January 10, 2011

Back and the Arizona shooting

Feels like a long time since I last blogged. I have been sick off and on through Christmas and New Years, and then took a trip to see family in Colorado. The trip was great, though it began with a visit to urgent care and a cortisone shot in my, er, upper thigh.

Anyway. Back and trying to figure out how to get ready for next week's madness. I flew home Saturday after waking with a swollen eye and stuffed head. Showed up to the airport in Denver and turned on my Ipad only to hear of this horrific shooting in Arizona. Everyone knows about it, I am sure. But it is sickening.

I am not alone, obviously in seeing this in a broader context of horrific rhetoric. Yeah, this guy was obviously mentally ill, but as many have pointed out, that applies to most people who open fire in a public square. But we have a culture, especially (though not exclusively) on the right that uses incredibly dangerous rhetoric as casually as they check their email. Here is just a partial list of some of the examples. Some are more clear than others. Sarah Palin obviously didn't mean that someone should shoot Congresswoman Giffords, but she was obviously irresponsible in creating a map with targets on people, including the woman now in the hospital. And with Sarah Palin, I feel a certain anger rush when I think of her during the election, whipping the crowds to a frenzy about Obama supporting terrorism--all the while death threats climbing against the family. And Palin just kept doing it. It was amazing that someone could in the same breath claim the mantle of Christianity and then call on her crowd to hate Obama.

So this weekend, I thought again of that and realized again that Palin doesn't care about that stuff. Her only goal is to whip up her base and sell her books. If that encourages a nutjob to go shoot someone, she really doesn't care. And that same thing could be said for Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. They routinely use the most extreme rhetoric and then wonder why people on the fringe of reality might not realize that it is hyperbolic.

But it isn't just these self-aggrandizing idiots like Palin and Beck, but also those in Republican leadership, including our Speaker.
Boehner suggested that by voting for Obamacare, [Steve] Driehaus “may be a dead man” and “can’t go home to the west side of Cincinnati” because “the Catholics will run him out of town,” Driehaus began receiving death threats, and a right-wing website published directions to his house.
Driehaus confronted Boehner, who was surprised, but never apologized for his language.

Or Republican Congressman Paul Broun, who talks about a civil war looming, and refers to Democrats as "domestic enemies." Or Republican candidate Sharon Angle who talked about the need to use the second amendment "option" if the voters weren't successful in overturning healthcare.

Or, hell, every fucking Republican who jumped on the "death panel" nonsense. How do you think a nutjob will hear that even his supposed adult Senator telling him that Obama wants to kill him, or that he is a bigger threat to America than al Qaeda?

We can't stop the nuts and the crazies, I understand. We will have some of this, though I can't help but agree with some calling for a little more gun control, or enforcement, to try and keep guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed people. But we can ask that our public figures recognize that there is a cost to extreme rhetoric. And yeah, I think that is true of those who compared Bush to Hitler. That was irresponsible too. But on the right, as my friend D has noted, there is a long list of people killed by conservatives concerned about the same stuff that Palin/Beck/Limbaugh spout. I am not suggesting that there is a legal causation there, nor that they should be prosecuted in anyway. That is not the point. But it would be nice if they understood that not everyone understands that they are being hyperbolic.

One more note. I am especially disheartened by the Christian community's silence on this kind of rhetoric. I remember watching videos made by James Dobson in church--because he was held up to me as a Godly man who had Christian values, yet as I documented nearly 5 years ago, he not only endorsed Ann Coulter's rhetoric, but laughed along as she mocked torture and encouraged her to continue driving liberals crazy. On Facebook, I have run into several old friends from my church days who love Sarah Palin for her "family values," but who have never responded to her hate speech. Those who don't speak out against her or Bachman or the others make it clear that their conservatism wins out over their faith. And that is a shame.

Anyway. A long post and probably rambling. I am sure there will be more to talk about with this issue.


Dave said...

I've also been contemplating the rhetoric of violence this morning. David A. Neiwert at the blog Orcinus (http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/) has been writing about this for years now. Check out his book The Eliminationists for an analysis and history of this kind of speech and its influence. (His blog is also a tremendous resource for this.)

One thing I haven't seen (and you kind of have to tease it out of my post you linked to) is a catalog of victims. Since each of these episodes of violence is seen as an isolated act by a lone nut, no one's compiled a list of people killed. I suppose that will be the topic of my post later today.

(btw, thanks for the link!)

Smitty said...

I swear to the baby jeebus I will eat my pillow if I see any more of that mealy-mouthed "both sides do it" bullshit, and the guff that Sheriff Dupnik is getting for his clearly nonpartisan words makes me want to stop listening to any more media except fucking sitcoms.

That both sides do it is no excuse, it's bad whoever fucking does it.

And that's all the Sheriff was saying: as a law enforcement guy, when you have a political environment where people carry rifles to political rallies and put targets over each others' faces and use phrases like "take them out," CRAZY PEOPLE LIKE PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENICS use that as tacit approval to go ahead and start shooting.

Dupnik never said "The Republicans or the Tea Party" is at fault.

So...that leads me to think...feelin' a little GUILTY about something, are we? I believe this is an appropriate time to use the phrase "thou doth protest too much."

Smitty said...

Plus, the Sheriff came right out and said "sorry if I ruffled feathers, but the dead judge and mortally-wounded Congressperson....ARE MY FUCKING FRIENDS."

Dave said...

SB: Here's a post that more clearly defines those murdered over the last couple of years and the circumstances: http://www.recreatingtampa.com/2011/01/10/politics-monday-the-rhetoric-of-violence-and-its-consequences/

Smitty: Amen.