Most of you are aware of what happened in Arizona on Saturday:
Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot Saturday in Tucson during an attack that left six people dead and 13 others injured. The Arizona man accused in the weekend shooting that left a congresswoman injured and six people dead is due to make his first court appearance on Monday. Jared Lee Loughner, 22, is to appear at 2 p.m. MT before a judge in Phoenix. The dead include a federal judge, a congressional aide and a nine-year-old girl. The shooting also wounded 13 people.
The media has (rightly, in my opinion) pointed out that the kind of language that is consistently exploited on the right, about the need for revolution, “second amendment remedies”, “ballot or bullet” arguments, and so forth, have poisoned the political environment to the point where political disagreement has become tantamount to a struggle between good and evil. Perhaps most damning (or at least getting the lion’s share of the attention) is the “targets” used in a Sarah Palin ad to describe how Tea Party voters should target vulnerable districts in the midterm election. My nemesis has (predictably) chosen to lobby on behalf of the forces of stupid. Depressingly, so has CLS. I suppose I shouldn’t expect much more from dyed-in-the-wool libertarians – the entire premise is based on overlooking complexity and trying to reduce issues into single-concept nuggets, so you can go back to lighting your cigar with your hundred dollar bill or something.
Tim Wise has, true to form, articulated my argument far better than I ever could:
In a media environment where highly paid commentators can keep their jobs even as they insist that those who call for the shooting of government agents so as to stop a world government takeover are“beginning to have a case,” or that a national service initiative is just a run-up to the implementation of a literal stormtrooper corps like the Nazi SS, or that “multicultural people” are “destroying the culture of this country,” or that Latino migrants are an “invasive species,” that seeks to undermine the nation, or that the President is intentionally “destroying the economy” so as to pay white people back for slavery, or that, worse, he and other Democrats are vampires, the only solution for which is a “stake through the heart,” to feign shock at the acts of a Jared Loughner is a precious and naive conceit that we can no longer afford.
It’s like looking at erosion and saying “there’s no way water could do this. Look, I just poured a cup of water on a rock and nothing happened. Therefore erosion isn’t real.” The continued failure of people to look at forces from a broader perspective than what is happening in the here and now is sad to me. There are consequences to using violent themes in your rhetoric – they are precisely the consequences that you are intending to elicit when you use it. To pretend otherwise is either wholly disingenuous, or the mark of a mind that fails to grasp even the basics of the human psyche.
Incidentally, my use of the word ‘terrorist’ in the title is intentional. This man is not an isolated crazy person, or an outlying kook, or some kind of unique case of youth gone mad. He’s a terrorist – he executed people as part of a political strategy to strike fear into the heart of the populace and destabilize the government. Can we stop pretending it’s only those Ayrab jihadis that are doing this? Please?
I also feel compelled to point out that if this guy is an atheist, then he’s an asshole atheist. He isn’t “not a real atheist” or any such ridiculous dodge. He very well might be atheist, and if that’s the case then he’s a murderous fuckhead of an atheist. Do I think that his atheism lead him to commit those acts? Doubtful. Even if it did, that has nothing to do with whether or not there is a God (spoiler alert: there isn’t).
Edit: Looks like he wasn’t an atheist after all, he was… well you decide
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I think most of the rational world agrees with you, so now the question should move to: what’s next?
It’s all peachy to call on the GOP and FoxNews to take ownership and denounce the rhetoric, but do we really expect it to happen? And even if they miraculously do, will it last?
Similarly, as SunTV comes to (thankfully limited) air in Canada, we have to ask how safe are we from similar chains of events (especially given our own increasingly polarized rhetoric)?
Aren’t you forgetting how the democrats engage in the same rhetoric? Consider how democrats (and their supporters) have no problem comparing Bush to Hitler:
The Bush hatred was (is) everywhere:
Even the well spoken Obama can’t help but name his “enemies”:
And we all know how much the democrats love Palin, or should we say want her dead?
Both sides are using this rhetoric, yet it’s the “right” that caused this massacre? I find it rather distasteful that any side would attempt to capitalize on a tragedy like this.
This guy didn’t need rhetoric to commit these crimes: