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If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere

A commentary

Jim Burroway

January 9th, 2011

As my partner and I were out running errands this afternoon, I snapped this photo along I-10 just south of the Ina Road exit. If you go about three miles to the east from I-10 on Ina, you will encounter the fateful Safeway that is, as we speak, still roped off with police tape and crawling with investigators. The billboard is for Rush Limbaugh’s radio program on local Clear Channel KNST, and it appears on a Clear Channel billboard. Limbaugh’s “Straight Shooter” billboard is festooned with six or seven bullet holes. Given the political climate of the past few years — and especially after yesterday’s events — it’s a damning indictment of what so many on the far right find acceptable in political discourse.

I mean, really. What’s a few bullet holes anyway?

But as we were driving around town, we heard on the radio that the second person of interest turned out to be Jared Loughner’s taxicab driver. The driver accompanied Loughner into the Safeway while Loughner got change to pay the driver. He had nothing to do with the shooting. And with that, the most promising immediate link that may have tied the shooting to extremist right-wing rhetoric has vanished once again.

Let me emphasize: it’s not to say that there is no link. But if there is one, no evidence has been disclosed for it yet. So if someone wants to claim that there is one, they better come up with some sort of hard facts for it. So far, none has surfaced. And believe me, if it does, I will be among the most eager to put that evidence right here.

That’s because, setting aside whatever Loughner’s motivations may be, I firmly believe that because of the political climate exemplified by that billboard, we are living in extremely dangerous times. And whatever demonization taking place on the far left pales, in terms of  both the scope and the influence,  to the far greater demonization from the far right that is amplified daily on Fox News and Clear Channel. I believe that as strongly as I do that the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

Over the past two years, we have seen border militia members kill Arizona citizens. We’ve seen Arizona citizens demand that other Arizona citizens — whose ancestors have been here far longer than the suspicious newcomers — prove their innocence and right to walk down a street. We’ve seen a governor shrieking about completely imaginary headless bodies in the desert and a state government that has decided that poor Arizonans’ lives aren’t worth life-saving transplant surgeries. People who need a heart won’t find one here. We see a political climate where our president is not only accused of being un-American, but — against all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary — a non-American. We see a cultural climate where “real Americans” can build a house of worship wherever they please, but American Muslims can’t. We’ve seen hysteria over “death panels” coming to kill grandma.

And so, acting on that outrage, a Tennessee man shot up a church because he was angry at liberals, wierdos and homos, and someone in Maryland is mailing explosive packages addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. We’ve seen people carrying automatic weapons to rallies and congressional meet-and-greets (another man was arrested at a Giffords meeting last August when his concealed pistol fell to the floor). And we saw literal gun-sight targets drawn over congressional districts, including Rep. Giffords’s.

And so we shouldn’t we be surprised if some nutcase — and not a literal schizophrenic nutcase that Loughner appears to be — decides to take a weapon and perform his “patriotic duty.”

Based on what investigators have disclosed so far, that has not literally happened — yet. Authorities are investigating several angles, but so far what some see as ties to far-right fringe groups remain highly speculative at best. As of this evening it still appears more likely that Loughner was acting at the behest of his own demons rather than of those on the demonizing edges of the far right.  This could still change — being mentally ill does not preclude one from being influenced by extreme rhetoric, and may actually enhance the possibility for some — but right now the assertion that our poisonous political culture had anything to do with yesterday’s rampage is still very much unproven, but not extinguished. We may learn more about what was going through Loughner’s shattered mind in the days and months to come. But the more I learn about Loughner’s behavior, the more I’m convinced that he is suffering from the same mental illness that took my best friend in high school and two of my cousins. The symptoms are too specific and too familiar. (Update: I should add that I have no insight into the severity of Loughner’s condition. Being mentally ill with schizophrenia does not automatically make one criminally insane.)

Which means that this is an excellent opportunity for everyone to step back and reaffirm to ourselves and to each other that we are all fellow citizens and patriots of a pretty damn amazing country. If we don’t, I’m afraid — literally afraid — that we will soon fall into an abyss that we may not be able to crawl out of.

Given what we know today, I see no reason why those of us who consider ourselves progressives can’t concede that Palin, Limbaugh, and the others got lucky (if you can call it that) and that they probably aren’t responsible this time. Maybe we can even let them off the hook — IF they can agree that we all need to come together as Americans who all love our country equally, whether we’re on the left, the right or anywhere in between. Because we all need to acknowledge that none of us has a monopoly on loving America. None of us wants to see our nation destroyed. Maybe this can be an opportunity for everyone can drop their torches and pitchforks, and instead resolve to disperse the poisonous fumes that have very nearly ruined us as a people. I see no reason why the right shouldn’t be able to agree to that and change its behavior accordingly, just as I see no reason why the left needs to insist, with hardly a smidgen of proof, that a schizophrenic young man is somehow the far right’s creation. The energy expended pursuing those accusations can be better spent addressing the daunting needs of the severely mentally ill.

My hope is that somehow we can find a way to do that. My fear, though, is that we have already crossed the Rubicon and there is no turning back. And if it does turn out that Loughner’s shattered mind was nudged by either the right or the left, then all bets are truly off.

Comments

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Lorenzo from Oz
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Let’s not pretend that violent rhetoric is from one side of the political spectrum: consider some of the examples provided here.

The trouble is, rhetoric from folk one is sympathetic to against folk one is not scans differently than the reverse.

But, if you want real political pathology, try Pakistan in the wake of the assassination of the Governor of Punjab by his own bodyguard: the bodyguard is a religious and popular hero. The Governor’s “crime”: suggesting that imposing the death penalty on a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy went too far.

Erin
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

The news media needs to stop speculating this was a right wing nut listening to the Conservative talking heads too much. Watch his youtube videos. His beef is with our entire government. He chose one public official on opportunity to make an example of her. He is mentally unstable, but not completely insane. The news anchors are saying his youtube videos were gibberish, but they make sense. They show his views and motivations. This guy is unstable and he became disgustingly reckless. It is no one’s fault but his. I am not a fan of Sarah Palin, and I’d rather get the flu than listen to more than five minutes of Rush Limbaugh, but they’re not to blame here. If anything, what this kid was talking about indicated he had a bigger beef with the more Conservative fanctions of our government.

Mark F.
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

How about we also condemn violence perpetuated by the government, Jim? The fact is that the United States government is responsible for the near destruction of an entire country (Iraq) and the deaths of thousands of people there. And nobody has been held accountable for this. As I write this, American troops are still in that country. The American government has bases in dozens of countries and spends as much on the military as the rest of the world combined. We live in a culture of violence where killing people is seen as the solution to numerous problems by many people.

