Yeah, No

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At this point it’s certain neither Sarah Palin nor any other politician or pundit is responsible for Jared Lee Loughner shooting Congresswoman Giffords or anyone else that he did.

Sarah Palin has a perfect right, both legally and morally, to protest those who are trying to directly tie her, her rhetoric, or the rhetoric of her political allies, to Loughner.

Doing so by asserting that her and her pals getting pinked for their political messaging is just like the entire nation of the Jews enduring centuries of pogroms and persecution because of the enduring lie that they murdered babies for their religious ceremonies? Well, there are many ways to explain why this is idiotic, contemptible, morally egregious, conceptually denegrating and just plain wrong, but perhaps the best way to explain it is to send other a few other things through the Palin Equivalence Filter:

Paper cut: AORTIC SPURTING

Lumpy hotel pillow: SMALLPOX ENCRUSTED BLANKETS

Flat soda: SCHISTSOMIASIS

French fries with insufficient salt: THE POTATO FAMINE

Bad table at a restaurant: STALIN STARVING THE UKRAINE

Morning breath: MUSTARD GAS AT YPRES

Having to fly coach: THE BLACK HOLE OF CALCUTTA

Bad cell phone reception: LOCKED-IN SYNDROME

“Sarah Palin’s Alaska” canceled: MANTLE-CRACKING ASTEROID

Hangnail: THE VERY CRUCIFIXION ITSELF

I hope this is sufficiently explanatory.

Again: Palin perfectly correct to complain about those trying to blame her for Loughner’s actions. But of all the stupid, appalling, jackassed things Sarah Palin has ever said in the history of the time she’s inflicted herself on the consciousness of our great nation, this is, alas, merely the most recent.

300 thoughts on “Yeah, No

  1. I’m going to post this as a general warning:

    If you attempt to argue here that what Palin is complaining about is actually blood libel, I’m going to mallet your comment. If it’s not clear from the entry itself, I find the suggestion rhetorically overstuffed, historically inaccurate and morally appalling, and Palin acted stupidly when she asserted it.

    As such, rather than let such nonsense troll about the comment thread, I’ll just whack it down. If you wish to defend Palin, by all means do so, but find a way to do it other than “well, you know, it is blood libel.” It’s not.

    Also: Since previous threads on the subject eventually devolved into people talking past each other in a rush to explain to others that “your side” does everything wrong, nyah, let me also take this opportunity to inform those who wish to indulge that at this point I find it really boring and will tell you to move on from it pretty quickly. It’d be nice if I didn’t have actually tell you to move on.

  2. Sarah Palin is very far from the worst person in the world, but that hasn’t stopped her from campaigning hard to win that title.

  3. And the reactionary right will continue to wonder why the Jewish vote in the US skews heavily Democratic. Is Palin taking bribes off the DNC to say this stuff?

  4. Hey John, did you mean “picked on” rather than “pinked on”? I don’t know the reference if it’s “pinked”

  5. Not to be “that guy” but I’m going to be. It was Chlorine gas not Mustard at the Second Battle of Ypres… Mustard wasn’t used until 1917.

  6. Little Miss Death Panels. Yeah, she’s one to complain about hyperbole in political speech. Can’t conservatives find someone *intelligent* to fetishize?

  7. Its frightening that this ignorant and contemptible ex-Governor of Alaska could be our next President. Extremely frightening.

    If the economy does not improve….yes, even Sarah Palin could beat Obama in a general election. If she puts the effort to become the nominee of course.

  8. There is a “Treehouse of Horror” episonde of the Simpsons where all of the advertisements attack Springfield. The way to fight the ads is to not look at them. Sarah Palin needs to be treated in the same manner. If we don’t look at her, perhaps she will go away. (Yes, this is wishful thinking on my part.)

  9. Seriously – all I can think is maybe she meant to say something like people are accusing her of having blood on her hands. But blood libel! She needs to tape her mouth shut until she has a history lesson.

  10. I think that it is a terrible accident… Caused by a severe undiagnosed mental disorder… Poor Sarah is just being scape goated… If it happened to the other side of the isle… Someone else would be the scape goat.

  11. John:
    Keep your powder dry. This current invocation goes back to Glenn Reynolds’ WSJ op-ed. Reynolds reintroduced the term in this context if I’m reading it correctly, though I recall seeing it cited from numerous contemporaneous Twitter sources as well.

    The very reason I even know who you are is Reynolds’ citation of OMW back when he pushed it heavily.

    So, you know, perhaps a more measured response might be appropriate?

  12. In fairness, she was almost certainly just ignorant about what “blood libel” referred to and wasn’t intending hyperbole.

    I did find it depressing that the AP wire story where I read this had no comment as to the real meaning of “blood libel”.

  13. Sarah Palin filter – My new smartphone didn’t come preloaded with Angry Birds. This is JUST LIKE THE CHALLENGER SHUTTLE DISASTER!

    @ 7: I think this makes it pretty clear she doesn’t want to be president. She might run the way Pat Buchanan does, as a publicity stunt, but that’s about it. She makes too much money by keeping her fans fired up to give up as president.

  14. Doug: you’re entirely correct; Reynolds’s use of the term was equally despicable. Perhaps more so, since he may be presumed to know exactly what he was saying.

    Your veiled threat to Scalzi is not exactly despicable. Is “dumbfuck-y” a word? It’s a better description of that insinuation, certainly.

  15. She’s a classic narcissist. She’s the victim here. It’s all about her suffering. I think the phrase got dropped into the speech to make sure people heard it and talked about it. And it worked. Because it’s about Sarah Palin.

  16. @ Doug

    Are you unclear on the actual meaning of blood libel? Reynolds is also wrong in his use of the term – but that certainly doesn’t make Palin’s use any better.

  17. Doug Stewart:

    Considering that my first inclination was to call Palin a goddamned moron, this is indeed the “measured response.”

    Beyond that, I’m afraid I’m not following your argument at all. I can’t call out Palin for saying something idiotic because Glenn Reynolds said it first? Well, indeed, Glenn may have road tested the phrase, but if indeed Palin (or her speechwriter) picked it up from him, she gets full responsibility for using it.

    Regarding Glenn, he’s a friend of mine and one whom I regard highly in a general sense, and that’s a fact that irritates many people who feel I shouldn’t have friends who have different politics than my own. Be that as it may, in my opinion his use of the phrase “blood libel” was extraordinarily ill-advised in this context. It’s one of the relative few things me and Jonah Goldberg agree about, politically speaking.

    Mythago:

    I don’t suspect Doug was making anything close to veiled threat in his comment. I think it was more of a “why go after Palin for using the phrase if you wouldn’t go after Glenn for using it.”

  18. RichLeC
    I second this. Egomania explains everything about Mrs. Palin, and the things she says and the choices she makes.

  19. Altogether: Amen.

    There’s that, and the rest of her comments effectively invalidate the argument for the “War on Terror”: “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of the state…” Unless, of course, it is politically expedient to those on the right to demonize an entire people and an entire religion because of the acts of monstrous criminality committed by a few who look vaguely like them.

    These arguments she makes, they’re not even intellectually consistent. Pointing out which, I know, is like saying Yaks are hairy and smelly.

  20. @Doug

    If you do any research on the term, you’ll see that it was used pretty exclusively to mean a particular thing, almost to the point of being exclusive to any other meaning. The fact that people are using the term incorrectly, when considering its historical context, is little different than people pulling a Godwin in reference to making comparisons about the Holocaust.

  21. Sarah Palin plays the victim and displays a shocking amount of hubris and ignorance?

    Wow. Shocker.

    “Merely the most recent” is entirely accurate.

  22. mythago, Muse, et al.:
    I’m familiar with the traditional definition of the “Blood Libel”. It is alive and well in Middle Eastern and Russian circles.

    The term “a blood libel” has been used with a moderate degree of frequency in American politics. It is this use that Palin, Reynolds, etc. were obviously employing.

  23. At this point it’s certain neither Sarah Palin nor any other politician or pundit is responsible for Jared Lee Loughner shooting Congresswoman Giffords or anyone else that he did.

    You’re wrong. It’s certain she and they are responsible. Indirectly, and collectively, and not the only factors. But they are responsible.

    Just as she’d be responsible, indirectly and not as the only factor, should some other nut decide her current vile utterance mean some Jews need to be killed.

  24. It’s obvious that Palin didn’t write the speech, so expecting her to actually know something about what she’s saying is a little unfair, isn’t it? We can, maybe, expect her to read her speech before giving it, but understanding the speech? That’s what staff are for.

  25. Doug Stewart:

    “The term ‘a blood libel’ has been used with a moderate degree of frequency in American politics.”

    Yeah, no, it really hasn’t at all, not in the mainstream.

    Beyond this, we’re looking as if we’re attempting to back-door into a discussion of how using the phrase “blood libel” is somehow appropriate in this context. Let’s don’t. I would hate to have bring out the Mallet within the first 50 comments.

    Sean Eric Fagan:

    Palin by my understanding was responding to people who are attempting to hold her directly responsible for the shooting, so it’s probably best to keep the focus there.

  26. Doug @27. “The term “a blood libel” has been used with a moderate degree of frequency in American politics.”

    Please make a citation or a link to its use. I’ve been around the block a couple times and this was a first time for me. That perhaps made it more of a jaw-dropper than usual, but nonetheless, please provide a source for this statement. Inquiring minds want to know.

  27. Contemporaneous usage goes back to the aftermath of the Bush/Gore 2000 election, if not earlier.

    (Link goes to Talking Points Memo, wherein lefty Josh Marshall approves heartily of using the term “almost a blood libel” in reference to GOP accusations that the Gore campaign sought to disenfranchise military voters.)

  28. Eh. She’s an idiot and the comment is moronic… but this is what the right does. Death Panels, Obama as Hitler, Dems are communists… they don’t know or care about the actual meanings, it’s all about extreme scare tactics.

    The media is also doing its usual dance of how, since Loughner is obviously mentally ill, the rhetoric can’t be blamed while ignoring that mentally ill people like him can be suggestible and guided by the rhetorical environment. It’s not as if he went after some random gathering or after a Republican… so one issue I’d like to know more about is how his sick mind zeroed in on Gifford and not someone else.

  29. There’s an irony in Ms. Palin making an offensive and hyperbolic comment when addressing claims that her violent rhetoric may have created an environment that promotes attacks on politicians.

    (Ms. Palin: generally, speaking, when you are in a hole, the best advice is to stop digging and tell your speechwriters to stop throwing you shovels.)

  30. Sean@23- I don’t buy it – and I say this as someone who truly despises the spewing of vitriol that has taken the place of reasoned political discourse in this country, and someone who is hardly a fan of Palin, inasmuch as she contributes mightily to it. A map of the US with targets, despicable though it may be, did not make a mentally disturbed guy open fire on innocents. I can see how you might consider the poisonous violent rhetoric a factor, and it may have been a very, very minor factor, but take away the “Us vs. Them” political climate, and I think it’s likely that the tragedy still occurs. It’s notoriously tough to assign causes to actions taken by demonstrably insane people, especially without intimate knowledge of the circumstances.

  31. @rickg:

    “so one issue I’d like to know more about is how his sick mind zeroed in on Gifford and not someone else.”

    The man was a literal Grammar Nazi. Seriously. He wigged out when she wouldn’t answer a town hall question in 2007, long before the arrival of Palin or the Tea Party. He maintained that grammer and the controlling of word definitions were, in fact, a method for the government to control the populace.

  32. Doug Stewart:

    Isolated incidents do not “moderate usage” make. And in each case, it’s a highly charged and in my opinion inappropriate use to make.

    And now we’re done with this line of the discussion.

  33. so it’s probably best to keep the focus there

    I think it’s best to stop apologising and making excuses for people who routinely lie and deliberately use inflammatory rhetoric in the direct hope of creating a charged environment.

    You’re wrong. If you want to amend your statement to be accurate, go ahead. But declaring that she bears no responsibility is at best wrong, and at worst a lie.

  34. So Josh Marshall is a fuckmuppet too? Okay. I’m more than happy to shame politicians of any stripe who abuse the term.

    That’s quite different than the pretense that “blood libel” has a benign meaning.

    John: it’s your mallet. I took the second paragraph, in conjunction with the third, to be “don’t you go hatin on the Prof or I won’t buy your books.”

  35. Doug Stewart:

    I make the “grammer” misspelling all the time, myself.

    The real irony there is that Loughner’s grammar was not particularly great, from what I read of his writing.

    Sean Eric Fagan:

    Well, no, I’m not wrong. You disagree with me. In my opinion, it’s pretty clear that Loughner was off on his own rock. In your opinion, the actions of Palin, the Tea Party, et al are more significant toward his state of mind. However, unless you wish to claim actual knowledge of the inside of Loughner’s head, your opinion is just that. In the fullness of time it may turn out your opinion is more correct than mine, or vice-versa.

    But until that point in time, as regards your assertion I’m wrong: Meh.

  36. @Doug

    (I apologize if this is too far afield of the topic, John, if so please let me know)

    Do you have an issue with people having a conversation about this kind of rhetoric or the fact that this particular incident is being laid at Palin’s feet (whether directly or indirectly)?

  37. Here problem is she’s too stupid to know any better. She uses big words and what her tiny brain must see as smart sounding phrases to make herself look smarter. Unfortunately it just makes her look as laughable and ignorant as she actually is.

  38. And I make myself look stupid in the preceding comment by saying “Here” instead of “Her” to start my comment. Ugh.

  39. @scalzi #42
    I blame Google Chrome! SpallSpellcheck would have saved me!

    In re: Loughner’s gramm[e/a]r: from what I’ve been able to take from the stories, it may well have been intentional. He saw grammar as a form of mind control and refused to be “controlled” by using words the right way.

    @mythago #41:
    Ahhh, I see where you could see that. No, I was pointing out the inherent weirdness of a universe in which the person responsible for me even knowing who Scalzi is is in fact the one responsible for the re-emergence of the term under current discussion. I felt that John’s rage was a bit misplaced, since Palin didn’t bring the term into the discussion in a vacuum — several other notable political commentators brought the term in and she (responsibly or not, depending upon your persuasion) used it.

  40. i am not a lawyer, but…

    No, really, I’m not a lawyer. I have no clue about this, and have never heard the term blood libel in my life.

    However, I am glad Palin is expressing her feelings, and I hope she continues to, very loudly and at great length. I have a conservative friend I am trying to convince that Palin is an idiot, and we’re almost there…

  41. [Aaaand the first fall of the Mallet. I really was hoping not to use it in the first 50 comments, but we got it in under the wire.

    On a related note, I don’t care whether you find someone on a blog saying Palin’s use of it is perfectly cromulent –JS]

  42. I agree with PoppJ @43. As far as I can tell, flying coach pretty much IS the Black Hole of Calcutta. At least if you’re 6’3″.

  43. @mattmarovich:
    I wouldn’t say it rises to the level of “I’ve got issues” with folks hyperventilating; what I have a problem with is the stripping of context.

    I understand “blood libel” is an inherently loaded term. I get that. It also would appear, at first glance, to be an easy short-circuit way for commentators (Reynolds, et al.) to get their point across, i.e., inasmuch as it is unfair to claim the Jewish people grind up Gentile children and use their blood for Passover matzoh, it is equally unfair to accuse Palin of complicity in the murders of 6 people because of the posting of an image to her website. Commentators and pundits exist to draw eyeballs, so this particular use is effective (in a value-neutral sense) in doing just that. It was this media environment that Palin (or her speechwriters) were speaking into.

    The use of the term was likely to draw loud hosannas from those on the Right, who, feeling more than a little besmirched over their treatment in the press the last few days, Got Their Repression Indignation On.

    Me? I’d prefer a different term was used, certainly, and I definitely feel that the whole affair has been of the when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife-Senator variety, but in total, I’m thinking Palin and her staff might have wanted to have aimed her response at a swath larger than the starboard side of the commentariat.

  44. @scalzi #38:
    Your comment and hammering of Kitty would suggest that this might not pass muster, but would you mind if I posted another link for context?

  45. Doug Stewart:

    “inasmuch as it is unfair to claim the Jewish people grind up Gentile children and use their blood for Passover matzoh, it is equally unfair to accuse Palin of complicity in the murders of 6 people because of the posting of an image to her website.”

    Meh. It is “equally” unfair only to the extent that one supposes “fair” and “unfair” to be binary states. There is of course absolutely no equivalence in magnitude or in intent. This is why I brought up the Palin Equivalence Filter.

    Those making the equivalence are both foolish and playing a game that, if not actually dangerous, is at least deeply cynical.

    Re: Another link — inasmuch as I think you’re making an attempt to toe the line, and I appreciate that, go ahead. If I think it’s egregiously malletable, I’ll mallet it and will explain why.

  46. Making all of this worse and even less classy: Gabby Giffords is Jewish.

    And btw, this is the 2nd time in 2 days “blood libel” has been used by the right in this context… yesterday it was Glenn Reynolds in the WSJ.

  47. A depressing number of my acquaintances aren’t familiar with what ‘blood libel” means.

    That said, none of them are running for President and most of them are, IMO, better qualified than she is.

