea Party and first started obsessing about Rep. Giffords in 2007 before there was a Tea Party or anyone had heard of Sarah Palin, it is still somehow all down to the rhetoric of the Tea Party and Palin?

  25. Thanks for the update, and I hope my use of crazy wasn’t misunderstood as a slant against people with mental disorders or illnesses, as I was using it to describe the behaviour of some one who was not behaving or thinking in a rational way. But I see how that could be easily misunderstood, so if the future I will attempt to better clarify my thoughts.

  26. I’ve noticed, just as an aside here, that when someone writes “So let me get this straight,” they very often mean “So let me take this opportunity to recast a point in a manner which has little to do with how it was originally presented, but which I find useful for my own rhetorical purposes.”

  27. . If your political messaging traffics in rhetoric heavy on gun imagery and revolution of the overthrow-y sort, then when someone shoots a congressperson who you opposed, then guess what: You get to spend some uncomfortable moments in the spotlight being asked if it’s not reasonable to suspect a connection between your rhetoric and the actions of a shooter targeting someone you’ve opposed.

    Fair point.

  28. Oh Billy. I would answer yiur question if it werent so obvious that you really just want the teabaggers to be able to continue publishing pictures of political opponents with crosshairs on them and make reference to second ammendment solutions without having to take any responsibility for their words, imagery, and symbols.

    I find it mockable that the party that so emphasizes personal responsibility is being completely iresponsible about its calls for murder. Seriously? It was “surveyors Crosses” not crosshairs? Yeah. Sure. Thats being totally resonsible right there.

    Not.

    It doesnt matter where this shooter got his ideas. The teabaggers and the palinites have shown their true, totally irresponsible, colors.

  29. Sorry, I guess the lack of a preview feature was my downfall… I meant to the link to say “This presumed link between psychiatric disorders and violence has become so entrenched in the public consciousness that the entire weight of the medical evidence is unable to shift it.”. I apologise to our host for the double post.

  30. I have a suggestion: We boycott Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and everything Michael Moore has said/done/filmed and any other political blowhard who stirs the political passions of the nation despite having less credibility or intelligence than Snooki has writing a novel. (Come on. Sean Hannity is just one layoff away from being little more than a guest host on Distorted View Daily. He got lucky.) Boycott them all until the 24-hour newshounds are forced to find something else to fill their time with.

    Here’s an idea. News. I seem to remember some guy named Cronkite reading it every night when I was a kid.

  31. I won’t comment on the shooter as we still don’t know a lot of clear info about him, but on the political rhetoric, more than Gingrich, I put it at the feet of another man, Rupert Murdoch. The Australian media magnate has made it his mission in life to buy up half the media in multiple countries and then not only hire personnel to deliver right wing rhetoric, but insist that employees do so, and that they convene with conservative lobbyists and Republicans to craft supposed news. He personally sicked the New York Post on the New York City Islamic center, denouncing those involved as terrorists, despite the fact that one of their chief sponsors is one of News Group’s biggest shareholders. He’s publicly admitted to trying to destroy various political candidates and the birther conspiracy would not have gotten half the media attention its crackpots got if it were not for Murdoch viewing them as a goldmine for a time, as have proponents of hate groups and religious extremists. And other media outlets then have to chase him, employing a lot of the same problems. Gingrich may have successfully launched the opponent on opponent style in the Statehouse, but Murdoch has almost single-handedly turned back the media to the yellow journalism of the 1800′s, especially in the U.S.

  32. Next person who makes the “the left calls for murder too”argument needs to show (1) a lefty political rally where the lefty candidate let supporters shoot guns as part of the rally or (2) a lefty politician calling for second ammendment solutions if their opponent wins.

    Otherwise further attempt to equate right wing apples to left wing oranges will be called the delusional nonsense it is.

  33. Billy,

    As I pointed out in the other thread, eliminationist rhetoric did not start with Palin and the Tea Party. The entire Bush administration had prominent right wing conservatives demonizing people who would not support the administration’s positions as unpatriotic and traitors. Let’s not pretend this tendency hasn’t existed in the Republican party for a good long time. Here, have some facts:

    Michael Reagan calling for Howard Dean to be arrested for treason in 2005.

    Michael Savage calling Madeline Albright a traitor in 2006.

    RE. Jim Bunning (R-KY) calling the NY Times treasonous and Melanie Morgan calling for the then editor Bill Keller to be gassed if convicted of treason (hey, a right wing fanatic who wants to put enemies in a gas chamber.. where have I seen that before?).

    Sorry, but the right wing of the US political spectrum has used violent, hate-filled rhetoric for a long time now and they cannot escape some responsibility for the environment they’ve created. Are the directly responsible for the shooter? No. He’s responsible for his actions. But would his delusions have focused on a Democratic congressperson who’d been targeted – literally – by the right wing? We can’t know, but it’s a more than fair question.

  34. People talk about the teabag people and Palin as evil etc for their little target poster when for years we have had leftists and dems all but wish for the death of Bush and for Cheney to drop dead from a heart attack.

  35. Surveyor’s crosses? Really? So how’s that “reload-y”, “target-y” political verbiage working for ya? Not so cute anymore? The fact that *any* of the extreme discourse pointed out in both Congresswoman threads has become acceptable (whether popularized by Limbaugh et. al, or by general media coverage), is so far beyond “disappointing” that it almost gives a reason behind why people are presently yeling at each other rather that participating in respectful social discourse — “gee, if the pros discuss things this way, so should I”.

    Meanwhile a 9 year old that might’ve had a significant positive influence is lost, as is a federal judge who’s only mistake was to stop in and see a friend — wrong place, wrong time. I mourn them both and hope Congresswoman Giffords makes a complete recovery.

    I don’t know about any of the rest of you, but I plan on calling out as “unacceptable” anyone or any party that continues to spew the extreme, violent rhetoric we’ve all been exposed to for the past few years. The person that disagrees with you is not the anti-Christ, is not the enemy, but is someone with a different (and possibly better) take on a given solution.

    And John, I think you can go back to George Wallace (likely earlier but then I’d be showing *my* age!) for extreme invective. Gingridge just codified it. And it was amazing how quickly it was trorted back out uring 9/11, when you were either a “patirot” or you were un-American.

  36. Um, that wa Gingrich, sorry about that (damn, that lack of a spell checker!) I’ve properly chastised myself…

  37. @35 Kat-
    I think you’ve touched on the root of the problem. Politicians will throw mud at each other. It’s what they do. The problem is that the press is not doing their job. They’re supposed to keep the politicians honest and civil. If they instead decide to focus on which celebrity is behaving badly this week, the politicians run wild.

    Jon Stewart said it best, I think: “…the way I explain it, is when you go to a zoo and a monkey throws feces, it’s a monkey. But when the zookeeper is standing right there and he doesn’t say, ‘Bad monkey’ — somebody’s gotta be the zookeeper.”
    http://www.npr.org/tablet/#story/?storyId=130321994

  38. rickg, as long as you want to reference the other thread, go over there and check the link on my post to the hundreds of hate filled death threats to George Bush by members of your party.

    And find the target maps of the Democrats shown here
    http://www.verumserum.com/?p=1364

  39. eviljwinter: Unfortunately I think “we’re” already doing that. I at least would be very surprised to discover that I had ever given money, even indirectly, to one of the people you list. Now how do you mean to persuade the people who have?

  40. John mentions that “Tea Party folks and their associates are the ones most on the defensive here”. To which I can only reply – well, of course – how could it be otherwise? They are being presented with a prototypical “have you quite beating your wife?” scenario. They are being accused. So there are two choices – defend yourself or pretend you didn’t hear the accusation. In this context, “defensiveness” is indicative of nothing but being on the receiving end of an accusation.

  41. “Mental illnesses”–as people keep referencing them–should not be lumped together (and in some contexts shouldn’t even be segregated as human beings are each uniquely dysfunctional). These illnesses or conditions are accursed snowflakes, like people (yes, I’m keeping the modifier of snowflakes to characterize people as is my misanthropic duty, hugs and kisses to the human race). Those with mental illness don’t murder or gravitate to violence any more or less than those without. Murder waits in the primal heart of every person. It only takes the right set of circumstances and environment to bring it out (no delusions required, reality works just fine). If the shooter is indeed mentally ill, that’s just one variable among many. You can address one variable, but cannot assign it all the blame so as to relieve other variables of accountability. Did that make sense? Hope so. I’m trying to.

    I apologize for the impulsive psychoanalysis of the videos in the previous post’s thread. It was out of place, much like its author.

  42. Teabagger attacks a man and rams his car for having a Obama bumper sticker:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5pdwTQ4xA8

    Palin tells people, “if you see an Obama bumper sticker, stop the driver”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8CYThB_EtY&feature=related

    John Boener tells Democrat Steve Drehouse who voted “yes” on healthcare reform, “you may be a dead man”. Palin says she wants people in Minnesota to be “armed and dangerous”. RNC chairman Steele says he’s getting Nancy Pelosi “ready for the firing line”. Republican George Peterson (Republican) at a political rally reads the defintion of “revolution” as “forcable overthrow”.

    The video lists a number of democrat politicians who recieved death threats, including Giffords. A pair of Tea party members posted what they thought was the address of Congressman Perriello’s address, encouraging tea party members to “drop by”. The Congressman’s gas line was severed after that.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr-0088ZLno

    Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle discussing “second ammendment remedies” and “taking Harry Reid out”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQPBtFJzhnU

    Tea Party candidate Sharon Angle on whether there will be a violent revolution says “anything is possible”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwPEULV0qco

    Rep Steve Cohen during an interview says Tea Party is violent and dangerous. To prove him wrong, he recieves a number of death threats from Tea Party defenders. The FBI investigated.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZ2lFIH3wE4&feature=related

    Senator Murry was threatened by a man “there’s a target on your back now. … Now that you’ve passed health care bill, let the violence begin”. and “I want to fucking kill you”.

    He was arrested for death threats.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZ2lFIH3wE4&feature=related

    In an attempt to distance the Republican party from Tea Party, O’Reilly says that majority of Tea party members are NOT republicans. and plays a clip from Cohen.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlP6CDFLQhc&NR=1&feature=fvwp

    Rick Barber candidate for Congress runs an ad showing him talking to the Foundingn Fathers and ends with Jefferson saying “gather your armies”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iQ7ZDUutU4

  43. Cormac @12 – did you read point 3? John succinctly points out the dangers of unprofessional internet diagnoses and conflating “crazies” with “violently homicidal”.

  44. John I’m unclear why you think Tea Party or the right should be on the defensive here. Democrats have used similar maps with bulls eyes on them, apparently to far less publicity. It’s not even a matter of “they did it too” as that neither the gunsight or the bullseye were intended to stir up violence, so both party’s maps should be considered not guilty. I watched the Sunday morning coverage all day today and it was all about the “climate of heated political rhetoric,” specifically coming from the right. Really just the right? I think eventually we’ll find out that the “climate of heated political rhetoric” had nothing to do with this shooting. Speculation, sure, but based on the crazed internet offerings of the shooter, there is a lot more evidence of him just being from the party of crazy than a Sarah Palin/Tea Party inspired assassin.

  45. lil mike @51, can you document that “Democrats have used similar maps with bulls eyes on them, apparently to far less publicity.” claim, please? Billy Quiets @44′s link goes to a blog post titled “Satanic ‘Prank’ Ends Badly For The Goat”, which wins the Internet Award for Most Amusing Headline today, but isn’t germane to the discussion.

  46. MuleFace @47: “Defend yourself” can cover a wide spectrum of things other than “Nuh UH, you did it TOO-OO” and “Look, a monkey!” (the latter being the bullshit ‘it wasn’t really a crosshairs’ post to which our host linked).

    There are plenty of Tea Party members and officials who never used eliminationist rhetoric. “We have never, ever said it was funny or a good idea to physically harm those with whom we disagree” is all the defense those folks need. But there are specific public figures who made veiled and not-so-veiled references to using baseball bats and guns to get their political way. People are not angry at Sarah Palin because she is a Tea Party favorite, but because she used eliminationist language to stir up her fans. People are not criticizing Ann Coulter because she hates feminists, but because she has said that the only way to talk to a liberal is with a baseball bat.

    It’s not that “The Left” is inherently more virtuous; it’s that the poison has been flowing from one particular subset of the political spectrum. Scrambling for examples of ‘well liberals are mean too’ is not the same as condemning that poison. It’s not “yes, and”; it’s trying to excuse people one admires by spreading blame around.

  47. There’s been a lot of talk about Loungher’s reading list. Nobody’s noticed “We The Living”, probably because it is not one of Ayn Rand’s more known books. Now, if it had been “Atlas Shrugged”, I’m sure it would have rung bells right away.
    But what a disservice to “Peter Pan”, …unless, of course, you’ve read “The Child Thief”.

  48. Clarification on the first sentence of #49:

    (and in some contexts shouldn’t even be segregated as human beings are each uniquely dysfunctional)

    I meant “mental illnesses” segregated from what society would perceive as a healthy condition of mind, not from each other obviously, as this would contradict what I said before it and elicit an internal WTF. I probably did anyway. I have that gift.

    Anyway, as you were…

  49. Billy: go over there and check the link on my post to the hundreds of hate filled death threats to George Bush by members of your party

    Seriously? Every picture I saw was pictures of individuals at rallies. I didn’t see a single Left leaning candidate call for second ammendment solutions. I didn’t see an elected democrat politician calling for someone’s murder if they pass a bill they didn’t like.

    And that’s exactly the same as actual violence? Exactly the same as political leaders calling for violence and murder?

    I have a post waiting in moderation on this thread that has a bunch of URL’s to various videos showing teabagging candidates calling for violence and murder and teabagging individuals commiting actual violence.

    Apples and oranges, man. Apples and oranges.

  50. Cormac #12:

    The gun is just a gun. It’s a machine. Just like a car, airplane, or baseball bat, it isn’t going to make normal people into killers any more than the lack of a gun will prevent a violent or homicidal person from killing…it may make it easier to commit a crime, but it will just as easily allow an ordinary person to step up and stop something like this from going past the first shot or two.
    If he’d used a steak knife to kill 6 people, would we hear calls for the end of cutlery? No.

    The difference between a steak knife, a car, an airplane, and a baseball bat is that they are designed for something other than killing people. Is there another use for a gun other than harming or killing people and animals? Only in the hands of Homer Simpson.

    I know that you said that people can be killed by other things, but it takes a great amount of skill to pull off, especially in large numbers. By allowing semiautomatic handguns and riffles to be owned by civilians, we are just making our streets less safe.

    There are two legitimate reasons for civilians to own guns, hunting (which I refuse to call a sport until the deer shoot back) and self defense. If you need a semiautomatic gun for either of these reasons, you are a bad shot and are just as likely to shoot the wrong person.

    The problem with the debate over gun ownership is that the side who opposes limitations on gun ownership are relying on the slippery slope argument too much. They argue that if you take away the right to own the guns that are designed to kill lots of people at once, you are taking away the right to own the guns designed for legitimate use. It is time to call out that argument for the bull that it is.

  51. Lil Mike:

    “John I’m unclear why you think Tea Party or the right should be on the defensive here.”

    Really? What part of “If your political messaging traffics in rhetoric heavy on gun imagery and revolution of the overthrow-y sort, then when someone shoots a congressperson who you opposed, then guess what: You get to spend some uncomfortable moments in the spotlight being asked if it’s not reasonable to suspect a connection between your rhetoric and the actions of a shooter targeting someone you’ve opposed” are you having problem with? Because, I don’t know, I thought that was pretty clear.

    Beyond that, even if Democratic/Liberal politicians indulged in plastering shooting targets on the candidates of other parties (or their districts) — I’m waiting for a cite from this last political cycle for such a thing — no one has shot congressional representatives from those districts in the back of the head at close range. And so in this particular case, the correlation falls on the Tea Party/GOP and not the Democrats.

    Now, perhaps it seems unfair to you that people appear to be making a correlation between the gun-happy political rhetoric and advertising of Rep. Giffords’ political adversaries and the fact she was apparently targeted by the shooter, and the attempted assassination attempt involved a firearm, and that the Tea Party/GOP should be on the defensive about it. Or perhaps you simply disagree with it. Both of which are fine. But to suggest that you’re unclear about it strikes me as a willful attempt not to understand the situation.

    To be clear yet again, I don’t see an association between the shooter’s actions, and the political rhetoric we’ve lately indulged in. I do see people using the shooting as an opportunity to ask if the political rhetoric we’ve indulged in recently has gone too far. As the Tea Party/GOP indulges in this sort of rhetoric, it’s fair to confront them about it — and anyone else who uses it. Should the Tea Party/GOP be defensive about it? I think yes — not because I think it’s responsible for the shooting, but because I think it’s responsible for making our political discourse that much more stupid and coarse. I don’t think they’re the only ones, but given the circumstances, they get to be the first in the spotlight.

  52. From mythago@54

    “it’s that the poison has been flowing from one particular subset of the political spectrum”. Um, well….I’m sure you really, really, really believe that. You didn’t spend much time at Lefty blogs during the Dubya Admin, did you?

  53. “…There are two legitimate reasons for civilians to own guns, hunting (which I refuse to call a sport until the deer shoot back) and self defense. If you need a semiautomatic gun for either of these reasons, you are a bad shot and are just as likely to shoot the wrong person…”
    What if you are attacked by a large group of people? Then you need more than a gun… maybe a semiautomatic or a full automatic will be better. There is no legitimate reason in the self defense if you put boundaries on the law. On the other side, the hunting. There are limited places where you can hunt… why let the people have their guns outside those places.
    This is not a question of freedom (and never was). There a lot of places where you can’t smoke but you can carry your gun loaded. So, you are free to bear arms but not to bear cigars?.
    If that guy had not got a gun maybe there were not deads at all, just some wounds.

    Excuse my poor english, It’s just a few months since I began to write in it.

  54. Well, when Sharron Angle talked about second ammendment solutions and said people will want to “take Harry Reid out”, maybe she meant out… “to dinner”… and eat… deep fried bear arms?

  55. Billy – Show me the prominent liberal commentators – people with the reach of a Savage or Reagan or Beck – who’ve called for Bush’s death. Don’t show me some loon who has zero influence. Note that Gifford herself called out Palin’s PAC for threats and incitement. Note that the ad run by Gifford’s opponent invited people out *to a gun range* for a rally and pictured him kicked back with an M-16. Your side published books calling liberals traitors (Coulter’s Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism among others) then you whine when people insist you take responsibility.

  56. You know, it would be nice if people were more interested in getting their own people to stop violent rhetoric then they were complaining how the other side does it too. The latter just creates a vicious cycle that will take the country down with it. The only way this garbage will stop is if people start calling people on their own side to account.

  57. rickg show me where Reagan or Beck or any other prominent conservative commentator called for Obama’s death.

    Are you cracked?

    You know and I know that Palin did not want anyone dead, and if you don’t then you are living in a fantasy world.

  58. Yeah the left tends to go with mockery rather than violence, just recently in the UK a Government Minister (right-wing by UK standards) was also the subject of an attack at a political reception. The attack wasn’t with bullets though, it was with a cream pie.

  59. MuleFace @61: Which prominent Democratic politicians were posting eliminationist rhetoric at these “lefty blogs”? Which national liberal pundits were telling their followers that they should exercise “Second Amendment remedies” if another Republican president was elected? We want to know to condemn these people, after all, and if Rachel Maddow was muttering about violent revolution, or if John Edwards was exhorting Democrats to “reload” and putting bullseyes on contested states, that shoudl be publicized so that decent people can excoriate them.

    See, even if we’re going to play the game of comparing Glenn Beck and Shannon Angle to “some random guy posting at HuffPo”, the liberal hysteria *I* remember most strongly during President Bush’s tenure was “OMFG going to Canada kthx”. Not, “let’s remind them that liberals have half the money and all of the guns”.

    P.S.: I’m a Republican. So if’ you’d like to wallow in politics as team sport, where whatever I do is OK and whatever you do is wrong, because it’s all about my team winning, I’m afraid you may wish to direct that usefully elsewhere.

  60. To #66

    Yes, the same fantasy world where Sara Palin lives.
    A world where a representative can put a marksman sign in an oponent and be responsible for nothing.
    A world where Evolution is just a theory.
    A world where politicians dig in the garbage to discredit their opponents just to get another vote.

  61. to #69 you mean the world where the “journalists” buy the house next door to Palin to spy on her. A world where comedians joke about her 13 year old daughter getting knocked up by adult baseball players. A world where Man Made Global Warming is not just a theory, but the word of God. A world where political opportunists will use a tragedy to discredit their opponents just to get another vote.

  62. Joan:

    What if you are attacked by a large group of people? Then you need more than a gun… maybe a semiautomatic or a full automatic will be better.

    How many people do you expect to attack you? If you are somewhere in America where you will be attacked by six or more armed people, then you made a serious mistake before that moment.

    I think that the rest of your post is agreeing with my position.

    The point that I am trying to get across is that we need a mature and honest discussion about the role of guns in America. The Republican Party has been too happy to play to the small percent of gun owners who think that the government is here to take away all their guns. In the debate for the Republican National Committee Chair, one of the questions was “How many guns do you own?” How that answer affects a person’s ability to raise money is not something I want to think about.
    This pandering is the source of all the imagery that people have been digging up for the past two days.

    Boy, I feel like I hijacked this thread. I will surrender my AK-47 and go peacefully.

  63. @mythago:

    You’re a Republican? Congratulations. I’m not. You’ve missed the point. If you want to believe that the Tea Party is some uniquely pernicious & violent group of people, have at it. Obviously, nobody is going to move you. Moooooving on…

  64. I decided quite a while ago, simply to clarify my own personal convictions on the matter, that leaders who engaged in extremist rhetoric and demonized those with whom they disagreed, were responsible if their words were the catalyst for violence or threats of violence — even if they themselves did not expressly call for violent acts and even if the ultimate actors were simply “nutjobs” on the fringe of the group. The leaders had a responsibility to be aware of how their words might be perceived, and they would be negligent if they used their words carelessly.

    Ironically, it was a rather heated discussion thread here on Whatever — and the resulting emails sent to a former regular poster — that helped me to crystallize my thinking on the matter.

  65. MuleFace @73: At least do me the credit of being able to recognize “Look! A monkey!’ when it jumps up and asks me if I have any spare bananas. In response to your assertion about ‘lefty blogs’ I asked you for specifics about eliminationist rhetoric coming from Democrats and/or liberal pundits during the previous administration. Rather than provide those specifics, you reply that I’m being mean to the Tea Party.

    In other words, it’s not a matter of missing your point. It’s a matter of noting that “oh yeah well what about that Kos guy’s blog huh?!” is not a very good point.

  66. rickg show me where Reagan or Beck or any other prominent conservative commentator called for Obama’s death.

    And thus, by proving a negative, BIlly Quiets proves the Teabagger Party is really nothing misunderstood peace loving peaceniks.

    I realize that I just provide a link that showed “John Boener tells Democrat Steve Drehouse who voted “yes” on healthcare reform, “you may be a dead man”. Palin says she wants people in Minnesota to be “armed and dangerous”. RNC chairman Steele says he’s getting Nancy Pelosi “ready for the firing line”. Republican George Peterson (Republican) at a political rally reads the defintion of “revolution” as “forcable overthrow”.” but the moving goalpost now is…. showing Reagan calling for Obama’s death.

    Uh, right.

    My favorite I think is Rep Steve Cohen saying teabaggers are dangerous and then receiving death threats from teabaggers trying to prove him wrong.

    And a couple of tea bagger candidates invoking second ammendment solutions, saying someone will “take … out” their opponent, and saying the only reason the Founding Fathers revolted was because of a Tea tax, and saying the proper response to the current political landscape is “gather your armies”.

  67. #58 Chris S –

    The difference between a steak knife, a car, an airplane, and a baseball bat is that they are designed for something other than killing people. Is there another use for a gun other than harming or killing people and animals? Only in the hands of Homer Simpson.

    The world seems to be a different place in my eyes.

    Olympic medals. Other trophies. Some firearms, especially some of those designed for competitions, are little better than very expensive clubs for attacking either humans, varmints, or game animals.

    Self-defense against wild animal attack. Yes, if you live in the city you mostly only have to worry about bedbugs. Out in the wild countryside, there are creatures like bears and cougars that think humans are lunch with tough skin.

    Self-defense against human attack. Killing isn’t always necessary; sometimes the sound of the gun being racked is enough to convince them to run away, a much better solution than shooting them, which is very noisy and makes a horrible mess and smell, as well as excessive paperwork.

  68. Yes, sorry John, I’ll get back to the topic.

    I do feel compelled by all of the commentary here to defend the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.
    Not because they had anything to do with the shooting, but because so many of you want so much for that to be the case.

    It’s pointless though. Nothing I say is going to change the mind of someone who really believes that the Tea Party is a bunch of violent gun nuts who want to see Democrats murdered.

    “Eliminationist rhetoric” This party line already has it’s own brand, I see. Well good luck. It may play well here where 90% of the group are tried and true liberals, but i think the actual motivation behind the attacks will be more important to most of America.

  69. Greg @50: Let’s not forget none other than Ted Nugent telling “piece of shit” Obama and Barbara Boxer to “suck on” his machine gun, and for “worthless bitch” Hillary to ride his machine gun “into the sunset”.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=757_1187963465

    But of course The Nuge doesn’t mean anyone should actually shoot any of them, because that would be crazy, Why would anyone get that impression?

  70. To Kevin, #53. The DLC has used a bullseye map.

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

    Does this mean the Democratic Leadership Council is engaged in eliminationist rhetoric targeting Republicans? My own State has a bulls eye on it? Am I in danger? Should I be worried? The Democratic Congressional Committee used one as well, although they seemed to have scrubbed their site. However there are plenty of sites that had captured it. Silly me, when the Democrats were “targeting” my State, I assumed they meant in a political sense. Apparently there seems to have been a darker purpose. Now I’m really worried about the 2012 campaign. “Campaign?” A military term if I’ve ever heard it…

    For John: Based on the news information I have now (and admittedly that could change) Jared Loughner doesn’t seem to have any recognizable left/right political agenda. I’m not sure what Tea Party reading list incudes Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto. If I wanted to try to assign a political bent to Loughner, than per the New York Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/us/politics/09shooter.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

    “As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy,” the former classmate, Caitie Parker, wrote in a series of Twitter feeds Saturday. “I haven’t seen him since ’07 though. He became very reclusive.”

    “He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in ’07, asked her a question & he told me she was ‘stupid & unintelligent,’ ” she wrote.

    However regardless of what ideology (if any) Loughner has, at this point in the investigation, Occam’s razor would tend to point with the suspect as just being crazy.

    If you have a connection between “gun happy political rhetoric” and Loughner’s motives, I would be glad to hear it. Otherwise, it seems you’ve already made up your mind, no evidence required.

  71. Billy, as far as the Democrat website having bullseyes on republican states, here’s the difference between someone like me and a teabagger defending Palin’s rifle crosshairs on the picture of Democratic politicians:

    The Democratic website will likely be responsible for their imagery and remove it. They will not want someone to take their imagery as calling for the murder of republican politicans. If the website hasn’t cleaned up their imagery already, people like me who support the Democrat party will likely email them and ask them to take it down as inappropriate.

    Teabaggers, on the other hand, aren’t calling for teabagger websites to clean up their imagery or clean up their rhetoric.

    No. teabaggers have done nothing to actively take responsibility for any of their imagery, language, or symbolism. Instead, they have spent all their free time digging around Democrat websites trying to invoke “et tu” fallacies.