Mike_in_SoCal
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

I say the First Amendment was written in a historical context that lacked the high-tech tools of mental manipulation that the rightwing uses today, so effectively. Can’t there be some commonsense update calling violence-soaked and violence-implying verbiage as illegal and not protected by 1st Amendment? Would you feel any less free if Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin could not imply that shooting people was a good idea? I wouldn’t.

Priya Lynn
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Erin said “The news anchors are saying his youtube videos were gibberish, but they make sense.”.

Well, I only saw one video of his but it was gibberish to me.

Mike said “Would you feel any less free if Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin could not imply that shooting people was a good idea? I wouldn’t.”.

Neither would I. We have hate speech laws in Canada and I feel far freeer here than I would in the States. In fact an American friend has asked me to come visit her but the unequal, extremely heavy handed, and often corrupt legal climate there makes me afraid to set foot in the States.

Kathy
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Jim, Scott McManus says he called Clear Channel and they are taking the Limbaugh billboard down. The suspect lived near Ina & Oldfather, blocks from this billboard advertising the power of bullet holes.

Priya Lynn
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

So Lorenzo, where are the liberal billboards suggesting gunplay is cool?

James Hipps
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

@ Erin,

You are delusional. Sorry, but you’ve wrong on this one. The RW hate speech and rhetoric is to blame, and I would ask, if the murderer had more of a problem with conservatives, why were his actions carried out at a liberal rally?

unclesmedley
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

@ James Hipps.

“You are delusional?” This is your contribution to a conversation contemplating how we might back off on the incendiary language?

The problem is neither left nor right, conservative nor liberal, Rep nor Dem, red nor blue: It is a matter of maturity–or, dare I say–our societal lack thereof.

We’ve become a nation of juveniles, hopelessly engaged in an endless series of recreational antagonisms. To altogether too many, it’s all fun & games–until somebody loses a Congresswoman, a federal judge, a neighbor…or a nine year old girl.

And then, what do we do? We hop up and down, pointing at each other like kids who don’t want to be blamed for the broken window.

It’s counterproductive and, more to the point: It’s impolite.

Stormie Marshall
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

I recently found Box Turtle and have really enjoyed the information. But this is off-putting. It seems you are saying that you do not care about the objective facts, your feelings and suspicions are your reality… sort of like the shooter.

Really hurts your credibility.

Rick Brentlinger
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Your blame the conservatives mantra is so predictable and so egregiously false. The killer’s heroes are leftist liberals. He is a committed liberal anarchist.

Sarah Palin’s conservative rhetoric did not motivate him to commit mass murder.

If as unclesmedley says, the “problem is neither left nor right, conservative nor liberal, Rep nor Dem, red nor blue” then why do so many gays have the knee-jerk, blame conservatives reaction when something like this happens?

Priya Lynn
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Rick said “The killer’s heroes are leftist liberals. He is a committed liberal anarchist.”.

I’d like to see your evidence for that.

Rick said “Sarah Palin’s conservative rhetoric did not motivate him to commit mass murder.”.

You don’t know that.

TonyJazz
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

I also dissagree. The Tea Party specifically cites their support of the 2nd amendment as one of their cornerstones.

Putting automatic weapons in crazy people’s hands in the result of their work.

If this person had only a knife, there would not be anyone dead (or at least minimal carnage).

Weapons like this do not belong in a civilized society.

Emily K
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Gee, I dunno, Rick, maybe it’s because gays have so often been the VICTIM of such rhetoric emanating from even the most mainstream conservatives that we see parallels here we can’t ignore.

Not everyone is so privy to every world “T”ruth as you. Not everyone sees the world in your “correct” and “[Christian] Biblically-sound” conservative vision.

Timothy Kincaid
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

That’s because, setting aside whatever Loughner’s motivations may be, I firmly believe that because of the political climate exemplified by that billboard, we are living in extremely dangerous times. And whatever demonization taking place on the far left pales, in terms of both the scope and the influence, to the far greater demonization from the far right that is amplified daily on Fox News and Clear Channel. I believe that as strongly as I do that the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

And you are wrong. Sincere, strongly convinced, but wrong.

There is more than enough hatred going around. And within minutes – literally minutes – those on the Left were blaming Sarah Palin by name for this shooting.

Do we really, really, think that blaming Palin or Limbaugh or the Tea Party for inciting mass murder is “pale”? Do we think it is not demonizing?

Is it really worse to challenge the President’s birth than it is to accuse someone of deliberately encouraging murder? And we had comments here at BTB which claimed that the right wanted her assassination.

It’s endless accusation without proof, endless character assassination, endless presumption of ill intent, repeated over and over and over.

I see it. I am on the conservative side of the middle and while I may (and often do) disagree with the policies of the right, I am frequently horrified at the way in which the right is vilified and how that seems not only to be accepted but championed.

And, with due respect, this column plays into that same error. It says, in effect:

I can’t prove that x caused y. But I really dislike x, and x causes things like y, and y is a good example of why we shouldn’t have x. The minute I find any linkage between x and y I’ll post it because I think that linkage is inherent between x and y. We shouldn’t be surprised at y, because of x.

But as far as we know, Laughner had no association whatsoever with tea party of other conservative ideas. So WHY are they linked in this column – even as the link is denies… for the moment.

Consider this:

There is no direct link – yet – between homosexuality and pedophilia. But Pedophiles are a scourge on our nation, they destroy the lives of children. So it is no surprise that people vote down ‘gay marriage’, they are sick of the pedophiles.

Is it that different?

I agree entirely that this is an excellent opportunity for everyone to step back and reaffirm to ourselves and to each other that we are all fellow citizens and patriots of a pretty damn amazing country.

But it does not move us in that direction to decry the division and demonization on one side why denying it on the other. And it is counterproductive to insist that the right need to “change its behavior accordingly”, but not the left who only needs to not blame, entirely, in this one instance, without incontrovertable proof (but still can hold Palin et. al liable for theoretical tragedies that have not even occurred).

One thing which has been overlooked in all this discussion is this: Gabby Giffords was the embodiment of what we should be doing. Her district included a large body of conservative retirees, a significant Latino constituency, and miles of border property. Rather than view some as “her kinda people”, she sought to represent all of her WIDELY DIVERSE constituents and appears to have done so quite well.

I think we should do the same. We should stop bashing the right – and the left. We should be finding solutions, not accusations. We are one family, and times like this should draw us together, not bring out resentments and recriminations.

Rick Brentlinger
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Priya-

Try this: from CBS news, not a right-wing source.