  48. Ultimately, Palin wants to be talked about. What better way to get the attention of everyone than to make comments that start at asinine run through to inflammatory and tapdance right on into shockingly offensive? Here we are giving her exactly what she wants – and so is everyone else. (For example, “blood libel” is trending on Twitter.) Sarah Palin is many things, but I don’t think she’s an idiot. She plays this game very well indeed.

  49. “Sarah Palin is many things, but I don’t think she’s an idiot.”

    Really? That’s the first word that springs to mind when I think of her. Her politics aren’t hugely different from a lot of Repbulican politicians. It’s her proud ignornance that would make her a total disaster should she actually be in charge of the country.

  50. Eridani:

    Well, she plays the game of being the center of attention perfectly well, yes. As regards being a viable politician? Not so much.

    On a slightly related note, it does occur to me that I will need to watch The Daily Show tonight, because I really can’t see Jon Stewart letting “blood libel” slip by unscathed.

  51. The outrageousness of an evangelical celebrity using “blood libel” to describe how somehow she is the actual victim of the attempted assassination of a Jewish politician is doing a great job of masking the incoherence of her argument itself — where she simultaneously claims that you cannot incite people to violence, because “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them.” — yet also claims that “journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.”

    Which is it? Are such acts purely the actions of the nutjobs, or can they be incited? Or is it only incited when SHE is the victim?

    She bears no direct responsibility (as far as we know — we haven’t heard anything yet from the Police regarding motivation) — but I’m sorry, if you spend two years screeching about your opponents “palling around with terrorists”, “setting up death panels”, “bringing down the Republic”, and generally portraying them as not “real americans” — if somebody then shoots one of your opponents, it’s certainly not “manufacturing” a connection to ask if your actions had any influence.

  52. Well, um. What this mainly makes me think of is the first result on Google Images for “palin difference between”, so if you want to see something spectacularly offensive on a panoply of levels, yet bitingly appropriate, there ya go.

  53. I think it likely that she was trying to show some sense of historical sophistication and ended up using a metaphor that was ill-advised.

    Given four days of getting pounded over this shooting you would think she could have found something better.

  54. Billy Quiets:

    Yes, quite possibly.

    I’m not at all fond of Palin as a public figure, this much should be obvious. But you know what? I would have loved for her to get this one right.

  55. I do not think she’s smart enough to know the history and use of the term. That does not, of course, absolve her of responsibility for saying it – for one thing anyone who wants to run for VP or (shudders) President of the US damned well *should* know their recent world history.

  56. @59: Well, neatly removing that comment from the context around it is very Palinesque, I must say. ;)

    But really, she knows exactly what her followers want to hear. She knows precisely how to incite drama, too. She makes an inflammatory statement, people snipe at her. Her base snipes back. Every time you call her a name, there’s one (or ten) of her followers there to call you a name in return. You and your buddies hit back… Then it just snowballs. If you don’t think she’s aware of that and leverages it to the hilt, the joke’s on you, my friend.

  57. What Eddie said.

    “Blood libel” is also not simply a mean thing to say. It was for centuries used as an excuse and justification for oppressing and murdering Jews. The reason that, as our host has pointed out, that this is a false equivalence is that Palin’s complaint is “a false accusation intended to damage my poll numbers. Not, “a false accusation intended to justify beating, raping and killing me and my loved ones and destroying our homes, with the blessing of the civil and religious authorities.”

    I do suspect that like many people, Palin’s speechwriter just assumed blood libel = a libelous statement somehow related to blood. Others should know better.

  58. @Doug

    Thank you for the response, it certainly helps clarify your stance. I agree with you that I think a different term could have been used (even to the same effect of communicating what she intended) but I think that’s indicative of this whole mess. While I don’t necessarily think that Sarah Palin is directly accountable for the Giffords shooting, I do think that the current rhetoric uses terms and words that may be intended to simply get a message across, they are being used in such a way that is either A) ignoring, willfully or otherwise, the possible context of those words or the context those words will put the message in or B) little more than dog-whistle politics.

  59. @John Scalzi: Oh, no arguing that – she’s definitely not a viable politician as of now. But is that what she even pretends to be these days? I don’t know. Nobody really knows how to classify her and that’s kind of unnerving. The idea that she could be a viable candidate is what scares me. Could she dial it back enough to be taken seriously long enough to be electable? She’s an amazing actress, and there are a lot of people taken in by her.

    I worry.

  60. Dude. Is “I was wrong” so hard for you to write that you need to blanket it in another condemnation of your original target just to remove the sting?

  61. Eridani:

    “I worry.”

    As do many people, but I really don’t. I do think it’s possible and even probable that she’ll run in 2012, but if she does first she’ll have to run the primary gauntlet, and then she’ll have to face Obama. That’s going to be a year of actually having to run for the top office, as opposed to what happened in 2008, which was three months of her being a largely symbolic second banana.

    Gerrymander:

    What, now?

  62. Doug Stewart: I understand “blood libel” is an inherently loaded term. I get that. It also would appear, at first glance, to be an easy short-circuit way for commentators (Reynolds, et al.) to get their point across, i.e., inasmuch as it is unfair to claim the Jewish people grind up Gentile children and use their blood for Passover matzoh, it is equally unfair to accuse Palin of complicity in the murders of 6 people because of the posting of an image to her website.

    There is a massive gulf in understanding that you seem to be missing out on, though.

    It is wrong and unfair to say that Sarah Palin is, in any way, directly to blame for the actions of Jared Loughner. She did not hand him a gun. She did not call him on the phone and say, “Hey, Gabby Giffords is going to be doing a thing tomorrow. You should go shoot her and a bunch of other people.” There’s a pretty good chance that Loughner would have ended up going after someone eventually no matter what the political environment. And it appears that Loughner had picked Giffords as a particular target before Sarah Palin came on the national scene and long before the crosshairs map went up on Palin’s website.

    However, when Palin is being taken to task for the things she has said, she is actually being taken to task for things that she has said and the people taking her to task can, in most cases, prove that she said the hateful things in question. To say that this is, in any way, shape, or form, just as unfair as a claim that Jews actually do kill Christian babies and mix their blood in to matzoh is completely and totally wrong. Jews never did that. Jews never claimed to do that. So we can’t hold Jews accountable for something they didn’t do, didn’t intend to do, and didn’t claim to do.

    Jews were falsely accused of the blood libel as a further excuse to persecute them. Sarah Palin is being knowingly accused of being a narrow-minded, hyperbolic, hyperventilating moron because she has done nothing but prove that’s what she is time and time again. To compare one to the other is flat wrong on every conceivable level.

  63. Eridani @ 68: I don’t think that I distorted your meaning in the slightest. You think that Palin’s saying this sort of stuff as red meat to her base, and doesn’t care that every non-republican just thinks less of her with every incident. I think that might often be the case, but in this circumstance I think it is that Palin (and her advisors) just stole something Glenn Reynolds used in an article yesterday, bunged it in a speech, and used it with no understanding of what it meant. I think it is fair to call that ignorance. Now they’ve been caught on that, they’ve been hurrying around trying to redefine something on the fly. Blood libel = false accusations just as much as gun crosshairs = surveyors marks. Exactly the same dynamic.

    As for the Alan Dershowitz thing, he asserts that it has become common usage with no evidence other than one time he used it, which was in the context of… (in his opinion) unjust accusations of violence against the state of israel. There, the blood libel metaphor makes some sort of sense, here… not so much. (Alan Dershowitz is also a torture-loving hypocrite, but that is beside the point).

  64. @scalzi:
    My link to share was from one of Jonah Goldberg’s NR colleagues, Jim Geraghty, pointing out ~13 uses of the term “blood libel” in the past decade, from sources left, right and center:

    The Term ‘Blood Libel’: More Common Than You Might Think. Most citations date to the past 5 years, with the TPM Bush v. Gore citation I mentioned earlier being the earliest.

    All that goes to say that the term is nowhere near as common as Palin’s defenders might claim yet far more common than her detractors are asserting. It’s a relatively-uncommon-yet-sporadically-used term when used in the political context.

    Feel free to hammer away if necessary.

  65. I do tend to use “Blood Libel” as an analogy for the “homosexuals recruit and rape children” meme so popular among right wingers. But that’s because there’s a “these people are a secret threat to children, so we need to persecute them out of existence” inherent in both the original term, and the meme I’m comparing it to. Blood libel means something specific, and has behind it the weight of acts of genocide against Jews, and the idea that LGBT people need to be erased from existence as part of the ongoing right wing meme. That’s a correct use of analogy. Glenn Reynolds is just being lazy, and hoping his audience just don’t know what he means, or don’t care.

    Criticism of Sarah Palin? No one I’ve seen is suggesting she get killed in response. They’re saying (right or wrong, and in this specific case wrong) that there’s what’s known as a “transmission chain” between hateful rhetoric and acts of violence or bigotry. And I posit that there’s a double standard here among right wingers. If right wingers didn’t think that what they consider to be hate speech leads to violence, then why is there any opposition to the Park 51 mosque? This is a case of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do where they’re denying that they’ve ever even done anything wrong.

    This case was not a case of hate speech leading to violence. In the case of things like the murder of George Tiller, for example, it certainly was. If part of being conservative is personal responsibility instead of being parented by a nanny state, then why aren’t we seeing leading by example? “The other side does it too” is not an excuse, BTW.

  66. Matt Marovich, way back in #4:

    I don’t know why but it bothers me that no one ever answered you. It’s a fencing term, referring to a light scratch or wound from a rapier. John’s use is entirely appropriate, if a touch esoteric. ;-)

  67. This is the single most inspirational thing I have seen yet about this shooting. It is Bob Woodruff the ABC News anchor/reporter who suffered a very similar traumatic brain injury in Iraq. Forgive me, it has nothing to do with Palin, but man, it really gives you a sense that the Congresswoman may have a really good chance of making it back, and I wanted to share it.

    http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/bob-woodruff-on-rep-gabrielle-giffords-recovering-from-his-own-brain-injury_b47782

  68. Palin isn’t the only conservative to do this, Steve Schwartzman compared the Obama tax increases to the Nazi invasion of Poland, then there’s was the whole “Health Care Reform = THE HOLOCAUST” meme that was condemned by the ADL and other Jewish groups” and of course there’s the whole “Obama = Hitler” meme that the right wing has been selling since 2008. Here are some other things for the Palin equivalence filter.

    Not getting a good parking spot at the mall => BATAAN DEATH MARCH or TRAIL OF TEARS (take your pick)
    Ingrown toenail => COMPLETE HIP DISARTICULATION
    Getting pwn3d by Katie Couric => THE SPANISH INQUISITION
    Getting a sunburn => BEING NAPALMED
    Not being able to get the iPhone on Sprint => APARTHEID
    Banning phosphates in dishwasher detergent => THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION (Courtesy of the insane Erick Erickson at RedState)

    All of this reminds me of the hilarious Louis CK video, “White People’s Problems”.

  69. @John Scalzi: Thank you for your fair words toward Ms Palin and her rights. As for your list of definitions, it may take a history major to appreciate how good they are. I am a history major and they’re pretty damn good.

    When I first saw the Palin map with the crosshairs I thought ‘rifle scope,’ and targeting the opposition A Palin aide corrected my mistake by saying the crosshairs were surveyor’s marks. He’s probably right. At least he didn’t call the crosshairs a view through a submarine’s periscope, or an X marking the spot of pirate treasure, though they make as much sense as a surveyor’s mark.

    Ms Palin knows a gun can do good things and bad things. It can put food on the table and offer protection from a bear attack, but it can kill innocent people in the wrong hands. It took time for her to craft some kind of response, even if nothing was called for.

    A leader expresses the remorse we all feel after tragic events. Who uses the moment to express anything else? An older movie, Das Boot (The Boat), showed the lives of sailors aboard a German U-Boat (submarine) so well I felt sorry for them, until I reminded myself “It’s WWII and these are Germans sinking allied ships.” Any gray area turned black and white, right or wrong.

    Shooting an elected member of Congress, a judge, a little girl, and the others is wrong anywhere. Since it happened in America, now is a good time to start acting like an American and express some heartfelt sorrow for the loss of American lives. Ms Palin needs a do-over.

  70. @Geds:
    No, I don’t think you understand what I’m understanding.

    The base of the classic blood libel is that various cultures and oppressors (the Greeks first in the 1st century BC, if Wikipedia is to be believed) took a look at the ritual animal sacrifices prescribed as a part of the Jewish religion as stated in the Torah and fictitiously extrapolated that to human sacrifice in order to accomplish their (oppressors’, not the Jews’) nefarious ends.

    Palin has used targeting, hunting and militaristic terminology in the past and said terminology and (literal) imagery is being used in a similarly extrapolative fashion.

    Were the term “blood libel” completely free of cultural significance, this could be seen as a completely appropriate and invocation of the term. Given where we are, though, it might be similarly impolitic to claim that she has gone through a “Shoah of media criticism”. I understand that perfectly.

  71. John Scalzi:

    …and then she’ll have to face Obama.

    If anything could guarantee a 100% turn out of Democratic voters, it would be Palin as the Republican candidate for President.

  72. When I first saw the Palin map with the crosshairs I thought ‘rifle scope,’ and targeting the opposition A Palin aide corrected my mistake by saying the crosshairs were surveyor’s marks. He’s probably right.

    Sarah herself referred to it as a “bullseye” when bragging about how many of those districts were won. That can be a surveyors term, but only for zero degrees of inclination, not a point on a map. Personally, I don’t care so much that she used the icons. I think more is being made of it than should, but she needs to at least tell her mouthpieces to stop lying. And hopefully, you’ll tell that aide that he’s full of feces.

  73. So John, applying the concept of the Palin equivalence filter to your FilmCritic column would you say that having to go see this summer’s Transformer’s movie as part of your job as SF Film reviewer is more like

    a) Being taken to room 101 in 1984
    b) Malcolm McDowell’s deprogramming in A Clockwork Orange

    P.S. “Burlap Sack of Moistened Feline Fury” would either be the most awesome D&D spell ever or the most awesome Kung Fu move ever, or maybe both.

  74. Has anyone on the Left actively considered the fact that Palin may just well be a Political Rage Honeypot?

  75. Doug Stewart @85 The base of the classic blood libel is that various cultures and oppressors (the Greeks first in the 1st century BC, if Wikipedia is to be believed) took a look at the ritual animal sacrifices prescribed as a part of the Jewish religion as stated in the Torah and fictitiously extrapolated that to human sacrifice in order to accomplish their (oppressors’, not the Jews’) nefarious ends.

    I want a citation on that one, otherwise I’m calling complete and total BS. To imply that another culture, especially the Greeks, didn’t understand animal sacrifice as a component of public religion is to admit a complete lack of understanding of Greek religion. Greeks sacrificed animals. Hell, the Spartans left children who were regarded as being too weak out in the cold to die or be eaten by wild animals. To imagine they developed any specific horror related to Jewish religious practice based on animal sacrifice and then worried about the poor babies is, at best, difficult to imagine.

    And this: “Palin has used targeting, hunting and militaristic terminology in the past and said terminology and (literal) imagery is being used in a similarly extrapolative fashion.”

    Looks suspiciously to be a post hoc rationalization on your part, as I saw no previous argument in this thread where you claimed such a link between extrapolation on the part of the anti-Palin folk and a suddenly conveniently asserted extrapolation on the part of a different culture. Especially since the blood libel does not appear until the Medieval period and it appears in a specifically Christian, specifically anti-Semitic context.

  76. @Geds:
    Apion.

    Your last paragraph scans funny — I’m having trouble taking your plain meaning. Care to restate so I can respond?

  77. @Geds (again):
    The whole point of the Blood Libel has never been to make any sense, it has been to portray Jews in a sufficiently negative/inhuman light so as to make political, financial and physical violence against them acceptable and even commendable within the societies in which it has been propagated. (See, e.g., Tsarist Elders fabrications, modern-day Arab TV, etc.)

  78. Doug Stewart:

    Please aggregate posts — there’s no reason to have three small posts one right after another from the same person. It triggers my Blog Feng Shui alert.

  79. Maybe we should generalize this and call it “The Conservative Equivalency Filter” because you also have Clarence Thomas proclaiming that having to go through confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court was like being lynched. Oh, and here’s another one.

    Having to wait until May 10, 2011 for Tor to release Fuzzy Nation => THE DEFENESTRATION OF PRAGUE*

    *Well probably not, but I like saying “Defenestration of Prague” because it makes me sound all erudite and shit.

  80. The amazing Ta-Nehisi Coates has this to say:

    Calling herself a victim of “blood libel,” is really only a notch above Clarence Thomas claiming he was being subject to a “high-tech lynching.” Or John C. Calhoun claiming that Northerners were hell-bent on taking away the liberty of slave-holders.

    And for more on the side of “yes, there are right wingers using violent imagery in talking about politics, I give you Sharon Angle, who’s also implied that violent talk simply can’t cause violent action when she’s the one using it

    “People are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, my goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you, the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”

    Her latest missive in response to criticism?