    But Teabagger philosophy I think can be summed up with the little story about teabaggers and Congressmen Perriello. Teabaggers published what they though was the congressman’s home address and said that other teabaggers should “drop by”. Turned out it wasn’t his address. But the house at that address had its gas line severed.

    And this is how I see that incident. I think Teabagger philosophy looks at that incident and insists that the poeple publishing the addressing and suggesting that other teabaggers “drop by” have no responsibility that someone else followed the suggestion and dropped by and cut the gas line. It’s sort of a weird, perverted extension of the “there is no such thing as society” notion. If a teabagger says “someone ought to murder John Doe at 123 Main St, Anytown, USA”, and then a day or two later, someone does just that, the teabagger who posted the address and suggestion will think they have no responsibility for what happened.

    A teabagger thinks they are responsible for their actions and that the responsibiilty for their words ends at someone else’s ears.

    The legality of it all is a separate issue. Whether someone is convictable for their words because of someone acting on those words is not the same as whether they have some moral sense of responsibility for their actions.

    A teabagger thinks they can say anything at all they want and they have no moral responsibility for the actions of others whatsoever even if their words are acted upon to the letter and someone ends up murdered.

    That’s exactly what happened here with Gifford. A bunch of people spoke rhetoric and images and symbols showing and calling for the murder of a democratic politician. And someone went and murdered that politician. And the people spewing the rhetoric are doing everything in their power to retain their “right” to continue spewing calls for murder and not be responsible fi anyone follows up on it.

    Democratic websites will take down the bullseyes. If they don’t people like me will contact them and request they take it down. Teabagger websites aren’t neccessarily changing their rhetoric. And individual teabaggers are howling with rage that dems do it to, that this guy may be a liberal nut, that he wasn’t in contact with any teabagger or right winger, that he was a lone wolf. They are saying everything but to say one simple thing: that they have any responsibility for their words. Teabaggers want to reserve the right to call for murder in language and symbols and rhetoric without being responsibile in any way if anyone actually acts on their words.

    ANd if anything good were to come out of this senseless killing, it would be that America sees teabaggers for the irresponsible bunch of hacks that they are. That teabaggers do everything in their power to insist that they have the right to call for murder and have no responsibility if anyone acts on it. The more I look at all this, the more it seems that teabaggers look at this philosophy as perfectly natural. And the more this becomes obvious to the rest of the world, the more the world will feel repugnant towards people who hold this heinous view.

    So, Billy, I don’t really care if “dems do it to”. I will guess they have already changed their language and if they haven’t people like me will demand they do. The only question I’m really interested in is this: If teabagger candidates call for “second ammendment solutions” in the future, will you immediately condemn them or not? If a teabagger releases teh address of a democratic politician and suggests other teabaggers “stop by” will you immediately condemn them or not?

    Because of all the things you’ve said on these threads, the thing you have never said is that this sort of behaviour exhibited by teabaggers in the past is irresponsible and the teabagger party should call for it to end. And that’s something that the teabagger party as a whole has NOT condemned to this day as far as I’m aware. Oh sure, they may condemn the violence. But they continue the violent rhetoric. They continue to hold that they have no responsibility for their words.

    ANd the longer the teabagger party tries to avoid manning up to being responsible for their words, the more people are going to see just how violent and repugnant the teabagger party really is.

    So, as a member of that party, are you going to demand they stop their violent rhetoric or not?

  72. Billy @78; If you have a more accurate term than “eliminationist rhetoric” for suggestions that one’s political opponents ought to be beaten, attacked and killed for their despicable political views, feel free to share it with us.

    On the one hand, you scold people for imagining bad faith on the part of those with whom you feel political sympathy. On the other hand, you are quite happy to accuse others of bad faith and wonder aloud at what they’re really thinking – which, of course, is a rather blatant statement that they’re liars, because they say X but really want Y.

  73. Billy: I do feel compelled by all of the commentary here to defend the Tea Party and Sarah Palin. Not because they had anything to do with the shooting,

    The point isnt whether this particular nutjob acted on teabagger rhetoric calling for murder. The point is whether the teabagger party can call for murder and have no moral responsibility if someone commits murder.

    The teabagger party seems to be doing everything in its power to maintain the right to call for murder without having any responsibility if someone commits murder. That their responsibility ends at someone else’s trigger finger. LIke publishign the home address of a politician and saying someone ought to “stop by” and then well, hey, if someone does stop by and cut the gas line, or murder the guy in his sleep, well, the teabagger party wasn’t morally responsible in any way.

    Doesn’t matter if this guy acted on Palin’s advice or Angle’s advice or any other right wing nut job advice. Teabaggers have spent the last year calling for murder and mayhem and murder and mayhem has occurred. ANd the Teabaggers sit back and shrug and say “hey, we didn’t pull the trigger, man. You can’t infring on my free speech”.

    If the teabagger party were an individual getting a psychological exam, the diagnosis would likely include sociopath.

  74. Greg @83: To be fair, Palin (or more accurately, someone on her staff) scrubbed her site of the “crosshair” map rather quickly after the shooting.

  75. @78, Billy

    Ever heard of the term “dog-whistle politics” (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Dog-whistle_politics)?

    So, little known story you might not know about but I’m terribly familiar with because it happened about thirty minutes from my house.

    A guy was stopped on Highway 580 by California Highway Patrol for speeding and driving erratically and was subsequently pulled over. During the traffic stop the police saw that there were fire-arms in the car and that the driver was armed. A shoot out happened and the suspect was hit and taken into custody. While there he admitted he was on his way to attack two liberal organizations, one of which was the Tides Foundation. http://www.ktvu.com/news/24327003/detail.html

    Seems that the shooter was a Glenn Beck fan, pictured him as a “school teacher”. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/10/california-shooter-glenn-beck-schoolteacher/

    Interestingly enough, Glenn Beck seems to have a problem with the Tides Foundation. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/30/AR2010073003254.html

    So, here’s the scenario. Glenn Beck goes on the air and talks about how evil the Tides Foundation (he admits that no one even knew who the TIdes Foundation was before he pointed them out in that last link), how they’re a threat to capitalism, how they’re the “enemy”, how they’re coming to destroy the way of life in America with them and all their liberal enemies. The framing of the Tides Foundation as a threat, as an enemy, and how you, the viewer, should know about them, know to look out for them, because something has to be done. Now, Beck doesn’t ever say what that something is and is very careful not to make any suggestions but that doesn’t change the fact that when you start framing someone as an enemy, you want to defend yourself from them. And, well, what do people who aren’t rational do when they are faced with an enemy? The react irrationally, such as a man loading up his car, driving down 580, to go take out those liberals before they can do any more harm to the US.

    Abortion doctors and clinics weren’t being killed or blown up immediately after the passage of Roe V. Wade because it took time for people framing such people as murderers of children, of threats to society and the unborn, to sink into the minds of those people who would do such violence. Meanwhile, those responsible for such messages can say with all apparent honesty “But I never *told* them to go out and kill that person and isn’t so just *tragic*?” Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck don’t *need* to tell people to go out kill other people because the unhinged will take that logical (or illogical) cognitive leap themselves.

  76. Another possible motivation (as well as a possible connection to some of Loughner’s favorite books): According to

    http://www.examiner.com/democrat-in-national/dhs-links-arizona-shooter-loughner-with-white-supremacist-american-renaissance

    “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a memo linking Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shooter Jared Lee Loughner with the anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, white supremacist hate group American Renaissance….American Renaissance releases a monthly publication that promotes a variety of white racial positions. The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), and anti Semitic, according to the memo which goes on to point out that Congressman Giffords is the first Jewish female elected to high office in Arizona.”

    I have not done any research as to the reliability of the web site (which cites a Fox News blog as its source), but it is an interesting theory.

  77. @Mythago – thanks for proving me right. Inflamed rhetoric has long existed on every which ever side throughout the history of American politics. Chekc these out:
    http://www.amazon.com/Presidential-Campaigns-George-Washington-Bush/dp/0195167163/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1294632938&sr=1-1
    http://www.slate.com/id/2280616/pagenum/all/

    I don’t think you really want to live in a nation that would censor political speech. You just can’t resist seizing on an incident to attack those whom you dislike, no matter how ridiculous the “connection” you want to draw.

  78. @82, Mike

    Re: the DLC’s map

    There is a difference between using a target for a non-entity such as a state and using it for an individual person. For one, as shocking as this may come, but I don’t think the great state of Nevada needs to be put in fear of being shot. Secondly, the tone of the article is clearly general about the state, not framing a particular person as an enemy. It’s a false equivalency.

  79. I only want to comment on your friend’s concerns about demonizing those with mental illness: I’m a licensed mental health practitioner with almost 20 years in practice, and I’d like to give a hearty “here, here” to your comments. I’ve been working with people with various illnesses and in various persona circumstances, including in a maximum security psychiatric prison and a high-close security psych hospital. Despite what the talking heads would have you believe, you can’t properly diagnose a person or identify their motivations after hearing a few statements or reading a few sentences, no matter how experienced you are.

    Saying that this fellow is representative of individuals with some sort of mental symptoms is like saying that someone with ebola is representative of individuals with colds, since both disorders are caused by viruses. There’s just no comparison.

    And don’t get me started on the whole “but he’s insane” thing. Insanity is a concept that has no psychiatric/psychological meaning – it’s purely a legal term. (Those of you who don’t believe me, toddle off to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IV-TR” and try to find it.) And it certainly has no application to the majority of individuals who experience psychiatric symptoms.

  80. @htom

    I did remember target shooting too late. You are correct that there is another use for guns. However, I don’t remember seeing a .50 cal at a biathlon.

    You’re also right that killing in self defense isn’t always necessary, and it’s never desirable. My point is that you don’t need large or fast guns for self defense.

    You’re also right that I haven’t had to woory about fendind off a wild cougar attack. Again, I want a mature discussion about gun use in America (and I am glad that our discussion has been mature). So, how many rounds per minute should a gun shoot to effectively defend yourself against a pack of predators? (And I don’t mean the Schwarzenegger kind.)

  81. Lil Mike #82: “If you have a connection between “gun happy political rhetoric” and Loughner’s motives, I would be glad to hear it. Otherwise, it seems you’ve already made up your mind, no evidence required.”

    John can answer for himself, but you are once again completely missing the point he is making and it would seem to be deliberately so. Scalzi has stated the opposite of a connection between violent rhetoric and the shooter’s motives. What he has said is that the incident is making everyone consider the dangers of exhorting people to violence and that because the far right called for Gifford’s head, they will be the ones in the spotlight first, having what far right elected officials, political leaders and political media pundits said examined. And so far, in that spotlight, they’ve flunked. Saying that other people besides far right figures use violent rhetoric does not justify the far right’s violent rhetoric, in the same way that saying other people have in the past thrown a baseball through someone’s window does not justify your throwing a baseball through someone’s window. The far right is unwilling to consider criticism of what they have said, unwilling to say that they are wrong or should reconsider their actions, and unwilling to stop using violent rhetoric. Nobody should be using bullseye targets or gun crosshair trigger sites in political campaigns. Palin was wrong. The DNC was wrong. And instead of accepting that in the light of a tragedy, Palin’s team lies and after touting the trigger sites during the campaign now claims they aren’t gun sites at all. It doesn’t matter what party you are in, or if you are an independent. If you are in a position of leadership, doing rhetoric like Alan West telling supporters to make his opponent scared to come out of his own house is wrong. And we need to encourage politicians and prominent figures to refrain from using language like that, even if bloggers on the Net do. Palin has spent her post-governorship attacking everyone she can think of in an attempt to build a power base. She called for Gifford to be taken out and someone shot Gifford, so Palin of course is going to be the chief person scrutinized since she deliberately targeted Gifford. Whether the shooter hated Palin too or not, Palin was wrong and should promise to refrain from using violent rhetoric in the future. But she won’t. She’ll be back at it in another month, just as she has in previous incidents. Prominent figures in the tea movement, including Palin, called for violent attacks on politicians they didn’t like, Republican and Democrat. They were wrong to do so and it is this behavior that has caused a lot of the reputation of the tea movement for being for violence, because its declared leaders and supported politicians, like West, Angle, etc., have called for violence. If people in that movement don’t want that reputation, then they should have encouraged the people leading them and the candidates they campaigned for to leave out the rhetoric. Instead, you cheered them on. So yes, you all get to deal with the question, how could you have cheered on this violent rhetoric and encouraged your candidates to use it when something like Gifford’s shooting could happen? And any Democrat or Republican politician or candidate using that language is going to be facing the same issue in the two years to come. But Palin aimed it at Gifford and Gifford was shot, so she’s first up. And the Pima Co. Sherrif? He’ll get death threats for pointing out that violent political rhetoric is wrong by people who feel criticism of violent rhetoric is a worse crime than violence itself.

    The argument made about the 2nd amendment, which is constitutionally faulty, is not that we need guns. It’s that we should have whatever type of gun we want, as many as we want, so that if we feel like overthrowing the government at any time and shooting cops and soldiers, we can. And for the last two years, leading figures have been telling people that the time has come for overthrowing the government and starting a civil war. And so we’ve had people trying to do so — flying a plane into a tax building, shooting up the Holocaust Museum, sending bombs to political offices, etc. And we’ve had a lot of people brandishing firearms and talking about 2nd amendment remedies — civil war, revolution, shooting their neighbors for disagreeing with them. That’s not a well armed militia and it isn’t democracy. It’s mob rule and intimidation. It’s threatening political candidates to drop out of races and to shut up on legislation. And the tea movement has been in the thick of that rhetoric and the political candidates it supports and campaigned for have been using this violent rhetoric, not just in isolated examples, but repeatedly and prominently. So yeah, when a Congresswoman gets shot, the question then comes up — are you going to keep talking this way? Are you going to keep exhorting people to take up arms against their country, shoot their neighbor, settle political disagreements with violence, with guns and baseball bats? Can you talk about conflicts and issues only in military and violent terms and metaphors? The answer only if the other guy stops too is not sufficient.

  82. #92 Chris S.

    This is really off topic. “It is best,” says the Sage, “not to be attacked; however, if ….”

    And the answer is, it depends on a huge number of things, only a very few of which are ever in your control at all. Maybe Scalzi can send you my email.

  83. Stupid rhetorical question-
    “If no one was meant to be influenced by political ads then what would be the point of them?” -or-
    “If incendiary speech has no value, why use it?”

    This seems to make the defense of said speech on the grounds that it does not matter highly suspect. If it wasn’t meant to raise people’s ire, to get them really worked up, if it wasn’t effective, then people wouldn’t use it.

    To say that it has a better chance of getting people worked up towards violence especially if there are claims to 2nd amendment use of force vs. saying lets beat them up at the polls is a relevant difference. There is also a difference between saying “I’d like to see someone dead”, and doing it while holding a firearm.

    As far as the shooter goes, it appears that however in their own political camp they might have been, there was still a message out there that even if they didn’t believe in the goals of those many people who used incendiary language they still might of got the message that such means were still acceptable.

    Cormac- the reason we really have a right to arms is because guns in the hands of citizens do kill people. It is for a well regulated militia that may be needed against tyranny either domestic or foreign. To use a gun for any other legal use is actually a nice happenstance- a beneficial but secondary good. Consider that the use of a firearm not in defense, but as an attack against the law, or against a just duly elected state might be the among the most perverse abuses of ones rights as one might come across. To be a gun owner is to sit in the exit row of democracy. It actually requires more responsibility than less and the use of a gun in a crime could very well amount to a sense of treason against that state. There is a very real and important difference between those sorts of weapons and other items we might use dangerously.

    John- I hope I am not sure if I am veering dangerously off topic, but there were enough posts that this seemed relevant.

  84. @91, christy –

    Re: “He’s Crazy”

    I blame the entertainment industry. When an author can’t come up with a remotely plausible motive for a character, s/he just says “S/He’s crazy”. So your Average Person, who gets most of their “knowledge” of such things from entertainment TV, thinks that a “crazy person” can do anything at all.

    Sample dialog: “You … you’re *crazy*”. “Yeah! Ain’t it *cool*!”

    No different from anything else on TV, after all. For example, I’d be terrified to drive in Hollywood — everybody carries a gallon of gasoline and a quarter-stick of dynamite on their back seat (at least according to TV …)

  85. @Bryan:

    You’re really not getting it, are you? I decry any candidate or party who thinks bat-shit gun imagery and violent rhetoric is any way to secure a vote worth having. Always have, always will.

    Sadly, I lack our host’s Jedi-mastery of snark, but do I have to bust out the interpretive dance before you get it?

  86. BTW,even if it is true “they do it too” and/or “they did it first” as a justification for douche-baggery is unacceptable from a child in my house. Obviously, there are more than a few alleged adults whose mileage really does vary by a significant margin.

  87. The fact that candidates hold guns is not a bad thing.

    The fact that candidates go hunting is not a bad thing (well, unless you’re against such things).

    It’s the use of such weapons in the political rhetoric. Was she holding that rifle as part of a political event aimed at “defeating her opponent” by shooting said weapon? Did she talk about how she was going to set her sights on her opponent and then blow them away?

    Sounds like you’re reaching for a false equivalency.

  88. After reading the previous thread and the current one, as well as similar discussions on my own company’s forums, I want to make a couple of comments:

    1) My thoughts are with the victims of this shooting and their families, friends, and others who have been influenced by them. I wish all injured parties a speedy, full recovery.

    2) I’m utterly, utterly dismayed by the polarization of politics over the last couple of decades, and the increasingly strident rhetoric and obstinate tactics used by members of both parties. They’re so focused on scoring rhetorical points and making sure their opponents don’t, they’ve forgotten that they’re supposed to be doing what WE want to get done. If we can’t find a way to make them listen to us, then things are only going to get worse.

    3) The problem seems to be that the loudest voices are always the ones farthest from the center, which only exacerbates the problem. Those of us who think that compromise is a valuable political technique, and that we’d be better served having open, honest discussions with our political opponents than trying to shout them down, don’t seem to have many champions in the District these days.

  89. The “they do it, too!” gambit w.r.t. Republican/Democrat violent rhetoric is equivalent to watching a basketball game where the score is currently 98-17 and exclaiming “Gee–it sure is a close one, isn’t it?” It isn’t, and insistence that it is fools nobody.

  90. I, for one, can’t wait to see how the securityheads will spin this one so that TSA agents will be authorized to rectally examine a fixed quotas of travellers, the Marines invade North Korea and anyone with an Arabic surname is put into labour camp. Seems kinda difficult at the moment, but I’m sure they’ll think of something.

  91. “Beyond that, even if Democratic/Liberal politicians indulged in plastering shooting targets on the candidates of other parties (or their districts) — I’m waiting for a cite from this last political cycle for such a thing — no one has shot congressional representatives from those districts in the back of the head at close range. And so in this particular case, the correlation falls on the Tea Party/GOP and not the Democrats.”

    John, your insistence that that it is entirely appropriate for Republicans/TeaPartyists to have their political language be held to a stricter standard of decency is a wee bit hypocritical since President Obama himself used rhetoric with violent imagery in 2008

    “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.”

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0608/Obama_brings_a_gun_to_a_knife_fight.html

    Overheated rhetoric and war-related imagery have been part and parcel of American political campaigns since the Pilgrims debated amongst themselves who would be elected chief dogcatcher. It’s nice that you are refraining from saying that Palin, Gringrich et al are directly responsible for Loughner’s attack, but it is sad to see you decry the usage of such rhetoric and imagery while indirectly suggesting that Republican rhetoric is responsible for possibly influencing the current events.

  92. @Christopher Shaffer: Do you have to miss the point John made with crystalline clarity, or is it totally irrelevant because you’ve already written your comment and don’t want to mess it up by engaging with what he actually wrote?

    Now please answer a simple direct question:

    Have any Republican Congressmen, Senators, officials or staffers been shot in the head at a public event recently? Yes or no. Not complicated.

    I’m also bemused that, hey, the Tea Party’s elaborate media operation – and the hundreds of millions spent by candidates every electoral cycle – have absolutely no influence on anyone. In that case, anyone who believes that load of bullshit and has cut a campaign contribution cheque should be pressing fraud charges. You got had.

  93. lil mike @ 82:

    I’d be careful around darts players if I were you.

    Oh, hey, John, where’s the preview button for comments?

  94. Fucking blockquotes, how do they work?

    …That’s what happens when you can’t preview your comment.

  95. There’s a bit of context missing here (apologies if it was brought up in the previous thread) which will, I hope, put any false equivalencies to rest. Loughen seems like a genuinely disturbed person, and of no known political ideology (although the Southern Poverty Law Center has suggested some of his writings may have been influenced by the right-wing political movement). The same, however, cannot be said of past killers Jim David Akisson, Richard Poplawski, Scott Roeder, James von Brunn, and attempted killer Byron Williams, all of whom cite having been influenced by (respectively) O’Reilly/Hannity/Goldberg, Glenn Beck, O’Reilly, unknown but he was a birther who wanted to kill David Axelrod, and Glenn Beck (there’s an astonishing, revelatory interview with Williams in which Williams himself spells out how Beck drove him to plot murder.

    http://mediamatters.org/research/201010110002

    At a certain point, it should have become clear–indeed, it may well have become clear–to Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, and Rush Limbaugh–not to mention Boehner & McConnell–that there were right-wing assassins murdering people they believed to be liberal, and that giving Glenn Beck a nationwide forum of millions to fantasize about assassinating Nancy Pelosi and Michael Moore was adding fuel to a dangerous fire. Ailes chose not to act, and I have heard only one condemnation of Glenn Beck from a Republican congressman–FORMER Congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina, whom his party cheerfully primaried. If its leaders have any decency, the Republican Party will issue an immediate statement condemning Beck, O’Reilly, Ailes, and Limbaugh by name and…

    oh, who the heck am I kidding? The Republican leadership, and its hugely influential right-wing hosts, seem to have decided they’re comfortable living in a world in which their fellow Americans get murdered while a free-floating orgy of hate speech eggs the murderers on. The question becomes, what can we do to stop it?

  96. Other Greg, all the people you name have been loud and proud in their denunciation of violence. I expect that if you listen to any of their shows today (the first time any of them have been on the air since it happened), you’ll hear the same thing. All of them have been fighting hard to stop the USA’s slide into disaster BEFORE things turned violent … because all of them understood that if the slide didn’t stop, things would turn violent, and it really would kill the country.

    To our host: I do think the current, predominant strain of it dates back to Newt Gingrich and his rhetorical policy of demonizing political opponents and their positions rather than allowing for the possibility that reasonable people might disagree.

    Robert Bork, 1987. Ronald Reagan, 1980-88. Clarence Thomas, 1991.

    This morning Glenn Reynolds linked to this: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/29/palin.noose/

    And then there’s this page from the Democratic Leadership Council using an icon of a target bullseye to mark ‘targeted’ states for the 2008 election: http://www.dlc.org/ndol_ci.cfm?contentid=253055&kaid=127&subid=171

    As several commenters have already pointed out, neither side has a corner on this kind of crap, and neither side should be throwing stones. I’d just as soon it all went away and we had a strict debate on the facts of the issues alone. But of course the extremists on both sides won’t allow that … because they know they’d lose.

  97. Craig @ 106,

    Let me guess, if a Republican Senator/Congressperson gets shot in the head by some nut who did it because the government was bugging his organic foie gras or because the whales made him do it, you are going to publicly admit that some political rhetoric by Rachel Maddow, Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews was indirectly responsible for influencing the nut’s actions? I’d place better odds on the Pope getting married to Sarah Palin in Vegas by a Elvis impersonator. Calling for somebody to be defeated politically, at the ballot box, does not equal ordering some nutball, subliminally or directly, to take out a political opponent with a pistol.

    Why don’t you just admit that your side of the political discussion is trying to make a mountain out of a molehole with regards to the political rhetoric both sides use because you want the Republican/conservative side of the discussion to tone down their opposition to your party’s ideology/policies. It is rather easy to defeat somebody who willingly ties one hand behind their back before the start of the battle, isn’t it?

  98. @ JoelZ 88: “The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), and anti Semitic, according to the memo which goes on to point out that Congressman Giffords is the first Jewish female elected to high office in Arizona.” — this sounds more like that source is trying to use an old monster we know of — anti-semitism — as a convenient excuse to turn the attention away from more mediate possible influences. not saying he wasn’t an anti-semite, but throwing that term around does seem to cover up all manner of other allegiances. there are quite a few jewish congressmen and congresswomen , though not from arizona, none of whom were shot in the head. it’s as though we found that loughner hates women, and suddenly have an excuse for his behavior that overlooks his other motivations behind the attack.

    i think the fact that loughner opened fire and killed and wounded so many others shows that this wasn’t only an ‘i hate X’ demographic thing, though he certainly was targeting ms. giffords (it was her speech, after all)–it was also an effort to harm supporters of the congresswoman, which i think is more politically motivated than ethnically or sexually or whatever else there may be.

  99. @ 111 and 112:
    it’s been said enough here already, but i guess it bears repeating: saying the other side does it too doesn’t mitigate any responsibility that the right has in its own rhetoric. as has also been noted ad nauseum, while the left often uses similar rhetoric and imagery, the right does it far more often. think back on the last election cycle: people on the right voted in droves, because they were pissed off. they were pissed off in 06, 04, 02, 00, etc. every election cycle they get really really pissed off about something, usually a different target that the media starts to seize on (gay marriage, and abortion being favorites, but there’s also talk of health care, gun rights, drug laws, military service, and on and on). at some point it ought to occur to you that conservatives are rarely angry about the same issue two elections in a row; when it does, consider that it’s because the american public has a low tolerance for attention, and we need something new to cause us to get up off our couches. democrats are terrible at getting a party line out there and having it repeated in the media. they were a little better in 08 because they had a figurehead to ride behind, but in nearly every other recent election they have sucked horribly when it comes to stirring up their base. not so for the republicans (08, as i said was an exception, and 06 was bush-backlash, neither of which smack of any great rhetorical skill from the dems).

    the point of all of this is: yes, democrats and liberals and progressives often make use of similar rhetoric, but they do it far less and they are far less unified behind it. republicans and conservatives and libertarians do it far more often and are very frequently cohesive about it. you’ll see the same key words from a dozen senators and three dozen representatives echoed by a half dozen talking heads on fox and a dozen other editorial pages of gannett newspapers. this does not excuse the left’s use of such rhetoric. but neither does pointing out that the left does it as well excuse the right’s use of it.

    and as a measure of what we could and should be doing in response to this tragedy and our own culpability in propagating such hate, i think a good first step would be to admit our wrongs, apologize for them, and publicly swear off of repeating them. like olberman does here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UbCDtT02Hg&feature=related

  100. Since we’re on the subject of rhetoric leading to actions, can anyone point out an error in the following equations?

    Sarah Palin:Jared Loughner::Al Gore:Discovery Channel hostage-taker

    ::John Carmack:Kleibold & Harris

    ::Islamic imams:Ft. Hood shooter

    ::imams:September 11th plotters

    ::imams:Theo van Gogh murderer

    Can we hold Islamic teachers and Malthusian environmentalists to the same standard? Is it fair to blame Doom for Columbine? In what significant ways do those advocating for such blame-laying differ from Senator Lieberman’s formerly monomaniacal obsession with blaming video games for every shooting perpetrated by someone under the age of 25?

  101. Just read this in today’s paper, about how two representatives have now said they’ll be carrying their own guns in their home districts for “protection” (quotes mine). Here’s the link: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/47316.html One (Shuler) is even encouraging his staffers to get etheir own weapons and carry them.

    How do they actually expect this to play out? If thjey’re holding a meeting (like Congresswoman Giffords), see a weapon, immediately react and fire into a crowd? (remember they are a singular, in the open, anyone shooting at them would likely be behind other attendes). Will they accept responsibility for any collateral damage? Considering, of course, that they’re “reacting” to the threat, rather than being proactive like most security personnel. You’d think they’d let the pro’s (their bodyguards) do their job.