By the way, why no post from you confronting purveyors of the “conservatives are to blame” mantra?

I note you didn’t say to them:

“You don’t know that.”

Shouldn’t all of us be focused on truth?

paul canning
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

@Tim

within minutes – literally minutes – those on the Left were blaming Sarah Palin by name for this shooting.

From my overseas reading it was some people, notably Kos and Jane Fonda. A lot of other people seem to have adopted a more nuanced and evidence-based approach – like Jim.

The reason why people might well jump to conclusions though is because of the prevalence of violent rhetoric from Palin specifically. Andy Sullivan did a great post yesterday about how she’d done a cynical post using violent rhetoric and talking about sports – in order to laugh at those criticising her use of violent rhetoric!

From an overseas standpoint though the prevalence of violence in US culture and the availability and celebration of guns seems the real issue. And that doesn’t appear to be being discussed at anything like the same level as this blame game, left/right ‘debate’.

When similar shootings have happened in the UK and elsewhere in Europe it is the cultural issue and gun availability discussion which has not just sparked debate but actual change.

I truly hope that happens in the US

Emily K
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, if you, a person on the right, can’t even see the violent rhetoric of “second amendment solutions” and independent militias and “taking our country back” (from brown people and gays, I’m guessing)that is blossoming all around you on your side, then there isn’t any hope of discussion with you. It isn’t leftist anarchists that have been pushed through the news cycles (by Fox News et al), it’s right-wing gun-toting anti-government Teabaggers. It’s people calling Obama a Muslim Terrorist (cuz those two so easily and naturally go together).

All 8 years Dubya was in power, the left sat on their hands politely. A Black man enters the Oval Office and the Right yells “You LIE!”

It’s not left wing commentators getting all the media attention, as famous as people like Olbermann are. And the Daily Show, maybe the left’s biggest media commentary bastion, looks at things with wry observations, not calls for “taking our country back.”

Are there violent leftists? absolutely! But they are NOT getting the airtime and media saturation that the right wingers are.

Timothy Kincaid
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Paul,

Yes. It was some on the left. Not all folks, right or left, fall victim to the temptation to lash out in hatred, presumption and partisanship.

Emily,

I’m confused. Where did you get the impression that I can’t see violent rhetoric? That’s a very peculiar impression.

And the idea that all 8 years Dubya was in power, the left sat on their hands politely, would certainly come as a surprise to everyone who lived through those years. “Politely” is not exactly how I’d characterize Michael Moore or any of the hundreds of politicians, writers, celebrities, and bloggers who blamed Bush for literally everything they could think of.

Or perhaps you you taking the Priya Lynn approach on this issue?

James Hipps
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

@ unclesmedley

I see nothing wrong with calling like I see it. Telling someone they are delusional isn’t hate, it’s simply saying…you’re way off base. I stand behind my point. The comment I responded to is wrong. Should I be polite and not comment? Who is the one getting defensive? Look in the mirror before you judge others.

James Hipps
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

@ Emily K

I stand and applaud your comments! Thank you for being brave enough to speak the truth.

Emily K
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, I’m talking about VIOLENT RHETORIC. The left is known for snarky and dismissive commentary. (Michael Moore, Daily Show, et al.) The right also has plenty of that. Really that type of thing is non-partisan.

What I have NOT seen on the left is the kind of gun-toting target-making mania I have seen on the right. AND, where I DO happen to see it, I cannot find a mainstream politician anywhere NEAR it.

The mainstream Right is buddying up to people speaking the violent rhetoric. Palin and Limbaugh, very much mainstream Right Wing figures, are ACTIVELY USING such rhetoric.

Blaming everything on Bush can make for lazy comedy, but as much as you can complain and say he did everything wrong and brought us into debt, it STILL doesn’t translate into “let’s assassinate people and protest with rifles in tow.”

Or perhaps you you taking the Priya Lynn approach on this issue?

Gee, what a burn. :rolls eyes:

Emily K
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

@James Hipps, thanks for the compliment, but I wouldn’t take it that far if I were you. There’s nothing “brave” about posting on the internet.

TonyJazz
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

I second your comments Paul, and I also like yours, Emily….

No website wants to deal with the NRA, as they terrify so many of us….

However, weaponry and their ammunition plague this country. Feinstein couldn’t even get the government to extend a ban on a couple of automatic weapons.

When is this country going to make the first stabs to reduce the availability of this stuff in our country? ALL of our lives are threatened as a result of these foolish policies…

CPT_Doom
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

I am so sick of the false equivalency arguments being produced throughout the media. We certainly don’t know all the motives behind this horror, although clearly the police know more because they have materials from the shooter we haven’t seen, but it was completely reasonable for those of us who lived through the cycle of anti-government rhetoric and violence in the mid-90s (which culminated in Oklahoma City) to think it had happened again. Many of us who have watched the Right rachet up their violent rhetoric have been fearing exactly the kind of violent action that we saw last weekend. It was not accurate to jump immediately to the Right’s rhetoric, but it was understandable (and btw, there are reports that the shooter was involved with an anti-government, anti-semitic group).

Putting that aside, you cannot compare the hateful, violent rhetoric of the Ann Coulters, Rush Limbaughs, Sarah Palins, etc. with the criticism of that rhetoric on the left. The Right-wing spin machine has adopted a system of both demonizing their opponents and wrapping their own rhetoric in morality and religion. This is completely dangerous and should be called out.

The leadership, especially, on the left does not fan the flames of conspiracy and hate like that on the right does (how many Democratic leaders have signed onto the “911 Truth” movement?). Sarah Palin did not simply put crosshairs on the districts of those with whom she disagreed, she created an entire lie about “death panels” being created by the Obama administration, a lie that has become a mantra for the right even now.

Should we not complain when leaders lie? Should we not complain when they insist our President is not a citizen, all evidence to the contrary? Should we not be fearful when leaders use divisive and violent imagery and rhetoric to maintain or gain political power? Should we not point out when one party has adopted this strategy as a national policy priority?

Timothy Kincaid
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

I am saddened at the instinct to justify or decry identical behavior based on who is engaging in it.

Very sad.

Priya Lynn
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “Or perhaps you you taking the Priya Lynn approach on this issue?”.

Please tell me what you think the Priya Lynn approach is – I’d like to hear that.

Priya Lynn
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Rick, there was nothing in that link to suggest his heroes were leftist liberals or that he was a liberal himself.

Rick said “By the way, why no post from you confronting purveyors of the “conservatives are to blame” mantra?”.

Fair enough. They don’t know that conservatives are to blame either.

trooperz
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

As a long time reader on the BoxTurtle, I agree with Timothy that this opinion is off putting. Let’s cover something:

Glenn Beck and his ‘Right wing ilk’ have been overtly clear that violence is not acceptable. This video, posted 4 MONTHS ago, lays it out pretty clearly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dyiMuhvw_A

It’s disappointing that those who identify as liberal here aren’t doing simple fact checking.

To go a step further than Timothy, this sort of blame game only pushes the other side further over. You know Glenn Beck will show a clip of himself preaching non-violence from months earlier alongside liberals painting him as a villain.

This nonsense only proves to his audience that he is in fact right, and is unfairly villainized.

When you marginalize someone like Glenn Beck or Palin without first verifying you’re correct, you validate every one of their fans. It’s no wonder conservatives feel targeted.

…..

One other point.

If, in fact, this man wasn’t motivated by right wing animus, then those who claimed it was have wasted a genuine opportunity to cross the aisle and help those suffering… just to chase a straw man. Is it worth it?

Priya Lynn
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Apparently Timothy isn’t going to explain what he thinks the “Priya Lynn” approach is. Let’s just say that his beliefs about what the “Priya Lynn” approach is and what my approach really is bear no resemblence to each other.

Jim Burroway
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Trooperz

I think when Glenn Beck gives the appearance of talking out of both sides of his mouth, then it makes it extremely difficult to take his assertions seriously that he condemns violence. That’s not to say that I don’t beleive him when he says he condemns violence. I believe he does. Further, I believe him when he says he is horrified at what happened here in Tucson.

However.

When he presents himself as a gun-toting patriotic American and provides a platform on his program for every truther, birther and historical revisionist that comes along, I think he needs to own up to how providing that platform contributes to the climate that we have today.

When people automatically assume the killer was motivate by the far right’s rhetoric, that assumption didn’t come from a vacuum. It was an expression of our worst fears.

And as I’ve witten, so far it looks like our worst fears were unfounded. It does not appear that Loughner was motivated by right-wing rhetoric, based on what has been released so far. But there is a reason so many people immediately assumed that he did.

Why do you suppose that is? Could it be because we’ve seen the candidates talking about “second amendment solutions” or Gabrielle Giffords’s own opponent who had an M-16 shooting party to dramatize his assault on her campaign? And can you even begin to imagine the FURY that would be unloosed, rightfully, if a Democrat had done any of that?

As to your other point, I was among the first to knock that strawman. But I will not suggest, as some have, that we should therefore move on and pretend that there’s nothing to see here. Do you want to take the chance that the next time it won’t be someone who is clearly mentally ill, but instead someone who decided to perform their “patriotic” duty and “lock and load”?

TonyJazz
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

Jim, you are correct. It is irrelevant what the purposes of this madman happened to be.

The issue is that anyone can get their hands on an automatic weapon and kill dozens of people.

I live in fear of the NRA and its constituents.

pax58
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

A week before the elections there were signs placed all up and down River Road not far from where this tragedy took place that were demonizing in the extreme of our congresswoman. To say that we should just set together and sing camp songs and just get along ignores the fact that the Republician party has used violent language to win elections. I said a good 18 months ago that something like this was going to happen. I don’t expect the talk show moneymakers to take responsiblity for what they have done to this country, after all they are really about making money. But I dare them and anyone else to stop resonable people to come to the conclusion that they need to stop the violent talk. Life is complex, you can’t directly link this talk to this weekend’s tragedy, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t play a part.

Erin
January 10th, 2011 | LINK

@ James, I’m delusional because I pointed out that everyone keeps acting like they know exactly what this guy was thinking and why he did this when he has not spoken about it once yet?
She is not Liberal. Democrat does not automatically = Liberal. She is pretty much in the center. She’s a Dem because of views on business and economic policy. I’m not denying the wrongs I’ve the right, but I’m also not pretending I have all the answers as to why this guy did this. His Youtube video makes perfect sense, though he chose to write it in a weird way. The message I got was straight-up anti-government. I guess trying to have a discussion about this makes me delusional, though. Say something with substance if you disagree, instead of being a tool about it, k?

MIhangel apYrs
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

From the UK I have been reading this and other blogs for some time now to see what the complexion of the LGBT world is like in the States.

Having read the outpourings of hate from right-wing, anti-gay pundits (Coulter, Barber, Perkins, et al) I can only say that their words, while not explicitly calling for our early, sudden, deaths, could encourage, enable, pseudo-excuse violence against our people.

The rhetoric runs that LGBT people are destroying the family, democracy, and America – ALL hotspots for certain people. And it isn’t as though there is a conciliatory, VOCAL right wing to reprimand them – the moderates are silenced.

It isn’t just against LGBT people that this bile-filled continuo sings: anyone or thing the loud-mouthed right turns on is demonised as though they are terrorists, or acts of terrorism (consider Tiller and abortion). These commentators, the people they influence and the politicians they inspire and terrify don’t see their opponents as people with alternative views, they see them as enemies to all that is good, holy and wholesome.

It may be that the left has such pundits, but they aren’t particularly noticeable; I will note in passing that I am taking the view that those who would destroy us are enemies to be marginalised and excluded from civility.

No-one knows yet WHY this man did what he did, and speculation is pointless as a trial is in train. ALL I would say is that the animal noises stage-right have manufactured an environment where political opponents are to be seen as enemies of the US, and where there is implicit permission for this “enemies” to be dealt with.

paul canning
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

I highly recommend this post by Stephen Budiansky.

I won’t repeat his argument save this killer line >

I suppose it is unsurprising that those who bluster the most about morality and personal responsibility believe that such notions apply to everyone but themselves.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

All 8 years Dubya was in power, the left sat on their hands politely.

“Holy cow” is all I can say to that.

Priya Lynn
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy edited my previous post to put in a link to a comment by Emily to show what he thinks the “Priya Lynn” approach is. Ironically in that post Emily is guilty of the exact same thing she accuses me of. She fabricates whole opinions and standpoints that are completely different from things I wrote or what I genuinely believe. Just as I said earlier, Emily and Timothy’s mischaracterization of my approach bears no resemblence to reality.

Priya Lynn
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

And Timothy, in the future if you want to say something, instead of editing my posts as though that was the way I originally posted it how about you make your own post.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

From the UK I have been reading this and other blogs for some time now to see what the complexion of the LGBT world is like in the States.

Remember this blog’s subtitle:

News, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric

Not that the info here isn’t useful — but by design, the site exists to highlight the bad stuff in particular.

Priya Lynn
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Jim said ” It does not appear that Loughner was motivated by right-wing rhetoric, based on what has been released so far. But there is a reason so many people immediately assumed that he did. Why do you suppose that is? Could it be because we’ve seen the candidates talking about “second amendment solutions” or Gabrielle Giffords’s own opponent who had an M-16 shooting party to dramatize his assault on her campaign?”.

That pretty much sums it up. And of course those are only a few of the many many examples of Republicans using murderous metaphors.

Jason D
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, I’d like you to find some liberal equivalents to these particular phrasings.

It would be great if they were current, but if you have to go back to the Bush years, please do so.

“You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.

I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, 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.” -Sharron Angle

“Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: “Don’t Retreat, Instead -RELOAD!” Pls see my facebook page” – Sarah Palin via Twitter

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.” – Michele Bachman

BONUS POINTS: Find the Liberal equivalent to Free Republic.

If we’re going to have a discussion, we need to have it fairly. I, and a lot of other people don’t believe the Left is “Just as guilty” of violent rhetoric —but then I’m a bleeding heart liberal, so I recognize that I may not be being objective. That’s why I’m asking you, since you’re more centrist and more right-leaning than I to please, and I mean this sincerely, please give us those liberal quotes. I’ve apparently missed seeing them as I can’t think of any. Sarah, Sharon, and Michelle are all but calling for revolution, even if they may be doing so “metaphorically” so please find me the liberal quotes that are the equivalent.

This is not to say liberals don’t ever use violent imagery (I’m sure it’s happened) but that it might not be as strong or as strongly worded. Glenn Beck once said he wanted to choke Michael Moore to death (old quote, 2005, so not all that relevant) –that’s pretty strong. Got Olberman saying that?

I think it’s important to deal with the facts, and to me, the facts suggest that if both sides tone their rhetoric down to the exact same degree (if such a thing COULD be quantified) we’d still see violent rhetoric from the Right because theirs is more common and stronger imagery –and that’s important. Yes toning down is a good idea, but the Right needs to do more toning down than anyone else. And the Tea Party needs to STOP talking like every single election, big or small, is a frickin’ Death Star light saber duel between good and evil with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Priya:

The main reason most people assumed that Loughner was motivated by right-wing rhetoric was that his primary target had a (D) after her name. That fact was known immediately, and it was the only apparently salient fact anyone had to go on initially — and thus it shaped the direction of the early speculating.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

This is not to say liberals don’t ever use violent imagery (I’m sure it’s happened) but that it might not be as strong or as strongly worded.

And who gets to be the judge of whether the violent imagery from liberals is “as strong or as strongly worded”? Would that judge be you, Jason?

When you announce up front that you may reserve the right to move split definitional hairs, or to move goalposts as you see necessary (“Did I say liberals? Obviously what I meant by that was liberal leaders, not the rank-and-file”) or to advance a No True Scotsman defense (e.g., “The people waving that Death to Bush sign may have had some liberal views, but they clearly weren’t liberals in the real sense of the word,”), or otherwise engage in the sort of weaselry that Interweb debates are notorious for, then it’s not clear why anyone should waste time trying to meet your challenge.

Priya Lynn
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert, I think that was a large part of it, but the large amount of violent rhetoric by republicans was another part of it.

Check out the first video here:

http://www.truthwinsout.org/pressreleases/2011/01/14114/#comment-35283

The speaker makes a pretty good case that the violent rhetoric is overwhelmingly Republican. When one considers that Loughner may have been anti-government rather than anti-Democrat one must also consider that it is overwhelmingly Republicans who spread the message that government is the enemy, government is evil, and government should be “drowned in the bathtub”.

Priya Lynn
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Further to Throbert’s comment “The main reason most people assumed that Loughner was motivated by right-wing rhetoric was that his primary target had a (D) after her name.”.

If there hadn’t have been so much violent right wing rhetoric people wouldn’t have assumed he was motivated by it either.

Jessica Naomi
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

First I think you should sell your photo to CNN or Rachel Maddow so everyone sees it. Yes Limbaugh should be held accountable for that billboard as should Clear Channel, and I hope it gets pulled down before the funerals start.

Second no one knows why Loughner did what he did. There is no mental illness diagnosis of the man. There are reports from his friends that he was a stoner and that he acted erratically in high school while he was getting stoned.

How do we know he was not getting stoned on Methamphetmaine (ICE) or Ecstasy or LSD or PCP? Many people currently incarcerated were stoned on something when they committed the crimes landing them in jail. Domestic violence has been associated with drugs or alcohol. Drunk and stoned people get behind the wheel of their cars and kill people all the time. Do we say they must have been schizophrenic or insane?

And people who get stoned and are violent are responsible for their actions.

So lets see what Loughner was really doing when he allegedly lost his mind. I don’t buy the schizophrenia defense, not when the guy was getting stoned.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

This sounded harsher than I meant it:

engage in the sort of weaselry that Interweb debates are notorious for

I did not intend to accuse Jason himself of being a deliberate weasel; I do think that the type of challenge he offers — even when offered in good faith — is apt to be a “recipe for weaseldom.”

And the crux of the problem is that “violent rhetoric” is likely to be one of those I-know-it-when-I-see-it things for which five people will offer at least seven different definitions.

Jim Burroway
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Jessica Naomi

I have had personal dealings with people with schizophrenia, one a very close friend of mine since second grade. Two of the three got into drugs that I know of. It is extremely common for people with schizophrenia to self-medicate.

When I said that the symptoms I saw in Jared were all too specific, his drug use, specifically, is one of them when coupled by other evidences I see in his videos. Not all drug users are schizophrenic, obviously, but the other specific signs coupled with drug use makes for an exceptionally strong case for Loughner.

Also, keep in mind that I am not suggesting that the severity of his illness qualifies him for an insanity defense. You can be mentally ill, but not criminally insane. There is a huge difference. And right now there simply isn’t enough evidence publicly available to an insanity plea, and I think a lot of evidence argues against it. But as I said, we will all learn more in the weeks and months to come.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Straight Shooter, performed live at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.

Mama Cass has blood on her ham hands!

Jim Burroway
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert,

You’re being facetious and unserious. These are the kinds of examples I’m talking about:

Robert Lowry, a Republican challenger to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL), stopped by a local Republican event in October. The event was at a gun range, and Lowry shot at a human-shaped target that had Wasserman Schulz’s initials written next to it. He later said it was a “mistake.”

Another one:

Stephen Broden, a Republican challenger to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), in late October said that violent revolution is “on the table.”

“We have a constitutional remedy here and the Framers says if that don’t work, revolution,” he said. “If the government is not producing the results or has become destructive to the ends of our liberties, we have a right to get rid of that government and to get rid of it by any means necessary.”

Or this:

About a year ago, Richard Behney, a tea partier from Indiana running for former Sen. Evan Bayh’s seat, told a group of Second Amendment activists that they didn’t have to resort to armed insurrection — “yet.”

“We can get new faces in. Whether it’s my face or not, I pray to God that I see new faces. And if we don’t see new faces, I’m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I’m serious about that, and I bet you are, too. But I know none of us want to go that far yet, and we can do it with our vote,” he said.

In other words, vote for me and nobody gets hurt. Also, this:

Erstwhile Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R-NV) found herself in June defending comments she had made six months earlier about the Second Amendment. “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,” she said.

Or this:

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) told Politico that he hunts Democrats. Asked about the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, he said, “We hunt liberal, tree-hugging Democrats, although it does seem like a waste of good ammunition.” (emphasis mine)

A Florida talk-radio host last year said:

“I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave a Second Amendment,” she told a tea party crowd last summer. “And if ballots don’t work, bullets will.”

I only included the remarks that appeared to be a direct endorsement of violence. There are others who used violent metaphors that I omitted here, but will include one, because it was a Democrat who made it:

When Joe Manchin was running for senator from West Virginia back in October, he released an ad in which he shoots the climate change bill with a rifle. “I’ll take dead aim at the cap-and-trade bill, because it’s bad for West Virginia,” he said.

And the interesting thing about it, is that I don’t have to go back forty years to dig up something a dead person sang. These examples are from the past two years alone. Although it should be noted when she sang that, America was undergoing a spasm of violence driven by the rhetoric of the radical left, so your example actually helps to prove a point. Since then, I think the most visible elements of today’s left have learned their lesson (Keith Olberman apologized last night for a comment he made during Sen. Clinton’s primary campaign), but some very prominent members of the far right are determined to make those same mistakes, unapologetically

To pretend that there isn’t a very serious sociopathic problem among people who have gained influence in this country is to keep one’s head in the sand — at our country’s peril.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Jim: I agree that some of the rhetoric you cite is disturbing — although it’s worth noting that several of these Republicans failed to win in their own party’s primaries. (Which doesn’t make the rhetoric less repellent, but does make it harder to argue that these examples represent some larger problem.)

I wouldn’t count the Democratic example you included, since he was threatening to shoot at an abstraction (the cap-and-trade bill) rather than a named individual or persons in general. For that same reason, I don’t think that the Democratic strategy map with targets all over it can be fairly compared to Palin’s, since the Democratic map clearly targeted states rather than actual officeholders. (Never mind that the Democratic map appeared to use archery targets rather than gun sights!)

Finally, with respect to the talk-radio host in FL: If self-appointed pundits are to be included on any list, that opens up a huge pool of left-wing blowhards who resorted to disgusting turns of phrase in the Dubya years, although most of them were self-aggrandizing obscurities with very little demonstrable influence over liberals/Democrats generally. (In concrete terms: Does someone like Ward Churchill actually tell us anything about at all about intellectual trends on the left, or does Ward Churchill only represent Ward Churchill?)

Having said all that, I will admit that none of my objections get Sarah Palin and her map off the hook: she was a VP candidate who remains high profile nationally because a lot of Republicans vote with their feet and wallets by showing up at her events, buying her books, and listening to her gab.

Emily K
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

I’ve never even HEARD of Ward Churchill.

I think I knew Rush Limbaugh’s name before I even knew what a Republican or a Democrat was. (as a kid).

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

I will admit that none of my objections get Sarah Palin and her map off the hook

Er, I mean she’s not yet “off the hook” so far as generally contributing to an ongoing climate of hateful rhetoric at the national level, etc. — but in the absence of any evidence that Jared Loughner even knows who Palin is, she’s already “off the hook” in terms of responsibility for the Tucson murders specifically.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

I’ve never even HEARD of Ward Churchill.

Ward Churchill would be very sad to hear that.

Priya Lynn
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert, have a look at that first video in the link I posted. Can you find examples of liberal rhetoric comparable in tone and quantitity? I doubt it or almost certainly someone at Fox would have already produced a similar video of liberal rhetoric. They haven’t done so because they can’t find similar levels of violent rhetoric from liberals.

Jim Burroway
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Someone sent me this via email:

http://townhall.com/columnists/JohnHawkins/2010/03/30/violent_liberal_hate_rhetoric_fifteen_quotes/page/full/

“A spoiled child (Bush) is telling us our Social Security isn’t safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here’s your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little b*stard. [audio of gun being cocked].” — A “humor bit” from the Randi Rhodes Show (2005)

An excellent example of some members of the left being as guilty as members of the right. Qualitatively what Randi Rhodes did was no different from any of the examples that I’ve cited from the right. It’s worth noting however that Rhodes appologized immidiately afterward, calling it a “lame attempt at humor.” Palin’s not a radio host on a defunct network, just a former VP candidate and a possible contender for 2012. But still, where’s her apology?

“..And then there’s Rumsfeld who said of Iraq ‘We have our good days and our bad days.’ We should put this S.O.B. up against a wall and say ‘This is one of our bad days’ and pull the trigger.” — From a fundraising ad put out by the St. Petersburg Democratic Club (2004)

The club was sanctioned by the state Democratic party. The Board of Directors of the Executive Committee, under strong pressure from the Florida Democratic Party, voted to withdraw the Charter of the St. Petersburg Democratic Club. Where have Republicans shown the same resolve in their party?

“F*** God D*mned Joe the God D*mned Motherf*cking plumber! I want Motherf*cking Joe the plumber dead.” — Liberal talk show host Charles Karel Bouley on the air.

Bouley says he made those remarks when his sound engineer failed to mute his mike during a commercial break. When he came back from the break, he apologized. His radio station fired him.

Michael Savage is still on the air. He’s never apologized and his radio station has never taken responsiblity for anything he’s said. He also has a much, much larger audience and he’s spread his message through several best-selling books.

Charlie – “you know F— it …. and George Bush wife? I’d F— that b*tch to death” — “Shock Jocks” Opie & Anthony talk rape & violence with their guest “Homeless Charlie.”

After immense outcry, the radio “humorists” issued an apology: “We apologize to the public officials for comments that were made on our XM show on May 9. We take very seriously the responsibility that comes with our creative freedom and regret any offense that this segment has caused.” XM suspended them for 30 days.

Has Limbaugh ever been suspended? Has he ever apologized?

There are many more here, mostly from alternative columnists, cartoonists, “humorists”, etc. — all of them vile and all of them worth of condemnation. And when I can dig into them further, I typically find an apology and consequences.