    “the irresponsible assignment of blame to me, Sarah Palin or the TEA Party movement by commentators and elected officials puts all who gather to redress grievances in danger.”

    Were they hired to give John Stewart material?

  81. Wile E Quixote:

    I have no idea what the Defenestration of Prague is, and I’d be fascinated to know! Someone threw an entire city out a window?

  82. John:
    Apologies. Comment Sequence #1 was penned before seeing #92, Comment Sequence #3 was an original thought that sprang, Athena-like, from my forehead after posting Comment Sequence #2.

    Those responsible for the errors have been sacked.

  83. Wile E. Quixote:

    P.S. “Burlap Sack of Moistened Feline Fury” would either be the most awesome D&D spell ever or the most awesome Kung Fu move ever, or maybe both.

    Next on Cinemax, “Burlap Sack of Moistened Feline Fury.”

  84. @ Josh Jasper: The surveyor correction came with the crosshair map in the LA Times, but still:

    Dear Palin Aides,

    Stop lying. If you aren’t tied to Ms Palin, why torpedo you outstanding career choices. If Dick Morris worked both sides of the fence, so can you. Here’s the problem: the more you work with Ms Palin, the further back in line you drop when public figures need help. Do you want to be on speed dial or a forgotten roll-o-dex?

    Ms Palin’s #1 concern is Ms Palin, not you. If you keep putting questionable phrases in her mouth, you may not get close to the strings on another puppet. If you want your girl to stand out in the bigger crowd, get your message to her sooner. Then ask yourself “What would Geraldine Ferraro do?”

  85. I think Palin is an idiot, but I’m inclined to go with the Jewish Week on this one. Hyperbolic rhetoric is par for the course among those of all religions and political persuasions.

  86. Chris Noble @ 103: Ahh, the “s” makes the whole thing make a lot more sense.

    Eridani @ 104: I’d say more like Buffalo, but it’s much of a muchness.

  87. David G.

    Personally, I am partial to my WWMD (what would Mondale do?) bracelet, but maybe I can get a WWGFD for my other arm.

    Let’s not talk about my WWJED elastic apparel.

  88. Doug:

    Your citation of Apion only indicates he used a precursor to the commonly understood definition of blood libel. It does not in any way, shape, or form indicate that anyone, least of all Apion, came up with it due to a misunderstanding of Jewish religious practices. It simply indicates that a non-Jew claimed Jews attacked children as a smear against Jews. I fail to see how that’s in any way, shape, or form, an indication of a misunderstanding of Jewish culture.

    As to the plain meaning:

    You made an argument that I took exception to. To wit:

    “I understand “blood libel” is an inherently loaded term. I get that. It also would appear, at first glance, to be an easy short-circuit way for commentators (Reynolds, et al.) to get their point across, i.e., inasmuch as it is unfair to claim the Jewish people grind up Gentile children and use their blood for Passover matzoh, it is equally unfair to accuse Palin of complicity in the murders of 6 people because of the posting of an image to her website.”

    The essence of your argument was, then, that it is exactly as unfair to claim Sarah Palin is to blame for shooting up an Arizona grocery store as it is to claim that Jews eat gentile babies.

    I pointed out that much of the hue and cry is over the fact that Palin has said despicable, inflammatory things and that it is a false equivalence to claim blood libel as a valid point due to the fact that the Jews did not actually eat gentile babies, nor did they claim to do so but it was, in fact, outsiders who did not like them who made such claims.

    You then came back and claimed it was still okay due to the fact that “Palin tried to kill Giffords” is a hysterical, hyperbolic assertion being trotted out. In the same way you said that the root of the idea of the blood libel was simply a misunderstanding of Jewish ritual by (what I imagine you think of as) a neutral, uninterested third party. Since you had previously said that the face-value attacks on Palin are the same as the face-value use of the blood libel, your response appeared to be a rationalization specifically invented to begin arguing a new point after you had realized you needed to concede the original point. Ergo, I called it like I saw it.

    I also suspect that I know a good deal more than you do about Jewish-Greek relations in the time between Alexander the Great and the height of the Roman Empire. There was no love lost between Jews and Greeks, especially after the Maccabean Revolt. To imagine that a Greek living in Egypt would have just wandered in to Jerusalem one day and said, “Who are these mysterious people I’ve never seen, never heard of, and am positively predisposed to?” and then reacted with horror to their sacrifice of animals in Temple rituals (which, again, was commonplace in all Mediterranean religions) and thought, “Oh, what horror! They must also sacrifice babies!” is, well, wrong. In the ancient world you didn’t need to be a Christian to be an anti-Semite and you didn’t need to have the whole Jesus thing to try to find reasons to hate them.

  89. Doug @95: Again, no. The Greeks’ issues with the Jews had quite a bit to do with monotheism and a refusal to assimilate to Greek ways. This is where Hanukkah comes in.

    The blood libel depended quite a bit on the confusion of matzoh with the Host. To the people who believed it, it “made sense” – Jews practiced a perverse religion and needed Christian babies for their matzoh, in a foul perversion of the sacred bread of Christianity, so let’s get those bastards before they get us.

    As for Dershowitz – feh. I too will be interested to watch Stewart go after this one.

    David @94: That retconning might be a tad more plausible if Palin herself, during the campaign, had not (as she in fact did) refer to the crosshairs as “bulleyes” and insist that she was not telling anyone to get violent. The “surveyor’s marks” was something that her spokeswoman, Rebecca Monsour, told a sympathetic talk-show host after the massacre, apparently forgetting or hoping nobody would remember that Palin had acknowledge what they really were. I mean, setting aside the fact that there are not “surveyor’s marks” like that, or that it would make no sense whatsoever to “target” disctrics with “surveyor’s marks”.

  90. @ Shmuel: I don’t accept the assertions that it is a common usage in American politics, or anywhere outside Israel. No one has shown me any evidence of this (beyond Alan Dershowitz and the Jewish Week asserting that it is the case). I can find… like… 1 usage a year for the past few years with a bit of quick google-fu. No more.

    And if the term is massively and inappropriately overused by all sides in Israel, is that really a good reason to say the same should be accepted in the US?

  91. John, thank you for being a spot of sanity in an otherwise cold, dark and rainy internets today.

    Perspective…such a sad, lonely little thing these days.

  92. Geds #92: Wikipedia:

    The origin of the blood libel can be traced back to the Graeco-Egyptian author Apion, who claimed that Jews sacrificed Greek victims in their temple.[3] Apion repeated anti-Jewish slurs and “absurd calumnies” first made by Posidonius and Apollonius Molon in the 1st century BCE.[11] This resulted in an attack on Jews in Alexandria in 38 CE in which thousands of Jews died.[12][not specific enough to verify] Socrates Scholasticus (fl. 5th Century) reported that some Jews in a drunken frolic bound a Christian child on a cross in mockery of the death of Christ and scourged him until he died.[13]

    Which of course does not support Doug Stewart’s assignation of general motivation/origins of blood libel as relates specifically to the Greeks, but does support the origins of blood libel in 1st century BCE Greece.

  93. Tully @114: Yep. I answered that one at length in comment #110. What you said is a much more clear and concise version of what ended up saying.I

  94. Eddie C #112: I don’t accept the assertions that it is a common usage in American politics, or anywhere outside Israel.

    In over two decades in the guts of RealPolitik I’ve heard the term used occasionally, though by no means frequently. One can quibble with subjective definitions of what “common” means, but it is certainly used on occasion in politics to refer specifically to unfounded hyperbolic accusations meant to taint the target of same. (Like our host, I personally find such usage overwrought, to say the least.)

    OTOH, martial metaphors are overwhelmingly omnipresent in all corners of the “Politeriat,” and have been for pretty much forever. As Scalzi noted in a previous thread, if anyone thinks our current political noisefests are setting new records for nasty level, they haven’t studied much history.

  95. @Eddie C:
    Read the Geraghty piece I linked to above. Google doesn’t know all — some LexisNexis-fu is required.

    @Geds #110:
    Perhaps I wasn’t being clear. I thought my invocation of pundits/commentators would suffice. The logic I was expounding was the logic I saw inherent in said commentators’ use of the term. That is to say, they wanted to convey an “It’s not fair! Demonization!” point in the shortest way possible and thus used a loaded term that, were there logic universally understood, would expand in the readers’ minds into the point the commentators were making. You unfairly place this equivalence upon me and misunderstand my point in the process.

    I also reject your hand-waving at “despicable, inflammatory” remarks by Palin. You’re using a rhetorical device here in that you’re assuming that all decent-thinking people must agree with your conclusion that the use of martial, hunting or sporting metaphor in the context of politics is inherently “despicable” and/or “inflammatory”. I don’t agree, and I don’t cede the point.

  96. John,
    Would you please leave Mrs. Palin alone! You are pointing out her faults and making her look bad. Let her win the Republican Presidential Primary and THEN unload on her.
    Dave

  97. Interestingly, if one actually looks at the source cited for that article – a book called Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis – it says that “the origins of this anti-Semitic myth, known as the blood libel, lie in medieval England,” stemming from widespread anti-Semitism, and refers to an incident in 1144 CE. Apion comes in because, according to Flavius Josephus, Apion was an anti-Semite trying to persuade Caligula that the Jews killed and ate Greeks for Passover.

    Moral of the story: Wikipedia is informative. It is not a source. The footnote thingies? Those lead to sources.

  98. Personally, I hope that she doesn’t retract this one. So sick of people saying horrible things, then getting to say, “Oops, no, I didn’t really MEAN that. I sorry,” and then putting on a pouty face and being forgiven. In the meantime, their original statement is out there and living a happy life. See the bit about the gun company putting “you lie” on a limited run of assault rifles.

  99. @Geds #115:
    Brevity, as they say, is the soul of wit, or at least coherence, then, because as I read Tully’s point, it is the precise opposite of what you wrote.

  100. @Doug Stewart: I did.

    First one (Sully): Clearly uses the term “equivalent”, and is also used in the context of a minority group defiling Christian children for their own evil purposes (I.e. converting to fags (I’m gay, I can use that word :P)).

    2nd: Not entirely appropriate, but referencing centuries of racist concern about black men raping and defiling white women.

    3rd: Don’t really think that usage is appropriate.

    4th through 12th: Inappropriate.

    13th: Same as the first one – used as a comparison not as a direct quotation, and I think it is legitimate usage.

    So that’s 9, maybe 10 outright inappropriate usages identified. Which equates to… 1 a year over the 10 year period those examples cover :P. Which squares exactly with what I said. Not exactly common usage.

  101. @Eddie C:
    As I read it, talking about “blood libel” in the Israeli press is somewhat akin to talking about a “civil war” in the US press, i.e. a loaded term if one thinks about it but one whose common usage has so stripped it of its novelty as to make any “shock” at its use transparently self-serving.

    I mean, how many “civil wars” have been fought amongst GOP party officials in the last 15 years? How many times in the past 4 have “civil wars” sprung up between the Blue Dogs and the Progressive Caucus? Are we literally implying that the bodies of several hundred thousand Democrats of various stripes are scattered across our fruited plains, shot and bayonetted to death?

    All of which is to say that if Sarah Palin were an Israeli politician using the term, I doubt we would be having this conversation. *grin*

  102. Of all the things posted here, I wasn’t expecting some kind of metaphorical inquisition…

    [[Jarring Chord]]

    Cardinal Scalzi: *Nobody* expects the metaphorical inquisition!

  103. @80, MLB

    Thank you, and now I feel a little embarassed, I’m something of a fan of Fabris and a Renaissance-period fencing enthiusist but I’m not familiar with the term.

  104. The only thing I find shocking about this is that anyone else finds it shocking.

    It is a core of the political philosophy she espouses to loudly make false equivalencies whenever possible, especially when it comes to rhetoric about oppression.

    It’s a symptom of unearned privilege and entitlement, actually: In Palin’s worldview, and that of her fellows, they are entitled to gross, unearned cultural, financial and political dominance, and anyone seeking to improve the lot of people unlike them is surely bent on destroying them utterly. Like spoiled children, they are so unused to being told to wait their turn or take only their share that to them, such requests are armed robbery.

  105. @Tal:
    Errr, what? Some of us happen to have a political Venn diagram that roughly overlaps with Mrs. Palin’s. Are you claiming that we loudly proclaim false equivalencies at every opportunity in order to, what, not be accused of murder-by-proxy?

    Your “argument”, such as it is, is reminiscent of the invective those on the far Left have been tossing around for years.

    Republicans want to kill kids on welfare! Republicans oppose Head Start and thus want poor kids to die of pre-school malnutrition! Republicans oppose S/CHIP and so want kids to die on the way to the ER, where they probably would have been denied coverage anyway! Republicans want women to have back-alley abortions and die in the gutter!

  106. Doug: “civil war” is a generic term. It can, but need not, refer to a specific American war. “Blood libel”, like “lynching”, is not generic.

    Speculation about the Israeli press aside, we are not discussing what an Israeli politician said to Israelis, but what an American politician said to Americans.

    And if you want to play Distraction Fairy by reeling off “bad things your side has said about my side” we could be here all day.

  107. Republicans want to kill kids on welfare! Republicans oppose Head Start and thus want poor kids to die of pre-school malnutrition! Republicans oppose S/CHIP and so want kids to die on the way to the ER, where they probably would have been denied coverage anyway! Republicans want women to have back-alley abortions and die in the gutter!

    No, they just don’t care if that’s the end effect of the policies they espouse.

  108. Mythago:

    “And if you want to play Distraction Fairy by reeling off ‘bad things your side has said about my side’ we could be here all day.”

    And, of course, in the first comment I asked people not to go down that route, since it gets tedious to read.

  109. Doug Stewart: So, you know, perhaps a more measured response might be appropriate?

    Yeah, John! Biting the hand that fed you is _exactly_like_ Hitler betraying Stalin during WW2!

    David Gillaspie: A Palin aide corrected my mistake by saying the crosshairs were surveyor’s marks. He’s probably right.

    In what context would the symbol for “horizontal mineral bedding” even make sense on a political poster? Because that’s what that one means, if it really _is_ a geologic map reference.

  110. @84, David

    When I first saw the Palin map with the crosshairs I thought ‘rifle scope,’ and targeting the opposition A Palin aide corrected my mistake by saying the crosshairs were surveyor’s marks. He’s probably right.

    Except for the fact that she later tweeted calling them “bullseyes”, linking them further to the gun analogy. The “surveyor’s mark” claim is bunk.

  111. Doug: Are you seriously making the argument that the US should adopt the worst elements of political rhetoric from every country on the globe? Really? If so, I have some pernicious New Zealand shit that I contribute :P. Otherwise, “Israelis do it so we should too” is a terrible argument.

  112. Doug: You’re misunderstanding the concept of false equivalency, and getting it confused with other concepts (in particular: hyperbole, straw men and slippery slope.)

    False equivalency is equating things of clearly different magnitude, such as the assertion that taxes (the dues one pays to live in a civilized society) are equivalent to armed robbery.

    The examples you’re giving are better thought of as straw men (both in themselves and in your bringing them up without citation or context.)

  113. Doug @124: Brevity, as they say, is the soul of wit, or at least coherence, then, because as I read Tully’s point, it is the precise opposite of what you wrote.

    Then you obviously lack reading comprehension. As such, I see no point in discussing anything with you beyond this final clarification.

    Tully’s point as I read it was that, yes, it is possible to see a precursor to blood libel in certain corners of the Greek world, but that there was no support of your contention that the Greek iteration of blood libel was based on a misunderstanding of Jewish rituals surrounding sacrifice. If that was not what Tully actually said, than I was wrong. But “does not support Doug Stewart’s assignation of general motivation/origins of blood libel as relates specifically to the Greeks” is pretty clear cut in the respect that Tully was not chiming in to agree with you and take me to task.

    I called BS on you based on two premises: first, that I was not aware of there being a usage of blood libel or a blood libel-like concept prior to its use in Medieval Europe and second that there was no way a Greek in antiquity would see Jews sacrificing animals at the Temple and say, “Oh, my, how barbaric! If they do that they must also sacrifice babies.”

    You have offered adequate citation to satisfy my first argument. I acknowledged that. You have not offered any citation to satisfy the second. In fact, the citation you offered went a long way towards refuting your argument that the whole thing was to blame on a simple misunderstanding of Jewish animal sacrifice. Again, though, I suspect that I know far more about Greek religious ritual than you do, so it is a face-level absurdity to me to say that the Greeks would have been horrified at the prospect of animal sacrifice, as they engaged in the practice at the time as well. Such things would not have been viewed as strange and barbaric cruelties.

  114. This is why it’s completely impossible to defend Palin about anything. Even when her position is a morally defensible one she manages to assume it while being incredibly stupid.

  115. The biggest casualty of this whole Palin blood-libel brouhaha? The focus on the rhetoric of violence and gun references in our political climate. Once again, Palin gets thrown into the middle of a well-needed debate on serious issues, leading to a massive shift of focus away from the issues and onto her. If I had a few more conspiracy bones in my body, I’d say the whole thing was coolly calculated to achieve just those ends.