    Sorry, but things just seem to get sillier by the day.

  102. Let me guess, if a Republican Senator/Congressperson gets shot in the head by some nut who did it because the government was bugging his organic foie gras or because the whales made him do it, you are going to publicly admit that some political rhetoric by Rachel Maddow, Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews was indirectly responsible for influencing the nut’s actions? I’d place better odds on the Pope getting married to Sarah Palin in Vegas by a Elvis impersonat

    Wow. The best evidence you can come up with is imaginary speculation about what someone else might, hypothetically do? That would need to be substantially improved just to be bad.

  103. JohnH: To be fair, Palin (or more accurately, someone on her staff) scrubbed her site of the “crosshair” map rather quickly after the shooting.

    and every teabagging footsoldier on the planet is running around screaming nonsense like “dems did it too”, “politics has always been violent”, “It’s been like this for centuries”, ” I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn’t have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.”

    Which tells me that Palin may have taken down the rifle crosshair image, but teabaggers continue to insist they have no responsibility if someone takes their violent imagery as a request to commit violence, and it seems likely that they will continue to use violent imagery, language, and symbols, it will just show up in a different form. Hand grenades instead of crosshairs. Hey, like the teabaggers all keep chanting over and over, it’s not their fault, its not their fault. Well, if it isn’t their fault, if they take no responsibility, then they reserve the right to continue their violent rhetoric as soon as all this blows over.

    Matt: Ever heard of the term “dog-whistle politics”

    No. But that’s good to know.

    MuleFace: Inflamed rhetoric has long existed on every which ever side throughout the history of American politics.

    There was an earthquake.

    I don’t think you really want to live in a nation that would censor political speech.

    Oh, god, you can’t hold teabaggers morally responsible for our violent rhetoric, that’s a slippery slope to censoring everythign anyonen says anywhere.

    Wait, slippery slope is a fallacy, isn’t it?

    You just can’t resist seizing on an incident to attack those whom you dislike, no matter how ridiculous the “connection” you want to draw.

    teabagger philosophy: We can say whatever we want. If people act on it, that’s not our responsibility. THere is no connection between our words and their deeds, no matter how ridiculously you want there to draw one.

    malpasplace: There is also a difference between saying “I’d like to see someone dead”, and doing it while holding a firearm.

    Teabaggers can say whatever they want and are not responsible for the actions of others.

    Consider that the use of a firearm not in defense, but as an attack against the law, or against a just duly elected state

    Giffords was just duly elected.

    To be a gun owner is to sit in the exit row of democracy.

    It’s the nut jobs who are so eager to jump out of the airplane of democracy that they are willing to shoot a perfectly good plane to force everyone out, those are the people that need medication.

    Sharron Angle saying we need to resort to second ammendment solutions if Harry Reid is reelected. That is the entire crux of the problem. Teabaggers wanting to blow up an entire plane because the guy in the seat next to them has the light while they’re trying to sleep.

    Bryan: For those of you decrying people from the Tea Party for using gun imagery.

    The more extreme rhetoric coming from the crazier nutjobs is that “they” are going to take away your guns. The response to this includes a number of different things, including, among other things showing yourself shooting a gun to try and ease the concern that you hate guns. Which sometimes backfires.

    In an effort to try to show he wasn’t against the military, Dukakis did a photo op of him riding in a tank. The military folks handed him a completely goofy looking helmet, and his campaign was down the drain from there.

    My guess is more responsible politicians will respond to cries of “they’ll take our guns!” without resorting to photoops using weapons. And less responsible politicians will continue to use violent imagery and hey, if someone happens to murder my opponent, its not my fault.

    Christopher: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said

    There was an earthquake!!!!!!

    It’s nice that you are refraining from saying that Palin, Gringrich et al are directly responsible for Loughner’s attack

    Because if you even so much as imply that Palin has any moral responsibility, then you’re doing the exact same thing as charging her with murder. There is either completely total responsibility, or no responsibility at all.

    There can be no gray area in teabagger philosophy.

    wolfwalker: Other Greg, all the people you name have been loud and proud in their denunciation of violence.

    Denouncing violence is not the same as accepting any responsibility for your violent rhetoric.

    Blowhard: “John Smith murders babies. He goes around killing unborn children. He’s a mass murderer, a killer, and his soul will burn in hell for all eternity”.

    (someone murders John Smith)

    Blowhard: “I denounce the use of violence in politics. Up next, the story of Bill Roberts, a doctor who murders babies, killing unborn children, a mass murderer, a killer and his soul will burn in hell forever”.

    (someone murders Bill Roberts)

    Blowhard defender: “I certainly am glad no one has charge Blowhard as being directly responsible</i for the murder of John Smith or Bill Roberts."

    neither side has a corner on this kind of crap, and neither side should be throwing stones.

    shorter: Leave Britney/Teabaggers ALONE!

    Chris: Calling for somebody to be defeated politically, at the ballot box, does not equal ordering some nutball, subliminally or directly, to take out a political opponent with a pistol.

    But they called for someone to be defeated politically and said if he didn’t, people would resort to second ammendment solutions and want to “take him out”. This is your teabagger candidate. these are her actual words. And she never backpedaled from them even in the slightest. When asked in a followup if people would resort to revolution if she lost, Angle said “anything is possible” or something like that.

    I get the teabagger urge to rewrite history. the problem for you guys is that you’re talking about history that was just last year. Most of us still remember it directly.

    your side of the political discussion is trying to make a mountain out of a molehole

    eight people were murdered. Call that a molehill again.

  104. The question that each of the parties (esp. including the Tea Party) needs to ask itself is “can I make the point I need to make without evoking treason, revolution, guns, violence and/or other demonization of the other side? If not, why not?” It’s not rocket science.

    I don’t get, and I never have understood, how any politician thinks they can away with attacking someone’s right to be an American, let alone threatening the “other side” with less than subtle hints at violence. It’s completely out of order compared to the actual amount of differences between most of the parties in this country. We shouldn’t need to have someone murder a bunch of people in order to see that.

  105. I’d be much more sympathetic towards the Republicans/Tea Partiers if they would permit limitations on gun ownership. If there had been better background checks (which, sadly, Judge Roll had opposed), perhaps a person known to have mental problems couldn’t have legally bought a semi-automatic gun in the first place.

    I’ve used the word “nutjob” a lot to describe people like the shooter. I don’t believe the word “nutjob” applies to everyone who is mentally ill. I believe it applies to someone who is sufficiently out of it to use guns or bombs to terrorize others. I think this particular nutjob was influenced by a number of sources, but the fact he took aim at a Democratic Congressional Representative rather than a Republican speaks volumes about what was influencing him more.

  106. Just a note: the term “teabagger” has this uncanny ability to make one’s entire post read as nothing more than “communication” from Charlie Brown’s teacher — your salient points are likely to be lost in a sea of “bwah buh bwah bwahn bwahhh!”

  107. Hey greg, of all the rhetoric I’ve heard lately, yours is the most vehement, one-sided, and insulting. Frankly, I’m a little worried about you.

  108. MuleFace @89: er….right about what, exactly? That there has always been violent rhetoric and exhortations to use violence in American politics? Indeed, just as you may remember that there have always been riots, beatings, assassinations and other uses of the ‘ammo box’ by those who weren’t getting their way at the ballot box. So I’m not sure quite what point you were trying to make – that Shannon Angle is part of a long, proud tradition of American politicians suggesting people who don’t get their way ought to get their guns?

    Admittedly, it is a little hard to be other than right when you set up the logic in such a neat circle: anyone who deplores eliminationist politicking is a liar, who only says that because they disagree with the people they’re criticizing. How do we know those people disagree with the people they’re criticizing? Why, we know that because they deplore eliminationist politicking! QED.

    And I see you let another monkey out of its cage. Nobody other than you has suggested censorship, unless you’re using that term in the same way that a person kicked off a private blog for being a jerkwad uses the term “my First Amendment rights”.

  109. Laurie, if you want to outlaw semi-automatic guns, you’re going to ban lots of hunting weapons and nearly all weapons used in marksmanship competitions. And completely outrage more than half the nation, too; I think that idea is a complete non-starter.

    There are already tens of thousands of laws limiting gun ownership in this country, and even the NRA supports many of them.

    What, specifically, that we knew about Loughner, do you think should have been a bar to his owning firearms, preemptively, before he did anything wrong?

  110. I’m reminded of the crimes soldiers got used to committing when Yugoslavia broke up.

    It appears that humans are much more concerned with peer standards than we are with internal moral values. When a behavior becomes common, it becomes normal. It’s interesting that someone who is bad is called “deviant”, meaning he’s not normal. He’s not fitting with today’s standards.

    So when when the “normal” moves, so do the deviances.

  111. As we move into another day of this what have we learned?
    1. The concept od never let a good tragedy go to waste is alive and well.
    2. Greg has an obssesion with teabagging.
    3. I’m so very tired of this and moving on.

  112. As more comes out about Loughner’s life before the shooting, I get the sense that he was a hardcore conspiracy theorist. Apparently he went on rants about the gold standard and mind control. If that’s his motivation, then someone like Alex Jones is probably more at fault here than the GOP (though along several lines, they do agree).

    There are some pretty crazy things being said on AM talk radio these days, and not the worst of it is coming from Rush.

    Still, if we got some soul searching on the state of political rhetoric out of this situation, that would be a silver lining.

  113. Bill Quiets #127 – What!? You mean we should not blame Palin or the tea baggers? OMG!

    Odd that so many who all but prayed for Bush to die or Cheney to spaz out with a heart attack are so quick to want to attribute this to conservatives. Seems these type of people are the first to try and politicize a tragic and very unfortunate event, shame on you.

  114. @124 David: i know this is a very unpopular stance, but wrt to gun ownership and regulation, i don’t find marksmanship competitions as a very realistic support for not having more stringent gun laws. semi-automatic weapons are unnecessary for hunting, and that side-steps a whole other issue–that we “need” guns so that we can hunt. there are very, very few people in america that need to hunt, and many people who do hunt don’t use guns (ergo, not restricting ownership because we need them to hunt is also not a valid reason).

    but all of this talk about gun restriction sidesteps the main issue here: loughner used a semi-automatic handgun, the only purpose of which, despite protests by people who try to obfuscate the truth, is to kill other people. that’s what it was designed to do, that’s what it is sold to do, and if people have come in after the fact and tried to make a sport out of skill with it, that doesn’t cover the fact that it is made to kill people and is very, very good at doing so.

    obviously regulating semi-automatic rifles (and fully-automatic rifles now, since bush and congress allowed the assault weapons ban to lapse) and pistols would not stop gun crimes, particularly pre-meditated ones like this (oswald used a bolt-action, for example), but it does make such crimes harder to perpetrate and the number of likely collateral victims to be reduced.

    as to your question about what should have precluded loughner from owning guns, i’ve sidestepped that matter and said that in a more reasonable country no one would have a weapon of the sort that loughner used. keep in mind that for several years now a young man with a clear background, like loughner, could have bought a fully automatic sub-machine gun with a 100 round clip at any gun show in america with minimal waiting time.

    @121 Doug: i like the term teabagger for two reasons: it was self-inflicted, and therefore somewhat appropriate; and it’s hilarious and makes those designated seem silly, which in many cases they are.

  115. LeftField

    There’s a big difference between random people being crazy and elected officials and TV News personalities doing so.

  116. htom, that’s a good idea, I’m not going to respond to anyone using that term anymore. It’s like having someone start a conversation by calling you a douchebag or something. You certainly wouldn’t expect to have a reasonable conversation with that person, would you?

  117. Billy, I’ve heard a lot of words from you lately too. None of them include the word “responsibility”. Here’s a poser for you, Billy: when teabaggers published the address of a democrat politician and suggested other teabaggers “drop by”, do the people publishing the address have any moral responsibility if some other teabaggers drop by and cut the gas line?

    Getting a teabagger to accept any responsibility for their rhetoric is like getting Authur Fonzirelli to say “I’m sorr… I’m sorrrr”, well, you get the idea.

    Doug: just a note: I don’t imagine any teabaggers are going to change their ways after this. That would be like expecting the Fonz to say he’s sorry. Not going to happen. As soon as this blows over, I fully expect some teabagger to be calling for more murder and more mayhem and shirk all rwsponsibility of anyone acting on those words.

    But I do hope that by show the teabagging party to be the callous, indifferent, violence-calling, sitting in the exit row of democracy, the murdrr of 8 people is a molehill, cut a persons gas line, group of thugs that it is, that the rest of society will either be repulsed from said indifference to murder, or if not repulsed will at least be forced to denounce said behavior and distance themselves from the benefits of teabagging violence (I am looking at you, oh Republican party).

    But saying that teabaggers cant hear me because i use the term teabaggers is silly. Teabaggers cant hear me because they I’m like Cunningham telling the Fonz he did something wrong and should apologize. Teabaggers have cut a persons gas line and think they have no responsibility for publishing the address. I am talking about a kind of responsibility that is like the color red to a species of people who can only see in black and white and no gray.

  118. Bwah big bwah bwah, [outdated cultural reference], bwah buh bwah bwah bwahhhn.

    Makes for short reading, Greg. Thanks!

  119. oh billy, I have never had a reasonable conversation about politics with a teabagger yet. You seem to have mistaken my questions to you as an attempt to engage you and or change your opinion. I fully expect yoh to remain unmoved in your political stance.

    No, the the point of our conversation as far as I am concerned is to show everyone else just how indifferent the teabagger party is to the murder of 8 innocent people. everytime you defending the teabagging party as having absolutely no responsibility for their murderous rhetoric, you let the world know the true stance of the teabaggers. Every time you avoid answering a question about teabaggers cutting someones gas line, you let the world know how callous and indifferent teabaggers can be. How *irresponsible* they can be.

    anyone saying they ignore anything with the “teabagger” in it is someone I doubt will change their opinion about anything. But the more people like that demonstrate their indifference to calls for murder being followed by actual murder, the more they do exactly what I hope for: show their true self to the world.

    You and your complete avoidance of any direct questions, your indifference to the rhetoric, your atempts to slippery slope moral responsibility into censoring free speech or arresting Palin for murder, and your Fonzirelli-like inability to admit wrongdoing, have yet to disappoint.

  120. Folks, you all are really spending quite a lot of time and verbiage to make a show of how it’s the other person who is being completely unreasonable, not you.

    Ask yourself at this point if you’re actually adding anything to the discussion other than that. If you’re not, either get back on point or walk away from the thread, please.

  121. Doug, Teabaggers use murderous rhetoric against Giffords. Someone goes and murders Giffords. And teabaggers response is to ignore their calls for murder and the murder that followed and instead try to focus the conversation on someone using mean names.

    God. How hypocritical is that. teabaggers use murderous rhetoric and someone gets murdered. And teabaggers response is toget offended at name calling.

    so according to tbe teabaggers, name calling is WORSE than calling for murder.

    You guys have yet to dissappoint.

  122. @Laurie #120: according to the NRA-ILA website (the NRA’s lobbying arm),

    “NRA supports many gun laws, including federal and state laws that prohibit the possession of firearms by certain categories of people, such as convicted violent criminals, those prohibiting sales of firearms to juveniles, and those requiring instant criminal records checks on retail firearm purchasers”

    The problem with restricting all people with “mental problems” from owning guns is that determining that a person has “mental problems” is very fuzzy–is it anyone who sees a psychiatrist or mental health counselor? Is it only people who have been determined by a court to be mentally incompetent? If you strip away someone’s constituional rights by any means less rigorous than a legal hearing or trial, you are on the road to tyranny. If any non-judiciary “expert” can be allowed to say, without redress, “You do not have these rights under the law”, the door is open to horrible abuses.

    We’ve already seen that happen: one of the reasons for the spread of “shall-issue”* concealed carry laws in many states is that when it is left to the police to decide who has proved a need and is fit to receive concealed carry licenses, nobody except the police and their close friends seem to measure up.

    Another consequence of such a policy is that people who know they have mental issues avoid seeking treatment, if seeking treatment means they get labeled as “mentally ill”, have their rights taken away, have the jobs they can get severely restricted, and so on. (It’s not just gun ownership; forget working in a number of fields if you ever admit to having been depressed/suicidal).

    Finally, sometimes the first hard evidence that someone is mentally ill is the fact that he takes his legally obtained guns and goes on a shooting spree. Not everyone who says or writes disturbing things is an incipient mass-murderer; more often they are artists, gamers/sci-fi fans/military, trolls or just trying to sound like one of the “cool kids”. In college, we used to discuss our weekend all-night RPG game sessions at the 24-hour IHOP after the game was over, and overheard snippets of those conversations would seriously freak-out the waitresses. Should we have been tagged as unstable nutjobs and barred from ever purchasing firearms, due to someone’s misunderstanding of what they overheard?

    Before you say that can’t happen, people would consider the context: I was (years ago) called in to my daughter’s middle school for parent-teacher counseling because of concern’s about my daughter’s art: she heavily used life-death duality symbolism in some art she did, and the ‘death’ part of the symbolism freaked out the teacher and, after rumors were passed around, parents of other kids. Apparently middle school kids using artistic symbolism of an essential duality made her a candidate for the next Columbine shooter. I had to explain to my bewildered daughter that she personally hadn’t done anything wrong, and that her teachers were idiots–but that sometimes you had to conceal your real thoughts because those idiots were in charge right now and she needed to graduate with good grades. I HATED having to teach her that. I hate that sometimes you have to cater to small-minded morons just to survive.

    *“Shall-carry”, for those unfamiliar with the term, means that the state must issue concealed-carry licenses in the absence of any legal impediment.

  123. I’d have a lot more sympathy for the arguments of BillyQ, LeftField, etc if your posts started with “This sort of rhetoric from Palin, the Tea Party etc is utterlty unacceptable in civilized political discource. However, it also comes from groups XYZ so can’t solely be blamed on the right”. Instead, it is all about how it’s not our fault blah blah blah blah. OWN your shit. I’d hope those on the left who have indulged in similar stuff would do the same.

    Saying all that, this article from Forbes rather eloquently summarises my own thoughts;

    http://blogs.forbes.com/frederickallen/2011/01/10/gabrielle-giffords-and-media-vitriol/?boxes=Homepagechannels

    I think this is the key point: random people on the internet of all stripes indulge in ridiculous, sometimes outright dangerous, ranting. However, actively violent rhetoric from the LEADERSHIP on the right is observably more prevalent than that from the leadership on the left.

  124. @AMos at #131: Did you slide in from some alternate United States recently? Most of what you just posted has little relation to reality. Fully-automatic firearms have only been purchaseable with the permission of the BATF and your local law enforcement authorities (or a Federal Firearms License, which amounts to the same thing), since 1934. Fully-automatic firearms manufactured since 1986 have not been legal to sell to private individuals; there is a limited, very expensive pool of automatic firearms that can be sold to civilians who have jumped through all the paperwork hoops.

    Which is to say, no, you cannot buy automatic rifles, or (your words) “a fully automatic sub-machine gun with a 100 round clip at any gun show in america with minimal waiting time.” It’s hard to take seriously the arguments of someone with a complete disregard for fact.

    Second, one of the things about a right is I don’t need to prove to anyone that I have a “need” to exercise it. Who cares whether the guns I like to own are good for hunting, target-shooting, re-enactment, or peeling kumquats? That’s not anyone else’s business. And of course semi-auto pistols are designed for killing people; who claims anything different? The 9mm pistol was originally developed as a military sidearm; I should hope the army is picking guns that can kill people, or they’re wasting a hell of a lot of taxpayer dollars.

    I know it’s a cliche, but guns don’t pick themselves up and kill people. People do that. Murder is already illegal. Murder was illegal before guns were ever invented, yet still, people have been committing murder since before the dawn of history. Throughout history, disarming people has been tried as a solution–and the only thing it slows down is revolt against an unpopular ruler. It doesn’t stop simple murder. It never will.

  125. @Dragoness Eclectic: (Sorry, Scalzi, slightly OT) Really? Then why does the US have a higher gun-related homicide rate than any other western country? As to the “slowing down revolution”, both of the countries I have experience living in (NZ and Canada) have much stricter gun control laws than the US, and neither seems utterly desperate to overthrow its democratically elected government with force of arms.

  126. I know it’s a cliche, but guns don’t pick themselves up and kill people. People do that. Murder is already illegal. Murder was illegal before guns were ever invented, yet still, people have been committing murder since before the dawn of history. Throughout history, disarming people has been tried as a solution–and the only thing it slows down is revolt against an unpopular ruler. It doesn’t stop simple murder. It never will.

    Let’s try an alternate version of that to expose some of the issues:

    “I know it’s a cliche, but poison gas doesn’t pick itself up and kill people. People do that. Murder is already illegal. Murder was illegal before poison gas was ever invented, yet still, people have been committing murder since before the dawn of history. Throughout history, disarming people of poison gas has been tried as a solution–and the only thing it slows down is revolt against an unpopular ruler. Disarming people of poison gas doesn’t stop simple murder. It never will.”

  127. I have not read the whole thread. However, I would like to add my 2 cents in here.

    I would like to see people refrain from using the word ‘teabaggers’. It is a passive aggressive method for demeaning a party. I admit I have used the term in the past. I am trying to correct my behavior. Not all hateful rhetoric is gun based.

    Please continue the discussion.

  128. “fully-automatic rifles now, since bush and congress allowed the assault weapons ban to lapse”

    Well, to begin with, the assault weapons ban never outlawed automatic weapons. It banned certain specific semi automatic versions of flashy guns, and a bunch of other semi automatic weapons that fir certain criteria. Fully automatic weapons were and are illegal, barring certain exceptions for specific people. You cannot go to a gun show or sporting goods store and legally buy an automatic weapon.

    Some of the confusion comes from the use of the term assault weapon, which is probably intentional on the part of the people who created the bill. An assault rifle is fairly specific thing, defined by the military. The term assault weapon in the bill is fairly attritrary. The bill itself was political theater – the guns it banned were never even remotely common for criminals to use unless they were starring in an eighties action movie and were no more dangerous than things that remained legal while the ban was intact.

    Broadly, I don’t particularly think whether people need guns has much to do with it. If you strip away the eveil mystique that some people assign them, there are lots and lots of things we don’t “need”: that kill lots of people, and that’s even if you strip out things that mostly only kill their drivers.

    Thousands of people die as a fairly direct result of alcohol use, and one needs it. No needs a car that goes faster than twenty miles an hour, either. And the only purpose of alcohol is to induce health problems and an altered mental state – people that use it for other than it’s intended purpose are just lucky.

  129. I’ve been saying all weekend that the chief problem is that too many people don’t realize that we’re all sisters and brothers in these great United States — however else we feel about each other, we still have to sit and eat at the same dinner table. Alas, lots of people (on the Left and the Right) have come to view their brothers and sisters, not as human beings, but as impediments to be shoved out of the way or disposed of. When your ideology has overtaken your perspective to such a degree, you have a real problem. And I can state with certainty this is going on in the Blue states as well as the Red states.

    As for the shooting itself, it’s a real shame the first thought that jumped into the minds of many political pundits was, “How can we best spin this and use it to our advantage?” Perhaps we as Americans should start by a)ignoring all of these pundits and b) turning off the spigot from which they issue forth. Doesn’t matter if it’s Beck or Olbermann. They exploit us — our divisions — for fame and money.

  130. Chuck: Not all hateful rhetoric is gun based.

    Tell you what, when a teabagger politician is held down by attackers and forced to perform the act of teabagging on them, I will consider the notion that my language was in some way responsible for that attack.

    Meanwhile not a single teabagger politician or footsoldier has acknowleged any moral responsibility for calling for murder and then that person ends up murdered.

    Instead they argue that their words are meaningless and how could they have any responsibility because someone else acted on those words? Hey quit calling us teabaggers! Those words are mean and hurtful and Im not going to talk to you anymore until you stop hurting me. Leave Britney alone!

    Yeah. That level of hypocricy is just pure entertainment right there.

  131. Greg, I pretty much agree with all your substantive points (including the fact that equating calling people “teabagger” with calling for “second amendment solutions” is ridiculous). That being said, are you more interested in being listened to or being right? I’d assume the latter, given your Cassandra-esque ranty tone. Doesn’t make you wrong, but a lot of people simply aren’t gonna read your posts.

  132. As much as they wish it weren’t so or wish to complain that they’re not the only ones partaking of such rhetoric, the Tea Party folks and their associates are the ones most on the defensive here.

    Funny, we don’t feel on the defensive. Not after the last 10 years or so of violent political rhetoric. (Goose, gander, identical sauce, etc.)

    I think this should not be in the least surprising. If your political messaging traffics in rhetoric heavy on gun imagery and revolution of the overthrow-y sort, then when someone shoots a congressperson who you opposed, then guess what: You get to spend some uncomfortable moments in the spotlight being asked if it’s not reasonable to suspect a connection between your rhetoric and the actions of a shooter targeting someone you’ve opposed. You also get to spend time being asked if, in fact, your rhetoric isn’t overblown, simplistic and on balance detrimental to the nation’s body politic.

    What if said line of questioning is fallacious? (“Congressman Giffords was shot after Sarah Palin posted a map with crosshairs on her district, therefore she was shot because Sarah Palin posted a map with crosshairs on her district.”) With all due respect, your side is going to have to come up with something better than a mere post hoc ergo propter hoc if you expect your criticism to be taken seriously and not filed under “Cheap Political Point Strategy #5939 (Mark Penn Variant)”.

  133. crap, well i had a long, reasonable post in response to @Dragoness and it was lost. c’est la vie

    suffice to say that i mistyped when i wrote about fully automatic weapons, and i was wrong about that. @Justin brought that up as well. the ban was on sem-automatic weapons. but if i had enough money i could buy exactly the weapon i described, except with a 3-burst shot pattern instead of a fully automatic one. not a whole lot of difference in the end.

    rather than trying to type it all again, i’ll just say that i second @David #145′s thought, and say look at the 2nd amendment again. it never says what type of arms we can bear, yet all reasonable people recognize there should be limits. the question has never been about rights, it’s been about how far those rights extend.

    i also had a point about living in new zealand, like Eddie C. my friend is a hunter, and the process of getting a gun was long and involved an interviewer coming to his home and speaking with him and the other household residents. this is a good thing, and does not infringe upon liberties. it ensures the people with guns are responsible, and everyone is safe from irresponsible people owning guns.

    the most important point i wanted to make is in response to Dragoness’s last comment about gun restrictions never working (see above about NZ). most of europe and asia have much stricter gun laws, and all of them have much lower crime rates. for a more direct corollary, the gun death rate in american in 1993 (the year before the assault weapon ban) was more than 15/100k; the gun death rate in 2004, the year the ban expired, was just over 10/100k. divide that by the population, and that’s 15,000 fewer deaths per year. you cannot reasonably argue that restrictions don’t work.

  134. I’ve worked in a Video store AND a movie theatre and let me assure you, if I learned anything about humanity from those jobs it’s that your friend is right, people with mental disorders ARE all around us… all the time.

  135. Funny, we don’t feel on the defensive. Not after the last 10 years or so of violent political rhetoric

    Fine. For purposes of moving this along, let me concede that the left is doing exactly the same thing. I’ll say that’s a bad thing. Let me here you say that Palin doing it is a bad thing.

  136. MasterThief:

    You’re being breathtakingly disingenuous. Are you even interesting in debating what’s at stake?