But the thing that strikes me is that many of the names are also ones that I had never heard of. That doesnt’ make them any less vile, nor does obscurity make someone less responsible.

But it does go to another problem, the issue of scale — the quantitative problem that amplifies the qualitative one. One side gets fired or suspended, the other remains on the air, and has goes on to build a much bigger audience and gain more influence. And on one side, this kind of talk is not only acceptable, but made the patriotic centerpoint of their political campaign:

But it won’t do to dig up stray comments by Obama, Allen Grayson, or any other Democrat who used metaphors of combat over the past few years, and then try to claim some balance of responsibility in the implied violence of current American politics. (Most of the Obama quotes that appear in the comments were lame attempts to reassure his base that he can get mad and fight back, i.e., signs that he’s practically incapable of personal aggression in politics.) In fact, there is no balance—none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

I also think that its instructive that when Sheriff Dupnik made his comments about the political atmosphere, he didn’t name names, identify one side or the other, or point to specific examples. He just spoke of the problem generally. But everyone knew exactly what he was talking about, including those on the right.

Jim Burroway
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Oh yeah, the guy who compiled that list for TownHall recently wrote this:

http://rightwingnews.com/2011/01/yes-were-putting-liberals-in-the-crosshairs/

The Left can take their sanctimonious, politically correct, hypocritical horseflop about militaristic language being applied to politics and they can turn it sideways and shove it straight up their candy asses.

Here at Right Wing News, where our slogan is “Kneecapping Barack Obama at every opportunity,” not only are we targeting liberal politicians for defeat, we want to beat liberalism to death with a shovel.

Emily K
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Jim, you are spot-on when it comes to visibility and fame. I have never heard of nearly all of these names. And besides, they all were reprimanded in some way or apologized. There’s no comparison.

And besides, if you dig deep enough, you find hatred and crazies in EVERY camp. But the operative word here is “dig.” You dont’ have to dig for limbaugh, palin, and beck.

Mainstream right figures are the ones encouraging and stirring up an environment ripe for violent “solutions.”

Hey Tim, you out there? Do you “get it” yet? Do you get it about your side that’s so volatile and despicable?

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert, have a look at that first video in the link I posted. Can you find examples of liberal rhetoric comparable in tone and quantitity?

I decline to take up that challenge, for the reasons I already gave in responding to Jason D: “comparability in tone” is subjective. And “extremist” too often means “someone I disagree with who refuses to concede how utterly rational my own arguments are.”

Moreover, I’ve been burned before on this — back in 2004, I went through a painful “break-up” with a group of Innerweb friends that I’d known for almost a decade, and part of the reason for the intractable fighting was that people on both the left and right sides were eager to offer ad hoc excuses for inflammatory rhetoric coming from the side that they tended to agree with. (As in, “Any reasonable person can see that my esteemed friend so-and-so was obviously being facetious when he said that anyone who supports the death penalty is a bloodthirsty caveman.”)

Mind you, I would agree that the rhetoric coming from the right NOW is particularly offensive, and quantitatively worse than what’s coming from the left. But I would point out that the Reagan and Dubya terms were peak years for noxious rhetoric from the left, and predict that if the GOP retakes the White House in 2012 or 2016, inflammatory language from the left will ramp up again.

And that said, I would also say that the violent language from the right isn’t purely a reaction to feeling “out of power” with a Democrat in the White House, and there may be internal factors on the right that make them more likely to favor abusive rhetoric no matter who currently holds power in Washington.

For example, millennialist Christians and Marxist ideologues may both be prone to apocalyptic thinking and revolutionary language. But in the U.S. context, hardcore Marxists probably aren’t as prevalent or influential on the left as waiting-for-the-Rapture Christians are on the right.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

There are plenty of people on the left — not all of them “extremists” — who believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (but perhaps Iraq especially) represent a form of imperialist aggression driven by a racist indifference to the humanity of non-white people and/or the humanity of non-Christian Muslims.

Some people on the left have not been shy about voicing these claims. (And to be clear, I’m only considering secular leftists who represented the American military as a force for racism and imperialism, without even getting into contributions made from some mosque pulpits — Muslim pundits who promulgated the “this is a war against all Islam” theme weren’t generally liberals, after all.)

Does this make these vocal critics of U.S. policy morally complicit in the actions of Nidal Hasan at Ft. Hood, since he clearly shared some of these beliefs and might theoretically have been influenced by secular critics of the U.S. military on the American left? (And not only by his personal interpretation of the Quran, which seems to have been the primary shaper of his views.)

Does every single liberal pundit who “wondered aloud” whether the Abu Ghraib torture and abuse reflected generally on U.S. military values — despite the very small number of personnel involved, and despite the fact that they were discovered and punished by an internal military investigation — share a little teeny bit of responsibility for “creating a climate” that may have helped Hasan to rationalize the murder of a dozen fellow soldiers?

Jim Burroway
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert McGee

If “every single liberal pundit who “wondered aloud” whether the Abu Ghraib torture and abuse reflected generally on U.S. military values” also happened to say that to correct the problem ordinary Americans should take up arms, then I would concede you have a point. Since they didn’t, I think you should concede that you’re grasping at straws.

. . . . .

But on a related note, while I beleive that the greatest preponderance of the problem is on the far right, they don’t have an exclusive lock in saying people should be shot:

In an op-ed published by The New York Times yesterday, former Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), who served in the House of Representatives from 1985 through 2010, wrote about lawmakers’ security in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in Tucson, Arizona last weekend. In the piece, titled “Why Politicians Need to Stay Out in the Open,” Kanjorski wrote:

We all lose an element of freedom when security considerations distance public officials from the people. Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.

But back in October, in the midst of a re-election fight that he would go on to lose, Kanjorski told the editorial board of The Scranton Times-Tribune that Rick Scott, then the Republican nominee for Governor in Florida, should have been shot for his work as CEO of a health care company that paid a record $1.7 billion fine after being investigated for Medicare fraud.

Kanjorski is every bit as guilty for contributing to the poisonous climate as the others. It’s beyond hypocritical for him to stake out a holier-than-thou stance in the New York Times without acknowledging his own poisonous contribution.

And yet, my point stands. Anyone notice how very easy it is to find this kind of outrageous sentiment expressed on the right, and how difficult it is to dig this stuff out on the left?

Priya Lynn
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert said “I decline to take up that challenge, for the reasons I already gave in responding to Jason D: “comparability in tone” is subjective.”.

That’s a poor excuse. Jim brought up several examples of violent rhetoric on the part of liberals and they were pretty clearly comparable in tone and you didn’t here me say otherwise or say that “they were obviously being facetious”.

