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David Poland

By David Poland

The Giffords Discourse

My primary computer went in for repairs yesterday and I have, not unintentionally, stayed offline.

I think that 85% of the conversation in the last thread was completely worth having.

Here is my thought… the rhetoric from both sides of the aisle, particularly from the party without the presidency in hand, gets extreme and stupid. George W. Bush was not The Devil and his relative position amongst presidents is an issue to be better considered from a distance.

But the level and tone of the rhetoric from the right in the last few years, starting at the McCain/Palin rallies and onwards, has a very strong undercurrent of violence, the suggestion of violent overthrow, and a constant heartbeat of “them vs us.” Even on the most extreme tips of the left, represented by Kos and occasionally Michael Moore, may hit some of this harshness, but it never (in recent history) has been mainstreamed into the politics of the party the way it has been by the right.

So this shooter may just be another 20something who lost his shit in a profound way trying to transition into grown up life and killed a bunch of people. He may even lean left. He may have nothing to do with Sarah Palin, tea partiers, or whatever else.

To blame this on anyone specifically on the right in a “blood on their hands” way would be too specific. But to dismiss the culture of rage that has been encouraged on the right, including the gun culture – have we heard what kind of weapon this guy shot 15 people with before being tackled – is equally foolhardy.

Leadership has become invisible. It is time for the right to stop putting elections ahead of morality and to stop catering to, even encouraging, the worst nature of people. Fox News wants to spin all day? I say, “Fine.” Just don’t make stuff up and continue to indulge extremists, like The Birthers, with a wink. You want to make the argument that we would be better off with smaller government? Great! But when you call the other side “socialists” for voting for most of the same packages that support Americans through hard times and old age, you are not arguing what you believe (or claim to believe), you are just trying to put a target – sometimes literally – on the back of another politician.

The sad truth is, the difference between Republican and Democrat, politically, in this country, is marginal. It may seem extreme when Republicans openly say they’ll shut down the government over a 3% tax break for the top 10% of wealthy Americans, but think about how marginal that issue really is.

So we have come down to branding. Hope and Change and the smart guy who has visions of a better world and articulates them beautifully and Grizzly Moms and Tea Partiers and Guns and Anti-Immigration and the ABT (Anything But Them) platform. At least that is the current incarnation.

And each side defends its brand as befits the brand, scared to let it go for even a minute, lest the audience fail to see the differentiation or to doubt the validity of the rhetoric… each scared to be Tylenol with Cyanide in it in one store in Chicago. Republicans breathed a sigh of relief when those YouTube videos turned up yesterday, not because they wouldn’t feel personally responsible or because anyone was less dead or shot, but because it kept the brand safe.

So the lies pile on top of the lies and eventually the only way anyone can see it is as “Us vs Them.”

Would this guy have been any saner if he was a rabid Palin fan? Besides the ha-ha answer, the obvious answer is “no.” But that doesn’t leave her off the hook… or any of us.

Why do people hate the health care package that was passed? Because they have been told they should hate it. Because they have been told it will end up being unfair to them because they work hard and people who don’t will reap the benefits. They have been lied to. And now, more lies are piling up as the Republicans are pretending that they would like to replace the package with another one that satisfies everyone. This is who we have become. Lobbyists’ monkeys pretending to be freedom fighters. And yes, it happens on both sides.

Perhaps it is time for the oath of office to include, “First, Do No Harm.”

58 Responses to “The Giffords Discourse”

  1. mysterypefecta says:

    Ironically, your entire rumination reeks of the lazy ideological branding and “us vs. them” attitude you claim to oppose. What THEY think, and why THEY think it…

  2. christian says:

    ‘He has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an enemy of humanity,” – Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), on President Obama

  3. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Franks has been on MSNBC all day, working overtime to present himself as dignified and reasonable, but that statement is completely bonkers.

  4. IOv3 says:

    David: the fact that those idiots refuse to accept that we need taxes, is one of the reasons the country is falling apart. It’s not marginal at all. It’s everything.

    That aside, yes, most repcons from Arizona are batshit crazy.

  5. christian says:

    And Palin’s latest lie that those were not “crosshairs” has been debunked by — Palin’s own tweet:

    “Remember months ago “bullseye” icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin’ incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20″

  6. David Poland says:

    Funny how you make it about me and not about the issue, mystery.

    Do you really feel that the right wing in the US has not used more and more violent rhetoric in the last few years?

    You sound a lot like people who say that the statute of limitations on Bush is over… just get over the state of the economy when he left… it’s Obama’s economy now.

    If you want to fix a problem – and perhaps you don’t see a problem here – you need to be honest about what the problems are. Some things go past political agendas.

    I most certainly did not write that all right wingers are of the same mind. But the level of rhetoric – that’s the people who have the loudest voices in the party and on that end of the ideological spectrum – has been angrier and angrier. And not to be too far past the line, right out of pre-Hitler Germany. It’s a fucking dangerous game to keep claiming to be the Victim of the left, that the left doesn’t care about the country, that the left is out to hurt the little guy. It cannot lead anywhere good. Simply cannot.

    As I wrote, it happens on both sides. It’s just as wrong coming from the left. But it’s not as violent.