    I thought a bit of the stuff in that malkin list was innocuous, but you’re right, 3/4 of it is stupid, gross, and nasty. It is also overwhelmingly random protesters and content from random blogs. Sure, some of said random blogs might be prominent. However, where is your example of a credible Lefty Senate candidate calling for “second amendment solutions” to solve her opponent (A La Sharon Angle)? Where is the lefty campaign event involving shooting an M16 to show how much you want to defeat the opponent (A La Gabby Giffords’ opponent in the last election)? Where is Nancy Pelosi telling Republican Representatives that they’re “Dead Men” if they vote a certain way (As John Boehner did to Rep Dan Driehaus)?

    As I said in my post above, the difference isn’t (or at least isn’t primarily) in the rhetoric on random blog sites and from random protesters on both sides. However, Republican political figures – i.e. the prominent/leadership figures in the party – indulge in a lot more violent rhetoric.

  137. MasterThief:

    “Funny, we don’t feel defensive.”

    Yes, I suppose Michelle Malkin just reeled off that article apropos of absolutely nothing. Likewise Palin scrubbing her site of shooting targets (and having a rep front the ridiculous idea that they were “surveyors marks”) because of the supreme confidence she felt about her rhetoric in the wake of the shooting.

    Sorry, MasterThief. That statement is too ridiculously and obviously wrong to treat with any amount of seriousness. The only people who appear to be fronting the idea that the right at this moment is not reeling from the public perception of its recent campaign rhetoric are folks so far in the tank they can’t see out the lip of it.

    Likewise: Folks, the “everyone uses inflammatory rhetoric, so why are you piling on the right” argument is stupid for two very obvious reasons:

    1. Whether you like it or not, the Congressperson lately shot in the head was someone who was a target of the right’s rhetoric, so it’s your use of it that gets to be in the spotlight first, and all your whining and wailing won’t change that;

    2. If I recall correctly, the correct response to the “everybody does it” argument was formulated by our collective mothers, when we were collectively twelve, and goes like this: “Really? So if everyone leaped off a cliff, you would do it too?” That anyone else uses it is immaterial to the fact the right does do, and at the moment it’s the right’s use of it that the nation is focused on. Not fair? Maybe. Life? Not often fair.

    In short: Whether the right’s rhetoric was responsible for the shooting or not (and at the moment there’s no evidence that it was, any more than tangentially at best), and whether anyone else uses it, it’s still the topic for the day. Put on your big kid underwear and deal with it.

  138. You can’t buy a three shot burst either, by the way. The ATF defines a machine gun as anything that fires more than one bullet per trigger pull. While it’s not strictly impossible to legally buy either guns that have it or the conversion kit to make them so, it is a process that is already strictly overseen by the ATF. You cannot just stroll down to the local gun shop and get one.

    Honestly, this should be obvious – you’ll note that none of the school or workplace mass murders have involved anything other than semiautomatic weapons, and many of them were done with a lot of planning. If it were that easy to get automatic weapons, don’t you think they would have? When was the last time you heard about automatic weapons fire period, outside of a military context?

    “the gun death rate in american in 1993 (the year before the assault weapon ban) was more than 15/100k; the gun death rate in 2004, the year the ban expired, was just over 10/100k. divide that by the population, and that’s 15,000 fewer deaths per year. you cannot reasonably argue that restrictions don’t work.”

    I know it’s somewhat cliche to talk about corellation versus causaution, but that same time period also saw a decrease in crime overall, part of a general trend downward that’s been going on for a while. It’s pretty definitely not a result of the assault weapons ban – for one thing, the percentage of gun deaths by rifles is tiny – around four percent of all gun deaths. None of the weapons banned were ever common enough the create an appreciable difference in the overall statistics.

    Restrictions do work, just not this one. You need a much more pervasive ban if you want that effect. EVen then, trying to round up the existing weapons, especially from criminals, is not exactly a non trivial task.

    There are something like 270 million guns floating around in the US. There are somewhere around 20,000 gun deaths in the US, about half of which are suicides. That means, at worst, one in a thousand guns kills someone. One in two thousand if you’re looking at deaths other than the person using the gun. By comparison, if you have a swimming pool, something that has absolutely no value beyond entertainment, the odds are much, much higher that someone will die in it.

  139. What if said line of questioning is fallacious? (“Congressman Giffords was shot after Sarah Palin posted a map with crosshairs on her district, therefore she was shot because Sarah Palin posted a map with crosshairs on her district.”) With all due respect, your side is going to have to come up with something better than a mere post hoc ergo propter hoc if you expect your criticism to be taken seriously and not filed under “Cheap Political Point Strategy #5939 (Mark Penn Variant)”.

    The flip side of this is, if the map was purely innocent, if the crosshairs were really a surveyor’s mark and not gunsights, why did Palin and staff take it down so quickly after the incident? If it meant nothing, if it was a widely acknowledged metaphor and not an actual incitement, why did it disappear?

    Just playing Devil’s Advocate there.

    More seriously, I think I’m comfortable with saying whosoever engaged in violent rhetoric, the time for it, if there ever was one, has passed. The exchange of ideas in a democracy such as ours should be above that kind of thing, and I’m routinely dismayed that we are not. Who did it and to what degree, doesn’t matter. The point is, I’ve got no tolerance for it going forward. If one side or another chooses to walk the line, playing with metaphor and simply hoping no one takes it as an order, or a suggestion, or a “will no one rid me of this troublesome priest,” then they have no use for my attention, my vote, or my sympathy.

    And no, I’m not calling for censorship. That’s ridiculous. Again, it’s one of those things about free speech: we should be able to call on reasonable people to end this kind of speech without asking the government to end it for us. Plenty of speech (both trivial and not) has died off in just this way, and while it is the admirable goal of a democracy to permit anyone to say (virtually) anything, it is not a sign of a healthy national psyche that we tolerate it. Violence and violent metaphors have no place in the rational public discourse of a people who claim to value life. If you’re arguing for the ability to continue to do so, you have my sympathy. If you’re arguing that it’s good and necessary to continue to do so, you get none.

  140. “I’ve worked in a Video store AND a movie theatre and let me assure you, if I learned anything about humanity from those jobs it’s that your friend is right, people with mental disorders ARE all around us… all the time.”

    Up until fairly recently, I was a librarian, and this is spot on. Libraries in general seem to attract crazy people, for fairly obvious reasons, but even in a small town the sheer number that are around is sort of amazing.

    Pretty much entirely harmless, though, and often interesting – one guy I knew had a theory that government was doing large scale cloning so that when the rapture came they would be able to conceal it from everyone else. I always really liked that one.

  141. #144 Eddie C, why does the USA have the highest gun homicide rate in the Western countries (or something like that)?

    Sadly, it’s because the people in the USA make it one of the most violent countries on the entire planet (exempting those places where there are mass murders where the total number of dead are just uncounted.) Most of our inner cities are now worse than Iraq. It is not that our gun homicide rate is high; ALL of our homicide rates are the highest (or in the top five) of the Western countries. Using only edged weapons (knives, saws, axes, …) we kill more people, and at a higher rate per 100,000 than Great Britain does with every kind of weapon, including firearms; and the same is true for using only personal weapons (hands, feet, …) vs. every weapon, and for using blunt weapons (clubs, boxes, ashtrays, …) vs. every weapon.

    That our firearms homicide rate is also high can then be seen as an entirely reasonable — and very sad — expectation, rather than some kind of exception.

    There’s a not very credible theory that this is genetic: for a couple of hundred years, those in the European world who’d “killed their man” fled to, or were sent to, the North American colonies, and as their descendants, we’re more (and Europeans are less) inclined to kill. Maybe.

  142. hotm @160: *grin* As a New Zealander, I’m almost required to take this cheap shot. They didn’t send the violent convicts to North America. They sent them to Australia.

  143. Folks, also remember point 3 in the essay, which is that people with mental disorders are about you all the time, and most of them you won’t be able to recognize as such — nor is being mentally ill an a priori leading indicator of shooting up a Safeway.

  144. >MasterThief: With all due respect, your side is going to have to come up with something better than a mere post hoc ergo propter hoc if you expect your criticism to be taken seriously and not filed under “Cheap Political Point Strategy”

    What is this BS about faulty reasoning? From what I can tell, this mass murderer is only carrying out exactly what the Tea Party is claiming to want which is to “take back America, by force if necessary”. No one is claiming any causal link, they’re simply asking: okay, now that you’ve seen exactly what a “2nd Amendment solution” looks like, in real time, can you please tell us again if this is exactly what you want, because it looks a little crazy.

    And as far as I’m concerned, this plus the George Tiller murder is like a two-for-two when it comes to people who are a bit nutty getting egged on and giving a political group exactly what they say they want.

  145. @ 160

    “There’s a not very credible theory that this is genetic: for a couple of hundred years, those in the European world who’d “killed their man” fled to, or were sent to, the North American colonies, and as their descendants, we’re more (and Europeans are less) inclined to kill. Maybe.”

    While I don’t buy that, violence is absolutely written into our cultural DNA, and that’s probably attributible to the way our country formed and who it was intitially made up of. I suspect that face that we have a lot of space and relative isolation was a part of it as well.

    This actually whips back around into the actual discussion, because the violent rhetoric is a part of that, I think.

  146. @AMos, #152: Um, actually, 3-shot burst weapons are also classified as “machine guns” under U.S. federal law, so are regulated the same way. No, you cannot purchase them at gun shows. Go to a gun show and see what they do sell; it’s interesting–no machine guns, but I have picked up replica (modern-made) stone arrowheads.

    I have always been cynically amused by the rhetoric around the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” — I actually read the text of the thing back when it was introduced and it wasn’t what either side represented it as. At the time, the NRA spun it as “they’re banning any vaguely military-looking sporting rifle!” (not quite…) and the pro-gun control types spun it as “ban selling machine guns to criminals!” (That’s been illegal since 1934, guys). I can best describe it as a “Protection for American Gun Manufacturers from Cheap Popular Foreign Imports” ban. The bill contained a set of mostly cosmetic items that defined a so-called “assault weapon” (no relation to what the military calls an “assault rifle”) and banned the importation or sale of guns that met the definition…. except for a long list of exempt weapons and manufacturers listed in the appendix. Those exempt weapons and manufacturers all happened to be or be from American gun manufacturers, who were getting clobbered by the popularity of cheap Chinese semi-auto knock-offs of famous assault rifles at the time.

    As for statistics, you have to be really careful about how you correlate things. In the same period, states that enacted “shall-issue” concealed-carry laws saw a drop in crime rates. It has been argued that widespread legal gun ownership reduces crime. It has also been argued that for various social/economic reasons, we had a drop in crime in general during that period that had nothing to do with gun ownership or lack thereof. Correlation does not imply causation; it just gives you someting interesting to look further into.

    I’ve really wandered off-topic here, and I suspect Mr. Scalzi doesn’t really want this to turn into talk.politics.guns, so, on topic: I was so disgusted by the hate-filled rhetoric that McCain never apologized for his campaigners using that I voted for the other party when I had always voted Republican before. It hasn’t gotten any better–the GOP has turned from the party of Abraham Lincoln into the party of David Duke. I’m not thrilled by Dems that demonize their opponents, either. I won’t vote for hate-mongers or liars, which leads to me not voting much anymore. I don’t read the news as much anymore, because so much political rhetoric is just plain vile these days; I’ve learned NOT to read the comments on news sites anymore for the same reason. The damn trolls are running the debate, and no one is moderating.

  147. And that’s one of the great “secrets” of modern elections: it is as — and sometime more — important to drive away voters who might not vote for you, as it is to attract voters who you know will vote for you.

    They want you to be disgusted. It is intentional!

    Not voting means you’ve conceded the election to the manageable idiots. If you can’t vote for someone (and that’s a great joy, even if they lose) you can at least go and vote for one of those who offended you less than the others.

  148. to be fair, the ban also included weapons that were formerly fully automatic that had been rendered semi-automatic for civilian sale — an alteration that can be reversed by someone with a moderate level of gun proficiency.
    Dragoness, you’re saying the AWB didn’t cover a long list of exclusions, yet you also want to say one could not purchase those still legal exclusions? i admit i don’t know enough about the topic, but perhaps you could explain that one.

    back to the actual point at hand, everyone on the right who is getting riled up and offended by the questioning of everyone on the left should understand that this isn’t a discussion about censorship; as David #158 said above, it’s about everyone agreeing that certain speech can be harmful when the wrong people are subjected to it, and willfully agreeing not to participate in that speech. you have the right to use it, but you also have the right to choose not to. that is the responsible choice to make, and shame on anyone who refuses to do so.

  149. @154 David: If Sarah Palin using military/gun rhetoric in a political campaign is wrong, and that standard is going to be applied consistently across the board, then a lot of people have a lot of explaining to do on both sides. Be careful when you try to lock somebody into a standard that you don’t accidentally lock yourself in with them. Because the scramble to get out can be very awkward.

    @156 Scalzi:

    Whether the right’s rhetoric was responsible for the shooting or not (and at the moment there’s no evidence that it was, any more than tangentially at best), it’s still the topic for the day.

    Really? I don’t recall the members of the media class who set the topic for the day desiring to rush to any conclusions about the motives of Akbar Hassan (the Ft. Hood shooter), even after we saw reams of evidence of his religious, ideological, and anti-American motivations. Here we have evidence that the shooter posted word-salad videos on YouTube, got thrown out of college for being disruptive in class, was rejected by the Army for unknown reasons, and yes, liked The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf… and it’s Sarah Palin’s fault? Seems to me this “topic for the day” is more about composing useful political narrative than anything else. With the Ft. Hood shootings, admitting that some American Muslims could commit violence out of their religion was not something the political class wanted discussed, so the narrative was “don’t rush to conclusions.” Now, despite a narrative that has more holes than a sieve, the narrative is about Sarah Palin single-handedly creating “violent” public discourse. (Why is this the topic for the day, as opposed to, for example, the need to re-examine the way society deals with the obviously mentally ill, particularly in the context of access to firearms? Could it be that the political class has a hair up its collective ass about Sarah Palin, but considers the subject of mental illness sensitive and/or potentially offensive?) Who exactly is “following all their friends off a cliff” here?

    Personally, I think Ann Althouse and Jack Shafer get it absolutely right in their respective postings, and that this is all much ado about nothing. To paraphrase Freud, sometimes crosshairs are just crosshairs. Sometimes insane people are just insane people. And sometimes a tragedy is just a tragedy.

  150. If Sarah Palin using military/gun rhetoric in a political campaign is wrong, and that standard is going to be applied consistently across the board, then a lot of people have a lot of explaining to do on both sides. Be careful when you try to lock somebody into a standard that you don’t accidentally lock yourself in with them. Because the scramble to get out can be very awkward.

    It’s a simple question, MasterThief, and I’ve already conceded that the left doing it is wrong. Is Sarah Palin using violent rhetoric in her campaign bad?

  151. It’s complicated to blame the rhetoric. But I think this stresses the lack of respect for public spaces and public debates today. In courtrooms you have rules and rituals that actually allow people to talk to each other. It’s not the case on Internet and on the media – not often at least. It could be – and without harming the freedom or participants nor their discussions.

    I came to this idea as I was shocked by how much online information was available about the shooter. I felt like his privacy was invaded. And so was mine. But then I realized it was not the case. What’s at stake is something completely different.

    http://www.soufron.com/post/2685942144/jared-lee-loughners-social-media-presence-the

  152. A firearm that was intentionally automatic is always automatic by the ATF rules. A firearm that became unintentionally automatic (through normal wear on internal parts) may be returned to legal non-automatic status, but frequently it’s cheaper to just give it to ATF and buy a new one; that avoids a lot of future legal hassles, too.

  153. David @170: I suspect Masterthief hasn’t responded to your post or mine because he doesn’t have a response.

  154. Masterthief:

    Fixed that blocktag for you.

    Otherwise, it appears that you’re still basically trying to complain about how unfair it is the right is in the spotlight for its rhetoric. One, it’s not unfair; two even if it were, life isn’t fair.

    And once again, no matter what anyone else has done, the right certainly has used obnoxious and violent rhetoric — and someone against whom the right has used that rhetoric was shot in the head in a supermarket.

    I agree that Sarah Palin isn’t at fault for it, or very likely anyone on the right (or the left, for that matter) in any meaningful sense. But when she hastened to scrub her site of targets, she at least recognized what you appear to be turning yourself into a pretzel to ignore, which is that her use of such images and rhetoric was a sudden and very real political liability. And she was right.

  155. The Palin bullseye thing is probably a bad example, although it’s the one the media has gravitated to. Whether or not you think gun imagery in political stuff is distasteful, no reasonable person is going to see that ad as an incitement to violence. It’s not much different than someone on a football team saying that they’re going to kill their opponents. It’s not literal, and most people know that.

    On the other hand, the Tea Party has steeped itself in revolutionary imagery and speech (it’s right there in the name, for Mug’s sake) and keeps hammering the notion that the government is somhow illegitimate and that the regular political process is broken. That is dangerous rhetoric, and it’s all the worse because the Teap party mouthpieces don’t actually believe it in any meaningful way. Sarah Palin does not wanted armed revolution, but she’s more than happy to use the idea for political gain.

    While I don’t think it should be illegal, political rhetoric that advocates the metaphorical equivalent of turning over the card table is dangerous, and politicians should recognize that. They almost certainly won’t, but they should.

  156. If Sarah Palin using military/gun rhetoric in a political campaign is wrong, and that standard is going to be applied consistently across the board, then a lot of people have a lot of explaining to do on both sides. Be careful when you try to lock somebody into a standard that you don’t accidentally lock yourself in with them. Because the scramble to get out can be very awkward.

    Why?

    I’m not suggesting for “across the board” changes, nor am I asking for any explanations. Explanations don’t need to be made, they’re obvious. Human culture loves to equate violence with getting things done, whether it’s good at getting them done or not. The metaphor is a natural one.

    So, I don’t want explanations. I want to change the dialogue, I want to see a difference in the way we discuss issues, the way we frame the opposition to our own political agendas.

    And your last sentence is just vapid nonsense. I no more lock myself in with someone by asking for a reasonable level of discourse than I do by holding politicians to any standard of behavior and rhetoric. But like I said, I have no use or sympathy for someone who tries to justify the ongoing use of violent imagery and rhetoric in politics.

  157. I fully support the right of far right politicians to use free speech and say violent rhetoric. And then I have the equal right of free speech to criticize them for it, say that I think it is wrong, that it promotes a climate of hate and violence and threats irrespective of the shootings and domestic terror attacks, and that I believe politicians, political leaders and political media commentators should stop using it if they truly believe in democracy, not mob rule intimidation. This is not me repressing, censoring or legislating the free speech of those politicians. This is me exercising my equal right of free speech, not to say that they shouldn’t talk but that I disagree with what they are saying. That prominent people who are not far right may have used violent rhetoric does not negate my right of free speech to criticize people using violent political rhetoric.That it was a tragedy that provoked further discussion about the dangers of violent rhetoric does not negate my right of free speech to criticize people using violent political rhetoric. The far right wrapped themselves up in 9/11 and used that attack by far right radical Islamic cultists to attack liberals and Democrats for the past 8 years and to blame them for causing the terrorist attacks instead of Al Quaida. They don’t get to tell me, an American citizen in a democracy, that I don’t have the same right to criticize what they say in the wake of this shooting as they do.

    And under free speech, you also have the right to criticize my criticism of violent rhetoric by political leaders. The question is, why are you bothering to do so? Do you agree with the violent rhetoric and think politicians — all politicians, Democrats and Republicans, should keep using it? Do you think Palin was right to use gun sight crosshairs in her campaigns for and against certain candidates and all the violent things she’s said about politicians, media figures and average Americans she condemned as not real Americans, as enemies of their country? They have free speech, but what do you think about what they said with it? Do you think that politicians, leaders and pundits in the media should demonize their opponents and talk about them in violent terms? Or do you think they could do it differently, without the violent rhetoric? Are you going to stand up and say we don’t want to talk about our opponents like that or any politicians talking like that?

    Because that’s the actual issue that John is talking about. Palin did not shoot a nine-year-old girl. She will never be arrested for it, never go to trial. But Palin is responsible for saying what she said about Gifford and how she said it. And as long as she is out in public, in the media, claiming to be a political leader, saying what she says, she gets to be criticized for it and will be held accountable for what she said. Do you think that her violent rhetoric is a good thing? Do you think politicians should use it? Are you claiming that no one believes any of it, even the people who are convinced that Obama is digging mass grave ditches out in the desert for them? Lots of people use violent rhetoric and they are free to do so, but do you think politicians, candidates, political leaders and prominent media figures are right to use it? Do you agree with what they say? Do you think it has a positive effect on the voting populace? Do you feel that it does not create a hostile, tense atmosphere in this country? Will you criticize your own politicians when they use it or will you defend them, agree with what they say and encourage them to keep using it? Forget Palin (she’s a political nobody anyway.) Where do you stand on the issue of violent political rhetoric from political figures in America?

  158. Eddie: are you more interested in being listened to or being right?

    I think calling teabaggers a bunch of teabaggers and then getting to howl with outrage at the injustice of my cruel words immediately followed by their total lack of indifference to any moral sense of responsivility for their own words that called for murder is right and will be listened to.

    I doubt any teabagger will change their tune. And I doubt anyone who realizes just how cruel and indifferent and hypocritical the teabagger party is being right now will say “so glad that Greg fellow pointed that out for me”.

    But I think some people are figuring it out. I dont care if they get it from me or if I get any credit for being “right” or being “listened to”.

    but what I do know is that every time a teabagger howls at the injustice of being called a teabagger while demonstrating total indifferernce to the possible effects of their own words, the world is likely to become a little smarter by observation. And if I can play some small part, even anonymously, in showing the near sociopath level of indifference in the teabaggers, then I consider that a good day.

    Alternatively, a bunch of teabaggers could come out and say that publishing the address of an opponent politician and suggesting other teabaggers drop by, and then cutting the gas line, was morally irresponsible. That calling for the murder of political opponents is morally irresponsible. that publishing pictures of opponents witb crosshairs on them is morallly irresponsible. that saying someone will “take Harry Reid out” is irresponsible.

    If the teabaggers did that and took responsibility for their words, that too would be an improvement.

    But I wont hold my breath. All I have seen teabaggers do so far is various tricks to avoid responsibility for their words, while in the same thread expressing how the words of others calling them teabaggers is unfair, hurtful, and theyre going to take their ball and go home.

    for me its about the fun.

    teabagger philosphy: I can call for someones murder but you cant call me names.

    Dont you find that level of blatant irresponsible hypocricy the least bit entertaining? I do.

  159. Chris Shaffer@112:

    Why don’t you admit you’re talking out your arse, because you’ve made a lot of franly laughable assumptions about who I am and what I believe.

    FWIW, I’m actually a life-time voter (and financial member) of the main center-right political party in New Zealand. (Of course, by Tea Bagger standards we might as well be Marxists with our public schools, health care and same-sex civil unions but that’s a whole other bucket of bait.) That’s my “side”.

    I’m quite happy to stand on my record of decrying extremist and inflammatory political rhetoric from all sides. What I don’t do is the old distraction-troll fu of throwing out false equivalences and infantile “Mummy, they do it too” nonsense to distract attention from politically inconvenient questions. You see, I’m the kind of conservative who was raised to accept personal responsibility for my actions and their consequences. Do you?

    FWIW, my local member of Parliament is retiring and my local party org is starting the process of selecting a candidate for this year’s general election. I certainly won’t be voting for anyone who holds up Palin or the Tea Party as a role model.

  160. Craig @ 183: Don’t worry, Craig, you’ll always be a smug, centre-right false-equivalence artist to those of us who know you from the NZ blogosphere (I say that tongue in cheek and with affectio, I always enjoy your comments). You’re just not up to American standards :P.

  161. In re: Palin “scrubbing” her site: it’s one thing to do it for culpability reasons, it’s another thing entirely to do it for good taste. Given the weekend’s events, it’s just unseemly to maintain a target on the Congresswoman, in the same way it might be unseemly to leave, say, a graphic calling Senator Lautenberg a “cancer” on the body politic after learning of his diagnosis. (That’s purely hypothetical, by the way. I don’t recall any such thing occurring.)

    As Scalzi has (at least) implied, the removal of the image is less about admitting any culpability and more about good taste/political appearances.

  162. @AMos:

    to be fair, the ban also included weapons that were formerly fully automatic that had been rendered semi-automatic for civilian sale — an alteration that can be reversed by someone with a moderate level of gun proficiency.

    Dragoness, you’re saying the AWB didn’t cover a long list of exclusions, yet you also want to say one could not purchase those still legal exclusions? i admit i don’t know enough about the topic, but perhaps you could explain that one.

    That is not true of all semi-auto versions of military automatic weapons; I will concede it was true of quite a few of those cheap Chinese imports.

    Er, what? The AWB did not ban machine guns, it banned military-looking rifles. (The only criteria for an “assault weapon” that was NOT pure cosmetics was magazine size.) Then it exempted guns from American gun manufacturer’s from those bans, even if their rifles were scary-looking pseudo-military weapons. Therefore you could legally purchase the exempted guns. I never said you couldn’t. Actual machine guns were heavily restricted long ago, back in 1934, and the AWB had nothing to do with them.

  163. John:

    Apologies if that was directed at me, but I could actually handle a bit of “yo Mama” from someone who’d at least do me the courtesy of engaging with what I’ve actually said.

    FWIW, of course I don’t believe Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are directly inciting the murder of their political enemies. If nothing else, they’re too damn smart for that. But its disingenuous for apologists to pretend (as a commenter on Politico put it) that you can dog-whistle and cry fire in a crowded theatre for years, then walk away when it gets nasty.

  164. I’m not altogether sure why, suddenly, the military and targeting metaphors are suddenly anathema – at least to one side of the discussion. Are not these metaphors very common in politics?

    I note in a WSJ article “Palin critic Markos Moulitsas, on his Daily Kos blog, had even included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s district on a list of congressional districts “bullseyed” for primary challenges.”

    When Democrats use language like this, viz. Mr. Obama’s famous remark, in Philadelphia during the 2008 campaign, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”—it’s just evidence of good cheer and competitive spirit. Apparently.But if Republicans do it, their motives are immediately and very vocally attributed as hatred. I imagine both Moulitsas and Obama would be surprised to be grouped within the scope of the “Gingrich strain of rhetoric.”

    In case the last wasn’t clear enough, I’m damn sick of double standards.The flooding volume of hatred, mockery and vituperation from the left; e.g., Ted Kennedy’s toxic spew over Robert Bork during the hearings on his Supreme Court nomination, has done as much to separate, enrage and encourage hatred and division as anything Gingrich has said or done. Anything.

    “There’s a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn’t derive from the innocuous use of political clichés. And former Gov. Palin and the tea party movement are as much the targets as the source.”

    Look not to the other side when wondering where the spirit of bipartisanship has gone.

  165. I’d like to suggest to Greg that “teabagger” has become a meaningless smear word. I see it applied so much these days, to lots of people who have never even set foot at an official “Tea Party” event, that it’s lost on me. Such that when I am reading anything and I see someone use “teabagger” I switch off and stop reading. Epithets are just part of the problem — they allow us to boil our fellow citizens down to a dehumanized label. And as much as it may be fair to claim “teabaggers” do this all the time too, isn’t a big part of this discussion about how someone — the grownups — has to put their foot down and stop the reductionist enemy-izing in American political discourse?

  166. EddieC@184:

    Aw… you flirty little minx. Still not going to let you touch my boobs until the third date. :)

  167. Look not to the other side when wondering where the spirit of bipartisanship has gone.

    Here we go again. As John Scalzi has noted, when a Republican gets shot through the head at point-blank range, then we’ll consider Democratic hate-language. But, in any case, I’ll extend my offer to MasterThief (and Tully and htom in the other thread): fine, the Democrats do it too. I condemn them doing it. Care to do the same for Sarah Palin?

  168. Dwight @ 189.

    I think I’d better cut and paste a bit of my post above. Show me the elected democrat, not blogger, elected democrat who has used violent rhetoric against specific republicans. Show me the Democratic candidate calling for “second amendment solutions” to solve her opponent (A La Sharon Angle)? Where is the lefty campaign event involving shooting an M16 to show how much you want to defeat the opponent (A La Gabby Giffords’ opponent in the last election)? Where is Nancy Pelosi telling Republican Representatives that they’re “Dead Men” if they vote a certain way (As John Boehner did to Rep Dan Driehaus)?

    False. Equivalence.

    (and even if we accept the (totally fallacious) comparison of DKos with Palin et al, violent incitement by anyone of any political stripe is abhorrent. If you show me actual threats by actual elected Democrats, or lefties anywhere else in the western world, I’ll condemn them. Are you willing to condemn the examples I cite above? Own your own shit.)

  169. @171 David:

    No, I don’t see any problem with it. Not because I have any special love for violent rhetoric, but 1) because, per the Althouse link above, people have been importing war terms into politics for a very long time, 2) there is that whole “First Amendment” thing that means we don’t get to punish people for possession of illegal metaphors. Changing that because of a single extreme case is not a good idea.

    @177 Scalzi:

    It’s politics. Nothing is fair in politics. Or war. (Which I suspect is why war metaphors are used in politics, they are both no-holds-barred arenas.) I am not complaining, but warning: your side has worked itself into a “moral panic” – the same process that has brought American society such classics as the Salem Witch Trials, “White Slavery,” McCarthyism, Child Satanic abuse, and the War on Drugs. From what I’m reading, the thread consensus is that the use of war metaphors and imagery in politics is so evil, that it should be banned or subject to extreme social pressure, that it should now become a “sudden and real political liability” on the basis of a single incident where, by your own admission, the facts don’t fit the proposed narrative. (On a side note, would you have preferred Palin to leave the map up?)

    There are two problems here: First, you are not thinking this all the way through. Moral panics start when political types in need of a narrative tie unpopular groups to unpopular things, frequently ignoring facts, statistics, logic, and plain old common sense along the way. But then the panic gets out of the control of its creators and frequently turns on them as well, often exposing the creators’ own moral impurities. If the American Left is now applying a “no violent rhetoric in politics ever,” then the American left has inherently made its own political rhetoric an issue; it is not exactly above reproach here, and the American right will no doubt take great pleasure in emptying the left’s closet of all skeletal remains. The charges and counter-charges aren’t going to do anything to help close the partisan divide in this country; on the contrary, both sides will have even less incentive to trust the other, and our politics are going to get even screwier than they are now. And free speech is going to take yet another one for the team. Be careful where you point that standard, lest you hit something you didn’t intend to hit.

    Second, the people who are pushing this topic into political debate are seeking to create a useful and convenient political narrative (e.g. Sarah Palin as “folk devil”). They don’t appear to actually give a damn about Rep. Giffords, or her survival, or anybody else who was injured or killed, or about mental illness or gun possession or any sort of actual issue or human consequence. No, it’s all Sarah Palin all the time. No need to mention the other prominent victim in the shooting – U.S. District Judge John Roll, who just happened to be a Republican appointed to the bench by George H.W. Bush, and was only there at the meeting to see his friend Rep. Giffords. It doesn’t fit the desired narrative. Everyone’s talking about Palin’s Map. No need to mention an anti-Giffords post on Daily Kos that had to be scrubbed. It doesn’t fit the desired narrative. No, this is all politics. It has nothing to do with fairness or unfairness. It also has nothing to do fault or blame or morality or right or wrong. It is using a tragedy to score a political point. Is that crass? Hell yes. Is that fair? Meh. Is it going to solve anything? Not really.

  170. Teabaggers, man. Give them an address, they cut the gas line. Drive around with an Obama sticker and they ram your car. But if you say how violent and dangerous they are, they call you wtih death threats to prove how wrong you are.

    Tell them their language calling for murder goes to far, and they dismiss their rhetoric as nothing more than mere words. But call them teabaggers and they’ll tell you “them’s fighting words”.

    It’s just fascinating.

  171. 90 posts since my last one, and almost every single one demonstrates what I said: we aren’t listening to each other anymore, and we aren’t interested in compromise, just demagoguery. How depressing.

    I’d quote Mercutio here, but when there are ONLY two houses worth noting, wishing plagues on them is counterproductive.

  172. MasterThief: From what I’m reading, the thread consensus is that the use of war metaphors and imagery in politics is so evil, that it should be banned or subject to extreme social pressure

    Slippery slope nonsense.

    When you get that saying “someone might take Harry Reid out” is far more offensive than the term “teabagger”, then maybe you’ll be more on track to getting the point here.

    So long as you are offended by “teabagger” but think anyone offended at “Harry Reid should die” language can only want to censor and restrict your rights, then just know that you have no clue what people here are saying.

  173. Andrew Hackard @ 196:

    Pious finger-waving is easy. Actually having a debate when people strongly disagree is more difficult. I also actually think that a fair portion of the responses since your last post are relatively cordial, if not the most productive exchange I’ve seen in my life. Of course, no one who I’ve asked to respond to my brilliant points has done so, but that isn’t my fault, is it (/tongue in cheek tag for those that might have missed it). Which is to say: rather than just tell people to compromise, why don’t you tell us your views on why an unspecified compromise position is the right one here, and how to reach it. In my view, it simply isn’t true that the centrist, compromise position is always the correct one. It very often is but that is not, contrary to your implication, something that goes without sayin.

  174. No need to mention the other prominent victim in the shooting –

    Well, according to the FBI director at yesterday’s news conference, it appears that the shooter’s target was Giffords and everyone else was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    No need to mention an anti-Giffords post on Daily Kos that had to be scrubbed.

    The difference you repeatedly fail to grasp is this: Most democrats would call for their politicians and spokespeople to avoid violent imagery as goign to far, as inappropriate, now and goign forward.

    Teabaggers are doing everyting in their power to avoid admitting one thing: They were wrong to advocate murder in their rhetoric.

    Which leads me to believe that Palin took down the crosshairs because it’s bad press, not because she intends to stop violent rhetoric. When this all blows over, my guess is that if some left leaning politician or spokesperson invokes violent imagery, a lot of democrat voters will tell them to knock it off. But I have the sinking feeling that in a couple of months, when the Teabaggers find their new evil, they won’t use crosshairs, but they’ll use something else that makes clear they’re speakign of violence.

    <i. Sarah Palin as “folk devil"

    Holy shit, man. It takes a lot of balls to defend a party who demonizes its enemies to the point of calling for their murder as morally justified revolution on the grounds that lefties are “demonizing” Palin.

    Some major sized cajones.

    Lots of demonization over in Teabagger nation, just so you know….

  175. No, I don’t see any problem with it. Not because I have any special love for violent rhetoric, but 1) because, per the Althouse link above, people have been importing war terms into politics for a very long time, 2) there is that whole “First Amendment” thing that means we don’t get to punish people for possession of illegal metaphors. Changing that because of a single extreme case is not a good idea.

    I didn’t ask about punishing people for such language, just whether you approved of it. So, taking the first part of your answer, you have no problem with–say–Sharron Angle talking about “second amendment solutions” (which isn’t a war term, by the way)?

  176. Also, MasterThief, the guy responsible for the Kos Giffords post has apologised for the intemperate language (which only consisted of using the phrase “dead to me”, which is actually a prodigal son-type metaphor, not one that actually involves violence). See here:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/1/9/934674/-My-Apologies-to-This-Site,-The-Victims,-and-Rep.-Gabrielle-Giffords

    If Palin were to make that sort of apology, I think a lot of people on the left would be perfectly satisfied (or at least I would be). It’s not admitting guilt, it is taking responsibility for using language that was heated and irresponsible.

  177. Eddie C: Sorry, I didn’t mean to ignore you; I don’t have any to hand and am not going to look further. I try to dodge and then not remember such bovine excrement when I see it flying by, regardless of the side it comes from, and see no useful reason to search it out. My fingers feel dirty just reading some of these discussions. I’m going away for a while, shovel some snow, make some bread, in four or five hours I’ll be back.

  178. hotm: Wasn’t really referring to you, you don’t owe me an apology, and I understand how you feel. Like I said, having a discussion about things where people strongly disagree is harder than just tut-tutting about it, particularly when invested with tragedy like this one. Good luck with the snow shovelling.

  179. Big plea from the bleachers here; can we give up on the “they started it” argument regarding inflammatory rhetoric? If it’s wrong, it’s wrong… use by “the other guys” doesn’t make it any more legitimate, just more wide-spread.

    If you don’t like the blame for its use, stop using it. If you can’t stop using it, you’re just proving “the other guys” right.

    And yes, it’s entirely fair.

    — Steve

  180. MasterThief@194:
    because, per the Althouse link above, people have been importing war terms into politics for a very long time

    I suppose one could also point out that if Professor Althouse wants to run the argument from history, one should also note that for a very long time Ann’s right to vote in the United States was rather spotty (to say the least) before the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. Until 1976, if Althouse had been raped by her husband it would have been perfectly legal.

    For a “very long time”, the idea that a woman could even be admitted to law school and go on to practice (let alone become a tenured professor) was absurd. I do hope the names Myra Bradwell, Belva Lockwood and Belle Babb Mansfield mean something to Professor Althouse.

  181. I’ve also got to note that Professor Althouse isn’t exactly shy about using Blogger’s moderation and deletion functions either, and I don’t believe for a moment she’d tolerate one of her students standing up in her class and directing those mere “metaphors” at her or other students/faculty members.

  182. I don’t see an equivalence between bullseye targets and crosshairs. Bullseyes are only used for sport and practice, not attack.

  183. It’s politics. Nothing is fair in politics. Or war. (Which I suspect is why war metaphors are used in politics, they are both no-holds-barred arenas.)

    Which is, of course, false. Neither is a “no-holds barred arena” in any meaningful sense of the phrase. If you’d like a lecture on the law of war, for instance, I’m sure I can put something together for you.

    From what I’m reading, the thread consensus is that the use of war metaphors and imagery in politics is so evil, that it should be banned or subject to extreme social pressure, that it should now become a “sudden and real political liability” on the basis of a single incident where, by your own admission, the facts don’t fit the proposed narrative.

    I don’t think it’s quite a thread consensus, but you’re welcome to paint yourself as the last defender of a noble principle. In reality, it would appear that you’re doing your damnedest to justify the activities of your side, in light of rational criticism. But let’s have a thought experiment, shall we?

    What is it about “extreme social pressure” that is bad, or wrong, or to be avoided?

    Aren’t the Tea Party themselves, at best attempting to affect “extreme social pressure” in their efforts?

    If not, what do you call it, that sets it apart from any other movement or shift in public goodwill, other than “extreme social pressure”?

    To put it another way: just because our Constitution protects hate speech, or racist speech, or violent rhetoric, doesn’t mean we have to tolerate it. It doesn’t mean we have to swear our allegiance to those who practice it, even if their politics are in line with ours. If we all decided not to tolerate it any more, the politicians would find another way to interact. Maybe it would be worse, maybe it would be better, but I’m betting that if, God forbid, another politician were practically executed in front of her constituents, the first words out of so many people’s mouths would not be “What party was she?”

  184. Eddie C putting aside pious finger waving sounds good to me. I also think you make a good point that taking the centrist position isn’t always the best way to go.

    Look! We’ve found something to agree on.

    So, I take it that you think that Sarah Palin should apologize for the crosshairs, but should not be silenced or punished, or fined or anything?

  185. MasterThief @194: Saying that “shoot the bastards” language is uncool is akin to wanting to bring back the Salem Witch Trials? Really? Don’t they beat that slippery-slope, parade-of-horribles stuff out of law students in Trial Ad class anymore?

    The “side” complaining about incivility in public discourse and decrying violent imagery includes such noted bleeding-heart Kos fans as David Frum. What, is he a liberal now?

    Nobody has argued for banning or censoring such speech – nobody, that is, except for those who wish to use it as a scare tactic. It’s exactly like people who get banned from a blog for being dickhats whining that their “free speech rights” are being taken away, as if the First Amendment gave one an inalienable right to be free of private consequences for one’s speech.

    I’m not surprised that you and Billy keep focusing on Sarah Palin. It’s a lot easier to defend the ‘crosshairs’ graphic than to explain away Shannon Angle’s threatening ‘Second Amendment remedies’ if she lost the election.

  186. Billy Q – Yes. I don’t think that she should be legally sanctioned at all. I think this (again) shows that Palin doesn’t have the character or judgment to lead a country, and I think her failure to apologise for what even she (by deleting the relevant tweets and pictures) acknowledges was an example of poor judgment speaks even more badly of her. The least she can do is step up, own her own rhetoric, stop pretending they were “surveyors marks”, and apologise.

  187. WE are focusing on Sarah Palin?

    That’s the funniest fucking thing I’ve seen in this whole thread.

    Seriously man, I laughed out loud.

    But to answer you’re question, I’m really not very familiar with Sharon Angle, or what she said. But, OK to stay on Eddie C’s point, what do you want from her? What should happen to satisfy you and all the others that think that the right’s rhetoric is more at fault for what happened than anything else.

  188. Master Thief #94: “No, I don’t see any problem with it. Not because I have any special love for violent rhetoric, but 1) because, per the Althouse link above, people have been importing war terms into politics for a very long time, 2) there is that whole “First Amendment” thing that means we don’t get to punish people for possession of illegal metaphors. Changing that because of a single extreme case is not a good idea.”

    #2 has nothing to do with the question you were asked. No one here has proposed that we remove the First Amendment and get rid of free speech for Palin or anyone else. David did not propose that when he asked you the question. The question was not, should Palin be allowed to use violent political rhetoric. And Scalzi’s question/topic for discussion was not, should Palin be allowed to use violent political rhetoric. Nor is it clear how you think we’re proposing to punish her, which no one has done either. But you and others keep trying to make it the question. In order to say that we have no valid reason to criticize what someone else said, you keep making the argument that we’re trying to stop others from speaking and don’t believe in free speech, rather than just objecting to the content of what Palin and other politicians said, which people were doing long before the shooting, towards both Democrats and Republicans. You are attempting to invalidate the actual question by claiming we hold positions we don’t hold. Which is actually a Palin tradition.

    On the other hand, you are the only libertarian/conservative who actually answered the question in #1. :)

  189. Cross posted you Eddie. I can agree with you on this too. The surveyors marks explanation was just stupid. If she didn’t see anything wrong with targeting the district with cross-hairs she should have said so.

  190. No, no, no! Sarah Palin happens to have a lot of friends who are surveyors, that’s all. Those friends like to send each other little maps with those surveyor’s symbols on them, because it reminds them of the fun they’ve had while surveying. Dr. Palin picked the habit up from those people, and she only called that little symbol a “bull’s eye” because she thought a bull’s eye was the same thing, which it is. She didn’t mean anything about shooting. When she said “Don’t retreat, reload,” she meant her people should reload the surveying equipment into the helicopter so she could do some more surveying at the next stop.

  191. So many self proclaimed voices of moderation here are the worst practitioners of rhetoric which is clearly, nay, appallingly, nay virulently anti-testiculite.

  192. Ah well that explains something. If my mental development is such that I have a weak relationship to language, if the notion of commitment evades me, but if I instead relate to language as hard and fast rules, then saying Palin is ‘wrong’ might mean she should be imprisoned or fined or something. If I relate to my political opponents as someone who ought to be murdered is a morally justified revolution, if thats how I relate to wrondoers and disagreement, I would unsurprisingly relate to anyone saying Palin is wrong as potentialy calling for the murde of Palin. And I cant have them murdr my hero. so i wil instead turn the conversation away from palin, away from tea party members, and away from any discussion of right and wrong. Instead I wil focus the discussion on moral relativism (they did it too) , slippery slope any opposition as demanding censorship or calling for Palins arrest, and play victim to anyone who resorts to name calling and ignore my partys calls for murder.

    good lord. It explains everything around this debacle.

  193. When tragedy happens like this one, we are ALL responsible. We are responsible to change our behavior to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

    We are all connected.

  194. Watching everyone dance around “proving” their points is entertaining, in a way. It’s certainly a marvelous exercise in confirmation bias. Glad to see everyone’s biases confirmed. Has anyone learned a meaningful lesson here? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t say this thread reflects that.

  195. Billy @212, were you laughing at your own assertion that you were just motivated here to defend Sarah Palin and the Tea Party? People are taking cracks at Palin primarily because it’s low-hanging fruit, frankly: after putting ‘crosshairs’ logo on her website, she not only took it down right after the shootings, but had her spokesperson try to backfill by saying, golly, those weren’t targets or anything, they were surveyor’s marks.

    Sharron Angle (sorry, my typo) was the Republican candidate who ran against Harry Reid in the recent Senate election, and had a great deal of support from the state Tea Party. She is the one who suggested, among other things, that Americans would turn to “Second Amendment remedies” if Harry Reid won another term. It’s a little harder to pull up an old DNC article and say “see? SEE!” with that one, innit?

    As for what do I want? I’d start with a retreat from eliminationist rhetoric and dogwhistling as part of everyday discourse. I’d also like to see more people judging what political candidates say and do by, you know, what they say and do, not by whether we agree with their positions.

    (You may note that these are wholly nonpartisan and apply to the “left” as well as the “right”.)

    As to Palin, well, here’s an easy answer: If a liberal public figure had made “joking” references to shooting conservatives or used gun rhetoric to please their followers and piss off conservatives; if one of the Tea Party officials they ‘targeted’ had been the victim of an assassination attempt…..what would you have them do? Apologize for being thoughtless and state that they have never and would never support violence towards those who disagree with them politically? That’d be good enough for me. How about you?

  196. MuleFace – then contribute some enlightenment to the thread. Lazy “you all suck” comments are both insufferably smug and intellectually lazy (which is to say, inaccurate).

  197. Eddie – why thank you. I love your mother too. Actually, I made a number of comments above, attempting to show how silly it is to try to attach any political significance to this incident. It was a lone loon. Period. Using it to “prove” that your favorite political opponent is mean & nasty & perhaps even indirectly responsible nothing but an exercise in confirmation bias. It is the ultimate in intellectual laziness. Is that better?

  198. Ralph: Dr. Palin picked the habit up from those people, and she only called that little symbol a “bull’s eye” because she thought a bull’s eye was the same thing, which it is.

    technical verbage thingy about to folow:

    crosshairs are vertical/horizontal lines (‘hairs’) in an optical scope that indicates where your bullets will go (assuming you have good dope, the wind hasn’t changed, and you’re still shooting in the same direction). If you see crosshairs, it generally indicates a scoped rifle, though not always, but pretty much indicates a firearm of somekind.

    bullseyes are concentric circles (like a pupil in an eye) that are often drawn on paper targets at shootign ranges. They provide a stationary target to indicate how accurate your shooting is. You might also see a bullseye on a beanbag game, dart board, and other non-projectile weapon related circumstance.

    Palin’s site had crosshairs. The Dem site had bullseyes.

    Whatever moral difference there is is a different topic. It’s just a pet peeve of mine when teh two terms get flipped.

    Carry on.

  199. Mythago-I have no problem with elevating the rhetoric as long as the standard of what is commonly acceptable is evenly applied to both sides.

    I’m going to ask you this in good faith and not because I want to argue. What is the difference between Palin having offhand comments that sound violent and a Democrat leader doing the same thing? As an example only, I offer candidate Obama’s Bring a gun to a knife fight comment.

    Please note that I wasn’t offended by his comment, and neither do I think it was in poor taste. Rather, it was reflective of the audience in Philadelphia where he was speaking, and rough political metaphor in general.

    As an aside, Sharon Angle paid for her poor choice of words in the worst possible way for a politician-she lost (to a much weakened incumbent)

  200. MuleFace@222:

    Again, I find it rather ironic you’re bitching others for “rushing to draw political conclusions” when you’re making a damn big one about Loughner’s mental state. Care to leave that diagnosis to someone who is qualified and in a position to make it?

  201. @ MuleFace – a few points.

    1) Your general point would be true if that’s what the post was about. Note the first sentence of Scalzi’s post. And I haven’t seen anyone in this thread (although I have seen a few elsewhere on the net) say any of this is anyone’s “fault” but the gunman. So you’re making a point about an argument that people aren’t actually having, which is odd. I see this more as a wake-up call to everyone that violent political rhetoric is scary, regardless of any direct connections. I don’t think anyone is using this incident to ‘prove’ anything. Or, no, I’ll speak for myself. I’m not doing so.

    2). We don’t know anything about the guy or his motivations. Just as it is stupid to confidently say he had specific political motivations for the act, it is stupid to say it was just because he was nuts (see also Scalzi’s point 3 re stigmatising mental illness). More info will come out in the next weeks and months, right now we can’t really ascribe either motive or mental state accurately.

    3). I wasn’t really personally attacking you, apologies if it came across that way. You can’t, however, expect people to be happy when you patronisingly congratulate everyone on entertaining you with their foolish arguments.

  202. Craig@225:

    I have to wonder if you’ve read the news accounts. At this point, it’s quite obvious. But perhaps you read “tea” leaves and entrails better than plain facts.

  203. Eddie@227 – my point was confirmation bias & it stands – you’ve certainly done nothing to refute it. If you feel that military imagery (crosshairs, OMG!) in political campaigns is inciting of violence, then you’re pretty much arguing against a substanial portion of political jargon used throughout American history. I don’t buy it & think you & many others are being silly. I think you’re indulging your biases & hatreds. Shame on you. (OK, now I’m being a little silly.) Regarding the perp’s motivations – why does it matter? He’s a murderer (if determined to be legally sane). Motivations are his problem, not ours. It’s a question of fact, not motivations.

  204. It seems that many people from the political right don’t seem to understand the very simple concept that just because you have a right to be a jerk, does not make being a jerk the right thing to do. Using incendiary language is not the same a using a metaphor, and although I can say much of the rhetoric from the right amounts to just riling up the troops, it has frequently, through many examples already pointed out, been much more than that.

    It does actually make me lose some, I guess unjustified, faith in humanity that many people commentators will go to in an attempt to defend bad, though not illegal, behavior in the fear that it might tarnish some real political points they might have.

    I guess treating people with decency just doesn’t matter to them more than attempting to score rhetorical points.

    It seems that for many people, and quite a few posters here, they can not draw this difference. I guess that the hate and violent rhetoric is a very important part of the Tea Party movement for them. So yes, as I would ask of others in a broader societal sense in regards to incendiary speech. These defenses really do sicken me, and anyone here or elsewhere should be ashamed to be defending such vitriolic spew.

    See how I did that? I condemned not through a call for violence, not through law, merely through the power of my own thoughts and writing. Simple. It is too bad that more can’t join in that act nor realize that this is how society can shun such behavior. Through collective individual action which is not legally binding but does hold those to account.

    It isn’t about freedom of speech, but is about holding people responsible for it in a reasonable way.

  205. you’re pretty much arguing against a substanial portion of political jargon used throughout American history

    Uh, you’re aware that there’s been a fair portion of political violence throughout American history, right?

  206. I’m sure you can’t be bothered, MuleFace, but can you quote back to me some stuff that I’ve said in this thread that demonstrates me falling prey to confirmation bias? Cos I genuinely don’t see it.

    And fine, lets put aside the crosshairs. As Mythago said, they’re low hanging fruit. You genuinely think that Sharron Angle’s references to “second amendment solutions” should she lose are a proper part of politics in a democratic society?

  207. Also, let’s not forget there were multiple incidents against Giffords. Shouldn’t that be taken into account?

  208. To Matt @ 90.

    I think trying to argue that bulls eyes are better than crosshairs is a weak argument, unless you really think the intention behind the crosshairs was to target specific Congressmen for assassination. Suddenly, to “target” a Congressman for defeat is hate or threatening speech? Sorry, I just can’t buy that. However I’m not arguing that both sides are guilty. I’m arguing that both sides are innocent. Neither the bulls eye or the crosshairs were meant to threaten in any physical sense anyone. In the old days, that would just be common sense. Now it has to be explicitly explained.

    To Kate @93.

    I’m not going to try to parse John’s post as if it were the Talmud. I don’t have years of study to dedicate to it, however he clearly wanted to have it both ways, as you can see from his initial post.

    Paragraph 1? “Now I’m not saying…”
    Paragraph 2: “OK now I’m saying…”

    Still, the whole subject of this “climate of heated political rhetoric” is totally irrelevant to the entire shooting incident. If it turns out that Loughner got his marching orders from Palin’s facebook page, then yes, there might be a point to it. As it is right now, it looks like the actions of a crazy person were just the excuse that a lot of contemptible people used to attack their political opponents before the bodies were even buried. That’s behavior they should be ashamed of.

    The point that John and many others made about Giffords being a Democrat so therefore, it IS a political issue, I find, once again, totally irrelevant unless there turns out to be an actual political motivation to the attack. As of now, that theory isn’t looking to good. Would an anti amnesty blue dog really make the best target for Palin’s hit list? I mean really…
    I remember reading in history the Salem witch trails and laughed at the primitive fear based actions that our enlightened age would never do. Now, I get to watch it live on TV. With zero evidence of Tea Party/Palin involvement, this is merely a witchhunt.

    Oh Kate, nice site by the way. Pretty obscure trailers. I’ve never heard of those movies.

  209. MuleFace@227:

    It’s a plain fact that perfectly sane and rational people commit murder and other acts of violence every day of the week.

    It’s also a plain fact that the people who were describing Loughner as a “paranoid schizophrenic” literally a few hours after his arrest, were basing it on media reports and internet speculation no competent mental health professional would base a diagnosis on.

    With all due respect, I don’t need to read tea leaves to know how dangerous it can be when people ill-informed and inaccurate judgements about someone’s mental state with no basis in fact. I’ve lived it, and that life is actually pretty damn good now thanks to the care of people who actually knew what they were talking about.

    Thanks for the man-splain, but I don’t need a second helping.

  210. I remember reading in history the Salem witch trails and laughed at the primitive fear based actions that our enlightened age would never do. Now, I get to watch it live on TV. With zero evidence of Tea Party/Palin involvement, this is merely a witchhunt.

    Then Palin et al should put up those cross hairs again, and do it without shame, no?

  211. Greg@223:

    No, the Dem site did not have a bullseye. That graphic was added by a web site. It is all explained by the site’s owner:

    http://patterico.com/2011/01/08/markos-blames-palin-for-giffords-shooting-but-theres-just-one-problem-daily-kos-put-a-bulls-eye-on-giffords-too/

    Patterico says,

    “For the benefit of the terminally stupid, the bulls eye graphic did not appear on Kos’s original post, as should be self-evident to a) any sentient being who examines the image, or b) any person who bothers to follow my link to the original Kos post. Kos “put the bulls eye” on Giffords and others with written rhetoric. I think you all knew that already, but Tommy Christopher insists that my credibility demands that I explain this to you as if you were all five year-olds.”

    Nice, eh? He puts up a highly misleading graphic which he himself has doctored, then critiques the intelligence of anyone who was fooled by his own manipulation.

    Ralph

  212. lil mike:

    “Paragraph 1? “Now I’m not saying…”
    Paragraph 2: “OK now I’m saying…”

    Oh, bullshit, lil mike. I made clear right at the front of the second paragraph that independent of the shooter’s motivations, the fact he shot someone against whom gun-related political rhetoric had been used means that we’re talking about what’s appropriate political rhetoric.

    One doesn’t need Talmudic dedication to see that, just basic reading comprehension. Try not to confuse the two.

  213. “It’s a plain fact that perfectly sane and rational people commit murder and other acts of violence every day of the week.”

    Yup.

    It’s also true that this guy has publically available social networking profiles that display statements that are, bluntly, nuts. I don’t mean that they have views that are fringe, I mean they have an internal structure that is incomprehensible to anyone who isn’t him, full of repetition and, arguably, paranoia. Now, it’s not impossible that he’s playing some sort of elaborate prank or is trying for an insanity defense, but combined with the fact that he shot eighteen people, the idea that he’s mentally ill isn’t something that needs to be judiciously applied.

  214. Eddie@231 – Regarding Sharon Angle, I’d simply say the electorate decided that already. Sure, it was a little over the top. Then there’s this from Thomas Jefferson: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Damn, what a nasty fellow.

  215. Oh, and Eddie – why are you asking me to show where YOU have confrimation bias? You were responding to my comment, not the other way around.

  216. Military sights (or modern rifle sights in general) usually are not crosshairs but more complex markings (the technical term is reticle, crosshairs are the simplest reticle.) Simple crosshairs today are most frequently seen in telescope finders (including those used by surveyors) and riflescopes more than twenty years old. I didn’t pay enough attention to the page to notice whether they were crosshairs or some more complex reticle. (Leupold shows their selection a bit more than half-way down the page; most makers have similar, if perhaps not quite as large, a selection.) There are sights that appear to project a bull’s eye.

  217. MuleFace @ 240: my point was confirmation bias & it stands – you’ve certainly done nothing to refute it.

    I took that as you accusing me, personally, of displaying said bias. If that’s a misreading, then disregard my request :).

  218. Billy @224: I don’t know how many times I can repeat that eliminationist rhetoric and threats are wrong without regard to who is saying them. See, e.g., Keith Olbermann’s recent post in which he referred to remarks he made that might have been taken as encouraging violence and flat-out apologized for ever having said them.

    My question is, what about you? Would you be rushing to defend Joe Biden if he removed a ‘crosshairs’ graphic from his website and said (through a spokesman) that those were never gun sights in the first place, but surveyor’s marks? Would you be scolding fellow conservatives who pointed out that while Biden didn’t pull the trigger on Congressman O’Rightwing, who got shot by a disturbed Earth First! member, he contributed to an environment that treats open threats of violence as just another political tactic?

    As for Sharron Angle – who had the official endorsement of the Tea Party Express – she won, what, 44 percent of the popular vote? It was an extremely close election in Nevada. I would hardly call that a sound repudiation of her tactics and a message from the voters that the “four boxes” philosophy will scare the average Jo(e) right away from supporting you.

  219. Justin Jordan@238:

    I’m very glad you and so many others feel confident making clinical assessments from Facebook profiles, I just hope you’ll never do so in a situation where you can affect a real person’s life.

  220. “Then there’s this from Thomas Jefferson: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Damn, what a nasty fellow.”

    Er, yes?

    He was a man who overturned a political system by means of violence. While this was obviously to our benefit, this is not actually something that is desirable. Calling for armed insurrection is and should be a big deal. You should consider people who want to tear down the system with a certain amount of scorn, unless you want it torn down.

  221. “I just hope you’ll never do so in a situation where you can affect a real person’s life.”

    Well, we’re definitely better off looking at someone who exhibits signs of mental illness and not considering the possibility they need help. Because they so often get better on their own.

  222. Oh Billy, your teaparty defense is always good for its sheer entertainment value.

    What is the difference between Palin having offhand comments that sound violent

    See? This sort of thing is hilarious. It’s an attempt to rewrite history that only happened last year. As if we would all forget it. It wasn’t an “offhand commend that sounded violent”.

    You really need to get the simple fact that we were all around when all this went down.

    So, first of all, you don’t get to cherry pick Palin. The complaint has always been directed at many on the far right. Not just one. But an entire party and an entire political season, at the very least.

    Really. You need to GET THAT. You don’t get to pick Palin as if all the others didn’t exist and as some really, really transparent (and ineffective) way to minimize just how outrageous your party’s behaviour has been.

    I’ve posted a bunch of links that show a bunch of teabaggers committing violence and teabagger and repub politicians calling for violence.

    Not one. But a rather large number. OK?

    and a Democrat leader doing the same thing? As an example only, I offer candidate Obama’s Bring a gun to a knife fight comment.

    For example??? See, the thing is, this is going to be about the only example of anything remotely like a Democrat politician usign gun related language. compared to the numbers of right wingers above.

    Also, and I get this may be subtle to someone who is attempoting to implement mechanical interpretation of words, but “bringing a gun to a knife fight” and variations thereof is one of those phrases that doesn’t mean actually commit violence.

    Contrast this with Angle who said someone might “take out” Harry Reid as part of their “second ammendment solution”. See the difference? Maybe not. In case you missed it, the “knife’gunfight” comment is like saying “they’re holding the bill hostage”. It doesn’t mean anyone is literally holding a bill hostage for ransom. It doesn’t mean bring a gun or a knife.

    Angle very literally meant someoen will exercise their right to keep and bear firearms and use that right to murder Harry Reid. There is no “figure of speech” involved. It was a literal statement.

    If you want to pretend you can do mechanical interpretation of language and pretend that figures of speech don’t exist, and that Obama meant what he said in the literal interpretation, well, no one is buying that but the teabaggers.

    As an aside, Sharon Angle paid for her poor choice of words in the worst possible way for a politician-she lost

    But that doesn’t indicate whether you think her verbiage literally calling for the murder ofa politician was wrong. I am sure your pretzel twisting is obvious to you on at least a subconscious level. Because one cannot so consistently fail to comment about the topic at hand by accident.

    Instead of trying to defend Angle, you pick Palin’s behaviour. And instead of commenting on Palin, you try to make a false equivalence to Obama, ignoring language differences, and then the only behaviour you comment on is Obama’s, sayign “it didn’t bother you”.

    And repeatedly, multiple times, over and over, the question posed to you goes unanswered. Obviously not by accident.

    So to put it into terms you might more appreciate, you’ve made clear you don’t like the term “teabagger”. Do you think it “inappropriate” to use that term? NOte the word in quotes there. If you’re going to bother answering, answer the question with the word in quotes, and do not swap it out with a different word.

    Now, if you managet to answer that question, here’s part two. Do you think it “appropriate” the language that Angle used? About second ammendment solutions and someoen “taking Harry Reid out”?

    Again, answer the question asked, or don’t bother. Don’t rewrite the question to something convenient, avoiding the actual issue, and answering your version of the question.

    Is it *appropriate* for a political candidate to literally suggest someone will murder her oppnent?

    Meanwhile, for the teabaggers who released the address of a politician they didn’t like and suggesting otehrs “drop by”, resulting in someone’s gas line getting cut,would you say that behaviour (both the releasing of the address and the cutting of gas lines) is *appropriate*?

    Clearly, you’re avoiding answering these very direct and straightforward questions so I won’t hold my breath.

  223. muleface: Regarding Sharon Angle, I’d simply say the electorate decided that already. Sure, it was a little over the top.

    Oh, man, that’s hilarious.

    You guys go batshit insane if someone calls you a teabagger, you won’t talk with them, you’ll dismiss them as not worth trying to engage, you’ll ignore them, you’ll tell them those are fighting words, but someone literally suggesting that someoen will rise up and murder Harry Reid is a person you will actively supoprt and defend and the most you can bring yourself to say is that it’s behavior that’s “a little over the top”.

    You guys are a gold mine.

  224. MuleFace @239: “A little over the top”? The woman suggested that if she didn’t get her way in the next elections, it would be entirely appropriate for her supporters to shoot their way to a better result. What part of that do you feel is an appropriate statement for a political candidate to make? The part where she was directing it at Democrats, I take it?

    And after all, that’s exactly what the shooter in Tucson did: a candidate he didn’t approve of got elected, so he went and shot her. He put into practice the same thing Angle approved of in theory. I’m not sure how you excuse the theory but condemn the practice.

    Thomas Jefferson was part of an armed insurrection against, you know, an actual tyranny. He was not suggesting that if he lost to that sonofabitch John Adams that his supporters ought to grab their muskets.

  225. MasterThief @248: Your actual comment was “From what I’m reading, the thread consensus is that the use of war metaphors and imagery in politics is so evil, that it should be banned or subject to extreme social pressure.” I don’t think that Rep. Brady is part of the “thread consensus”, setting aside your hilarious conflation of actual government suppression of speech vs. private, individual choices to shun and criticize people in response to their speech. I thought you were all about that whole privatization thing?

    As for Rep. Brady, the articles are about as stupid as one usually expect articles about the law in the non-legal press to be, but it appears that his vaporware bill is intended to extend an existing law barring actual threats to cover members of Congress and federal judges. Which is not quite banning ‘war metaphors and imagery in politics’.

    But hey, when the US political scene turns into Cotton Mather: The Reckonation I will be a good sport about it when you turn to me on the gallows to say you told me so.

  226. MasterThief: You were saying about slippery slopes?

    My god, man. Read the thread. I already posted something saying I oppose the idea. That was Scalzi’s point of posting the thread in the first place. Catch up with the proram.

    That’s probably the main difference between you and me. One of my politicians proposes something I disagree with, I let them know. One of my politicians does something worthy of criticism, I let them get criticized. I don’t defend them no matter what.

    The reason we won’t slippery slope into censorship is because people like me, people in the same party of the knucklehead politician that proposed it, will oppose it.

    When Angle proposed someone murder Harry Reid, I didn’t hear a single teabagger tell her to knock the shit off. Even now, the most I’ve gotten out of the teabaggers here is it was “a little over the top”.

    It was totally fucking inappropriate for a political discussion.and anyone unwilling to say that is either insane or a blind devotee to the teabagging party.

    My politicians pull shit like that and I will be telling them loud and clear to can the shit. Teabaggers? Appear incapable of admitting wrongdoing on their part or anyone affiliated with their party.

    Instead, everthing is a slippery fucking slope.

  227. Justin Jordan #246:

    Well, we’re definitely better off looking at someone who exhibits signs of mental illness and not considering the possibility they need help. Because they so often get better on their own.

    How funny. A lot of us actually seek help on our own. A lot of us pay enormous sums of money out of pocket for this, in fact. Being mentally disturbed doesn’t mean that all of one’s facilities are out of sorts. But how society treats the mentally disturbed does make it harder to seek out this help. We aren’t all violent, hateful asses like Jared.

    On the other hand, saying that someone is mentally disturbed does tend to lead to a lot of stigma, social and otherwise, and so the conclusion had better be levied with a lot of professional analysis. A lot of people don’t really know how to diagnose schizophrenia versus bipolar versus MPD, much less the different kinds, much less the consequences of each and how they affect the thinking process. The end consequence isn’t always gunning people down in the Safeway. Or even very often at all.

  228. I am increasingly worried about the fact that neither side in this is backing down in the slightest. And I must put the onus of that worry on the reaction from the right, because it was not a conservative who was shot on Saturday and the lions share of “Kill them” rhetoric is currently coming from the right.

    It does not matter what the shooter’s motivations were, what matters is that in the current environment of hostile language people are going to understand the shooting in that context regardless of the shooter’s motivations.

    From the perspective of those who are angry about this, it is a very simple equation:

    Beck, Angle, Palin, O’Reilly, whoever, called for a politician to be shot + said politician was shot + the politician who was shot saw it coming and publicly warned people about the risk of such rhetoric = The aforementioned people are morally at fault.

    It doesn’t matter if they were actually part of the shooters rationale and it is utterly irrelevant to people who are angry that there was similar democrat rhetoric because it was not a conservative gathering that was shot up. We are not dealing with “truth” here, we are dealing with scared and angry people and a political situation that is quite possibly on the verge of being completely out of control.

    The problem is that rather than treating anger at the violent rhetoric seriously, by outright calling people who are angry about violent rhetoric obscene, the talk show hosts and such are well on their way to making sure that this will not be a lone incident.

    They had a chance to defuse any accusation of their responsibility. The way they could have done this would have been to *take* responsibility for their words. Not take them down like they were ashamed. Not pretend that anyone who finds fault in them was wrong. Certainly not to try and change the meaning of their words retrospectively. A message of “While we never believed that anyone would be so crazy as to take our rhetoric literally, we will quit using such rhetoric on the off chance that the person was influenced by us,” would have done a great deal to humanize them in the eyes of those who are blaming them for this shooting.

    Instead, the message we see from the talk radio types is that there is no connection at all and cannot be a connection between violent words and violent acts and that anyone who says otherwise is obscene.

    I cannot imagine them finding a message that is more likely to stoke anger on both sides. On the left it looks like they are either stupid or evil. It either looks like the people involved in creating the violent rhetoric are utterly unrepentant and unmoved by the massacre (or, like the Westboro Baptists, that they are actually happy about it) or that they really believe that there is no connection between increased violent rhetoric and increased violence. This leads to extremely hostile responses to the politicians and pundits in question. Then, for the people who trust the talk show hosts, those hostile angry responses are made to look like the left is cynically using the massacre for political gain.

    What scares me the most about it all is the image of someone on either side taking that anger and deciding to act upon the anger being cultivated. Because if there are follow-up shootings, then historically the tit-for-tat chain of violence that leads to civil war is unlikely to be far behind.

  229. Mythago@250 – It may be difficult to respond to that without insulting you. I’ll try. The Thomas jefferson quote was a fragment, it starts off: “God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.” He wasn’t talking about just England, but heavy-handed, overbearing government. You obviously don’t know all that much about Jefferson’s politics, which is understandable – most people don’t.
    If Sharon Angle’s “intent” were as obvious as you say, she should have been arrested. Threatening to kill someone is assault. But her comment, while intemperate & ill-advised, was also obviously metaphorical. You know metaphore, don’t you?

    “a candidate he didn’t approve of got elected, so he went and shot her”. Oh yes. This is exactly what Sharon Angle wanted. Obviously. Your intellect is astounding. How could I not see it?

  230. Metaphor? WTF? I’m sure the teabaggers who published the home address of a politician they didn’t like and cut his gas line, that was metaphoer too, eh?

    You guys are awesome.

  231. Apparently a number of people are new to the thread adn didn’t see all the links to violence and violent rhetoric from teaparty thugs.In case anyone wants to see all the metaphors, scroll up to message 50 or click here:

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/01/09/quick-giffords-follow-up/#comment-235330

    My favorite is a dem politician said on the radio that teabaggers are violent and dangerous, adn a bunch of teabaggers called him with death threats to prove how wrong he was.

    Just awesome.

    Metaphors? That’s just more awesome, man. You guys rock.

  232. Metaphor? WTF? I’m sure the teabaggers who published the home address of a politician they didn’t like and cut his gas line, that was metaphoer too, eh?

    Oh, he thinks it’s a joke.

  233. [Deleted because any post that starts with "[yawn]” is automatically contemptuous enough of others on the thread that I don’t feel obliged to keep it here. Wolfwalker, if you want to try again without leading with the “I’m an asshole” tactic, go ahead. If you can’t, then don’t bother — JS]

  234. MuleFace @255: Assault, due to that whole First Amendment thingy, requires an actual threat., or an exhortation to actual harm. “If I am not elected, I will shoot that bastard Harry Reid” is a threat; “If Harry Reid wins one of you in the audience tonight needs to pick up a gun and shoot him” is also, quite likely, criminal. Whereas a hope that somebody will shoot Harry Reid is not a automatically a threat. That’s why we have all these difficult court cases struggling with the point at which “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” stops being free speech and starts being something for which you can go to jail.

    I do in fact know what a metaphor is. How was her statement metaphorical? I am genuinely interested in what “metaphor” I am missing here.

    Jefferson, again, did not state that armed revolution was the appropriate response to his political party or himself losing an election, or to the political climate being one not of his liking; he was arguing, in his Agrarian Utopia way, for a complete turnover of government every two decades, which even by current antigovernment standards is a mite silly.

  235. THERE IS NO BETTER WAY TO TURN RATIONAL PEOPLE WITH LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES INTO EXTREMISTS THAN TO DISMISS THEM AS EVIL AND THEIR LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES AS EXTREMISM.

    Sir, a hint to you.

    This applies to you equally as well.

    Cutting gas lines is not serious, hm?

  236. 1. 237 by John Scalzi on January 10, 2011 – 6:15 pm
    lil mike:
    “Paragraph 1? “Now I’m not saying…”
    Paragraph 2: “OK now I’m saying…”
    Oh, bullshit, lil mike. I made clear right at the front of the second paragraph that independent of the shooter’s motivations, the fact he shot someone against whom gun-related political rhetoric had been used means that we’re talking about what’s appropriate political rhetoric.
    One doesn’t need Talmudic dedication to see that, just basic reading comprehension. Try not to confuse the two.

    John I don’t think the issue is my reading comprehension. The shooter’s motivations are the issue. I understand what you’ve written, I just don’t understand the argument that regardless of what the shooter’s motivations were, the fact that Giffords was targeted for defeat (not termination! Can’t we at least accept that distinction?) makes the issue about the “climate of heated political rhetoric.” That’s clearly using a tragedy to make a totally separate (and in this case partisan) political point. When you decide to disconnect the action and it’s motives from your crusade, it’s hard not to interpret it as anything other than a witch-hunt.
    If political targeting was more important than the actual motivation of the shooter, than by your standards it would have been appropriate to blame the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan on his Democratic enemies, of which he had many. I remember the 1980 election and it was considered a legitimate political argument that Reagan was a loose cannon who would pull the world into nuclear war. Would it be outside of the range of possibility that a deranged individual, inspired by fear mongering New York Times editiorials and Stephen King’s Dead Zone, might try to “save the world?”
    Of course, in those hypothetical circumstances I wouldn’t have blamed either the New York Times or Stephen King. If I follow your argument correctly, they would have been partially to blame.
    Of course in real life, Reagan was shot by a nut with a non political but crazy agenda. I suspect eventually we’ll find out it’s the same for this gunman. So far everything that I’ve seen reported leans toward a lone nut, rather than Tea Party conspirator. And none of that has anything to do with any sort of political rhetoric, of which I suspect you don’t mean this quote, “they bring a knife, we bring a gun.”
    I would think as a writer, you wouldn’t be thrilled by the causal linkage of violence and speech. That’s how you get the societal nod to limit free speech. I would hope no one of want that.

    Do we?

  237. Justin Jordan #246:

    I’m going to assist my mental health by no longer engaging with someone who won’t even pretend to engage with what I’ve actually said.

    Open Note to All Offended Tea Party Supporters.

    Don’t like me referring to you using a term that also is applied to those who derive sexual gratification from scrotal-facial contact?

    Fine, but here’s the quid pro quo: Stop calling your opponents “traitors” and un-American”. Crack open a book and learn what the fuck a Marxist is, and why that label doesn’t apply to the President. (You might also want to accept the President won’t stop being a Christian and an American no matter how hard you wish.

    Oh, and you’re publicly going to refer to gays and lesbians as “child-molesters”, “degenerates” and “perverts” don’t hold your breath waiting for thanks from me.

  238. Lilmike@263:

    Don’t think it was as smart as you think brining up Stephen King. You do realise why Blaze is the only one of King’s novels that is out of print, and will remain so as long as he (or his estate) has any say in the matter?

    I believe, Sir, that is what’s known in the trade as an own goal.

  239. Teabaggers, man. Give them an address, they cut the gas line. Drive around with an Obama sticker and they ram your car. But if you say how violent and dangerous they are, they call you wtih death threats to prove how wrong you are. — Greg

    Okay Greg, you really lost me now. If your broad-brushed oversimplified view were true, then the country should literally be in flames right now, thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, etc, all because “teabaggers” are supposedly uncontrollably heinous and violent. Do you even kniw any “teabaggers” personally? You probably do, you just don’t know it because they’re normal people just like you — and very unlike your stereotype.

    I agree with what someone said up-thread: people are apparently no longer interested in talking or getting along. It’s all about making the other guys into sub-human beasts, so they can more easily dismissed, shoved aside, or worse. I’ve seen both extremes on both sides do this too much, and it’s a real shame.

  240. Ah, teach me not to proof read properly. Blaze is very much in print, and in the preface King said his 1977 Richard Bachman novel Rage is “”Now out of print, and a good thing.”

  241. lil mike, did any dem politicians at the time suggest that Reagan ought to be murdered?

    it seems imposi le to talk with a teabagger without chains on my tires to avoid all the slippery slopes. but the point is that Angle was calling literally for the murder of Harry Reid. If a Democrat said ‘Reagan is crazy’ thd only way to go from there to assasination is by way of the teabagging slippery slope that always leads to the worst posible outcome.

    despite what some of the more detached from reality folks might try to tell you, second ammendment solutions and ‘take Harry Reid out’ is not metaphor.

    If you see no moral difference between ‘take harry reid out’ and ‘I think reagan is crazy’ then by all means say exactly that.

  242. Craig Ranapia @265

    “Don’t think it was as smart as you think brining up Stephen King. You do realise why Blaze is the only one of King’s novels that is out of print, and will remain so as long as he (or his estate) has any say in the matter?”

    Blaze is available new from Amazon. Do you have the right novel?

  243. lil mike:

    “I don’t think the issue is my reading comprehension.”

    Then I would like to know how you managed to so stupidly re-frame what I was saying. If it’s not a reading comprehension issue than it’s disingenuousness, which I appreciate even less.

    “I just don’t understand the argument that regardless of what the shooter’s motivations were, the fact that Giffords was targeted for defeat (not termination! Can’t we at least accept that distinction?) makes the issue about the ‘climate of heated political rhetoric.’”

    And? The fact you don’t appear to understand the argument is a separate issue from an attempt to reframe the argument to say and mean something other than it does.

    It’s perfectly fine to say you don’t understand the argument, or even that you disagree with the argument. It’s rather less acceptable to suggest that I mean something other than I do, because, apparently, you’re having difficulty wrapping your brain around it.

    “I would think as a writer, you wouldn’t be thrilled by the causal linkage of violence and speech.”

    That shows what you don’t know about writers, I suppose. Speech certainly can incite violence, or panic, or many other negative things, which is why among other things First Amendment protections are not absolute (cf. the famous quote about yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater). Most people are aware of this, which is why, in the wake of a Congressperson being shot in the head after a season of heated and violence-tinged political rhetoric, people are asking if the rhetoric hasn’t gone too far.

    That this shooter doesn’t appear directly influenced by the rhetoric of the election doesn’t mean that people are inappropriately questioning the rhetoric in the aftermath of the shooting. The shooting is a catalyst for a conversation which should happened long ago.

  244. An Eddie who is not Eddie C:

    No apology required. If I’m bitching people for not being entirely honest in their arguments, it’s sweet that I’m getting pulled up on my own careless “truthiness”. :)

  245. Aaargh, I farked up the quote from King but he discusses why he asked his publishers not to re-print Rage at some length and has a typically thoughtful take on the relationship between violence and art and life:

    I can’t say for sure that Michael Carneal, the boy from Kentucky who shot three of his classmates dead as they prayed before school, had read my novel, Rage, but news stories following the incident reported that a copy of it had been found in his locker. It seems likely to me that he did. Rage had been mentioned in at least one other school shooting, and in the wake of that one an FBI agent asked if he could interview me on the subject, with an eye to setting up a computer profile that would help identify potentially dangerous adolescents. The Carneal incident was enough for me. I asked my publisher to take the damned thing out of print. They concurred. Are there still copies of Rage available? Yes, of course, some in libraries where you ladies and gentlemen ply your trade. Because, like the guns and the explosives and the Ninja throwing-stars you can buy over the Internet, all that stuff is just lying around and waiting for someone to pick it up.

    Do I think that Rage may have provoked Carneal, or any other badly adjusted young person, to resort to the gun? It’s an important question, because it goes to the very heart of the wrangle over who’s to blame. You might as well ask if I believe that the mere presence of a gun makes some people want to use that gun. The answer is troubling, but it needs to be faced: in some cases, yes. Probably it does. Often? No, I don’t believe so. How often is too often? That’s not for me or any other single person to say. It’s a question each part of our society must answer for itself, as each state, for instance, must answer the question of when a kid is old enough to have a driver’s license or buy a drink.

    There are factors in the Carneal case which make it doubtful that Rage was the defining factor, but I fully recognize that it is in my own self-interest to feel just that way; that I am prejudiced in my own behalf. I also recognize the fact that a novel such as Rage may act as an accelerant on a troubled mind; one cannot divorce the presence of my book in that kid’s locker from what he did any more than one can divorce the gruesome sex-murders committed by Ted Bundy from his extensive collection of bondage-oriented porno magazines. To argue free speech in the face of such an obvious linkage (or to suggest that others may obtain a catharsis from such material which allows them to be atrocious only in their fantasies) seems to me immoral. That such stories, video games (Harris was fond of a violent computer-shootout game called Doom), or photographic scenarios will exist no matter what–that they will be obtainable under the counter if not over it–begs the question. The point is that I don’t want to be a part of it. Once I knew what had happened, I pulled the ejection-seat lever on that particular piece of work. I withdrew Rage, and I did it with relief rather than regret.

  246. Craig,

    Well I have read a description of Rage, and I can see why he pulled it. Seems there was a Tom Clancy and another author who each wrote a book about deliberately ramming passenger jets into various buildings prior to 9/11, I wonder if they wish they could pull those back?

  247. Brad, its not my broad brush, its facts that i linked to way back in post number 50. All those things happened. And were committed by teabaggers. A political party that just started, what a year ago, maybe two. If thats what the teabagger party looks like out of the gate, then I dont think it too harsh to say that teabaggers are violent and dangerous (something a dem politician said on a radio and got death threats from)

    The thing that is absolutely insane here is all these left leaning folks talking about how violent and dangerous the teabaggers are, AND LISTING ACTUAL EXAMPLES WITH LINKS, and teabagger defenders come back with “what are you talking about? why are you making up all this nonsense?”

    kind of hard for teabaggers to condemn the violence and violent rhetoric if they are unaware of it. check out the links at fifty and then tell me if you did anything to tell the thugs to cut the shit. as far as I know, NO ONE who is or was a member of the teabagger party EVER condemned the violence within their own party.

    The fact that many on the left have been screaming about this since the teabaggers started the violence and you come back with ‘why are you making up all this stuff’ certainly doesnt win the teabagger party with any self-policed awards. this is the shit peope have been screaming about. if ilyou are a teabagger then you need to let you party leaders this sht is unacceptable. and you need to educate you fellow members about th violent history of their party. denial through ignrance of history does not work. acknowledge the problem, state unequivicly that it it unacceptable behavior, and take real actions to effect change in the teabaggrr party, and maybe the party can earn some respect.

    as it is, with thugs running around and the only defense being ‘I dont know anyone violent’ the label as a violent organization is deserved.

    know your party. know your(short) history. and stop relying one the locals you know as the total representation of the teabagger party.

  248. An Eddie who is not Eddie C@#275:

    Oh, the Clancy book is more impressive (in a sick and horrible way) than that. In the closing pages of Debt of Honour (published in 1994) newly confirmed Vice President Jack Ryan narrowly avoids being killed by an an embittered Japan Air Lines pilot, avenging the deaths of his son and brother— killed during America’s recently concluded war with Japan, which dates the book a lot —flies a Boeing 747 directly into the U.S. Capitol building during the joint session of Congress that has just confirmed him. The President, the overwhelming majority of Congress and the Cabinet, the Joint-Chiefs of Staff and all nine Supreme Court justices aren’t as lucky.

    In the sequel, Executive Orders (1996), enemies within and without try – and fail – to take advantage of President Ryan’s inexperience Iran is particularly busy as it launches a wave of bio-terrorism in the US, invades Iraq (virtually unopposed), as a prelude to invading Saudi Arabia with the help of China and India.

    And, no, Clancy and his publisher didn’t even consider pulling either title after the 9/11 attacks. Not that they should have — Tom Clancy is more of threat to literacy than world peace.

  249. Lil Mike #233: “I’m not going to try to parse John’s post as if it were the Talmud. I don’t have years of study to dedicate to it, however he clearly wanted to have it both ways, as you can see from his initial post.”

    Yeah, I call bs as Scalzi does. That is not at all what the posting says. The first paragraph says that there’s no evidence that the shooting was politically motivated. The second paragraph says that because the person shot was a politician however, that it has brought up AGAIN the conversation that has been going on in this country for some time about violent political rhetoric and behavior, that the incident has provoked the discussion to move to the forefront of people’s minds, not that the incident is the only discussion, and that since Palin used violent political rhetoric against Gifford, that she is going to be discussed, though she will not be and indeed currently isn’t the only person being discussed. The incident has launched a discussion about violent political rhetoric, which has been bothering a lot of people on the right and the left for awhile.

    You keep trying to claim that Scalzi and we are saying Palin caused and directed the shooter to shoot Gifford (and indeed there may be some people who feel that way, but there is no evidence of this yet.) But Scalzi isn’t even talking about the shooter, except to say that we can’t assume the shooter is mentally ill or perpetuate the myth that people with mental disorders are predominantly violent. He’s talking about the discussion of violent political rhetoric that the shooting incident reignited, as have past incidents of violence, several of them politically motivated. Thomas Jefferson’s rhetoric, which was aimed at a distant ruling government across the ocean, is now being used regularly by far right politicians in the tea movement as a declaration that they may need to shoot their neighbors, that their neighbors are traitors, enemies, people who should be treated violently. Whether Gifford was shot or not, I will and have protested that sort of rhetoric. I don’t see it as over the top exaggeration. I see it as a deliberate strategy to demonize opponents, agitate constituents and create a hostile, intimidating environment that makes other people afraid and threatened. When Democrats use that language too and I hear of it, I will speak out against it and have on this thread. Because I have free speech too. If Palin gets to talk about shooting her opponents, I get to say that she’s full of crap and that what she’s doing is wrong. What other people do does not excuse her own speech. Why the shooter shot does not excuse her own speech. She said it publicly as a political leader. And I have the right to criticize her for it. Trying to claim that I’m doing something else is not going to fly. And I am not ashamed to criticize Palin for her hate speech, just as I was not ashamed before the shooting. I think Palin should be ashamed of what she has said, of the violence she has endorsed and encouraged, whether there was a shooting or not. But since a Congresswoman got shot, violence in politics and violent rhetoric is going to be discussed, which is what Scalzi was saying. Because we have free speech in this country and it is not restricted by what a shooter’s motivations may or may not be.

    “I remember reading in history the Salem witch trails and laughed at the primitive fear based actions that our enlightened age would never do. Now, I get to watch it live on TV. With zero evidence of Tea Party/Palin involvement, this is merely a witchhunt.”

    I get to watch Salem witchhunts and McCarthy witchhunts all the time if I want — I just turn on Fox Cable. They have them 24/7 and they go after people with zero evidence or fabricated and doctored evidence without even the most basic journalistic fact check. When it turns out to be lies, when they get caught selectively editing a video, they just shrug and do it again. Palin also has done this and famously participated in a witch-protection and condemnation church service. And yet you don’t seem to think that’s a big deal, just politics. So guess what, it’s just politics on the other side too to talk about them, because they are public figures and what they said is on tape. You keep arguing that the far right should have all the free speech rights, and media time to demonize their opponents, especially if there is a violent incident, tied to the left or not, and shouldn’t be criticized or analyzed, but if anybody else does the same, they should be ashamed? Palin said that I’m not a real American and I’m trying to destroy the country and it’s broadcast around the world, but I should be ashamed if I protest the use of gun crosshairs in a political campaign (when she’s not even running,) and hate speech? I don’t think so, guy, sorry. (P.S., the movie trailers are all for big studio movies, even Hanna is from a big studio’s indie arm.)

    Master Thief #248: I’ve never said anything about slippery slopes during the whole discussion. What I have said is that I am not saying the First Amendment should be eliminated. (Palin essentially has.) The news story on the proposed bill, which I think is wrong, is on Slate, a left-leaning magazine that is also saying that they think the proposed bill is wrong and shouldn’t be done — criticizing the politician proposing it. You know what else is wrong and unconstitutional? A law that makes citizens have to provide citizen documents or get arrested, like they passed in Arizona. That’s a slippery slope into tyranny that has actually passed into law. You know what else is wrong? Lying about your city being a kidnapping capital of the world and headless bodies being found in the desert and then shrugging it off when the lie is exposed, like Brewer — and McCain — did in Arizona, demonizing Latinos and Latin-Americans and intimidating Latin-Americans from voting and staying in Arizona. I am not so bound by ideology that I ignore speech I don’t agree with by Democrats. But that I think a Democratic Congressperson is being an idiot — and protest it — does not mean I’m not going to protest hate speech by Republicans and far right political figures. What the Democratic congressperson proposes does not erase what Palin or others have said and done, nor protect it from being discussed at any time under any circumstances. If you agree with what Palin has said about people like me — that I’m a traitor, that I will destroy your country, that you may have to shoot me, then say that. But don’t tell me I don’t have the right to speak out and Palin does. Don’t try to accuse me of claiming that others don’t have free speech because of something somebody else said.

  250. I am fairly sure there was another author who wrote a similar novel. I remember it because I remember seeing Condi say on National TV that no one could have imagined that people would use Airliners as weapons, and I thought to myself except for the millions of people who read those two books.

  251. Lil Mike #263: “The shooter’s motivations are the issue.”

    That is one issue. It is the issue that you want to talk about. It is not the issue that Scalzi proposed for discussion, however. The violence against Gifford is part of a wider discussion about violence in politics, violent political rhetoric, death threats made to Gifford and other politicians, and the current climate of hostilities in this country.

    I’ve realized in doing the previous post that I cannot keep up with this discussion. I hope that Gifford and the other survivors continue to improve.

  252. Teabaggers this. Teabaggers that.

    Yeah, cause an off-color nickname is absolutely the same thing as inciting assassinations.

  253. Stephen M:

    Yeah, I’m really mindful of the delicate sensibilities of folks like the little charmer who called me “as big a c**t as your stupid RINO bitch-dyke girlfriend” for suggesting that moderate Maine senator Olympia Snowe might not be the devil incarnate because she offered qualified support for TARP and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    You know something, some Tea Baggers might like to consider that they’d get some respect if they bothered showing any.

  254. Evening in Byzantium, by Irwin Shaw, and (IIRC) Under Siege, by Stephen Coonts, are the other two where airliners are flown into populated buildings. Again, IIRC, John Gardner, Martin Caidin, and Dean Ing have had characters do such things using small aircraft, all five prior to 9/11. I remember watching the second aircraft turn on 9/11 and thinking “Someone’s actually doing that!”

  255. Skimming this thread has given me a raft of posters to ignore from here on out.

    Just saying that in a thread about violent rhetoric, using slurs about your opponents, while not directly in line with the topic of the post, does seem to be rather missing the point. FWIW.

  256. Durbin, it was demonstrating the point exactly. Call people Teabaggers and they get upset by the language. Tell them that their language of murder and violence is inappropriate, and they demonstrate complete indifference.

    Not one person who decried the language of “Teabagger” as insulting their beliefs likewise condemned the violent language of the Teabagger party itself.

    The point is to make absolutely positively clear that Teabagger philosophy can be boiled down to this:

    We can call for someone’s murder, but you are not allowed to call us names.

    The hypocricy is unsustainable except by the most blind Teabag followers, and those poeple will never change their mind anyway. The point is to have these blind followers demonstrate their indifference to their words of murder and violence while playing the victim of a nonviolent insult so that their hypocricy is clear to the world.

    They have yet to dissapoint.

  257. OK, Tea Party persons, I’ve seen the light. My improper use of “teabagger” is grossly offensive and insulting to prople who get their kicks from performing this sex act with consenting adults in private.

    My profound and sincere apologies to all aficionados of scrotal fellatio I may have offended with my divisive hate speech.

  258. Craig @264. You ask others to stop their bad behavior (calling you, or people like you, un-american or traitors) before you are willing to stop calling them things they do not wish to be called.) Very simply, many of them have stated that because their has been violent speech by others during the Bush Administration- something even as a democrat myself I personally witnessed- they have no desire to stop now. As if there is some sort of trade in bad behavior that they feel is now coming due. To them, they find that hypocritical on the part of the left. Leaving them with a childish response of you did it so now I am and there aint nothin you can do about it. Those complaining about Your Teabagger/Tea Party dilemma sounds surprisingly similar.

    Now I am saying that they are at all equivalent. To call for someone’s death is far worse in my mind. Dangerously uncivil vs. just plain uncivil maybe is the way I would put it.

    That being said, If you find their behavior bad, to emulate it yourself is not really a good idea ethically. If you want a more civil world it has to start from within before you will have much credibility with the other people that you insult. Or even, for that matter, those of us you don’t insult. If you want them to be better, be better yourself- first.

  259. Sorry about the typos in@289

    To clarify what I am saying- There is not equivalence but similarity between their issues with not being able to condemn violent speech and your inability to stop being insulting. Act as you want others to treat you would probably a better ethical decision on your part.

  260. Greg – I keep seeing you say “you guys” – as if anyone who disagrees with you is a “teabagger”. (Always like pejorative twisting of someone else’s self-labelling – no bad faith there….heh). Sorry Greg – I have lots of areas of disagreement with the Tea Party & definitely don’t consider myself one. That doesn’t mean I have to sit back watch blood libel & say nothing.

  261. For the media, politics is just a flavor of content. As long as people keep buying it, they’ll keep selling it, no matter how toxic it is. Plenty of corporations still make a profit selling cigarettes, after all.

    The responsibility here belongs to voters, viewers, and consumers. Limbaugh and Beck are only on the air because they sell commercials. If politicians, commentators, and televangelists can get away with saying things that are obviously untrue, we can only blame people who fail to use their own eyes and reason to see the world as it is.

  262. malpasplace@289:

    I obviously have to start using the sarcasm tag, but there was a point. This isn’t the first thread awash with people whose moral indignation (faux or otherwise) about slightly blue snark doesn’t extend to their own conduct. But in the end, this is a standard derailing tactic (change the subject to avoid addressing uncomfortable questions), and like any other form of trolling the best response is starve them until they go back under their bridges.

  263. @Craig: here’s a link to that reynolds article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703667904576071913818696964.html

    and you’re right that this analysis is rather weak. he tries to reframe the discussion by saying that either there is a direct link between the rhetoric and the event or else people who question the rhetoric are immoral opportunists, roughly paraphrased. apparently one cannot make a reasoned and bi-partisan call to reassess the content and impact of our language without making a “vicious lie” or “contemptibl[y]” “seizing on a tragedy.”

  264. for those of you still trying to deny that the right used more violent rhetoric, and that there is a link between rhetoric and actual violence, here is an april 2009 internal report by the department of homeland security about the rise in violent rightwing rhetoric and the potential for a rise in rightwing violence.

    it also draws a link between the rise in rightwing violence of the early and mid-90′s, culminating in oklahoma city, to the current climate of rightwing rhetoric. drawing this link should be no surprise either, since the current blend of divisive, angry, violent rhetoric was all park of gingrich’s ’94 campaign and was instituted early in ’93.

    no one is saying that oklahoma city or tuscon is what always happens when you use violent speech; the argument is that some people, already unreasonably paranoid and angry about a government they don’t understand and have come to hate, consume that violent rhetoric and process it in ways that the vast majority of us don’t. sometimes the ways they process that violent rhetoric, along with many other influences, does help propel them towards actual violence. i’m not trying to be glib, or make monsters out of shadows: the dhs saw this clearly enough to warn law enforcement officials about the possibility.

    and it is the very possibility that such hateful speech could translate into actual violence that should cause us all to stop and rethink our own rhetoric, in hopes that we are not–either directly or indirectly–responsible for such an event. like stephen king’s quote above about how relieved he was to have Rage withdrawn from print, all of us–politicians, news people, and bloggers–should desire to pursue that same level of moral certitude.

  265. In existing court interpretation, violent rhetoric (advocating the -idea- of violence) is protected by the First Amendment, but “fighting words” come under the categorical exceptions doctrine and are not protected speech. I’m curious to see if any of the violent rhetoric specifically directed at Giffords comes under scrutiny as a categorical exception in the wake of the shooting. But given the so-far mysterious state of the shooter’s mind, I’ll be surprised if a link can be shown strongly enough to support a court case. The following explanation of the “fighting words” exception to protected speech is from a research paper I wrote in grad school, “Googling Hate: Hate Speech, First Amendment Ideology, and the World Wide Web.” (The focus of the paper was a then-current international web controversy over an anti-Semitic hate-site on the Web, JewWatch.com.)

    “” In fact, the Court does recognize some instances of hate speech as falling within the categorical exceptions doctrine. A detailed discussion of the Court’s various interpretations of “fighting words,” the categorical exception applied to hate speech when it is not protected by the First Amendment, is beyond the scope of this paper (and has filled whole books). To summarize the Court’s current position on hate speech as a categorical exception: The First Amendment protects hate speech =unless= “the speech is likely to incite immediate violence or constitutes a threat of violence directed at a specific person.”[3] This is a very specific standard for a hate speech case to meet. In 1969, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had given a speech threatening vengeance against the government for supporting civil rights legislation; the Supreme Court justices argued that the speech was protected because it advocated the idea of violent action without directly inciting violence.

    The passage quoted earlier in this paper from an article linked to JewWatch.com is also protected under this precedent. It advocates the =idea= of combating and destroying alleged Jewish control of the media. It does not tell readers to go kill a specific individual or bomb a specific media business; such remarks would be “fighting words” and would =not= be entitled to First Amendment protection. It’s possible that advocating the idea of taking vengeance against the government for civil rights or the idea of combating so-called Jewish media domination might result in action and consequences. However, advocating ideas (however offensive or repellent) does not qualify as a categorical exception. Moon writes:

    “If some individuals are persuaded of certain views and act on them, then we might say that the expression has “caused” the action; but under most accounts of freedom of expression, the state is not justified in restricting expression simply because it causes harm in this sense—through persuasion.”[4]

    If the state began to restrict speech on the basis of what caused someone harm, censorship would soon include everything from diet fads to political activism. “”

  266. Amos@297:

    Reynolds’ invocation of “blood libel” is not only weak its downright contemptible coming from someone, I presume, is trained to use language with care and precision. I find it hard to believe he didn’t know exactly what dog-whistle the WSJ’s readership would hear.

    Andrew Sullivan powns Reynolds (and others on the right) @ http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2011/01/the-right-reacts.html:

    There is the obvious third option that has occurred to almost anyone not ideologically primed to defend anything Republican. That option – voiced even by Palin apologist Howie Kurtz – is that Palin’s words were “highly unfortunate” and certainly regrettable. Does Glenn Reynolds believe otherwise? Does he endorse the gun-sights imagery? Does he see nothing wrong with it in retrospect? Would he have attended the Jesse Kelly “Fire an M-16″ to show you want to defeat Gabby Giffords? We know the answer. And it is because he has been exposed as a rhetorician besotted with images of violence and murder that he has to call this obvious inference a “vicious lie.” The extremity of his rhetoric reveals nothing but the length of the limb onto which he has climbed.

    I think it’s also worth pointing out to academic Palin/Tea Party/GOP apologists like Reynolds and Ann Althouse, that while they’re telling everyone else “harden up”, I rather doubt they’d be so sanguine about being on the receiving end of similar “mere metaphors” (as Professor Althouse puts it) from a disgruntled student.

  267. MuleFace, the “you guys” is directed at anyone saying that murderous rhetoric is acceptable in politics but “teabagger” is just too much, at anyone downplaying someone should “take Harry Reid out” as just a “metaphor” for taking Harry Reid out rather than actuall advocating someone take Harry Reid out, at anyone saying second ammendment solutions is “a little over the top” but say that the “teabagger” term is “blood libel”.

    And “you guys” have yet to dissapoint.

    Anyone who lectures me on how wrong “teabagger” is while defending and downplaying literal calls for murder deserves to be called a teabagger whether they belong to the party or not. It is a level of hypocricy deserving to be pointed out wherever it occurs.

    The teabaggers can dish it out, but they can’t take it. They want one set of rules for themselves and another set of rules for everyone else. And their attempts to remove the rather large number of shades of gray between “teabagger” and calls for murder is sufficiently repugnant to most folks that I expect it to drive away all but the most blind and obediant from the teabagger party.

    Ask a large number of random people if there is a moral differene between “teabagger” and “you should die”, and most will say “yes”. That teabaggers and their defenders attempt to say “no”, attempt to say they are exactly the same, attempt to say “you’re doing the exact same thing calling us names”, reveals the mind of someone who looks at the world in two-color format: black and white. And most people will get there is something fundamentally wrong with that view .

    So, whether you are officially a member of the teabagger party or not, attempting to equate “teabagger” with “you should die” serves its purpose of demonstrating to the rest of the world just how morally messed up it is.

  268. Based on what I’ve seen all over the internet and the media for the past three days, Andrew Sullivan in the Atlantic sums it up accurately, IMO: “If you are looking for reflectiveness, you won’t find it, in what strikes me as an ominous sign of a right-wing movement more willing to see its opponents gunned down than ever engage in introspection.”

  269. Laura:

    Yeah, that train’s gone pretty far into the tunnel. One hopes the light up ahead isn’t Pu-238.

  270. And again I think Sully gets it right (which is to say he agrees with me :P). The issue isn’t so much that the right as a whole is worse than the left, it is the identity and prominence of the reckless provocateurs on the right:

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2011/01/only-one-side.html

    Money quote: “…only the conservative movement counts the most vile blowhards as leading lights, embraced by the leadership. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Sarah Palin: these are among the most popular conservatives in America. Who are the folks on the left with equivalent popularity and equally?”

  271. Greg – “literal calls for murder” – Um…..There was a great skit on SNL on the misuse of the word “literal”. You should look it up. Face it, you’re getter waaaaay carried away with this issue.

  272. Mule, Tell you what, I’ll make you a deal. When you fix your use of “metaphor” @255 as some lame attempt to downplay what “take Harry Reid out” and “second ammendment solutions” was intending to mean (what? take him out… to dinner?), then and only then can you give me dictionary lessons about “literal”.

    Till then, stop distracting the discussion from the real issue and stop trying to make it about SNL skits and other nonsense. Next you’ll be pointing out spelling errors.

    Your smoke and mirrors aren’t working.

  273. Greg, you and all the others who are so caught up in the current frenzy a laughable. You’re so certain that you’ve latched on to something significant (as opposed to merely confirming your biases), you’ve become the dog who won’t let go of a bone. Enjoy your bone.

  274. While reading an interesting piece on “literal” (the short of which is “stuff it”), I found an interesting article about how a guy named Zamudio had a handgun, ran up to the shooting scene with Giffords, and nearly shot the man who had wrestled the gun away from Loughner. Who exactly had teh gun and who he shoved is not clear. Possibly Bill Badger. Zamudio had the safety off, his hand on his gun, ran up to the scene, grabbed Badger, and threw him up against the wall, then jumped on Loughner. Zamudio said it took only seconds and he admits he was “very lucky” he didn’t shoot the wrong man.

    Several on the right are hailing Zamudio as proof that we need more guns. But Loughner was knocked down by a man who swung a chair at him, tackled by a number of men nearby, and then a little old lady grabbed the magazine to his gun. So, the reality is if anythign, everyone should be issued a folding chair.

    Or a little old lady.

  275. Mule: you’ve become the dog who won’t let go of a bone.

    See, Mule, now that’s a metaphor.

    Saying “someone is going to exercise their second ammendment right and take him out”, that’s pretty clear it’s not a metaphor.

    And when asked in a later interview if she was really referring to “violent revolution” or perhaps some insane notion of “metaphor”, Angle said “anything is possible”.

    So, yeah, not a metaphor. She was really calling for violence. She was really suggesting someone murder Harry Reid. Her “coy” response was ambiguouss only to those who want to protect dog whistle language..No one else bought the bullshit.

    People like you sayign Angle’s comments were “metaphor” is about as brilliant as Palin’s people tryign to say those things were surveyor’s crosses. Palin’s people look silly, pathetic, and irresponsible for trying to pull such a lame revisionist stunt.

    By all means, keep up the great work.

  276. It takes a very special kind of mindset to equate criticism of language suggesting (with various degrees of seriousness) that one’s political opponents suffer physical harm, with “blood libel”. Particularly in regards to the attempted assassination of a Jewish congresswoman.

    Laura @301: which tells us quite a bit on its own, no? Principles that are discarded when they might prove one’s political allies wrong, or when they lead to a my-team-doesn’t-win result, are not real principles. In which case one shouldn’t pay the slightest attention to those pretending to espouse such ‘principles’.

  277. Re MuleFace #306:
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but is it not a basic quality of the conservative paradigm to maintain the status quo, look backwards and resist change, holding onto one’s traditional values instead of looking for new ideas? It seems to me that there will be a minority (maybe about 25% of the population) that will cling to the idea that the right has done nothing wrong and do not need to feel even the slightest bit of responsibility in this shooting (and don’t need to change anything). That’s what’s laughable.
    I think that a lot of people, including conservative moderates, will see a need for change and an indirect, if not direct, responsibility. Personally, I think that means that the right has effectively shot itself in the foot. The more obstinate they are in that denial, the more gangrene will set in.
    I don’t know, …maybe I have too much faith in human nature. It’s happened before.

  278. #312: pwinholt: “Personally, I think that means that the right has effectively shot itself in the foot.”

    That is also a metaphor.

    Robert Lowry, a Republican challenger to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL), holding a fundraising event at a gun range, with Lowry shooting at a human-shaped target that had Schulz’s initials written next to it: not a metaphor, it’s visual symbolism.

    Tea movement political candidate running for a Senate seat Richard Behney told a group of Second Amendment activists that they didn’t have to resort to armed insurrection “yet.” He said further: “We can get new faces in. Whether it’s my face or not, I pray to God that I see new faces. And if we don’t see new faces, I’m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I’m serious about that, and I bet you are, too. But I know none of us want to go that far yet, and we can do it with our vote.” Not a metaphor, except for the use of “big show” to signify shooting your neighbors because you lost to them in an election. It is a threat.

    Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) told Politico that his Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus “hunt liberal, tree-hugging Democrats, although it does seem like a waste of good ammunition.” This is a metaphor. Also a joke. Also a threat.

    Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is, as I mentioned, the guy who said that he wanted his campaigners to go at his opponent and make him “scared to come out of his house.” This is not a metaphor. It’s a threat. He then hired right wing talk-radio host, Joyce Kaufman, as his chief of staff. Kaufman said on air: “I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave a Second Amendment. And if ballots don’t work, bullets will.” This is also not a metaphor. It’s a threat of violence if her side loses elections. West was forced to rescind his offer of a job, although he did not regard Kaufman’s call to violence as wrong.

    Republican Rex Rammell, primary challenger for Idaho’s governor’s seat, joked about “Obama tags” in reference to hunting tags that make hunting particular types of prey legal. This is a metaphor. It’s also a joke. It’s also a threat.

    Republican political leader and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre at the 2009 CPAC spoke: “Our Founding Fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules.” That’s not a metaphor. It’s a political philosophy endorsing mob rule and tyranny.

    Conservative political activist and media figure Anne Coulter had her biggest seller with the book entitled: Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. This is not a metaphor.

    Religious and conservative political leader Jerry Falwell after 9/11 said in the media: “The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this. … And I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way – all of them who have tried to secularize America – I point the finger in their face and say: “You helped this happen.”” This is not a metaphor. I doubt sincerely that either Fox Cable or Prof. Reynolds called it “blood libel” at the time either. Many conservative political figures and media pundits, including the gang at Fox, applauded what he said, and many more were saying similar things like it, with and without the God’s judgment part.

    And now Democrat Congresspeople are, in the wake of the shooting, getting death threats towards them and their staff, in Illinois and Colorado, more to come, I’m sure.

  279. ‘you’ve become the dog that won’t let go of a bone’

    On reflection, I am not sure if thats a metaphor or simile. I always get fuzzy on those two.

  280. Greg & Kat (and all others caught up in the frenzy): To be clear, I am not a Republican, a tea-partier, nor for that matter, a progressive or a conservative. Independent small-l libertarian, more than anything else. But I think all of the above bring something meaningful to the discussion – and the practice of demonizing those you disagree with is, frankly, an immature inulgence that does no good whatsoever. I’m not going to stop you, obviously. You too much enjoy slamming (violent rhetoric!!!) those you disagree with.

  281. MuleFace is illustrating a principle that I don’t think has a fancy-pants Latin name, but which is familiar to lawyers and investigative reporters: sometimes you ask a person questions not because they’re ever going to give you a straight answer, but because you wish to illustrate that that they’re not going to give you a straight answer.

    So one musn’t expect an explanation as to why a call to “Second Amendment remedies” in the same sentence as a threat to “take out” one’s opponent is mere metaphor of some sort. Nor should one wait, eagerly, to learn why condemning such threats is precisely like accusing Jews of killing and grinding up Christian babies for matzoh. One also probably shouldn’t expect any admission that anyone on one’s own “side” – or at least, anyone not beloved of the “other side” – could possibly be wrong. One should expect to be attacked, accused of bad faith and evil intent.

  282. Mule: the practice of demonizing those you disagree with is, frankly, an immature inulgence

    Teabagger cuts a man’s gas line. Progressive says that is unacceptable behaviour in a democracy.

    Muleface, the only voice of independent neutrality on the thread, looks at all that and says the progressive is the immature one? You have yet failed to entertain, muleface.

    How does this work exactly? If threatening to “take out” someone is “metaphor”, then a guy with a sawzall cutting a gas line is a… “performance artist”?

    Let me say again, you guys are awesome

  283. Greg, you have quite an, um, independent concept of reality. Your sequence & interpretation of facts is unhinged. But enjoy yourself. I’m sure you’re the hero in all your stories.

  284. Dude, almost snorted my soda reading that. That was so funny it hurt. ugh. high fructose corn syrup in the nasal passages. it burns.

    I dont even know what you’re talking about anymore. Sequence and interpretation? What does that mean? Teabaggers didnt cut someone gas line? Or they cut it first and then published his address? Dont know. Doesnt matter.

    All I do know is that is some first rate funny ass shit right there. Heee-larious.

  285. Greg – my apologies, that should have been mythago. “You guys” are all the same to me at this point. :D

  286. Hey, it’s “The Best Of MuleFace”. Your favorite scenes from the best episodes.

    #47: teabaggers are defensive only because mean, unfair lefties attack them. We hates them.

    #61: Mean, unfair lefty blogs also attacked Dubya when he was president. So unfair. So cruel. And so much worse than anything the misunderstood teabaggers ever did or gaslines they cut.

    #73: If you want to believe the teabaggers are UNIQUELY pernicious and violent, have at it. But lefties, are worse.

    #89 inflammatory rhetoric existed on every side throughout history. It’s all exactly the same. And since its exactly the same, how can we condemn crazy kids with sawzalls. Why, I remember cutting gaslines when I was a kid. Ah, brings back memories….

    #219: I will prove how independent and scientific and neutral I am by saying that everyone here is demonstrating “confirmation bias”. everyone except me, of course.

    #219: It’s silly to attach political significance to this mass murder. See how silly it is targeting a politician singled out by Sarah Palin and Teabaggers with crosshair symbols and demonization rhetoric.. Silly I tell you. Look at the silly monkey.

    #227: Perhaps you read entreails better than plain facts.