The difference being, as was pointed out those liberal quotes were from nobodies compared to the violent rhetoric from Republican politicians and high profile media personalities. You don’t here violent rhetoric from Michael Moore, Bill Maher, or Jon Stewart, but you do here it from Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O-reilly. To find comparable violent quotes from liberals you have to cast a much wider net then you do with conservatives which shows there is a lot more violent rhetoric coming from conservatives than from liberals. You did however concede that point to a degree so I thank you for your honesty there.

RWG
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

I am disappointed, Mr Burroway, that you are giving the Right, with its years of incendiary speech and incitement, a pass on this. There is an expression in Buddhism, “Fish and the water in which they swim are one.” Perhaps no direct connection will ever be established between the hate speech of the Right wing, on the airwaves and the internet 24 hours a day, and the deranged actions of Jared Laughner, but there can be no doubt that the climate in this country added to the notion that massacre by gun was the way to go for a troubled youth in search for a moment of glory. The glorification of gun violence and violent revolution as an acceptable method of political change has poisoned the environment to the extent that persons such as this shooter have few alternative models to follow. I agree with much of what is expressed on this blog, but we differ on this one issue.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

If “every single liberal pundit who “wondered aloud” whether the Abu Ghraib torture and abuse reflected generally on U.S. military values” also happened to say that to correct the problem ordinary Americans should take up arms, then I would concede you have a point

Jim: +1
Me: 0

Jim Burroway
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

;-) Actually, Throbert, I like you a lot. Stick around.

RWG:

but there can be no doubt that the climate in this country added to the notion that massacre by gun was the way to go for a troubled youth in search for a moment of glory

No doubt? How can you not have reasonable doubt when you don’t have any actual evidence to support what you’re saying.

RWG
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Do you believe Jared Laughner conceived of his crime in a vacuum? That he, unlike all the rest of us, was magically untouched by the dehumanizing, demeaning, divisive and derisive incitement to violence which has characterized the speech of Right wing media, body politic and advertising in this country during the past 20 years?

It’s one thing to try to be unbiased and exercise restraint, which I see you’re attempting to do. It’s quite another to stick your head in sand and just wish you didn’t know what you know.

I’m sorry we’re going to disagree on this, that’s all.

Richard Rush
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

One difference between people spewing violent rhetoric/graphics from the Right vs. the Left is that those on the Right are elevated to celebrity status and rewarded with substantial financial gain. And the only reason they attain such status and rewards is because there are millions of people who salivate and lust for what they are spewing. Actually, it now seems that violent rhetoric/graphics is almost a prerequisite for becoming a Right-Wing superstar. It’s no longer something that some of them do sometimes, it’s now more of an integral part of who they are.

Jim Burroway
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

RWG,

I only know what I know. The rest is conjecture. When I know more, I’ll say I know more. But through personal experience I know enough about schizophrenia to know that I need to know more before I’ll say more.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

One difference between people spewing violent rhetoric/graphics from the Right vs. the Left is that those on the Right are elevated to celebrity status and rewarded with substantial financial gain.

So where do the Wu-Tang Clan and the Wachowski brothers fit on this political map of yours?

Emily K
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Huh, I wasn’t aware the Wu Tang Clan and Matrix-Movie brothers were 1. still relevant and 2. given 24-7 news cycle-worthy status by anybody.

Throbert McGee
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

Emily K: Okay, so when does the relevance cut-off date begin? 18 months ago? Two years ago? Five years ago? Or whenever it was that Emily K turned old enough to vote and started watching the news?

At any rate, Richard Rush didn’t seem to be specifically addressing the Tucson killings from a few days ago or the cultural influences that might have affected 22-year-old Loughner; he was making a more general assertion about “the Right”.

Emily K
January 11th, 2011 | LINK

The sad thing is, I DON’T watch any news. Yet I still know about Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, etc.

The last I heard about anything “Matrix” related outside of an uber-geek fan forum was when the final movie came out, about.. i guess it was 5 years ago.

And I only know about Wu Tang from comedic references or ironic hipster playlists.

granted, when the Matrix first got big, that was when Columbine happened. And since I was still in grade school, that was a big deal for everyone around my social circle. And everyone was questioning if the Matrix influenced them, especially since they wore trenchcoats and all that BS. Clinton was prez, and for some reason people were pissed off cuz he hooked up with some desperate intern. So the left was made the enemy.

I think whenevr the Left is demonized it’s through “Hollywood corruption,” etc. because of incidents like columbine which seem to mimic pop culture.

I haven’t seen a lot of that though; the recent incident is political in nature, as is the over-the-top militaristic rhetoric being used by the Right.

Marcia_E_S
January 12th, 2011 | LINK

Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Ingraham, Hannity and the rest of the right-wing vipers might escape this time; but no way would I just dismiss the influence that the constantly-flowing sewer of hate speech and sly, nudge-and-wink suggestions for violent “solutions” have nothing to do with what happened in Tucson. Anyone who does, just keep telling yourself that after the domestic terrorism reaches your own town, and maybe your own family.

Mentally ill people don’t live in a bubble. They are influenced by their environment just as the rest of us are; and it might be worth pointing out, too, that not all delusional/mentally ill people are violent. People are just trying to escape reality using mental illness as as an emergency exit.

Richard Rush
January 12th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert,

Ummmm . . . I had never heard of “Wu-Tang Clan and the Wachowski brothers.”

And you are correct, I was making a more general assertion about “the Right,” and not addressing the Tucson killings, even though that event has sparked this national conversation. I think this conversation is legitimate regardless of whether or not a direct (or indirect) link to the killings becomes established. I have not seen enough information yet to formulate an opinion, but I do lean toward expecting Right-Wing rhetoric to be a contributing factor, at least insofar as Loughner’s choice of who to kill, and the public event that he chose for doing it.

Marcia_E_S
January 12th, 2011 | LINK

BTW, where’s the outrage from the “pro life community” over a 9-year-old child being murdered?

Oh, I forgot — she was already born. And this is, after all, the same “community” that reacted to the very public murder of Dr. Tiller with mutual self-congratulation about how totally blameless they were.

Jason D
January 12th, 2011 | LINK

“When you announce up front that you may reserve the right to move split definitional hairs, or to move goalposts as you see necessary (“Did I say liberals? Obviously what I meant by that was liberal leaders, not the rank-and-file”)”

Throbert, please quote where I said any such thing.

You might try dealing with what I actually said rather than making up and assigning motivations and tactics to me. You sound ridiculous.

I’ve been commenting on this blog for years, Tim and Jim know how I work, how I write, and what I’m after. Jim had no trouble at all finding some quotes.

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