  116. Geds:

    Let’s watch dropping the “reading comprehension” bomb, please. I sort of arrogate that here for my own personal use.

    Beyond that, Doug has been in my general opinion following the discussion pretty well. It’s okay to assume there might be a reason for his alternate take other than reading comprehension.

    All of which is to say we’re generally doing a good job keeping this thread civil. Let’s try to continue in that vein.

  117. Mary C. Boys, a professor at Union Theological Seminary who has studied blood libel and is also a nun commented, “This is not language that we Christians should use when we’re victims. This is what we charged Jews with… It’s improper for us as Christians, who invented it and used it against Jews with horrific consequence, to use this terminology.”

    I also heartily recommend the book The Myth of Ritual Murder, by R. Po-chia Hsia which traces the history of these heinous allegations which are still occurring, with several accusations cropping up in Russia and the Middle East within the last few years.

  118. This post just got linked to by Sully. prepare for a flood :)
    also, I am trying (and still failing), but I hope by ignoring Palin (don’t click to read articles about her, don’t watch videos she posts, etc), she might just go away….

  119. John @133: Indeed – my comment was meant to be an observation rather than a “So let’s get it ON”. Examples of Joe Blogcommenter making vile, threatening comments about [politician] or [public figure] abound and are hardly limited to one segment of the political spectrum.

    It’s worth noting that on the HOW DAR U front, Sharron Angle apparently has her pinstripes in a wad that anyone would suggest she condones violence. You know, after she suggested that Nevada voters ought to resort to “Second Amendment remedies” if the elections didn’t turn out the way she wanted. It’s too bad Palin is taking heat that should rightly to go her.

  120. I think her and others’ pretense that everyone is trying to directly tie her to Loughner is just another example of their inability to be honest.
    It’s just more of the same old ‘me is victim, anyone who doesn’t agree with my black and white message is trying to curb my rights and get me killed’ nonsense.
    Yes, some(a small minority) have tried to directly tie her tea party movement to him – but the VAST majority are merely trying to discuss, like adults, that the overwhelming and extremely violent rhetoric coming from the right’s political elites has been contributing to an overall atmosphere of hate and violent intent toward their political opponents – and a real desensitization around political violence.
    And the nonsense that it’s coming from both sides is also either clearly ignorant, or deliberately dishonest: from the left, we have one maybe two people in the upper echelons that could be seen as somewhere in the vicinity of Palin and her followers rhetoric-wise(unless you want to include 40 years ago). On the left, it’s some bloggers and mainly anonymous commenters.
    But on the right, it’s politicians, their staff, top TV and radio hosts. They are in people’s living rooms night and day. They have more access to the kitchen tables and lounge-rooms of right wing constituents than most people, and it’s plainly obvious that it’s this that is of concern, and it’s this that has been discussed as an issue of concern.
    To try to yet again turn this into a black and white issue: that anyone trying to discuss the current culture of extreme and violent rhetoric is simply victimizing the right wing elite by attempting to tie them directly to the killer, is simply dishonest, and another sign of how much contempt they have for the analytical abilities of those in their own base: unable to see even the slightest nuance in any serious situation.

    And given Palin and the majority of he right’s demonizing of every Muslim alive, even saying that discussing this is an attempt to get her killed, is a pretty clear sign that she doesn’t believe her own main point in the slightest.

  121. Oooh, I can play the Sarah Palin Fatuous Equivalence Game too.

    Some homophobic arse-hat fag-baiting on a blog, completely unlike this fine establishment.

    EQUALS

    Being shipped off to Dachau with a pink triangle on my chest.

    Why don’t I feel better?

  122. I’m willing to bet that fewer than half of the people participating in this debate knew the origins of the term “blood libel” before all of this commentary, and that a large chunk of them had never even heard the term before Palin used it. And no, I’m not just talking about the conservatives.

    Meanwhile, you seem to forget how language works, except when it suits you. Sure, “fair” and “unfair” are not binary states, and neither are analogies or comparisons always 1:1. “Blood libel” is a perfectly acceptable shorthand expression for baseless accusations of murder, even murder by association or murder as unintended consequence. This would be true even if Palin were the first to ever do it, and we didn’t have folks like Dershowitz explaining that it is, in fact, commonplace. I find it hard to believe that this recent taking of offense is anything other than an affectation.

    And damn you all for causing me to defend Sarah Palin.

  123. Eddie C@136:

    Damn, you realise I could have convinced Doug to adopt Winston Peters, Garth McVicar and Kyle Chapman? (Google them, non-Kiwis, just don’t do it on a full stomach, if you’re pregnant or have a family history of heart disease. They’re not nice.)

    And I’d have got away with it too, if it wasn’t for you, damn kid.

  124. p.s: upon re-reading my above comment I just wanted to say that I don’t believe the access into people’s living rooms is a problem: it’s how the right wing TV and talk show hosts exploit and abuse that access which is of concern: by managing to convince so many that any Democrat or Liberal is anti-American and more dangerous than bin Laden and the Taliban, and on and on and on. It’s a thinly veiled incitement for war in my view, and it’s a surprise that we haven’t seen more attempts – though there have been a large number of people caught or killed before they could do anyone else harm, and who’re clearly acting on the words of the likes of Glen Beck.
    Apparently, because the carnage was stopped ahead of time, for the right wing, such incidents are not relevant to the discussion.

  125. @Eddie C:
    I was not offering it as a suggested course of action but rather an observation on how loaded terms lose their currency when used frequently and inappropriately. A decent case for the preservation of the term “blood libel” as a protected loaded word could be made, an example of which out host has provided.

    @Tal:
    You chose a poor example. At least where I come from, “highway robbery” is a rather common bit of hyperbole and certainly not an overblown moral equivalent. “Did you see what they’re asking for Packers playoff tickets? Highway robbery!”

    @Geds:
    I now see where my confusion lies. You’ve placed far more significance upon the Greek portion of my comment. I used it merely as a starting point in furtherance of my larger one; namely, that various oppressor groups have used blood libel, or variations on same over te years to justify their unjustifiable actions.

    Would “variations on” have forestalled our line of discussion?

  126. I don’t believe Palin is an idiot (at least not when it comes to populist politics; she’s some kind of savant there), nor that she used “blood libel” accidentally. Even if she didn’t know what “blood libel” meant, her speechwriters and advisors probably did. So I believe this is a classic example of dogwhistle anti-Semitism. She’s sending a message to those among her supporters who are bigots — because that fits neatly into the whole “straight middle-class Christian white people are under assault by Them!” (for any value of Them they fear most) rhetoric that’s helped to make the Tea Party so powerful, and so angry. She’s reminding them of who the enemy is, and that she’s on their side. She’s rallying the base, in other words — probably in preparation for some big announcement.

  127. Three Oranges @149: “perfectly acceptable” to whom? You? The fact that you’d like to sanitize all context ouf of that phrase is your problem. I don’t find it “perfectly acceptable” for an evangelical Christian to use the term ‘blood libel’ to characterize what she feels to be baseless accusations about the shooting of a Jewish Congresswoman. Imagine the reaction if an admirer of neo-Nazis had shot a black Congressman and a white political candidate accused her detractors of “subjecting me to a lynching.”

    Again, I agree with the surmise that Palin’s speechwriters just grabbed the phrase because it sounds like ‘libel about blah blah blood something’ (Reynolds, on the other hand, should goddamn well know better). That doesn’t mean that we should all pretend the phrase is completely devoid of baggage and only a big sillyhead would find it offensive in the slightest.

  128. Three Oranges@149:

    I’d hope most Whateverettes would have to Google “bukakke” to score a definition (please don’t because it’s a definitely NSFW search), but it’s still a revolting term to drop into civilized discourse.

    While “blood libel” might be a perfectly acceptable metaphor in Professor Dershowitz’s house and among his social circle, it most definitely is not in mine. You see I was raised, and remain, a devout Catholic in a family that was perfectly well aware of the repulsive idea that the Jewish people bore eternal “blood guilt” for the death of Christ.

    I’m also culturally literate enough to be well-aware of anti-Semitic representation in European art, literature and culture.

    Thanks for the man-splain, but save your time.

  129. That tweet from the Daily Dish brought me to your site. Best discussion of this matter that I’ve read all day. Wish I had been here earlier.

    I haven’t been here since I first read your fiction. Glad to be back.

  130. Sarah Palin feels she’s being unfairly blamed for the actions of an extremist?
    I’m sure the American Muslim community has a lot of sympathy for her.

  131. Mythago@155:

    Glen Reynolds certainly should, and when you think his day job is as tenured professor at the University of Tennessee law school, the sheer tendentiousness of that WSJ op-ed was disturbing, even without the “blood libel” canard. I hope the Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law expects slightly more rigorous arguments from his students than “wah! those mean liberal poopy-heads do it too! STFU, lame-o!”

  132. @Three Oranges: I think your point, while I disagree with it, is something that probably many people think.
    And my opinion is that such thinking is due to laziness more than anything else.

    When I hear in a speech, or read in an essay, a word or phrase I don’t quite understand but have a suspicion it means more than what it might at face value, I look it up.
    I would hope that a speech writer would do the same, and I would also hope that anyone looking to take part in serious political discussion might do the same.
    Because words do matter.

    And Dershowitz? Really?
    He represents all of Judaism, does he?

  133. @Three Oranges (#149)
    I am one of those that didn’t know what “blood libel” was before this morning. If I had uttered the above, and it was brought to my attention, I would like to believe I would have apologized and retracted the statement. So if ignorance was the case, she should have then rapidly followed up with a retraction of the statement. The fact she didn’t, does not allow a defense based on ignorance. She has had 12 hours to retract now, and she has not.

    The other galling thing about the entire statement is her logic in stating anything I have said (crosshairs, etc) does not inflame the public, but any statements others make about me is going to put me in danger and risk…. How do you parse that. Or even defend her in the light of that

  134. Three Oranges:

    “‘Blood libel’ is a perfectly acceptable shorthand expression for baseless accusations of murder, even murder by association or murder as unintended consequence.”

    It’s not even remotely close to such a thing, and the general explosion of disbelief over her use of the term (particularly among the Jewish community) is a good indication of this. I’m not actually generally personally shocked by the things that come out of the mouths of politicians, but when I read that Palin used it I had a couple of hard blinks because I couldn’t believe she was actually stupid enough to front such an equivalence. That some people appear to use it anyway is not the same thing as saying because they do, it is therefore “perfectly acceptable.”

    Beyond this, mind you, on a philosophical level there are certain words and phrases which one should actively resist watering down, and I would suggest to you that “Blood Libel” is one of those. Blithe assertions of it being “perfectly acceptable” are, shall we say, unconvincing in light of what the term actually means and how it’s been used in history. The people who use it as such a shorthand, including Palin, are absolutely foolish to do so.

  135. “The essence of your argument was, then, that it is exactly as unfair to claim Sarah Palin is to blame for shooting up an Arizona grocery store as it is to claim that Jews eat gentile babies.”

    Well, in the sense that they’re both a) falsehoods, b) obvious falsehoods, and c) perpetrated by people who have an obsession with hating their target, and a wish to destroy them that borders on psychosis…yes. Having said that, obviously, the forms of the wished-for destruction are entirely dissimilar. An actual “blood libel” in the traditionally-accepted sense of the term was far, far more serious in terms of the consequences that were visited on the victims, and I am unaware of anyone (including Palin) who would ever try to claim otherwise. But then again, analogies do not have to rely on ALL the features of the compared things being similar to work.

    On a side note, I must admit to being amused and saddened by a post from a professional author criticizing anyone for out-of-proportion rhetoric — where he commits the same sin. “Doing so by asserting that her and her pals getting pinked for their political messaging is just like the entire nation of the Jews enduring centuries of pogroms and persecution because of the enduring lie that they murdered babies for their religious ceremonies?” I watched the speech myself, and Palin fan though I am not, I am forced to say that she didn’t go that far.

  136. What disturbs me about what’s supposed to be a national day of mourning is that certain right wingers have not been treating it as such. There’s Palin’s stupid analogy, of course, which I have been guilty of Tweeting as proof of her anti-Semitism. But there’s also the news that Representative Boehner wasn’t willing to cancel a previously scheduled GOP fundraiser and travel to Tucson to attend the funeral service.

  137. Actually I admit to not having known before today what the term “blood libel” specifically referred to, despite having a degree in history. I am well aware of the phenomenon, and had heard the term before, but did not know the connection. I suppose it was one of those terms that I deduced a general meaning of from context and never knew it was a specific term for that phenomenon. So I would not have known it was offensive without the internet. Likely a lot of her followers won’t either. And it’s highly likely, given what we know about Palin, that she was no better informed.

    Not that ignorance is an excuse. In her position, you’re supposed to hire speech writers who actually do know what words mean. Or at least look them up. And it’s a good idea to read the speech and make sure you know what it means before you say it. Unless, I guess, you’re a right-wing talking head, because restricting the use of words to what they actually mean is never expected of them anymore.

  138. “What disturbs me about what’s supposed to be a national day of mourning is that certain right wingers have not been treating it as such….Representative Boehner wasn’t willing to cancel a previously scheduled GOP fundraiser and travel to Tucson to attend the funeral service.”

    One hopes you were as upset by the fundraising letter from Sen. Sanders.

  139. Demosthenes:

    “I am forced to say that she didn’t go that far.”

    Well, except for that part where she accused the media of manufacturing a blood libel. That Palin did not then say “which, for those of you who don’t know, is when the entire nation of the Jews enduring centuries of pogroms and persecution because of the enduring lie that they murdered babies for their religious ceremonies” neither excuses the reference nor lessens her foolishness for having used it.

    It’s entirely possible she or her scriptwriter didn’t know that’s what blood libel was, or the cultural significance of the phrase, but speaking as a professional author, I generally encourage people not to use words or phrases if they don’t know what they mean, or are aware of their general cultural significance. Alas, neither Palin nor her scriptwriters consulted me.

  140. Ooh, ooh–I got one!

    Waiting more than a half-hour for a table at a sushi joint = THE RAPE OF NANKING

  141. Demosthenes:

    Yes,, Saunders’ letter is exactly like not going to a funeral, preferring instead going to attend a political fundraiser.
    They really are the same thing.

    Do you really not see how the use of such obvious false equivalencies only make it seem as though you’re not willing to engage in honest discussion?

  142. @91 Has anyone on the Left actively considered the fact that Palin may just well be a Political Rage Honeypot?

    Of course but are you sure she is a honeypot targeting the left and not the right?

    The right was loving the idea of running against Hilary because her negative were so high. Palins negatives make Hilary look like Lady Bird Johnson. Are you sure she is not working for the DNC?

  143. The reason Palin used the term blood libel is because it’s a Holocaust-related term regarding the persecution of the Jews. Again and again, Palin and others on the far right have liked to paint a picture of paranoid impending Holocaust and totalitarianism that may require a violent response in defense — that their opponents are socialists who want to destroy the country, take over everything through the government, erase civil liberties, take their guns, indoctrinate their children, and so forth, and what was done to the Jews will be done to the persecuted Christians. It’s their favorite imagery. During the Park 51 screaming match, Palin and her ilk declared the people involved with the center to be criminals, radicals (even though the director had worked with two Presidents,) who were going to use the inter-faith center to indoctrinate Muslim jihadists. They claimed that most or a significant chunk of Muslims, including in America, were radicalized. They said that Muslim leaders were not doing enough to stop the radicals and Palin called on “peaceable Muslims” to stop the center, claiming that they had a collective responsibility to do so and a collective responsibility for 9/11. The far right claimed that Islam was not a religion but a political philosophy, that Muslims, especially those at the center, were trying to impose Sharia law into U.S. government, leading to several legislators trying to pass unconstitutional anti-Sharia laws, one succeeding. They claimed that the mosques and religious schools in the U.S. were indoctrination centers for extremism and a couple of mosques were set on fire.

    Which of course was not the far right’s fault. Muslim-Americans were collectively responsible for stopping radical Muslims and for not preventing 9/11, but the far right could not be held collectively responsible when several far right extremists burn mosques the far right leaders claimed were terrorist centers or people threatened to burn Korans. They were just warning people about the impending Muslim invasion takeover and apocalypse agenda that they had no actual evidence for and was an outright lie. So now, Palin is under media fire in the wake of the shooting, for being a major figure in urging people to be violent with their neighbors if they think they are socialists (or Muslims.) And again, Palin suddenly reverses her position on collective responsibility (a relief for Muslim-Americans,) and Palin is not a public figure who put herself out there and thus should expect criticism and questioning like she dishes out to the Obamas and Democrats like Gifford, but the victim of an impending totalitarian persecution by media that are clearly trying to take over society and put her in jail. Just like centuries of persecution of the Jews. It’s scare tactics, and the far right is so used to using them, to warning about the impending invasion and persecution of good American Christians, that I’m sure the disparity didn’t even occur to Palin’s people. Or maybe they don’t care as long as Palin is out there painting herself as Apocalypse Malibu Barbie and raking in bucks for it. And the far right is so used to sharing catch phrases that as soon as Reynolds used the term blood libel, it was likely that others in the conservative media would pick it up and it’s no surprise that Palin did, since it was referenced egregiously to herself.