    #228: Because I accuse Eddie of confirmation bias, it stands as true until Eddie can refute it. That’s how logic works. Also, the shooter’s motivations are his problem, not the teabaggers. You cannot question the teabaggers motivations. Hear me? DO NOT QUESTION TEABAGGERS MOTIVATIONS! They are off limits for conversation.

    #239: Angle’s talk of second ammend solutions and that someone would “take Harry Reaid out” was “a little over the top”, maybe, but look what Jefferson said 200 years ago about something completely unrelated!

    #255: if Angle was “threatening”, she would have been arrested. Since she wasn’t arrested, then her words are perfectly acceptable. Because that’s what mechanical interpretation of law and rules looks like. If not illegal, then perfectly acceptable and you cant criticize it. remember this rule:: IF NOT ILLEGAL, THEN NOT OPEN FOR CRITICISM.

    #291: you say “you guys” as if anyone who disagrees with you is a “teabagger”. I’m not a teabagger (I’m an “independent libertarian” and thats a completely different political position). That said, I don’t have to sit back and watch all this “blood libel” against teabaggers and say nothing. Poor little teabaggers picked on by the big mean left wing. Hell, Hamilton and Burr had a duel with pistols back in teh day. Hamilton died. Why can’t we live like that anymore? Just good clean fun. All these mean nasty lefties got to go and ruin everything. We hates them nasty liberals.

    #304: Ah HA! You said “LITERAL” and that’s not what literal means. Everything you said is now forfeit and I win! WIN! Yes, “second ammendment solutions” and “take Harry Reid out” was a metaphor…. for killing Reid, but it was a METAPHOR, dammit. So there.

    #306: You latch onto something so insignificant. (two years of violent rhetoric, violence, death threats, calls to arms, calls to murder). You’re like a dog with a bone. woof.

    #315: I’m not a republican or teabagger, but I think they at least bring something meaningful to the discussion . Hey, all you lefties, stop picking on the teaparty and demonizign them for having a little honest fun, (I still remember the first gas line I cut, ah good times, good time), you lefties are immature and are doing no good whatsoever. Why can’t you contribute to the conversation like those guys who rammed someones car for having an Obama sticker. Bumper cars is fun!

    Yes, call now for the complete DVD set of MuleFace Greatest hits.

    So, all in all, not a bad run. Several posts which attempt to downplay the significance of two years of violence and violent rhetoric from teaparty leaders and candidates and footsoldiers. Several posts which attempt to inflate and overstate the violence on the left. A couple of posts that actually compliment teaparty and republicans. And not a single post says anything positive in any way about any left leaning individual.

    Oh, Sure, MuleFace, when I look at it like that, you’re clearly the voice of reason here.

    Telling Eddie at #228 that your assertion is true until he refutes it was a close contender for crazy logic award, but I think the absolute best bit was #255, if Sharron had said anything threatening she would have been arrested. Since she wasn’t arrested, she must not have said anything threatening and therefore criticizing her statements is false, tricksey. Nasty little liberals. We hates them.

    The logical pretzel twisting just boggles and entertains at the same time. With a hint of morbid ‘how does he not break his spine”. Like watching an acrobat at cirque du soleil or something.

    in summary, awesome.

  287. So let me get this straight, Mule Face. I, along with Scalzi, point out that you are accusing Scalzi of views that he clearly stated he didn’t hold and trying to talk about a topic (the shooter’s motives) that not only is not the topic that Scalzi is opening conversation about, but one that he told us not to talk about, and this makes me immature? You claim I’m promoting censorship and I explain that I am not and I point out that I have equal free speech rights to Sarah Palin, including the right to criticize her for violent rhetoric just as she criticizes me and my politicians, and so I object to you telling me I should be ashamed for doing so while she shouldn’t be ashamed at anything she says, and this makes me frenzied? I present quotes from far right political figures, about hunting and shooting their opponents, demonizing those opponents and intimidating them and their supporters, things that far right figures do continually with violent rhetoric over the last fifteen years, and relating what they actually said is me demonizing them? I didn’t put the words in their mouths.

    I believe that all these politicians have the right to speak freely, but I disagree with what they say and criticize their message. I have the right to do so, and in this blog thread, have the right to do so to the extent that Scalzi finds acceptable. And you have the right to call me names because you support these politicians or feel that progressives should not be allowed to disagree with far right political figures or criticize them. And I, in turn, respond that calling me immature, frenzied, extreme and someone who should be ashamed of herself may be fun for you as a libertarian, but I will leave the insult exchange to you and Greg. :)

  288. Kat, as long as you arent arrested for what you say, your words are not to be criticized by anyone.

    no, wait, I think that only works for politicians that MuleFace agrees with.

    yeah, sorry, your words may not have gotten you arrested but they are immature and silly and dont accomplish anything.

    wait, no. If MuleFace asserts something as true, it remains true until you refute it.

    Oh man I dont know.

    I think MuleFace is going to have to explain how this ‘logic’ works.

  289. 1. #272 by John Scalzi on January 10, 2011 – 9:14 pm
    lil mike:
    “I don’t think the issue is my reading comprehension.”
    Then I would like to know how you managed to so stupidly re-frame what I was saying. If it’s not a reading comprehension issue than it’s disingenuousness, which I appreciate even less.
    “I just don’t understand the argument that regardless of what the shooter’s motivations were, the fact that Giffords was targeted for defeat (not termination! Can’t we at least accept that distinction?) makes the issue about the ‘climate of heated political rhetoric.’”
    And? The fact you don’t appear to understand the argument is a separate issue from an attempt to reframe the argument to say and mean something other than it does.
    It’s perfectly fine to say you don’t understand the argument, or even that you disagree with the argument. It’s rather less acceptable to suggest that I mean something other than I do, because, apparently, you’re having difficulty wrapping your brain around it.
    “I would think as a writer, you wouldn’t be thrilled by the causal linkage of violence and speech.”
    That shows what you don’t know about writers, I suppose. Speech certainly can incite violence, or panic, or many other negative things, which is why among other things First Amendment protections are not absolute (cf. the famous quote about yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater). Most people are aware of this, which is why, in the wake of a Congressperson being shot in the head after a season of heated and violence-tinged political rhetoric, people are asking if the rhetoric hasn’t gone too far.
    That this shooter doesn’t appear directly influenced by the rhetoric of the election doesn’t mean that people are inappropriately questioning the rhetoric in the aftermath of the shooting. The shooting is a catalyst for a conversation which should happened long ago.

    The problem with your argument is that after acknowledging that there is no evidence linking the shooter to the political rhetoric you dislike, you go on to say:

    “I think this should not be in the least surprising. If your political messaging traffics in rhetoric heavy on gun imagery and revolution of the overthrow-y sort, then when someone shoots a congressperson who you opposed, then guess what: You get to spend some uncomfortable moments in the spotlight being asked if it’s not reasonable to suspect a connection between your rhetoric and the actions of a shooter targeting someone you’ve opposed”

    So still no connection between the shooter and the Tea Party, however that doesn’t stop you from this:

    ”As much as they wish it weren’t so or wish to complain they are not the only ones partaking of such rhetoric, the Tea Party folks and their associates are the ones most on the defensive here.”

    That’s not a “stupid re-frame” nor are they taken out of context. It simply shows taking advantage of a political tragedy for political gain.

    This might well have been a discussion that should have happened long ago. A discussion of political rhetoric might serve some societal good, however it would make more sense to connect it to an actual incident that was based on clear political roots. This discussion would have been better served a few months ago when the Discovery Channel gunman committed an act of violence that was in fact, political violence. Based on a political agenda that had been egged on by overheated (sorry I couldn’t resist that!) and overblown rhetoric.
    So far this is merely imaginary political violence. Just the violence is real.

    Since you’ve made clear that the Tea Party is guilty regardless of the motivations of the shooter, I’m not going to pretend there’s any chance of changing your mind about your witch hunt. I can only imagine that whether the Tea Party floats or not, they are still guilty.

    So far, based on the comments posted here, if you intended to foster civil political discourse, you failed right out of the box by beginning with a partisan attack. I think we have a ways to go.

  290. lil mike:

    “That’s not a ‘stupid re-frame’ nor are they taken out of context.”

    Actually, what you just attempted there in that comment was both reframing and taking the words out of context, seeing as you’re eliding some essential points of mine and changing the presentation order of others. Either you’re not adept enough at making an argument to understand this, or you’re making the assumption that I’m not. The first of these would be unfortunate, if indeed you are trying to argue from a procedurally logical point of view, as would be the second, but for differing reasons.

    Either way: Nice try, but no.

    Otherwise, lil mike, the best I can say about the hash you’re making out of what I’ve actually said is that you appear to have the ability to handle sentences tolerably well but have difficulty grasping entire paragraphs. Once again, this seems to be a basic reading comprehension problem. But it’s your problem, and not mine.

  291. Lil mike, the tea party is guilty of using violent rhetoric irresponsibly, of responding to criticism by issuing anonymous death threats, by posting the address of a politician and cutting his gas line, by referencing second ammendment solutions and saying someone os going to take harry reid out.

    notice how loughner isnt even mentioned there.

    now the point is that if the party has a long history trafficking in gun violence imagery and your targets include gifford and then some nut comes along and kills gifford, then that party gets to squirm with the spotlight on them until (1) loughners motives is shown not to be tea party influenced and (2) teaparty leades can justify how their rhetoric wont at some point in the future directly inspire someone to do what loghner did.

    you dont get to say ‘its a damn shame john doe doesnt drop dead of lead poisoning’ and then insist your hands are forever clean and spotless if John ends up dead.

    at best, tea perty can say no one has murdered anyone because of our rhetoric *yet*.
    but only the tea party thinks that absolves them of all responsibility.

    they are being reckless and irresponsible with other peoples lives. and for a party that says they stand for personal responsibikity, thats mockable levels of hypocricy.

    so again, teapartu guilt stems from playing russian roulette with other peoples lives. using gun and murder language and just being lucky that this is the first incident.

    imagine a guy driving down the highway totally shitfacd drunk. cops pul him over and arrest him for DUI. and he and all his drinking buddies scream ‘but he hasnt caused an accident’. yet. Palin and the tea party leaders cannot expect to continue this indefinitely and no one get murdered.

    drunk drivi.g is endangering other peoples lives. even if you dont cause an accident YET, keep doing it, and you will eventially kill someone.

    the teabaggers refuse to acknowledge responsibility for driving drunk. they only claim no one has died yet.

    it doesnt fly.

  292. Greg:

    “you dont get to say ‘its a damn shame john doe doesnt drop dead of lead poisoning’ and then insist your hands are forever clean and spotless if John ends up dead.”

    I’m not sure this is a very good example.

  293. John,

    Leaving aside the comments thread, I wanted to say how much I appreciate your commentary on this situation.

    Cheers,
    Russell

  294. The tea party is like that alcoholic uncle who drives drunk and curses the people who want to increase dui penalties.

  295. Lil mike, the tea party is guilty of using violent rhetoric irresponsibly, of responding to criticism by issuing anonymous death threats, by posting the address of a politician and cutting his gas line, by referencing second ammendment solutions and saying someone os going to take harry reid out.

    I’m gonna say something here.

    I’m sure that the vast majority of Tea Party adherents are sober patriots, wanting what’s best for their country. But if the Tea Party is such a vast movement, even if there’s just a small minority that’s unhinged, that would still leave a lot of people who are potentially dangerous. Further, since the Tea Party hasn’t done any internal discipline on the looser elements, why should they be trusted to control that smaller minority? They sound EXACTLY like reactionary elements that engaged in violence against minorities in the past–and for a lot of us, that isn’t ancient history. For blacks, that’s living memory–for Asian Americans, that’s your father’s and grandmother’s stories. We can’t believe that it could never happen here, to us—because it already has.

  296. So are some of the others on that page, infantilizing the ex-speaker, and treating net neutrality of all things as a political wedge for big government.

    Umm, yeah, interesting in a weird way.

  297. An argument that in it’s essence boils down to: The shooter may not have been inspired by Palin/Tea Party, but lets’ blame them anyway, still lacks that connecting bridge that makes one relevant to the other. However I have to admit that it seems more than sufficient for many of the commenters here. I think in time we may all regret that blatant witch-huntery.*

    * I think I coined a new word!

  298. Lil Mike, that’s another reframing that doesn’t fit.

    If you make use of a certain type of rhetoric to frame a discussion i.e. Lots of gun, gun related ( second amendment remeidies) and the such like, and should such a thing then HAPPEN then you have to accept that people are going to stare at you and point.

    That is what is happening. The issue isn’t his motivation, at least for me, its that a group of people still aren’t getting the point that behaving like regardless of your politics is bloody stupid and should be stopped.

    The politics of stupidity seem to have taken hold across the board here and it’s time for it to stop.

  299. Daveon, you’ve stated the flaw in your own argument perfectly. If the issue isn’t his motivation, than you’ve dragged a group of people not involved in this incident INTO this incident based on issues that are totally unrealated to the incident.!

    If that’s not witch-huntery* I don’t know what is.

    * patented pending

  300. You can’t patent words, lil mike. The phrase you may be looking for is “Trademark Pending.” Attempted intellectual property humor is better with correct terms.

  301. Lil Mike, but they are involved. That’s the problem with your approach. They created a rhetorical space where these questions can and should be asked. This would just be a tragic crime in a universe where people weren’t suggesting that this was ACTUALLY something you should consider.

    If you can’t see thatnthen it’s actually really not our problem, it’s kinda yours.

  302. “trademark pending” Nice! I like that better, but I’ll probably just do a redneck trademark and mail a letter to myself with the phrase (to be opened only in the presence of counsel).

    Daveon, you are really comparing apples… and something that isn’t food. If there was evidence that the shooter was inspired by Palin/Tea Party rhetoric, I could see your point. Otherwise you are trying to connect two unconnected things. Discussing overblown political rhetoric wouild have made more sense if we had this discussion a few months ago about the Discovery Channel gunman. There was a situation that really was inspired by overheated rhetoric and seemed to generate little to no handwringing. I realize that in a sense positions were already hardened by Saturday, so it’s probably pointless to continue, I just regret that we can’t even agree on what a legitimate connection would be. If we can’t agree on what’s reasonable or logical, it’s no wonder all we have left is overheated rhetoric.

  303. If there was evidence that the shooter was inspired by Palin/Tea Party rhetoric, I could see your point.

    Why? Isn’t that Palin and the Tea Party have been using the rhetoric of gun-sights, “2nd amendment remedies” and so forth enough for you to take pause and think… hmmm… hey… that really doesn’t help here does it. Especially when some asshat has actually just picked up a gun and tried to implement such a remedy and when you have LIbertarians online posting 1 Down 537 to GO! on Twitter.

    Doesn’t any of that make you think that the people using inflamed rhetoric deserve to have the rest of us point at them?

    It doesn’t really matter what made this nutter kill those people when the background is a situation where people in authority were actually making it look like it was a thing that *ought* to be done.

    Now, for your argument to be remotely valid, I’d have to accept that La Palin and the Tea Party really don’t mean it when they use quotes from Jefferson about armed uprisings, or turn up at political rallies packing heat, or say that if they lose an election then the only option is “2nd amendment remedies” – except, the thing is, I think that’s EXACTLY what they think.

    And that’s why what Palin came out and said yesterday shows her to be the lightweight she really is.

  304. Especially when some asshat has actually just picked up a gun and tried to implement such a remedy

    The second asshat, actually, if I’m not mistaken….

  305. Although I do agree with you that the “2nd Amendment solution” comment was exactly the type of overheated rhetoric we can all agree is inappropriate (see how easily I’m baited back in to a discussion I’ve already dismissed?), the gun sight analogy is idiotic. The DLC and DCC both used bulls eye maps, as has already been discussed in this thread before, with the DCC “targeting” specific Congressmen. Did the DLC and DCC mean to point out opponents that should be targeted for assassination or just defeat? Common sense gives you the answer, and it’s the same answer for Palin’s map. The argument on that is so simplistic I admit I’m astounded that it’s still going on after 5 days.

    I suppose now if a politician says he wants to beat his opponent in November, are we to presume he means an actual physical beating?

    So I actually pointed out an actual consequence of overheated rhetoric, the Discovery Channel gunman, and you ignored that to point out example’s that have had no consequences. Why isn’t a real tragedy that was actually caused by someone’s interpretation of political rhetoric ignored for tragedy that still, after several days, have no connection to the political opponents you’re “targeting?”

    “It doesn’t really matter what made this nutter kill those people when the background is a situation where people in authority were actually making it look like it was a thing that *ought* to be done.”

    It doesn’t matter? I think you’ve explained your point of view perfectly.

    Now that is witch-huntery*

    *Mine all mine!

  306. Although I do agree with you that the “2nd Amendment solution” comment was exactly the type of overheated rhetoric we can all agree is inappropriate (see how easily I’m baited back in to a discussion I’ve already dismissed?), the gun sight analogy is idiotic.

    Why is it idiotic? Specifically? Palin must have had second thoughts because even she took it down. Let’s scrap that one then. You seem to agree that 2nd Ammendment Remidies is overheated – how about the use of “don’t step on me”? That’s got clear references to violent revolution? How about that Jefferson quote about the blood of tyrants? A bit much? Taking weapons to political rallies where the president is attending? How about the 400% increase in threats against the life of the President that the secret services is dealing OVER what they were in the Bush era?

    How long would you like this list to be?

    As I said, what motivated this nutter doesn’t matter because the rhetoric being used is inflammatory and wrong. People have SHOT at Congress Offices. Congress people have been shouted at and spat on. What do you want here before it is too much?

    Oh and by the way, where did I give the DNC or the DCL a pass on this stuff? Oh? I didn’t, thanks for noticing.

    I come from a country where the very act of lying in an election brochure will have your election voided and you thrown out of office (look it up, it happened last year in the UK). The press believe it is their duty to strongly question and drive to get to the facts about what politicians were saying. And this sort of insane rhetoric… well… frankly I can’t image anything remotely similar.

    I’m actually shocked that you seem to think it’s normal and acceptable. You need to take a very long hard look at your value set and ask if you actually want that to be the case. Because at this stage, I’m sorry, but it shouldn’t be. And yes, is should be dealt with before we’re talking about an example that is 100% clear.

  307. I suppose now if a politician says he wants to beat his opponent in November, are we to presume he means an actual physical beating?.

    BTW – I think beat, in the context of coming before them in a race is a pretty conventional and uncontroversial use of the verb. So I think we can discount this as a strawman argument eh?

    But I think when it’s got to the point where people are attacking campaign offices and talking about using guns to protect themselves against a “tyrannical” government – then it really doesn’t matter what this loons motivations are.

  308. The conversation about rhetoric, and one’s responsibility for one’s words, is a good one to have, and it is a shame that it took such a sad and shocking thing to prompt it.

    I suspect, though, that a lot of this discussion may prove to be irrelevant to this particular situation. As I said earlier, I would never presume to try to diagnose anything based on the minimal information that I have, but I do have a couple of thoughts and impressions.

    The impression: this young man smacks more of Kaczynski than of Klebold and Harris to me. The thought: ultimately, for someone with the sort of deeply intrenched paranoid delusional system held by Kaczynski, influences don’t end up mattering a whole lot. If it is not one influence it is another (and they may also be influenced by something that seems totally innocuous to everyone else), the delusion will find a focus and a target. If this young man is truly operating within such a system, he was bound to find his “trigger” somewhere. A discussion focused on recognizing symptoms of dangerousness, and the difficulties in our system of care in providing treatement to people with such symptoms, may end up being more relevant.

    Saying that someone is “crazy” feels useful, but really doesn’t say much. When we say that, do we mean that we are assessing his behavior and find it incomprehensible, therefore illogical or “crazy”, to us? (If someone is acting within a fixed delusional system, there is definite logic to the behavior as long as you understand the delusion.) Do we mean that he is experiencing a set of psychiatric symptoms, and if so, which ones? This latter leads back to John’s friend’s very legitimate concerns, because if we have lumped everyone with psychiatric symptoms together as “crazy” we’re demonizing a lot of people in our lives, many of whom we may not even know we’re describing.

    The point of much of the discussion has been that words have power and that people should be thoughtful and acknowledge their responsiblity for the words that they use. If that’s true, then we should think about how we use words relating to mental illness to label and accuse – our rhetoric regarding mental illness, as it were.

  309. As I said, what motivated this nutter doesn’t matter because the rhetoric being used is inflammatory and wrong. People have SHOT at Congress Offices.

    And this very same Representative was confronted with a gun before. And had her office broken into and vandalized. I think it does a real disservice to the discussion by treating the shooting as an isolated incident.

  310. @lil mike

    Please link me to a video clip or article where Al Gore — or any person on the “left” with similar standing — called out the Discovery Channel with violence-laced rhetoric.

  311. Lets jump to the big one first on the Discovery Channel gunman:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38957020/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

    “I want Discovery Communications to broadcast on their channels to the world their new program lineup and I want proof they are doing so. I want the new shows started by asking the public for inventive solution ideas to save the planet and the remaining wildlife on it,” the alleged manifesto reads, adding:

    “Nothing is more important than saving … the Lions, Tigers, Giraffes, Elephants, Froggies, Turtles, Apes, Raccoons, Beetles, Ants, Sharks, Bears, and, of course, the Squirrels. The humans? The planet does not need humans.”

    Lee said at the time that he experienced an ‘‘awakening” when he watched former Vice President Al Gore’s environmental documentary ‘‘An Inconvenient Truth.”

    Now this wasn’t that long ago. Last September. So here is someone that was inspired by Gore’s movie.

    And frankly you don’t have to be as crazy as the Tucson shooter to think that, if you hear that “earth is in the balance” and civilization and life on earth are just a few SUV’s from extinction to think that a “Dead Zone” solution would be worth it. No doubt Lee died thinking he was saving the planet.

    Gore didn’t intend for some wacko to do that, any more than he intended for the Unibomber to send mail bombs cross country. But people took something that he wrote and took it right off a cliff. I would say that Gore shouldn’t be held responsible because someone else uses them for a jumping off point to crazy.

    Apparently the broad consensus on this comment thread on this point is opposite of mine however,

    Daveon, interesting your explanation of the “beat” example I gave. In context, everyone understands what this means, and don’t automatically assume a violent threat. That’s exactly my point with the gun sites/ bulls eyes. You can’t seriously think that either Palin or the DLC or DCC actually intended it’s supporters to assassinate the “targeted” house opponents? Even using the word “target” is now considered threatening! It’s silly.

    Your other examples, “don’t step on me (actually don’t tread on me)’, and Jefferson’s quote are part and parcel of American history and part of American political culture. If you see the Gadsen flag and feel frightened, I don’t think there is much I can do about that. It’s just a cultural divide that much of the country regards those symbols as legitimate. Obviously some of the country doesn’t, but even for the part of the country that doesn’t, they should be more tolerant of their own history.

    Clearly,in the 60’s we didn’t arrest every dirt foot hippie who used the word “Revolution” for sedition. Common sense told us it was a metaphor. I really don’t understand why you can’t exercise that same type of common sense.

    Anyway, the public opinion war is over, and you lost.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-01-12-poll-ariz-shooting_N.htm?csp=34news

    Most Americans reject the idea that inflammatory political language by conservatives should be part of the debate about the forces behind the Arizona shooting that left six people dead and a congresswoman in critical condition, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.
    A 53% majority of those surveyed call that analysis mostly an attempt to use the tragedy to make conservatives look bad. About a third, 35%, say it is a legitimate point about how dangerous language can be.
    And there is little sense that stricter gun control laws in Arizona might have averted the tragedy. Only one in five say they would have prevented the shooting; 72% say tighter controls wouldn’t have prevented it

    So for most of the country, common sense prevailed.

  312. So, I ask you where Al Gore called out the Discovery Channel and instead, you copypasta selections from Lee’s manifesto.

    There is a significant lack of linkage, there.

    Clearly,in the 60’s we didn’t arrest every dirt foot hippie who used the word “Revolution” for sedition.

    *wheezes laughing* Actually, in parts of the country there were significant efforts to do exactly that. The government built a file on John Lennon, fercryinoutloud.

  313. Clearly,in the 60’s we didn’t arrest every dirt foot hippie who used the word “Revolution” for sedition.

    I think you may want to choose another example, given the extensive surveillance and infiltration done then. (Though I’m still amused by what’s in my file….).

  314. Wrenlet- I never said Al Gore, or anyone else on the left “called out” either the Discovery Channel or the Discovery Channel gunman, so sorry I don’t have any footage of that. It would have been nice if they had denounced him however.

    So… do you feel Al Gore should have apologized or accepted some responsibility for the Discovery Channel gunman’s actions? How about the Unibomber?

    I don’t know anything about those “attempts” to arrest every hippie; I just know it didn’t happen.

  315. I don’t know anything about those “attempts” to arrest every hippie; I just know it didn’t happen.

    I’d say you should stop digging since you’re admitting you don’t know much about the era. It’s just simply a bad example to use.

  316. lil mike–here are some quotes that might be eye-openers for you:

    ” Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males,”

    “One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism…”

    “Those who are most sensitive about “politically incorrect” terminology are not the average black ghetto-dweller, Asian immigrant, abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists,”

    “Many leftists have an intense identification with the problems of groups that have an image of being weak (women), defeated (American Indians), repellent (homosexuals), or otherwise inferior.”

    “[Leftists] they hate the West because it is warlike, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so forth, but where these same faults appear in socialist countries or in primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them,”

    That first quote? That could be straight outta Rush Limbaugh. All these quotes, though, are from one long screed against Leftism, against feminism, with the occasional potshot at gays.
    It’s not Limbaugh. It’s the Unabomer. That’s directly from the Unabomer manifesto. And that’s not picking and choosing. That’s from, like, the first 15 points out of 233.

    I don’t know where you got the idea that the Unabomer was a leftist, but he clearly is not. The quotes speak for themselves.

    http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt
    http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt

  317. I’m not going to try to claim Ted Kaczinski is a conventional right-wing killer in the mold of, say, Jim David Adkisson, Richard Poplawski, Byron Williams, or Scott Roeder–nor do I think George W. Bush or any other prominent right-winger at the time needs to apologize or take responsibility for him–I’m just saying that the evidence of his right-leanings are every bit equal, if not greater than, any evidence from the manifesto that he leaned left; I hope this’ll prompt some consideration on your part as to how you came to believe, incorrectly, the Unabomer was a left-winger. Because, man, anyone who’s writing “Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males,” well, that sounds a lot like Ann Coulter saying “the left hates America.”

  318. Greg, I think the Ted Kazinski’s ideology was a little too complicated to put on a simple left/right axis, and I never made the claim that Kazinski was that simple, so I’m not sure what you think you are proving by arguing that Kazinski has a critique of the Left. Your insistence that I was identifying the Unabomber as a leftist is simply not true. I never said that, however I’m a bit amused that you made that conclusion. Without any evidence… I think I’m seeing a pattern here…

    However here are plenty of Leftists with their own critique’s of the Left so I don’t think that would be a proof that Kazinski and Limbaugh are ideological bosom buddies.
    However an underlined copy of Gore’s “Earth In The Balance” was found in his cabin when he was arrested, and in fact his manifesto, among many other issues, shows that he was an environmental absolutist who regarded technological civilization as irredeemable.

    Now, if a dog eared, heavily underlined copy of “Going Rogue” was found in the Tucson shooter’s possessions, what conclusion would you draw about the motives of the shooter?

    Well actually the same ones you are drawing now, with no evidence of any such book or influence.

    Gwangung, unless there is a secret history of a massive concentration camp system to hold all of the revolutionary hippies during the sixties and seventies, I would say it’s still a valid example.

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