I had mentioned in an update about Jared Loughner that I was having a fairly contentious discussion on the Facebook page of a friend from college about the shooting in Arizona last weekend. I’m not going to say another word about this debate. I’m merely going to repost the entire thread and let you make your own decisions about the intent stubbornness of liberals to immediately blame the right wing for the heinous mass murder committed by Loughner.
It started out with this photo:
And this caption:
can’t imagine how this could in any way, shape, or form give someone the
idea that using a gun to effect political change is okay…
And this is the conversation that followed. Names have been deleted for privacy.
B—– O—- B—-: I grieve for the families of the dead and injured. And I grieve for the citizens of this great United States of America, regardless of their political affiliation(s)…..freedom of speech is one of our basic tenets, NEVER should there be freedom to commit murder!
Nicki Fellenzer: His favorite books included Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. Should we blame his reading list too? Come on, B–! The guy was no more a Palin follower than I am, and in this case, correlation does not equal causation.
T— K——–: I believe the phrase “susceptible to vitriol” is appropriately applied in this case.
S—- A——–: Language matters. And the language and imagery we use have consequences, particularly when they incite already unstable people to act. Giving voice to the deranged misgivings of folks who are on the edge of stability – like saying “don’t re…lent, reload” (a Palin rallying cry) – when that imagery becomes common place in the mainstream, we can’t ignore it then when further extremes become more commonplace as well. Of course, it’s difficult to fathom as stable, rational adults. But yesterday demonstrated that there are many out there who aren’t. And we live in a society where the use of violence to solve our problems has teetered on the adge of acceptance. We live in a place where politicians have drawn the line between good and evil in the same place as the line is drawn between agree and disagree. And THAT is a culture that is perpetuated by the same nutcases who are signing multi-million dollar contracts with Fox News and others.
B— H—-: Nicki, the point is not whether this guy looked at that ad and shot that congresswoman. The point is that this ad clearly connects the concepts of “changing political control of a congressional district” and “using the crosshairs of a rifle”. I’m glad that most people are sane and balanced like you and wouldn’t be influenced into taking action by this, but sadly, that doesn’t reduce the number of people out there who aren’t as sane and balanced…
Nicki Fellenzer: There are millions of drooling idiots who cling on to every word Palin and Beck say with froth-flecked glee, and none of them go out and commit acts of mass murder. This guy was described as unstable, and “left wing, quite liberal. & oddly… obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.”
His favorite reading list included the Communist Manifesto and Plato’s Republic, as well as Orwell, Bradbury, Carroll, Rand and a number of others. Are we honestly going to pretend that the language in many of those works is not inflammatory? Why aren’t we blaming Hitler and Marx, who both advocated violence quite more blatantly than Palin, who despite being a dimwit, doubtfully meant for someone to go out and shoot innocent people.
Point is the guy was crazy! He killed a bunch of innocent people without giving it a thought. He put a bullet in a 9 year-old CHILD! And frankly, I absolutely RESENT attempts to politicize this tragedy and blame this insane act of violence on any ideology!
Nicki Fellenzer: B—, there are people out there who also think that aliens talk to them in their sleep and force them to eat monkey shit for breakfast. Doesn’t mean there’s any validity to this claim. The phrase ‘in the crosshairs” is used millions of times without any connection to actual real violence. To target someone doesn’t necessarily mean to kill them with a rifle. The actions of an insane person cannot be blamed on commonly used colloquialisms.
J—- H——- G——: I can’t understand how anyone who respects human life can think this is okay. My dad, the knee jerk Republican, lifetime NRA member, would even agree that putting gunsights on another human being is irresponsible.
B— H—-: First of all, I want it on the record that I wasn’t the one who put Palin, Hitler, and Marx together in this discussion – although I’m now inspired to ask Chris McColl to collaborate with me on a good “Hitler, Marx, and Palin walk into a bar” joke…
As far as I’m concerned Nicki, this is less about blaming Palin herself for a particular tragedy and more about holding her up as an example of one of the things that is dangerously wrong with the state of political discourse in this country. Call me biased, but I just think it’s a bad idea to use shooting metaphors and imagery in political campaigning. That’s all.