    Palin hasn’t been libeled or blood libeled. She’s been put under the same questioning that she put other political figures under about things she has publicly said and done on tape and in writing. And if she can’t handle it, she should go home to Alaska, which as far as I’m concerned, has a collective responsibility for having sicked this woman on us for the past two years.

  144. Craig @ #156:

    The “blood guilt” thing was the first thing I thought of when blood libel was mentioned; I’d heard “blood libel” used in an anti-Semitic context, but didn’t really know what was meant. I shouldn’t be too surprised; it wasn’t uncommon in the ancient world to allege that your enemies ate or sacrificed children; see also the biblical story of Molech.

    I’d hope that nobody in the civilized world would be stupid enough to believe it today, but the world surprises me from time to time.

  145. Kevin @172: “The other guys eat babies!” is certainly not a slander uniquely propagated against Jews, but the blood libel was a very specific variety employed by medieval Christians against Jews (who were, you know, already not exactly having the hand of friendship extended to them by their neighbors or anything).

    Dershowitz saw a bandwagon and said something outrageous and offensive to get on it. That’s what he does.

    I can’t say I’m shocked that certain Republicans have seized on “blood libel” as their new talking point. It’s kind of the way certain evangelical Christians describe themselves as “persecuted” every time they’re not, say, allowed to require a public school to read the Lord’s Prayer over the intercom to start the day. There is a certain privileged, selfish mindset that sees the slightest criticism or loss of special snowflakeness as HALP I R BEIN OPPRESD.

  146. Mr. Scalzi:

    “Well, except for that part where she accused the media of manufacturing a blood libel.”

    I’m sorry, sir, but you are a professional and well-respected author, and I therefore have to believe that you know what a metaphor is and how it works. One can criticize Palin, and I would, for choosing her comparison poorly. But to suggest that she is drawing an exact equivalence — which is what I take you to mean, considering your use of the phrase “just like” — is frankly unbelievable. If I am misinterpreting you, my apologies and I hope you will correct me on what exactly you meant…but otherwise, yowza.

    @169:

    “Yes,, Saunders’ letter is exactly like not going to a funeral, preferring instead going to attend a political fundraiser.
    They really are the same thing.”

    I don’t believe I said thy were the same thing. I would hope, however, that anyone who is upset at the Speaker of the House attending a fundraiser instead of a memorial event would be as outraged by a United States Senator attempting to raise money OFF THE TRAGEDY that is being memorialized. Actually, I correct myself…I would hope that one would be more outraged at the second than at the first. The fundraiser Boehner is attending was presumably scheduled well in advance, and had nothing to do with six deaths and an attempted assassination. Sanders’s fundraising letter was obviously a spur-of-the-moment attempt to capitalize on that exact event.

    “Do you really not see how the use of such obvious false equivalencies only make it seem as though you’re not willing to engage in honest discussion?”

    Do you not see how your attempt to paint my viewpoint as a false equivalency only makes it seem as though YOU’RE not willing to engage in honest discussion? In truth, though, that’s not a road I want to walk. We can engage in good-ol’-fashioned rhetorical motive questioning all night long, but at the end of the evening, nothing productive will have been done.

  147. To take the devil’s advocate position, Palin is famous for being intellectually lazy, and it’s not a huge stretch to think that she’d just use a phrase without any consideration to what it actually /meant/.

    OTOH she’s also famous for having a hate on for people who aren’t just like her.

  148. Demosthenes:

    “I’m sorry, sir, but you are a professional and well-respected author, and I therefore have to believe that you know what a metaphor is and how it works.”

    I do, and she wasn’t using a metaphor. She was accusing the media of a blood libel. There was nothing in how she was using the phrase that suggested she meant to use it other than as a specific term, meaning a specific thing.

    It’s entirely possible that she or her scriptwriter didn’t understand the full implications of the phrase she was using. In which case, as noted earlier, she was foolish to use it. But that’s a different thing than suggesting she was trying to use it in a metaphorical sense. She wasn’t. Don’t be agog at me for pointing it out; your “yowza” is more accurately pointed in her direction.

  149. Of all the things posted here, I wasn’t expecting some kind of metaphorical inquisition…

    [[Jarring Chord]]

    Cardinal Scalzi: *Nobody* expects the metaphorical inquisition!/

    and masterthief wins the comments thread by a nose!

    But other salient points abound

    Yes, mythago, it’s sad that Mean Girl Sarah is getting Mean Girl Sharron’s heat, though if you stir up the fire….

    Several commenters stated that they think the use of the term “blood-libel” was a dog whistle, and I think they’re right. It’s a particularly brilliant one, because it really is an uncommon term in the US (I’d never heard it before, even when Josh used it, and that’s kind of odd) and so in denouncing it, it becomes necessary to define it, which then puts it into the lexicon, which then allows the right wing feeding frenzy to simultaneously call out liberals as elitist and edumacate the masses on what horrible people those Jews/ how evil those liberals are for being mean to them.

    No, I don’t think either Palin or Angle was directly responsible for the shootings. That said, people with psychotic disorders pick up on the general tone of discourse, just like the rest of us, and random bits of that discourse get caught in their brains and perseverated on. So yeah, tone it down (and can the outright incitement, where it occurs) is good advice.

    And above all, remember there are six grieving families who lost a loved one, and at least one grieving family that is (at minimum) facing a long, hard row back to anything resembling “normal”. That Sarah thinks this is all about her doesn’t make it so.

  150. As Scalzi says, Demosthenes, it beggars belief that you think Palin was using a metaphor. Let’s quote Palin’s whole sentence that used the phrase “blood libel”:

    “Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn.”

    How is that possibly a metaphorical usage?

  151. Demostenes,
    I take it you’ve not bothered to actually read Saunders’ letter? He’s not trying to raise money off the tragedy.

    And if you read what you wrote, you’re clearly saying you think they’re equivalent: by saying that you hope that the person you responded to was “:as upset”. Why would anyone be “as upset”, unless they saw the two as ‘as bad’?

    What’s more: Saunders isn’t the speaker of the house and the most senior republican in office.
    He’s the equivalent of a backbencher.

    This wouldn’t be as much of an issue, except all the right seems able to do these days is paint false equivalences as defense of their actions.

    It’s the same as saying that ‘both sides are just as bad’, when in reality, on one side it’s anonymous commenters flinging vile rhetoric(the vast majority, anyway), the other senior republican politicians and the most popular right wing TV/talk radio hosts.

  152. I don’t buy the “dog whistle” theory for a couple of reasons.

    Sending out a code that no one understands kind of defeats the point, doesn’t it. I agree with the Poster who said a great many people commenting on this phrase never heard it before today, and if they did, didn’t know what it really referred to.

    What evidence does anyone have that Sarah Palin is anti-semitic?

    You can say she’s simple, stupid, naive, whatever. You can hate her for that and for holding conservative views that you might not share. And she certainly shouldn’t have used the term blood libel. But anti-semitic?
    She’s stated that she supports Israel completely, hasn’t she?

    I’m not her campaign manager or anything. I don’t want to see her as the next president. But calling someone a Jew-Hater is pretty serious. I would want to see something she actually said before I repeated that.

  153. My main problem with her response(besides the offending “blood libel” remark which just seemed kind of ignorant) was she basically went “Yeah, Yeah, people getting shot sucks, now let’s talk about me already.” It was a 7 minute canned response video that she could edit/reshoot/rewrite until it pleased her and she chose to devote 30 seconds to talking about the people who died as a brief prelude to her pity party. If she wants to be a leader then she needs to start acting like one and if not I’d prefer she just get off the stage.

  154. Mr. Scalzi:

    “There was nothing in how she was using the phrase that suggested she meant to use it other than as a specific term, meaning a specific thing.”

    Other than, of course, the context in which it was spoken. You’ve clearly made up your mind as to what she meant. It seems to me I’ve heard a lot of that in reference to her the past few days, so much so that I’m actually starting to feel some sympathy for her.

    “But that’s a different thing than suggesting she was trying to use it in a metaphorical sense. She wasn’t. Don’t be agog at me for pointing it out; your “yowza” is more accurately pointed in her direction.”

    And here you move from “There was nothing suggesting she did” to “She didn’t.” Unless you can claim privileged access to her mind and intentions, that’s an unlicensed move. With all due respect, sir, I think my “yowza” stands as called.

    Eddie C:

    “…it beggars belief that you think Palin was using a metaphor.”

    Your belief, perhaps. But since I am aware of what I believe, it doesn’t beggar mine.

    “How is that possibly a metaphorical usage?”

    Let me turn that question around. Why are you so sure it isn’t? Do you think Palin honestly meant to claim that journalists were saying she murdered children to use their blood for religious rituals? Is that not the traditional meaning of “blood libel”? Most articles I’ve read on the subject that hold her to account merely say that her rhetoric helped to create the environment in which Loughner’s actions could occur, and thus that she is to some degree complicit in their deaths. Metaphorical usgae thus makes the most sense to me.

    cinesimon:

    “He’s not trying to raise money off the tragedy.”

    No? Opening the letter with a reference to the tragedy, then saying “Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?” at precisely the time that the national media and the left blogosphere was pushing the “Loughner was right-wing” meme, is NOT trying to raise money off the tragedy? Okay…

    “He’s the equivalent of a backbencher.”

    In the Senate, yes, he is. Of course, you leave out the facts that he also spent 16 years in the U.S. House, was mayor of Vermont’s largest city for eight years, and is a well-known and well-respected politician in his state who routinely wins by landslides. In short, people listen to him…and I’d be willing to bet good cash money that until recently more Americans knew his name than knew the name of John Boehner.

    “It’s the same as saying that ‘both sides are just as bad’, when in reality, on one side it’s anonymous commenters flinging vile rhetoric(the vast majority, anyway), the other senior republican politicians and the most popular right wing TV/talk radio hosts.”

    As opposed to the vast majority of left-wing commenters at DailyKos and FireDogLake, many senior Democratic politicians, and the vast majority of popular columnists and TV commentators on MSNBC, all of whom are inveterate angels, no doubt. Get real! I do not claim that the rhetorical excesses of the right are good or excusable. But you paint the whole thing as a largely one-sided affair. I assure you, it is not…and I further suggest that the reason for your belief is what comes from the left, you mostly agree with.

  155. Demosthenes:

    “Other than, of course, the context in which it was spoken.”

    Yes, the context in which she was directly accusing a specific group of people of doing a specific thing. Which is pretty much the opposite of metaphor.

    Sorry, Demosthenes, your metaphor argument is entirely bad. You may need to refresh your understanding of what “metaphor” is. One of its definitions is not “Someone using a phrase poorly and apparently without a full understanding of what it means.”

  156. 2 points:

    1. Palin would make Narcissus himself think: wow, she’s a little self-absorbed.

    2. I have been told that the reference in blood libel that it dated back to the Greeks was false history. Those who invented the libel were trying to give it historical weight. I’d be welcome to be proved wrong, though.

  157. Sorry on #186…meant to add something, but hit the “Post Comment” button by accident. I meant to say “a malicious charge that she was responsible for deaths, one with no observable basis in fact?” As for #187…

    “Yes, the context in which she was directly accusing a specific group of people of doing a specific thing.”

    I’m sure most football coaches, after a bad loss, will be entirely surprised to find that on your theory, they are now guilty of accusing the opposing team of initiating an actual slaughter. A somewhat overstated example, admittedly, but that also would be accusing a specific group of people of doing a specific thing — and you would have no trouble identifying it as metaphor, mainly due to the lack of dead bodies.

    You have not shown that she meant to use the words “blood libel” with their traditional meaning attached. Moreover, you cannot show that. You have only your suppositions about Palin’s intelligence in support. I believed, and continue to believe, that she is using somewhat elevated rhetoric (and again I add, in an inadvisable way) to make a point, as she has done so often in the past. If Palin comes out and actually says “No, I really meant to draw an equivalence here,” then I will admit I was wrong. Until then, sir, agree to disagree.

  158. I meant to say “a malicious charge that she was responsible for deaths, one with no observable basis in fact?

    That’s still not a metaphor. A metaphor combines two unalike things.

    “I’m drowning in money” METAPHOR

    “They slaughtered us in the game” EXAGGERATION.

  159. Billy Quiets@182:
    Sending out a code that no one understands kind of defeats the point, doesn’t it.

    Billy, I could hug you for being that naive. It doesn’t matter if “most people” don’t understand the code, as long as your target audience does. That’s why it’s called dog-whistling.

    Here’s an example off the top of my head — I’m reading a biography of Noel Coward, who was a homosexual at a time when men could, and were, sent to prison for committing homosexual acts. Just walking up to a strange man and and sexually propositioning them could, quite literally, find you homeless and unemployed after your trial was splashed all over the papers.

    In the theatrical circles Coward moved in the standard euphemism was to ask a sympathetic friend if that attractive stranger was “musical” or “theatrical” — and it didn’t mean “can he recite Shakespeare while playing ‘I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts’ on the piano-accordion’?” Utterly meaningless to anyone else; full of meaning to gays.

  160. “You may need to refresh your understanding of what ‘metaphor’ is. One of its definitions is not ‘Someone using a phrase poorly and apparently without a full understanding of what it means.'”

    Until you can take me inside Sarah Palin’s mind and show me that such a description is applicable…

  161. There is another possibility, you know.

    The term ‘blood libel’ carries the connotations it does because the accusation it describes is foul beyond words. It attempts to turn Jews into inhuman monsters. It strikes them to the soul, in a way that no words can describe and no one else can possibly understand. Which means it makes for a very powerful referent — one of the most powerful I can think of.

    Is it not possible that Palin views the accusation being hurled at her — that she would countenance or encourage mass murder for political ends — to be just as offensive to her as she believes the blood libel is to Jews?

    Ever since Palin emerged on the national political scene, I’ve been amused no end by the number of people who think they have her figured out. And yet, all they ever seem to come up with is reflections of themselves. The real person that she is … is nowhere to be seen. The idea that she’s using all these complicated ‘code words’, double- and triple-talking her way to power — how can you look at her background and see someone capable of that? I think she was looking for a phrase that would communicate exactly how repulsive she found the accusations being hurled at her, and overdid it a little.

    F’damnsure someone who knew what ‘blood libel’ means said to me in all seriousness that something I said had had that kind of effect on them … I’d probably rethink whatever it was I’d said.

  162. You have not shown that she meant to use the words “blood libel” with their traditional meaning attached

    You’re defending Palin’s intelligence by arguing that John Scalzi can’t prove that she understood what she was saying?

  163. Inigo Montoya to Sarah Palin: I do not think that word means what you think it means…

    I think Palin Propaganda (R) DID mean to use ‘blood libel’ as a dog whistle. Americans don’t typically think about ancient lies of Jews eating babies and it is hardly as fresh as talk of the Holocaust or lynchings in the post-Civil War South. If Mrs. Palin had used this phrase in a scheduled nationally broadcast event like a ‘State of The Union’ address (God help us if she ever gets the opportunity to give one of THOSE), then she should get as much heat as she deserves for the ‘target’ maps and other inflammatory rhetoric. Since it was a knee-jerk response on her blog, I believe she deserves a LITTLE bit of slack for using a nuke to kill a hornet. Whoever is responsible for what comes out of Mrs. Palin’s pie-hole certainly is no Ben Stein.

    Perhaps if the Heath family had stuck with Roman Catholicism a little while longer, little Sarah might have learned more of the history of Christianity and its interactions with the descendants of Jesus Christ’s people.

    Is ‘blood libel’ that much more offensive than using the popular “Tea-bagger” to refer to persons of the Tea-Party persuasion? Lefties seem to be able to get away with that one despite being well aware the double entendre via their familiarity with the GLBT universe.

  164. I think she was looking for a phrase that would communicate exactly how repulsive she found the accusations being hurled at her, and overdid it a little.

    This is your defense of Palin? That she’s so self-centered that she thinks whatever emotional reaction she’s having to being criticized is comparable to centuries of oppression and slaughter?

    She stopped being a teenager when?

  165. Is ‘blood libel’ that much more offensive than using the popular “Tea-bagger” to refer to persons of the Tea-Party persuasion?

    Uh, yes? By a lot?

    This has been another in the series Easy Answers To Easy Questions.

  166. Wolfwalker:

    “Is it not possible that Palin views the accusation being hurled at her — that she would countenance or encourage mass murder for political ends — to be just as offensive to her as she believes the blood libel is to Jews?”

    As she gives every indication of being deeply self-absorbed, this may be. However, someone on her staff should have advised her of the foolishness of saying so out loud. And it doesn’t excuse her for saying it.

    Spirit03:

    “Is ‘blood libel’ that much more offensive than using the popular ‘Tea-bagger’ to refer to persons of the Tea-Party persuasion?”

    Why, yes, and spectacularly so.

  167. Demosthenes – glad we finally got through. For a minute there I thought your understanding of metaphor was as shaky as Palin’s of blood libel, even when faced with evidence that the meaning being ascribed to it is incorrect. But no – and this is why it is worth having a debate with you, but not with Palin.

  168. “You’re defending Palin’s intelligence by arguing that John Scalzi can’t prove that she understood what she was saying?”

    Congratulations on a fine misrepresentation of what I was actually saying. Mr. Scalzi is the one who (apparently) believes that Palin meant to draw an exact equivalence with her use of the phrase “blood libel.” I am saying he can’t show that to be the case. But if mocking a straw man is easier for you, by all means, go ahead.

  169. Spirit03: 1) Yes. 2). In case people didn’t know, Tea Party activists were the first people to talk about “tea bagging the white house”. See here:

    http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/enough-with-the-whining-teabaggers-actually-intriduced-the-term-they-now-claim-is-a-slur/question-1155569/

    and here for the video with Griff Jenkins – http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/200909140021

    Obviously they find it offensive now, but pretending that this is something that liberals made up all by themselves is simply false.

  170. Oh, gosh, THANKS, Eddie C. That wasn’t insulting at all.

    For my part, I don’t consider it worth having a debate with people who rub in an honest mistake through the issuance of backhanded compliments.

  171. Gah, sorry – the 2nd link is the wrong video. The original, referred to in my first link, has been thoroughly DCMA-scrubbed off YouTube by Fox.

  172. Demosthenes: Was that insulting? Oops.

    My apologies. Lets call it the product of frustration at having a debate where someone is seriously saying “Sarah Palin didn’t mean what she plainly said, she meant something different. And I’m not changing my mind unless you can show me the inside of her brain. Nyah.”

  173. Is ‘blood libel’ that much more offensive than using the popular “Tea-bagger” to refer to persons of the Tea-Party persuasion?

    Sorry, loser argument. They called themselves that at the beginning, then found out what it meant, not only in the GLBT community, but in video games, where it’s done as a gesture of contempt for a fallen foe, and considered extremely offensive…sort of like using the term ‘blood libel’ after someone guns down a Jewish Congresswoman.

  174. Please excuse the repetitious redundancy of my pointing out repeatedly what had already been pointed out, and repeating stuff besides.

  175. I’d rather not have to have yet another discussion about whether “tea-bagger” is offensive and who used it first, please. It’s not on point to the overall discussion.

  176. Tea should be made only with loose tea in a pot and a samovar full of hot water.

    Чай мешки мерзость.

  177. Fine, Eddie C. Replace my incorrect uses of “metaphor” with the correct (per David) “exaggeration,” and throw in my profuse apologies for not remembering every last distinction I learned in 8th grade English. Having said that, let me edit your words so they actually represent my viewpoint —

    Sarah Palin didn’t mean what she said in a LITERAL fashion. She meant something different, more (shall we say) EXAGGERATED. And I’m not changing my mind unless you can show me the inside of her brain, or (as a reasonable substitute) a speech or column or Twitter message, directly from her, with an explanation of her meaning from which one could reasonably infer that you were right and I was wrong.

    And oh, yes. Nyah.

  178. Oy vey. Every time I think that woman can’t stoop any lower, she does. She gives Christianity a bad name.

  179. New definition of irony: After spending days trying to pull Palin into this tragedy, people are now complaining that she is making this about herself.

  180. Well Obama just blew little Miss Alaska off the map with his speech tonight. She’s Mitch R.’s problem now. She can scream blood libel hyperbole all she wants. If the Koch brothers decide to give her more money, she’ll stick around for a bit, linger on Fox, but if they don’t — and she’s not much use to the gas industry anymore anyway and her usefulness with the Tea Party crowd is now severely curtailed — she will just be the annoying leftover that the Republicans have already been itching to get rid of. As for her sense of victimhood, she viciously attacked person after person, helping to drive some from their jobs, be hounded by the press and receive death threats. I feel sorry for her kids but nobody has to make up any demons about her (blood libel) to criticize her. She’s perfectly adept at providing the material herself.

  181. Demosthenes@194
    Until you can take me inside Sarah Palin’s mind and show me that such a description is applicable…

    If you’ve got to telepathically parse a lengthy oration, I’d say we have an epic failure to communicate.

    I’ve just listened to President Obama’s speech to the memorial in Tucson – tonally perfect, delivered by someone who actually read (and understood it) beforehand. Does throw into stark relief why having grown-ups in and around the Oval Office matters.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20028366-503544.html

  182. Demosthenes:

    First, looking at the phrase in context, it seems rather unlikely she was meaning to posit the phrase as an exaggeration, because doing so would undercut the seriousness of her argument. Nothing else surrounding the phrase was exaggerated for effect, so dropping a highly exaggerated phrase into an otherwise forceful, pointed but unexaggerated part of her speech would suggest a total loss of tonal and rhetorical control. But such loss of control isn’t really apparent; she’s saying what she thinks she wants to say there.

    Second, even if it were meant as an exaggeration, it was a foolish exaggeration, the sort of reckless hyperbole, in fact, that leaves people angry and/or scratching their heads at why one was possessed to use a term so loaded with historical and cultural freight.

    Which is to say: No matter how she intended to use the phrase, she was foolish to use it.

  183. Which is to say: No matter how she intended to use the phrase, she was foolish to use it.

    Don’t think I’d be so offended if she dropped the term.

    She’s on pretty solid ground arguing about much of the criticism; I don’t agree with her, but she’s pretty defendable there.

    But with the phrase? No….not to me….

  184. Gwangung:

    “She’s on pretty solid ground arguing about much of the criticism; I don’t agree with her, but she’s pretty defendable there.”

    Yup. As I said, she’s totally within her rights to decry folks trying to link her directly to Loughner. She made a hash out of doing so with just two words.

  185. “As she gives every indication of being deeply self-absorbed,… ”

    Amazing what a little shift in POV can do. I don’t get that vibe from her at all. Never have.

  186. John Scalzi@220 + gwangung @219

    I still would have been offended by the rest of sentence, even without the words “blood libel”.

    {the media and pundits} “should not manufacture a !%$#@ !*^%& that serves only to incite the hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

    Still offensively high on the bullshit-o-meter, because having people saying mean things about you on Twitter is just like six people being murdered in a parking lot.

    Though, to be fair, I guess it’s unwise to assume Palin has a clue what incite and purport mean either. Of course, John Scalzi is right: Palin has a perfect right to “complain about those trying to blame her for Loughner’s actions.” Shame she had to be so appallingly tone-deaf as to indulge in the very sins she was accusing others of.

  187. @Wolfwalker: This was her very first address on the incident to the “public” in a video form. She decided to spend the vast majority of it on herself. That’s the definition of “selfabsorbed”.

  188. Yes, President Obama is vastly more erudite than Mrs. Palin. That would be why he is in Washington and she is not. I hold out hope that she is not as evil as using The Phrase That Must Not Be Uttered would indicate. This does not mean I think she is qualified to hold public office again.

    The difference between Mr. Obama’s words and Mrs. Palin’s is also one of responsibility. Mr. Obama, as Leader Of The Free World, wears many hats and has to answer to 300 million Americans. Mrs. Palin is a Tea Party mouthpiece and all she has to do is get enough people to open their wallets in the direction of the Tea Party. Just like Glenn Beck & Rush Limbaugh she can spew whatever she wants without fear of any more repercussion than some whining from the Left. And is as likely to win an election.

    Despite the one-sidedness of this thread, you folks have won nothing until you manage to turn off the Palin Propaganda Machine completely. I wish you luck. Meanwhile, I’ll be praying for the appearance of someone sane from the Center/Right.

    Captain Obvious

  189. Why is publicly condemning cutting a politicians gasline “scoring political points”, but Sarah Palin taking a national tragedy and turning herself into the mother fucking victim somehow manages to be…. not scoring motherfucking political points???????

    To steal a quote from Pulp Fiction… God damn!

    Also, the basis of her argument is a strawman. The biggest criticism against Palin and the teabaggers is not that they caused Loughner to pull the trigger. It’s that even if Loughner was not directly inspired by Palins rhetoric that its only a matter of time before someone is.

    We’ve already seen a gas line cut. Do we seriously need to wait for a gunman to come out and directly say “I was following teabagger’s orders” before people will admit this rhetoric is reckless? Well, even then, I’m sure there will be teabaggers who blindly defend their right to publish home addresses of politicians and times when they are at that address, asleep, and hey, if everyone wants to “drop by” at the same time, say 2am, Feb 3, then its just Free Speech, right?

  190. And now it is complete. obama, who is suffering from major disapproval has used this tragedy to put his face out there and try to get some points. Did we really need to consoled by him? Seriously? No, we did not. Certainly not me. He comforted me not with any of his act. This was a act of a nut case, not a result of political rhetoric or a need to “heal”. Once again, Obama completely screws it up. It really is a shame.

  191. YoYo @ 226

    I don’t consider myself a person who is easily offended.

    Congratulations. You have succeeded in deeply offending me.

    I will restrain myself and simply say this: Dude. He’s the President. A member of Congress was shot, a Federal Judge was killed. And you say he spoke and offered his condolences simply for political gain.

    I would say quite a bit more, directed at you. But then Scalzi would mallet me. But I’m really really tempted. It might be worth it.

  192. Sarah Palin feels she’s being unfairly blamed for the actions of an extremist? I’m sure the American Muslim community has a lot of sympathy for her.

    Where is the “vote” button on this thing?

  193. Demosthenes et al. — Let’s say, purely for argument’s sake, that both sides of the aisle emit exactly the same amount of demonizing rhetoric about the other, and that the people emitting it are of exactly equal standing within their parties and society. I don’t want to get into the “equivalence” argument anyway, so let’s remove it from the equation.

    Now I ask you, should either side tone down their rhetoric? I am not asking “Is it wrong,” “is it to blame for violence,” “should they be punished,” “should it be made illegal”, nor any of those things. I’m not calling for blame for any specific incident or trying to draw sharp legal lines or saying that anyone should be coerced in any way. After wading through the last three threads I have to make myself painfully clear about all this, so we are left solely with the question:

    In your opinion, would it be a good idea for politicians and pundits to change the tone of their rhetoric, and if so, in what direction and how far would you recommend?

  194. Nick from the O.C.:

    Thanks for not making me break out the Mallet. I already stored it away in its chamber of inert gases for the evening.

    YoYo:

    Obama’s approval ratings have been higher than his disapprovals in most polls for a couple of weeks now and outside of the folks who wouldn’t applaud Obama even if he saved fluffy kittens from a fire, the general consensus is that his speech this evening was nicely done. So, yeah, when you’re saying “we” there, you’re actually just talking about you.

    Also, as a general note, this isn’t actually the thread about Obama’s speech.

    Greg:

    You know, I would be entirely pleased for you not to bring your generalized fury about the Tea Party folks into this thread, too. At this point it really does seem like you’re more interested in pissing off people who have political opinions that are not your own than you are in having an actual substantive conversation. I’m beginning to get tired of it, and if you can’t comport yourself more civilly moving forward, I’m going to have become displeased. Throttle yourself back, please.

  195. After wading through the last three threads I have to make myself painfully clear about all this, so we are left solely with the question:

    But the point of answering all the other questions has the advantage for teabaggers that it strawmans the criticism of teabaggers into nonsense. Teabaggers aren’t complete morons. They know they can’t answer the question that makes them look bad. Even if they only know it intuitively. They know when faced with such a question, they have to change the question or distract from the question with an accusation. Something. Anything.

  196. Also, Greg, you’re now banned from using the word “teabaggers” here, because it’s clear to me that the reason you’re using it is just to jab people in the eye to watch them howl, and I’ve had enough of that.

  197. I will restrain myself and simply say this: Dude. He’s the President. A member of Congress was shot, a Federal Judge was killed.

    Um, isn’t he kinda required to be there then?

    And if I were in for some kind of political gain, I’d mention [censored], but I won’t…..

  198. I think Palin knew what she was saying, and knew the backlash of it, and was happy for it. Her fans aren’t going to be offended by it, because they don’t have a clear grasp of what it means, and the response of the “intellectuals” will only make them more committed to Palin.

    We have to give up on the idea that she (or really any modern pundit) wants to appeal to a wide audience. The key to being a successful pundit these days is identifying a niche and doing everything you can to hold onto that niche. Palin excels at this, and will continue to do so. We are just going to have to learn how to ignore her particular brand of crazy.

  199. Greg: I disagree. I think Tea Party members, and indeed anyone from any group or none, can actually have interesting answers to this question. And again, this isn’t a “gotcha”, and I won’t be judging responses against some sort of pre-defined “right answer.”

    I just want to hear people’s opinions about whether this sort of rhetoric is a good idea, preferably without becoming an excuse for anyone to engage in more of it themselves.

  200. After masticating all this “food for thought”, I came up with a sort of summary:

    1) someone in Palin’s organization wrote this speech (likely) and didn’t know how impactful or inflammatory it COULD be and Palin didn’t really understand the significance of the words (likely) …. OR

    2 )they wrote it (as I said in 1) and KNEW the likely impact but Palin didn’t know or understand… OR

    3) they (the writers) didn’t know and she knew… or

    4) they (the writers) knew AND she knew full well what they were doing….

    To me, those are the only 4 possibilities, and none of them reflects the qualities I would want from any “political leader”… AMEN!!

  201. The dog whistle, if there is one, is directed at the media and pundits. Their ears perk up at “refudiate” or “blood libel,” and they spend a news cycle arguing over the degree to which such usage was improper.

    Meanwhile, Palin’s base doesn’t see what all the fuss is about — except that it’s another instance of the mainstream media picking on her for not talking like an ivy-educated Washington insider.

  202. Frank, delete political there and you’ve nailed it.

    Leaders actually are meant to catch stuff like that, or they’re not really leading. I have a suspicion that Sarah Palin is giving a rather public demonstration of the Peter Principle in action.

    Qas for the speech… Actually (to paraphrase Douglas Adams), he said brightly, I quite liked it. But that’s probably for another thread.

  203. John Scalzi@60:

    Jon Stewart did actually let Sarah Palin slide in order to address the bigger picture tonght. He had some very interesting questions for Gov. Pawlenty of MN. Not much comic relief for this serious time. However, Stephen Colbert jumped all over Sarah Palin’s video in “The Word”. Nothing like comic skewering to illustrate the futility of her position.

    It’s a little too early for the relevant links to be available.

  204. I think there’s a big gap between saying that Sarah Palin is directly responsible for Loughner’s actions – which I don’t think anyone in the mainstream media is saying – and saying that the violent, out-of-control political rhetoric coming from the Tea Party movement, and from Sarah Palin in particular (with her phrases like “Don’t retreat, RELOAD!” and the aforementioned crosshairs map) contributes to an environment that can cause people like Loughner to feel emboldened. In the same way that Eminem’s misogynistic and homophobic rap lyrics are not the cause of misogyny and homophobia, but they certainly don’t help.

    It’s easy to completely dismiss him as being “crazy” (which he undoubtedly is). The fact of the matter is that people who are mentally-ill are, statistically, no more likely to commit violence than the rest of the population. And him being crazy doesn’t mean he’s on his own in the world, that he couldn’t have been influenced by what he heard on the television set or online.

    Plus, now it’s coming out that many other politicians have been targeted by members of the Tea Party movement. There’s this incident last November: http://www.southwesterncollegesun.com/news/sun-tv-bob-filner-harassed-at-golden-hall-by-challenger-1.1744755 They also recently arrested someone who was harassed Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), and the chair of the Arizona District 20 Republicans resigned because of Tea Party harassment which had gotten to the point where he feared for his family’s safety. We can’t hide our heads in the sand and pretend there isn’t a pattern emerging here.

  205. And frankly, if she was truly respectful, she would at least apologize for having offended so many people with her rhetoric and promise to be more tactful and tasteful in the future. Because regardless of whether that map was what inspired Loughner to gun down Rep. Giffords, there were people who were hurt by what her map insinuated. Giffords herself said when the map first came out that she found the image disturbing and that “there will be consequences” for that kind of imagery. We’ve all had times when we said something that came out as more hurtful than we intended, and we’ve had to step back and be the bigger person and say we’re sorry, and realize that the other person’s hurt feelings matter more than our desire to come out on top.

    And you don’t find it insulting at all, Mr. Scalzi, that this message is all about her and what a victim SHE is, when 6 people are dead and others wounded? Again, regardless of how “to blame” she is or is not, she should be respectful enough to realize this is not about her.

  206. Until I heard the explanation of blood libel on NPR, I had no idea what it meant. I am willing to bet that Sarah doesn’t either. Wonder who told her to use that expression – presumably one of her enemies posing as a friend. It certainly didn’t come from her directly.

    I just wish that the media would stop treating her like she has something of value to add to the commentary – she is not a candidate for anything, she does not hold elected office. She resigned as governor because she didn’t want to do that anymore, she is the host of a TV show that has been cancelled. She has repeatedly demonstrated her limited grasp of history, geography, grammar and politics. Can we just stop hearing from her?