J—— H—— G——: Couldn’t agree with you more, Bill. And when you put that joke together, you have to share.
Nicki Fellenzer: LOL B—, the reading list came from here. His favorite reading list included: Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenhei…t 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver’s Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno.
And if you have a good Palin/Hitler/Marx joke, I’m all ears.
AS for shooting metaphors in political campaigning… I honestly don’t see anything wrong with it. Sorry. Targeting specific districts, as it plainly shows in that poster? Nope. Not a big deal to me. And whether you agree with it or not, shooting and firearms in general are an indelible part of our history and culture. I’m not that sensitive, I guess. And I have a MUCH bigger problem with the parts of our political discourse that call candidates and politicians whores, bitches, etc., and allow little room for actual issues.
H—– A———: B—: It has been evident since the turn of the century that the same “anti-communist” forces that arose in the 1920’s, grew into the pro-Fascist movement of the 30’s, resulted in the McCarthy era of the 50’s, gave us the Contra’s in the 8…0’s, and was reborn with the NeoCons and the current rise of the neomilitia movement politically involved in the Tea Party will not go away without a fight. Sorry to say, we’re in this for the long haul. It’s reason vs. intolerance, equality vs. greed, freedom vs. Gitmo.
C——— R———: The U.S. was depicted as a target . Palin regularly uses the word “RELOAD” when speaking of opponents. Giffords’ opponent Kelly held a fundraiser advertised as “Get on target…Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot an M16 with J…esse Kelly.”
Even if the shooter has never heard of Palin, this kind of violent language when talking about your opponents is irresponsible because the U.S has had assassinations before, and we will have them again.
Words matter. If Palin was proud of her words or thinks they’re harmless, why is her team assiduously scrubbing her internet presence of the crosshairs graphic? Why is www.takebackthe20.com down?
W—- J— R——-: It’s “trickle down” violence.
W—– M—–: We live in a society where violence is sanctioned in so many ways. We don’t have to go to Arizona to witness it, the last week in Baltimore has been like the killing fields. As long as it is easier to buy guns and ammunition then it is to drive a car or buy cough syrup, we are accepting a certain rate of human slaughter in the name of freedom. As long as it is easier to buy guns and ammunition then it is to drive a car or buy cough syrup, we are accepting a certain rate of human slaughter in the name of freedom.
S—– Q—- B———: This type of “hate list” has often been connected and blamed for horri
ble acts by mentally unstable people eg columbine. But because a responsible adult (loosely put) posts it and pretties it up with a nice graphic, we just downplay the potential impact. Now the mentally unstable don’t even have to write the list themselves, it is given to them.
Nicki Fellenzer: Oh, and let’s not pretend it’s just the right who are guilty of putting BULLSEYES on politicians. That would be from the Daily Kos in June 2008.
Bottom line: anyone who cites a pretty graphic that just happens to contain a crosshairs or a bullseye on it as justification for mass murder needs to be taken out of the gene pool. With extreme prejudice. I could give less of a crap what side of the political spectrum happens to claim them.
K—- D-C—- W—-: and images matter, especially when you have a microphone in front of you, a camera on you, a bully pulpit, a website or any number of followers. This is part of personal responsibility.
N—— G———: Here’s a couple of resources chronicling some of the violent threats, and violent actions, perpetrated against Democrats in the past 6 months.
I’m sure we’ll see that one screen shot of Kos the Daily Kos shown over and over again to prove that ‘both sides’ have a problem with this type of extremist.
J– B—–: The idea that “both sides do it equally” is not only wrong, it’s dangerous. This notion of “equivalence” that we’re obsessed with–especially the mainstream media (not Fox)–is what promotes the idea that “creation science” should be taught in public schools alongside evolution, among other things.
Nicki Fellenzer: The idea is not that both sides do it equally, but that putting a bullseye as a target on someone or a someone’s district, as it is in this case, is not a call to violence, and is a colloquialism used by both sides. I seriously doubt Clair…e McCaskill meant that we really should pitchfork politicians to death if the tax measures the Dems wanted didn’t pass last month. But next time someone picks up a pitchfork and stabs someone, I’ll be sure and blame McCaskill.
And by the way, “creation science” is an oxymoron.
J– B—–: I couldn’t possibly disagree more with the notion that a graphic representation of crosshairs next to a person’s name is a “colloquialism”–especially if that person is subsequently shot. Context is everything; maybe in everyday conversati…on if I say “I have you in my crosshairs!”, and people know I just mean I have an “eye on you”, that’s one thing. But in the current political climate, where supporters of one political movement come to town hall meetings with guns, it’s another thing entirely. In the same way that if I’m sitting at home in my living room with my cat and yell “FIRE!”, that’s not the same thing if I do it in a crowded theater when there is no fire and people get hurt in the ensuing panic.
Don’t retreat, RELOAD!!
J– B—–: Palin’s rhetoric is part of what an author recently called then new right-wing philosophy of “eliminationalism” (new in US politics, that is):
“Eliminationism is often voiced as ‘crude jokes,’ a sense of humor inevitably predicated on venomo…us hatred. And such rhetoric—we know as surely as we know that night follows day—eventually begets action, with inevitably tragic results….The problem with eliminationism isn’t that it is simply unpleasant or ugly or even uncomfortable discourse, which is what can often be said of the Left’s frequently charged rhetoric. The problem, as we already noted, is that it implies the death of discourse, as well as its dissolution into violence and the use of force.” –David Neiwert, from ” The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right”
Nicki Fellenzer: The graphic representation of the crosshairs was in the district and not next to the name. But that’s all nitpicking BS. Point is that in the current political climate, mudslinging, slurs and other such nonsense are par for the course. (N…ot that I’m particularly thrilled with it) And despite the fact that people do carry to townhalls and to other such meetings, I’ve never seen them erupt in violence. Have you?
“Eliminationism is often voiced as ‘crude jokes,’ a sense of humor inevitably predicated on venomo…us hatred. And such rhetoric—we know as surely as we know that night follows day—eventually begets action, with inevitably tragic results….The problem with eliminationism isn’t that it is simply unpleasant or ugly or even uncomfortable discourse, which is what can often be said of the Left’s frequently charged rhetoric. The problem, as we already noted, is that it implies the death of discourse, as well as its dissolution into violence and the use of force.” — HMMMMM Sort of like calling the TEA Party activists teabaggers and terrorists? Got it.
J– B—–: Recent tweet by MIchael Moore: “If a Detroit Muslim put a map on the web w/crosshairs on 20 pols, then 1 of them got shot, where would he b sitting right now? Just asking.”
J– B—–: crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/eliminationist-rhetoric-and-shooting
Nicki Fellenzer: www.slate.com/id/2280616/
J– B—–: patriotshop.us/product_info.php?products_id=584
J– B—–: crooksandliars.com/matt-osborne/welcome-hate
Trent Spriggs: Finland has seen a meteoric rise in its education quality, innovation level and global GDP with changes in its policy regarding education, in particular reading policy. Its government created a network of easy to access libraries that have… pushed its lending-to-population to number one in the world. Clearly there is a relationship between what one reads and one’s world view. A wide range of books that open up the world to its readers engendered a love of reading has brought tiny Finland to the top level of global commerce. Conversely and in this case, the internet seems to have teamed up with the assailant’s heavily ideological bent for extremist manifestos. Cable TV further feeds the rhetoric and atmosphere that brought about this treachery.
Clearly this meme, one that is meant to divide and inflame needs to end…
Nicki Fellenzer: www.suntimes.com/3229156-417/palin-christina-hope-responsible-rhetoric.html
B——– H—–: You’re right, B—. The language and imagery of violence and exclusion is reprehensible. Both sides don’t “do it equally,” and I’m sick and tired of pretending there’s some right to be unfair or wrong anyway, as others have hinted here & elsewhere.
J— H——-: I thought the Tucson sheriff nailed it pretty well: “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.”
J– B—–: “…we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do t
hat, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.” ~ Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, March 25th, 2010.