  207. If Loughner had just walked into a crowd and started wildly firing, I might agree with you. But he was cold and calculating at every step. He planned out his assassination attempt very methodically. When he arrived, he asked bystanders where Giffords was. When he got to the Congresswoman, he steadily aimed and fired at her. After that, he did the same with every person he wounded or killed, including the 9-year-old girl. He was only stopped when he had to reload; he didn’t retreat, he reloaded. After his arrest, he was calm and orderly. At his arraignment yesterday, he was calm, rational and cooperative. At no time during or after his killing spree did he act erratic or unstable. He knew what he was doing and he knew the consequences of his premeditated actions. That is the legal definition of sanity.

    This guy was not a nut job. He’s being portrayed as one in the corporatist media because the ruling classes know what the alternative is: recognition of this as an act of rightwing political terrorism; a connection in the public consciousness between Loughner and the Tea Party Nativists, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, etc.; a brutal proof of the close relationship among the Republican Party, Tea Party and the fascist movement. They have to de-politicize this or else it calls into question in the public mind the true character of the GOP and Tea Party.

    If this country came to a national realization that a large chunk of them just elected fascist terrorists (and their enablers) to Congress, all hell would break loose, from the perspective of the ruling classes. It would not only change the parameters of the national debate over this issue (since it would open the door to what communists have been saying all along), it could “mainstream” radical-left, socialist and communist politics, because people might begin to ask, “If they were right about them, what else are they right about?”

    The economic crisis called into question the validity of American capitalism as an economic system. Something like this can call into question the validity of American capitalism as a political system. And they learned their lesson from all the Marx-love that went on in late-2008 and 2009.

    Do not succumb to the pressures of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie. Fight it by speaking the truth plainly and not flinching in the face of opposition.

  208. John @230, do you have a thread for Obama’s speech in Tuscon last night? While I know he’s masterful at public speaking, I was even more impressed than usual that (a) he didn’t take the cheap offhand shot about gun control or Palin in the news, and (b) that he empathized with the victims and families so well. Yes, it was more sermon than speech, but I thnk that was what was needed — it also gave a chance to show more of his (and I believe most American’s beliefs about the way things should work in this democracy. At minimum, it was a great baseline for the topics at hand: “here’s the sandbox, here’s the ground rules, now the discussion starts (civilly) here”.

    But I’ll save the rest for a discussion thread on the speech, if you happen to be posting one. Thanks.

  209. I really miss when “Palin” meant “Monty Python member who does travel and nature documentaries”.

    I really, really do.

  210. @ Miles Ahead: calling tea party candidates narrow-minded, ideologically naive, media manipulators, dangerous for the country even less intelligent than a regular citizen–all that might be fair and could be argued about, but i don’t think we can call them “fascist terrorists and their enablers).”

    i’m also not sure how you got from tea party congresspeople are fascists to mixed economy=bad, communism=good

  211. AMos:

    Miles Ahead has apparently swallowed a pamphlet on how write extreme left-wing rhetoric, early 20th Century-style, and was eager to employ it here. I gave considerable thought to simply malleting the comment for being an infomercial for the Worker’s Party only marginally related to the subject on hand, but decided to let it stand for now.

    However, this isn’t meant to be a thread on the intelligence/dangerousness/political fitness/fascistness of Tea Party folks, so let’s avoid making it one. Also, Miles Ahead, any attempts to hold a general seminar here on your party’s blend of politics will get the mallet. Let’s stay on topic, please.

    (and before anyone asks, I’m online right this second because my daughter has yet another snow day, and getting things done with her at home is a more fragmented thing than it usually is.)

  212. @Scalzi : too true, my apologies on going farther off track.

    on what is hopefully a related note, i’m watching obama’s speech in tuscon and can’t help but compare it with palin’s speech. vastly, markedly different.

    of course, obama’s politica career has been about hope and bipartisanship, which is very well matched for such a tragedy, and palin’s has been about divisiveness and blaming other people — but whereas i expected obama to give a great, memorable speech, i had some hope that palin might for once forgo the finger pointing and feigned outrage and actually say something that might help heal the country’s wounds.

    it strikes me that the best adjective for obama’s speech is presidential. palin has a long, long way to go if she ever hopes to wear that same mantle, and her address was a step in the wrong direction.

  213. I love this post!

    Palin has repeatedly, consistently, and aggressively sought the national spotlight for the past 2+ years, she has done so with deliberately inflamed, incendiary, polarizing, and “provocative” rhetoric (in quotes because it’s a word I normally prefer to use for something more intelligent than Ms. Palin’s behavior)… And then whenever she experiences -consequences- for her calculated, attention-seeking behavior, she cries, “Unfair!” and positions herself as a hapless victim. We have seen her do this over and over.

    And I think that pattern of Palin’s is seen at its most reprehensible (so far) in this case, where–in the wake of many people being shot, six people (one of them a child) being murdered, and Palin again experiencing the consequences of her deliberately incendiary, attention-seeking public behavior and rhetoric… she’s comparing her own situation–i.e. verbal critcism for her behavior–to, er, the yoke of centuries of bigotry, pogroms, violent religious hatred, and -massacres- encompassed in the phrase “blood libel.” (And it’s a gaff not mitigated by the reasonable suspicion that she used the phrase without understanding what it means.)

  214. First of all: We need a better metric for intelligence than IQ. And then we need to set some bar at which the sufficiently moronic are unable to vote. I don’t care if they’re Democrat-aligned or Republican-aligned; if they’re stupid they better not be polluting the country with their inanity.

    Second of all: Fundamentalism of all stripes needs to go away.

  215. @ Eridani @ 71: “But is that what she even pretends to be these days? I don’t know. Nobody really knows how to classify her and that’s kind of unnerving. The idea that she could be a viable candidate is what scares me.”

    I think what Palin is, realistically, is a “political celebrity.” First Ladies and campaign spouses are often political celebrities, but they’re usually expected to be less “controversial” and less limelight-seeking than she is (since they’re typically in support roles). Other politicians not-currently holding office play a similar role to Palin’s. She’s prominent in her job as political celebrity, but not unique—we can think of a number of political figures not currently in office who are, like Palin, on TV and/or radio, who are “writing” books, who have fans and followers, who continue to influence or try to influence the political process, and who may or may not run for office again.

    And she’s very good at what she does now, i.e. political celebrity—her job is to keep the splotlight on herself and on the messages she wants to convey to her fans, and she certainly achieves that. However, as political –leader-, rather than political –celebrity-, I think her resume is way too thin to win the White House (though she’s reputedly going to try) and her self-described limitations (in her rambling resignation speech, halfway through her only term as a state governor, she explained she couldn’t work under intense scrutiny and with mounting distraction) surely rule her out as a viable candidate. I mean, apart from her most-ardent fans, does anyone–regardless of their ideological convictions–really want a US president who couldn’t cope with the heat of being a state governor?

  216. you’re more interested in pissing off people who have political opinions that are not your own than you are in having an actual substantive conversation.

    I have made three posts on this thread. #225, #228, and #231.

    If the “substantive conversation” of this thread is “blood libel and its context in Palin’s speech”, I think all three posts were about that.

    “Blood Libel” is a strawman. No one ever asked “Does Sarah Palin have blood (libel) on her hands?” She overinflated the left’s reaction (as you say in teh original post, turning “paper cut” into “aortic spurting”) so she could (1) more easily say its not true (2) play the victim to the left’s imaginary meanness, (3) make the left look like its on a witch hunt, and (4) change the topic to somethign other than her death rhetoric.

    She did it for the exact same reason people take “that thing you said was racist” and turn it into “you have the heart and soul of a racist”. Overinflate the accusation to make them look false and to look the victim of an unfair witchhunt. Given that situation, the thing to do is NOT to ask “what is the history, meaning, and etymology of ‘heart and soul’?” The thing to do is to point out it is a victim-playing strawman and get back to the actual question.

    In Palin’s case, the actual question leveled at her is something like: “Does someone have to murder people and say they were inspired by your death rhetoric before you’ll say death rhetoric is inappropriate in a democracy?”

    My first post (#225) says exactly that. She’s changed the accusation into a strawman to more easily deny it, make herself look the victim, make the left look like its on a witchhunt, and change the topic.

    On a blog with a bunch of word geeks, it is understandable that a bunch of people discuss the history, etymology, and various shades of meaning of “blood libel”, but it only helps Palin achieve her attempt to change the topic from “is death rhetoric appropriate?” to “what does blood libel mean, exactly?” The history of “blood libel” is irrelevant other than to point out that Palin tried to change the subject and play the victim.

    My second post (#228) was in reply to wygit@158, who got to the heart of Palin’s speech. That it was an attempt to change the question and play the victim.

    My third post (#231) was in reply to J. Random Scribbler. JRS got that Palin changed the question and attempted to bring the discussion back to the original question: “In your opinion, would it be a good idea for politicians and pundits to change the tone of their rhetoric, and if so, in what direction and how far would you recommend?” And my response was to point out that Palin changed the question on purpose and that all her apologists have similarly changed the legitimate questions and charges into nonsense. Paper cuts become aortal spurting. JRS’s question was a legitimate question. And Palin and her apologists know they cannot answer it. They have to change it to a different question and answer that question instead.

    Sprinkled through those posts, I used the word that shall not be named. If a party as a whole thinks its OK to say they’re going to “take someone out”, I don’t see how they can be offended at terms less offensive than direct threats of murder. But it’s your blog, so I won’t use that word here anymore.

    But, if there is any “substantive conversation” to this thread, I don’t think it is “when was the term ‘Blood Libel’ first used in history?” I think it is to point out that Palin has changed the accusations against her into strawmen to more easily deny the accusations, play the victim, make the left look like its on a witch hunt, and change the topic to ‘blood libel etymology debates’ and away from the real question leveled at her and her party. And the real question is something like:

    Is Palin’s death rhetoric appropriate?

  217. @ Wygit #158: “Sarah Palin feels she’s being unfairly blamed for the actions of an extremist?I’m sure the American Muslim community has a lot of sympathy for her.”

    Yes, in addition to “blood libel,” maybe someone should explain “irony” to Ms. Palin.

    @ Kat Goodwin #171: “Palin hasn’t been libeled or blood libeled. She’s been put under the same questioning that she put other political figures under about things she has publicly said and done on tape and in writing.”

    I agree. Which is why I think John’s “Palin Equivalency” list is so apt.

    @ Mark HB #246: “I really miss when “Palin” meant “Monty Python member who does travel and nature documentaries”.”

    Me, too! Me, too! Me, too! (little nostalgic sob)

  218. Greg:

    You are indeed entirely capable of making cogent points. What you have a problem with is casting them in such a manner that you give every impression of rhetorically sticking your middle finger in the face of whomever it is you’re discoursing at while you do so. And I’m finding that tiring.

    You may disagree that this is what you’re doing, or that this is your intent, but as an outside observer, yeah, that’s what it looks like. I spend a fair number of comments telling you to reel it in, and in point of fact I do it less than you warrant. I celebrate your desire to be pugnacious and argumentative here and to make salient points. But to be entirely blunt about it, you need to make an effort not to be a dick to other people here when you do so. I’ve taken away one of your dick moves, which is to antagonistically overuse the term “tea bagger.” I leave it to you to rein in the others, which include sliding off topic to engage in general castigations, attacking the person and not the idea, and a general bundle of assumptions about anyone who has opinions with which you disagree.

    It’s true others do this too, but you can leave them to me; I will deal with them. In the meantime, ponder that which I am telling you now. And by “ponder” you may understand that I mean “you don’t get to argue with me about these assertions at the moment.” I want you to go off and consider what I’ve just noted to you, and consider them the next time you post here. Because it’s not just about you. It’s also about how you appear to others. And also, how you appear to others, on my site.

  219. One of the things EVERYONE is forgetting is that “Blood Libel” is a made up phrase. It stems from “Bloodguilt” in the Bible. In the Jewish religion, you wer bloodguilty if you caused the direct death of another person (murder). If you were indirectly responsible, you were permitted to flee to a city of refuge to avoid the wrath of anyone who might want to take vengeance. But it goes even further:

    Responsibility for bloodguilt also extended to areas of gross negligence. A man who failed to build a parapet or railing around the roof of his house would incur bloodguilt if someone fell and died.[22] The owner of a bull who was known to have a habit of goring could be put to death if he failed to keep the animal confined and the bull gored a man or woman to death.[23] The Torah also instructs that homicidal animals were also to be stoned to death and the carcass reviled.[24] Wikipedia Entry

    Taking this into consideration…Blood Libel, as a phrase, seems to want to carry the implication of ‘bloodguilt’ and apply it to speech. I honestly don’t think this is a Jewish thing…because I am a Christian and can still be bloodguilty of things so the idea that this is Jewish or anti-Semitic is incorrect…just because it appears in the Old Testament does not make it a Jewish concept no matter if the media wants it to be that way or not.

    People just hate Palin and pick apart every word she utters…which, really, she set herself up to have done with the types of remarks she makes.

    The bottom line is…you don’t have to be Jewish to be bloodguilty and subsequently guilty of ‘blood libel’ because the core meaning can be applied not only to Jews but also to Christians.

    Just the opinion of a non-political person with a degree in Religion.

  220. “Blood Libel, as a phrase, seems to want to carry the implication of ‘bloodguilt’ and apply it to speech.”

    The phrase blood libel is pretty literal – it’s a libel, a malicious misreprensentation, about the use of blood. It’s not related to the concept of bloodguilt. It’s a specific reference to the false idea that Jewish people killed Christian babies for their blood that circulated (probably still does, somewhere) for hundreds of years.

    It could be a generic reference to someone spreading a malicious lie about a group, which is how Palin is probably using it, although that’s just libel* in the general sense. I mention general sense, because libel is also a legal term referring to a willful lie that is communicated by means other than speech.

    Nobody is using the term to mean that Palin is or should considered responsible for the deaths, which would be bloodguilt. Unrelated concepts.

    *If this were actually happening, rather than what Palin thinks is happening.

  221. @devnet

    Despite the history of ‘blood guilt’ prior to Christ’s Crucifixion, that phrase has held through out the past 2 millenia as specifically the crime of causing the death of Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that Christ Himself absolved Jews of their crime (as He had to die before He could be Resurrected), some groups of Christians have held a deep enmity towards Jews. Perhaps this is the source of the real phrase of the week and certainly one of the reasons Christians (first the Roman Catholics and then the Protestants after they got going) felt no remorse as they did all those terrible things to Jews in Europe.

    Blood guilt as a concept still exists, famously as the Hatfield-McCoy ‘tiff’, less so as found in Serbia/Bosnia/Kosovo/Croatia. I guess it would be the ‘eye for an eye’ part of the Old Testament and “turn the other cheek” in the New Testament.

    The point has been made that Mrs. Palin used a very inflammatory phrase to turn the discussion away from dialing down the hateful rhetoric to making it about her. She has obviously succeeded magnificiently as we are still talking about The Phrase That Must Not Be Uttered and not about the true issues of the day like who would make a worthy opponent to Mr. Obama’s try for a 2nd term as President.

    @246 & @255:
    Don’t forget Michael Palin played the Cardinal Richelieu as well as the Head Inquisitor (much more entertaining than Mrs. Palin).

  222. Devnet:

    “One of the things EVERYONE is forgetting is that ‘Blood Libel’ is a made up phrase.”

    Technically speaking, every phrase is a made-up phrase. That’s how language works.

    However, if you are wishing to suggest that “blood libel” is a phrase without meaning, you’d be wrong. It has one, has had it for centuries, and it is distinct from “blood guilt,” with which you seem to wish to conflate it, and having conflated the two, then ignore what “blood libel” means.

    If Palin (or her speechwriters) had wanted to communicate the biblical idea of “blood guilt” than allow me to suggest that they should have used that phrase, rather than one that doesn’t mean the same thing and opened her up to rather a large amount of criticism. Although to be blunt I don’t think using “blood guilt” would have been much better in terms of messaging.

  223. I suspect Devnet might be mistaking libel for liable, there.

    Actually, blood liable would actually make more sense in this context than blood libel, although blood liable IS a made up phrase.

  224. @ “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” canceled: MANTLE-CRACKING ASTEROID

    I was, btw, initially very excited by this one, unaware that her “reality” show had been canceled. I thought, OMG! Is it possible that some sort of standards-below-which-our-TV-viewing-society-will-not-fall has finally been established? Hooray!

    Then I looked it up. Oh. Ratings were respectable, no firm reason given for not renewing, and lots of vague suggestion that non-renewal is because Sarah Palin is going to run for the presidency in 2012. If so, her show would make the network’s life too complicated, because then they’d be legally obliged to give equal time to all of her opponents. (And the network perhaps assumes Ms. Palin’s various opponents will NOT be gun-toting telegenic beauty queens who reliably engage in attention-getting behavior often enough to keep a “reality” TV show profitable).

  225. Prior to this, there were three main contexts I’d read “blood libel” comparisons in: 1) “All black men want to rape white women” rhetoric and how it was often used to justify lynchings, 2) “All gays are pedophiles and want to recruit children”, and gay-bashing, and 3) “Slavery wasn’t so bad, and any assertion to the contrary is a blood libel against the White Race!” That last one comes from neo-confederates, in case you couldn’t guess.