P—- M. D——: The perpetrator of this crime may just be mentally ill and not reacting to any political speech. Yet, I reject the false equivalency that there are “extremist on both sides” and that “both political parties have been equally guilty of vitriolic rhetoric”. There have been some individuals on the “Left” that have said hateful things and have correctly been regarded as “extremist” on the fringe of Democratic Party politics. Then we have the “Right” which has a potential presidential contender who considers terms like “lock and reload” and gun sights imagery as legitimate political discourse. She is not considered a fringe in her party but a force to be reckoned in the coming election. A recent debate for RNC chairman this week had candidates boasting how many guns they own as a positive attribute to lead that party. Hours each day and week of hate filled rants on talk radio. Vitriol and anger are the occasional offenses committed by the Left but the preferred default setting of the Right.
Nicki Fellenzer: Suspect apparently had a long-time obsession with Gabrielle Giffords and her family. Well, there goes the “It’s Palin’s fault” meme….
Have a good night, all.
J– B—–: Quick question: How come when Wikileaks releases secret documents, certain people cry out that Wikileaks is putting lives at risk and that Assange should be assassinated, but when a member of Congress is shot because of that type of violent rhetoric, those same people will repudiate the act, but scoff at the idea that what they have said in the past might bear a hint of responsibility?
J– B—–: Tea partiers come to town hall meetings with guns, talk about revolt and revolution, threats to congress members go up 2008-2010, Nancy Pelosi warns about increases in violence in 2009, Giffords warns about it in May 2010 (after her offices… were shot up, Sarah Palin uses violent rhetoric to characterize the 2010 campaign–and then it actually happens. But it’s all a coincidence, eh?
Meme my ass.
J– B—–: P—, above, is correct. In the Democratic party, the fringe is just that. In the Republican party, the fringe is the leader and front-runner for 2012, the “most-respected” woman in America, in their eyes–after Hilary but before Oprah!
J– B—–: Violent rhetoric begets violence. It’s simple, really, and a difficult notion to argue with. Night!
Nicki Fellenzer: The strawman is dead. You can stop beating it now.
D—- D——: Niki – Welcome to the Internet: A strange reality where you will see people flogging a patch of ground that a horse died on years ago.
In related Internet memes, I propose Giffords’ Law: As a political debate contiunes, the probability of …violent imagery approaches 1. Feel free to draw prescriptive corellaries, Im sure they will be as effective as with Godwin’s Law.
J– B—–: More violent analogies!!
J– B—–: The final word, fittingly, for Paul Krugman
Nicki Fellenzer: D—-, the law won’t work because there are too many hysterical drama queens on the web, who apply literal meaning to well established metaphors and who quote Krugman as a final authority!
And just to invoke the gods of Godwin… Giffords is… Jewish, and one of the shooter’s favorite reads is Mein Kampf. Hitler! If you refuse to see the connection, you MUST be a Nazi.
J– B—–: Congressman Danny Davis received a threatening email following Saturday’s shooting rampage in Arizona.
So much for the “isolated incident” meme!
J– B—–: A Colorado man is accused of threatening to set fire around Sen. Michael Bennet’s office and shoot members of his staff, prompting authorities to step up patrols around the senator’s home and office. John Troy Davis, 44, faces a charge of assault on a federal employee.
J– B—–: Timeline of violence, each one an “isolated incident”, I guess. www.csgv.org/issues-and-campaigns/guns-democracy-and-freedom/insurrection-timeline
J– B—–: Hysterical drama queen out! Love it when folks start to pull out the personal attacks… it’s revealing, in a psychological way! Maybe I’ll get a gun and start to let it do the talking…
B—— H—–: Here is a Demagogue using a metaphor closely associated with attacking with a firearm and directing that metaphorical firearm at Victim. Here is a Crazy Man With a Gun, inundated with messages such as the one from Demagogue. The Crazy Man… With a Gun attacks the Victim and kills a bunch of people including a girl who isn’t yet even ten years old. Calling this chain of events a straw man doesn’t make it a straw man and I am saddened that this isn’t enough to get some people to wonder about what’s become of the political discourse in our country. Joe, thanks for the link, it was a depressing read.
J– B—–: I know I said I was done, but here’s a tweet from Bill Maher and I think THIS should be the last word:
“Hey Republicans who r condemning Ariz. shooting – if u didn’t condemn Sharon Angle’s ‘2nd amendment remedies’ and the like just shut up n…ow”.
Me: The strawman is dead. You can stop beating it now
J— B—-: More violent analogies!!
Followed by string after string of irrelevancies.
…Conclusion: hysterical drama queen
B–, you obviously didn’t read the WSJ piece. Loughner had Giffords targeted in 2007, long before Palin ever came on the scene. There is NO evidence – NONE – that he listened to Palin, Beck, Limbaugh or anyone else. There IS evidence, however, that he’s been unstable for quite a while. So for anyone to bring up the specter of Palin, Beck, Darth Cheney or any other EEEEEEVIL Republican is disingenuous.
As for “isolated incidents,” Hmmmmmm…..
Getty Images artwork of a man pointing a rifle at the head of Sarah Palin
Oh look! Abort Sarah Palin stickers Classy.
Calm, collected left-wing protesters advocating stoning. The radical Muslims would LOVE that!
Oh, here’s this bit of class: attacking Palin’s kid, McCain, etc.
And this lovely collection of stamps depicting Bush with a gun to his head. And of course, there are Kill Bush t-shirts and other paraphernalia.
Fabulous “artwork” of a chimp taking a shit on McCain’s head.
And this bastion of love who was apparently heckling Laura Bush and unleashed his rage on a kid in a wheelchair.
Then we have the Playboy Hatefuck list. Oh so misogynistic and classy! I just can’t stand it!
And those peaceful ALF and ELF activists. How many molotov cocktails and other incendiary devices does it take to make your point?
And the hilarious “No Pressure” video that has climate change deniers’ heads exploding if they don’t conform to the agenda? Oh, that was just a joke, right? Innocuous, right? Not incendiary in the least, right?
And do I really need to mention attacks on military recruiting stations around the country. They sure weren’t perpetrated by the TEA party!
The Gainesville Democrat who became so unhinged he attacked a CARDBOARD CUTOUT of Bush! You gotta be some kind of fucking crazy for that! But that must be Palin’s fault too, right?
These tools actually attacked Bush/Cheney signs! That’s some respect for First Amendment rights there from the left!
This tool actually stalked some woman who had a Bush bumper sticker!
Attack on Katherine Harris
This festering piece of rancid effluvia actually vandalized CMH monument. Yeah, I’m sure he was influenced by CONSERVATIVE rhetoric.
How about these Kerry campaign workers who slashed tires outside a Bush/Cheney campaign office?
And where were you when this douche threatened Congressman Cantor and his family? Oh, he MUST have been influenced by hateful left-wing rhetoric, if we use your logic!
That’s just a taste! So don’t sit there and pitch a histrionic fit by claiming that the right wing somehow has the market cornered on hate. They do not. Heated political rhetoric has been around as long as politics has. And if you for a moment put aside your biases and started looking at the situation objectively, you would see that. But you would rather toss around Bill Maher, Michael Moore and Paul Krugman as if they were bastions of objective thought and authorities on truth, instead of mere biased political hacks.
There has not been a shred of evidence linking heated political rhetoric on EITHER side to Jared Loughner, but you’re so anxious to silence any opinion that differs from your own, you won’t even look at the facts for a simple moment.
And THAT is all.
B—— H——: Ermm, I’m not trying to silence anyone, Nicki. And I’m not trying to say that all hateful speech comes from one place, and I’m not trying to say that Palin’s bullseyes predated Loughner’s nutty obsession. Weird, considering you were the first one to start throwing around the term ‘straw man.’ I’m done, shouldn’t have cluttered someone else’s FB page as long as I did.
T—- S——: Ben Franklin said some years ago, “What starts in anger, ends in shame.” That, in a time of heady days and events that might even be thought to overshadow our own…
UPDATE: No this isn’t an update on the chat. I think that’s over and done with. This is an update on Loughner himself , proving once again that heated political rhetoric on either side had nothing to do with this crime. (h/t Jeff)
This morning on “Good Morning America,” ABC’s Ashleigh Banfield sat down with Zach Osler, a high school friend of Jared Loughner, the suspect in the Tucson massacre.
Osler says his friend wasn’t shooting at people, “he was shooting at the world.” Regarding the high-pitched talk radio and cable news political rhetoric, Osler says his friend didn’t even watch the news.
But why let a good opportunity sail on by when we can blame the right-wing “extremists” for this particular shooting, right?