    Obviously the third example is stupidity, but do you think the first two comparisons are fair to use?

  226. @263

    I’d say the first two are, since it’s the same kind of demonizing lies. The third isn’t, at least not as presented, because it’s not accusatory and white people didn’t really suffer as a result, outside of the minds of crazy rednecks.

    Blood libel was a poor choice of phrase for Palin for several reasons, but was used in the manner intended.

    The problem is that blood libel is an obscure, specific and fairly loaded term. Her using it has the effects of, amongst other things, showing that she’s parroting conservative talk and it’s wildy hyperbolic – because people saying that your rhetoric might have incited violence is not really comparable to people accusing you of murdering children for their blood.

    It’s bad rhetoric in and of itself, because it draws attention to that rather than the entirely valid point she was making. Sometimes that kind of obfuscation is intentional, but here it worked against her and was presumably unintentional.

  227. @Spirit03 #264: Yes, I thought Colbert’s segment on this was fantastic. Satire at its best. (I also thought Stewart’s segment last night on the knee-jerk-reaction legislation proposals in the works in Congress, as well as the surge in gun sales, was also excellent.)

    If only television journalism was anywhere near as good as these two “fake news” guys!

  228. I’m inclined to agree with those that have said she/her writer doesn’t know what the phrase means (not that this is an excuse, since she was free not to use the phrase). I’m willing to admit that I didn’t know, and I’m a well-educated Jewish word-nerd from a linguistically privileged background.

  229. Taking this into consideration…Blood Libel, as a phrase, seems to want to carry the implication of ‘bloodguilt’ and apply it to speech. I honestly don’t think this is a Jewish thing…

    Well, you’re wrong. That’s about as simple as it gets. Factually and provably wrong. As wrong as someone claiming that the Holocaust wasn’t a “Jewish thing”. The historical record proves how exactly wrong you are. “Blood Libel” has historically referred to a certain concept. You’re wrong in your description of it as not a “Jewish thing”.

    Hope that helps. Have a nice day.

  230. As wrong as someone claiming that the Holocaust wasn’t a “Jewish thing”.

    Well, it wasn’t just a Jewish thing, as the Romani can attest.

  231. “Well, it wasn’t just a Jewish thing, as the Romani can attest.”

    That depends. The term Holocaust classically means the specfic genocide of the Jewish people by the Nazis, rather than the more general slaughter of people, which would be somewhere near double the number. But it’s a lot less specific than blood libel.

  232. OMG, can we not get into the Holocaust, plzkthx?

    @257 – To reiterate others, sorry, you’re wrong. Blood-guilt and “blood libel” are separate and unrelated. I’m not sure what they are teaching in comparative religion and theology classes these days, but blood guilt is a concept that occurs in almost all literate cultures, and is probably very pre-literate. It’s found in Beowulf and the Tale of Genji, in Hindi legends, and in Chinese literature back when Jews and Christians were still a volcano cult looking for warmer climes. Cross-reference blood-guilt with blood-gold, blood-money, blood-feud, and Salic Law for a clearer understanding of the specific differences in re: Western culture and history.

    @263 – I’d say yes, based on my gayness.

    @264 – Yes, Colbert was deeply awesome last night. Levy was great, too.

  233. Waterfront property, float planes, snowmachines, riverboats, seine nets, guided hunts, 4-wheelers, remote cabins, Lincoln Navigators, all cost money …lots of money. Todd and Sarah, of few skills and full of wants, found a schtick to make boundless money. All that is required is no shame, media advisers, and constant attention. When her run is over, they sit on a mound of cash they could earn no other way. She will say anything and do anything to extend her run, and when it is over, no problem. The more attention you pay her, of any kind, the longer her run. “Blood libel” is her latest tweak to keep the donations coming in. Ignore her, and the Palins will literally go away. Palin is media vapor.

  234. Wow.

    One thing that astonishes me about all this is that people are still arguing about it as though it made a difference. This person just is not leadership material. To be that, you either need to know what you’re talking about, or surround yourself with advisers who know what they’re talking about, and then listen to them in their fields. She repeatedly shows herself to not merely be ignorant, but wilfully ignorant and proud of it. That’s not someone any sane person wants in an executive capacity of any sort.

    I would have thought that was obvious.

  235. @ PolarBear #276: I agree. I think the effect of a Palin run-for-2012 will unquestionably be to extend the duration of her lucrative celebrity status after the campaign. Whatever her motives may or may not be, what her -talent- is, is keeping the spotlight on herself in a very competitive media circus. And running in 2012 is, in terms of the nature of her fame, the obvious way to do that. If sitting on the sidelines with other pundits, she runs the risk of becoming… just another pundit. By running, though, she will retain a strong hold on the spotlight, during the campaign and (as we see in the wake of 2008) for a long, profitable period thereafter.

    I am also -extremely- skeptical that the telegenic Ms. Palin would be enjoying this level of celebrity if she were a plain woman visually characterized in the media by sitting attentively through long legislative meetings, rather than a beauty queen visually characterized by handling guns. In media terms, she is a gold mine–a singularly American version of the Madonna-whore icon: a fundamentalist church-going mother of five who is =also= an attractively-dressed, well-coiffed, gun-toting babe who “hunts big game” (though I don’t know how anyone who watched the caribou episode of her “reality” show could still believe that fairy tale–she was clearly so out of her element on her hunting expedition that it was comical, given the dedicated PR framing of her ever since summer 2008 as someone whose idea of a good weekend is to shoot a moose and field-dress its carcass; after seeing her hunting on TV, my reaction is that if this is an accomplished gunwoman and hunter, then I am a Vegas showgirl). Meanwhile, she’s also very talented at drawing attention to herself. So, although it would be a welcome relief to see the last of her, I don’t think we’ll be so fortunate for a very long time yet–certainly not while her telegenic good looks hold out, anyhow, which could well be for many years.

    @ Mark HB #277: I agree with your assessment of Palin. But what I think is much more to the point is the fact that she resigned halfway through her first/only term in the only relevant (to the US Presidency) position she’s ever held, describing herself as unable to do the job while under media scrutiny and dealing with mounting distractions. This alone, apart from any other factors, makes her self-evidently unfit for the White House. Apart from Palin’s dearth of relevant professional experience for the Oval Office, let’s have a laugh and go ask Obama, Bush II, Bush I, Carter, and, oh, CLINTON how much =freedom from intense scrutiny and mounting distractions= the US President enjoys while leading the nation.

    But being wholly unqualified and unsuited to running for the US Presidency won’t stop her and, though this isn’t something I don’t understand, it won’t stop a lot of people from sending money to her campaign, attending her rallies, and voting for her. She is a telegenic celebrity with a huge fan base, and that will take her some distance in the presidential race–albeit nowhere near a the actual nomination, according to every credible poll I’ve seen reported so far. (OTOH, I think that if she somehow won the Republican nomination, she’d be easier for President Obama to beat in 2012 than a more credible Republican candidate will.)

  236. #273: The term Holocaust classically means the specfic genocide of the Jewish people by the Nazis, rather than the more general slaughter of people.

    Um, no. Classically the term was used for centuries before WW2 as a descriptor for genocides and mass slaughters, including the Armenian Holocaust of WW1 — the usage long predates the 1944 coining of the word “genocide” itself — and the contemporary Jewish-only usage didn’t appear until the late 60’s and is still the topic of screaming matches among scholars. But we’re somewhat off topic, so I’ll STFU.

  237. The general consensus seems to be that Loughner is crazy. Suppose that is true. He lives in a part of the world that allows and encourages people to say what they think (this, of course, assumes thinking first and speaking afterward, but i digress).This place he lives in also glorifies violence and insists that it is our founding father-given right to own weapons…as many as we want.In that world, an insane mind might grasp onto anything as a trigger (did we all forget Son of Sam?). Hence, arguing what set him off and what didn’t becomes ridiculous. HE may not even be aware of what set him off.

    Now, Ms. Palin: My mother taught me to be civi and to treat people with respect at all times. She also taught me to accept responsibility for those things that I do–whether those things are helpful or harmful. What the hell did yours teach you?

  238. What? A deeply orthodox rabbi writing in the pages of the deeply conservative Wall Street Journal, defending Sarah Palin’s appalling word choices? You don’t say.

    Allow me to suggest I am unconvinced that the rabbi’s position would be the same had our current president used the phrase as foolishly, and in the same context, as Mrs. Palin.

  239. Gwen @ #280: Realizing that this is even further topic drift, but just as an aside… while I don’t disagree with the general sentiment of your last sentence, I cringe to see yet another suggestion that someone’s mother is responsible for someone’s bad behavior, especially when that someone is an adult and parent already. It just makes me think of “A woman’s place is in the wrong” as illustrated by things like “How did his wife let him out of the house like that?”, “Why doesn’t she keep the house cleaner?” and other phrases that imply that the wife/mother gets any and all blame for the shortcomings of her family.

    I guess that if your last rhetorical question had been “What the hell did you learn from yours?” I might not have had this reaction. Then again, my own mother has at least once said to me the slightly more general “Did you grow up in a barn?”, a question to which she should know the answer.

  240. *GASP OF HORROR*

    Scalzi! Shame on you, man! You dare to suggest that a Man of the Cloth might tell a non-entire truth because of political leanings? Next you’ll be saying that God doesn’t get every single penny dropped in the collection plate!

  241. Palin is not to blame for the shooting. She is, however, to blame for the attacks she has made on other people, the violent and elimination rhetoric she uses, the lies like death panels she’s spread for her own political gain, her attacks on women’s rights and civil rights, and that she does nothing to discourage the rabid, violent speech of her followers. And since she attacked Gifford and Gifford was shot by someone, her behavior will come under the microscope like any other public figure. Palin used “blood libel” to mean that the “press,” by which she meant mainly random people blogging on the Internet, are trying to make her look like a monster regarding the shooting. It would have been vastly simpler to say the latter, but Reynolds had brought up the term in the press as then had probably others, and the far right relies on constantly repeated catch phrases. It was a mistake. Pointing out it was a mistake that was very hurtful to a large group of people is not picking on Palin. Criticizing her rhetoric and actions as toxic and hurtful is not picking on Palin. And I have to wonder if some of the hey, let’s be sympathetic, everybody’s nasty, why pick on her particularly for her mistake, would occur as much if Palin had targeted Gifford but was not a woman. I’m not saying they wouldn’t say that a guy can’t be held responsible for the shootings, but I don’t think it would have been as much “poor Huckabee” or “poor Rush Limbaugh” as there has been “poor Sarah.” A female political figure has to face her critics just as much as a male one, whether they are regarded as toxic criticism or not, and choosing to use a very sensitive term from another culture to tout her own victimhood simply proved the point of many of her critics.

    But what really annoys me is this far right meme that any criticism of them represses their free speech. They can say the most vile things they want about Obama, Gifford, random Democrat they picked out of a hat like Glen Beck does, and that’s not repressing the free speech of the person they go after (and it isn’t by law,) but if anyone criticizes what they’ve said, that’s not simply disagreeing with them, it’s repressing their free speech rights. This is a ridiculous claim, and Palin made it again in her speech, but it was overshadowed by the blood libel fiasco. No matter how many people blame Palin for the shooting — and most of the press and populace have not — they aren’t repressing her free speech by exercising their own to say that opinion. This I can talk, you can’t strategy is an attempt at controlled repression, and perhaps even more than criticizing people for saying toxic rhetoric, I’d like to see more of the press challenging the claim that these people are not allowed to talk because they are being criticized, and somehow not being allowed to say really stupid things like that they are a victim of blood libel.

  242. Laura Resnick @278, I think the only reason Sarah Palin’s actually still… anything (and I find it hard to define what she is past “celebrity for celebrity’s sake”, much like an American Idol wash-out or a Big Brother contestant) is because the left feel they have to refudiate (sic) her ridiculous blither, and the right have to pump her up because gosh darn it, she’s our gal and none of you librul book-larnin’ types can hold a candle blah blah blah blah blah.

    The fact that she’s like the lump of potassium dropped into placid waters makes her ratings. The news-flavoured entertainment product available on the gogglebox and the googlebox alike sells ad space for ratings, and rating equal money. Ergo, the fact that all she does is spew vibrant, technicolour pabulum that one side has vocal hives over and the other side fling like monkeys flinging what monkeys fling sells soap powder.

    Oh, look. An alcoholic beverage. What a bloody good idea. Cheers….

    Kat Goodwin @287, I absolutely agree. In no way, whatsoever, is there any provable, demonstrable causal link between everything Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and that lot have been saying for the last two years and some gobbaloon doing exactly, precisely what they told him to. None. No blame can be laid, no responsibility can be garnered. It’s damned unfair that anyone would imply any culpability at all. Those poor, poor people being blamed for someone doing precisely what they suggested. Shocking.

    Oh, look. An alcoholic beverage. What a bloody good idea. Cheers.

  243. [Deleted for tiresome pot-calling-the-kettle-blackness. Shoo, bbrigg, and take your contentless kneejerk outrage elsewhere — JS]

  244. Palin is a cultural avatar financially enabled by PAC rules and the internet. The avatar must say things which simultaneously reinforce the cultural base, are sufficiently newsworthy to hold media attention, and generate donations. The “Equivalence Filter”, a process correctly absurdified by Mr. Scalzi, is likely a daily deliverable from the avatar’s handlers. All I would add is a test. Each of us ought to have a place, a room, or a space in which no electronic media exist, and if in that place of calm Palin or her like does not exist, if the avatar cannot survive the absence of media, then it is an avatar and in the end just vapor. Nobody exists who is all that Palin has stuffed into the avatar. Each of us has our own culture, and every culture is susceptible to this nonsense, so maybe the message to us working schmucks out here is reinforcement of what we have known all along about too-sweet sales pitches, amplifed by media.

  245. to define what she is past “celebrity for celebrity’s sake”

    I have this problem as well. She is rapidly approaching the “famous for being famous” state, as her celebrity becomes increasingly divorced from accomplishment. Everything she does seems to come with a caveat:

    She was mayor… of Wasila, AK.
    She was governor of Alaska… and resigned before then end of her only term.
    She was a candidate for Vice President… of a failed Republican ticket with a popular moderate.
    She’s an advocate for “family values”… with a media train wreck of a family.

    She’s like the Dennis Rodman of politics, but without the reasonably strong inside game.

  246. The New York Times Media section pointed out that the right’s wrath about “blood libel” attacks on Palin and other pundits actually had practically nothing to do with the regular media and liberal pundits, who were not saying that Palin or the others were responsible for the Tuscon shootings. Instead, complaints on the blogosphere made those accusations and the right media claimed it was publications like The New York Times. Just thought it was worth a mention:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/17/business/media/17media.html?_r=2&ref=politics

  247. Kat,
    Yeah, I was wondering when someone was going to point that out. It’s been almost amusing the way the actual media has been tripping over itself to qualify every statement with “There’s no evidence…”

  248. Was flipping through the channels and heard what I thought they said was a statement from someone who had been shot by Loughner and survived. Statement was something to the effct of “palin and angle and (so on) got their first victim” or something like that. Didn’t catch who it was or anything google-able. tried searching but couldn’t find it online. Anyone see this? Or did I mishear?

  249. got this in an email from former congressman Grayson listing a bunch of violence and threats of violence that I didn’t know about:

    (paste)

    Palin came to my district, and told her people to “take me out.”

    Palin told people again and again, “don’t retreat, reload.”

    The day before the health care vote, one of my five-year-old twins received a telephone death threat intended for me.

    A right-wing commentator offered anyone $100 to punch me in the nose.

    We received so many threats of violence from teabaggers that we started a file.

    And the day before Gabby was shot, I received a postcard saying “you better get some personal protection. You could very well be getting your ass kicked soon.”

    Cause and effect. As Gabby put it, “there are consequences.”

    Of course, I wasn’t the only target of these threats.

    Gabby’s tea party opponent held fundraisers in which he invited contributors to fire an automatic weapon.

    Democrat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s opponent conducted target practice on her initials.

    Democrat Ron Klein’s opponent told his supporters to make sure that Klein was “afraid to leave his house.”

    Democrat Frank Kratovil was hung in effigy.

    Democrat Tom Perriello was burned in effigy. And the gas line to his brother’s house was cut.

    Democrat Emanuel Cleaver – a minister – was spat on.

    Democrat Russ Carnahan had a coffin left at his home.

    (/paste)

    The gas line I knew about, but Palin saying someone should “take him out” about Grayson I hadn’t heard before.

  250. Out of context?

    maybe you missed the example that said “conducted target practice on her initials”.

    When you can explain away the “context” of that, let me know.

    Otherwise, I’m not sure what your poitn is. Are you trying to say ALL these examples are false and out of context and such? Not just Grayson’s list, but *all* the things listed in this thread alone? Assuming you manage to dismiss the “take out Alan Grayson” coment from the list (and that’s a big assumption), there’s still a rather large list.

    There is still an entire forest even if you manage to cut down that one tree.

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