    Coincidence? Perhaps. Guns, religion, keeping minorities under control, empowering the most wealthy to do as they see fit while telling the least powerful majority members that they are protecting their interests… this is what The Right claims to stand for.

    I guess you can blame the left for wanting to restrict guns, separate church and state, allow minorities equality, and not trusting the most wealthy to do the right thing.

    But really, aside from some weak, over-the-top slaps by Kos and his base at times, the hardest attacks come from Michael Moore, who came up with insinuation and bad hair days in Fahrenheit 9/11. He’s gotten no traction on war crimes and the like. And I am fine with that. We elected Bush twice. Can’t blame Bush for that. He did very little that couldn’t be seen coming.

    But when it comes to the most aggressive, angriest stuff… sorry… let’s deal with reality.

  7. JKill says:

    While there is certainly harsh, unfair rhetoric on both sides, I don’t see how anyone could honestly insinuate that there is as much dangerous, possibly violent language on the left as the right.

    The really smart distinction DP makes is that while there is far-out, possibly irresponsible language on the left, it is in no way part of the mainstream in the way that Beck and Palin and Gingrich and Hannity promoted bizarre fringe concepts like The Birther movement, Islamic Law taking over the US, Death panels, and the US Census as brain control have become.

    Obviously this tragedy should not be politicized. But there is a definite lack of caution that certain segments of the right have in terms of what they say and how they say it that deserves and needs to be scrutinized.

  8. cadavra says:

    This tragedy IS politicized. Period.

    The day a genuine liberal shoots a right-winger, then we can talk about “politicization.” Until then, Palin, Beck, O’Reilly and the rest of the chest-beaters must own what they’ve reaped.

  9. shillfor alanhorn says:

    “Follow the money” is the operative phrase that comes to mind here. Sarah Palin is nothing more than a front-woman for the Koch Brothers’ “Astroturf” roots funded Tea Party. The #1 priority of the GOP was to keep taxes from going up for the richest 1% of Americans (most of whom don’t even reside in the GOP stronghold states), even though that increase was voted for by the GOP and signed by Bush. Health care is demonized to protect the interests of the insurance industry; they’re against an accurate Census, because they’re afraid more districts might go Democratic if everyone were actually counted; the Birther and Islamic Law hysteria is all about mobilizing the White Nationalists and Christian Right, so they’ll actually show up to the polls and give the GOP the edge in turnout that it doesn’t have in actual demographic population. And the brilliant (and totally cynical and demonic) thing about it, is that they’ve somehow managed to spin all this as a grass-roots revolution: the proto-Brown Shirt puppets don’t even realize their strings are being pulled. Despite all their evocation of the American Revolution and the Boston Tea Party, they somehow seem to think the Revolution was about the populace rising up and taking arms solely to defend the interests of the East India Company.

  10. mysteryperfecta says:

    This tragedy was politicized almost immediately when, absent any evidence, “violent rhetoric” became the de facto motivation for this act. It is a talking point. Some have gone so far as to label well-worn metaphors, used unambiguously, like ‘aim’ and ‘target’, as dangerous. What other words/phrases are suspect? Why, ANY that a nut can miscontrue, of course.

    The left has long been more than willing to be the arbiters of acceptable language and righteous anger. Its no secret that there are prominent voices they want to silence. Tragedy strikes. Herein lies an opportunity.

  11. mysteryperfecta says:

    This tragedy was politicized almost immediately when, absent any evidence, “violent rhetoric” became the de facto motivation for this act. It is a talking point. Some have gone so far as to label well-worn metaphors, used unambiguously, like ‘aim’ and ‘target’, as dangerous. What other words/phrases are suspect? Why, ANY that a nut can misconstrue, of course.

    The left has long been more than willing to be the arbiters of acceptable language and righteous anger. Its no secret that there are prominent voices they want to silence. Tragedy strikes. Herein lies an opportunity.

  12. mysteryperfecta says:

    Sorry, double post.

  13. christian says:

    “Some have gone so far as to label well-worn metaphors, used unambiguously, like ‘aim’ and ‘target’, as dangerous.”

    McCain agreed back in March when SarahPac set up her target map:

    “I have seen the rhetoric of ‘targeted districts’ as long as I’ve been in politics. … To say that there’s a targeted district or that we ‘reload’ or ‘got back into the fight again.’ Please. … Those are fine. They’re used all the time.”

    Then Michelle Bachmann used these well-worn phrases:

    “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.”

    Or as Erick Erickson at said back in March:

    “I sincerely pray that we are not on the cusp of some group of angry and now unhinged mob lashing out at congressmen…But … I don’t think the Democrats should at all be surprised. They were and they knew they were playing with fire to advance legislation many Americans see as the undoing of the American Experiment.”

    Or some have used the metaphors with barely veiled ambiguity:

    “The crossfire is intense, so penetrate through enemy territory by bombing through the press, and use your strong weapons — your Big Guns — to drive to the hole. Shoot with accuracy; aim high and remember it takes blood, sweat and tears to win…Get in their face and argue with them. No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!” – Sarah Palin, March 2010

  14. IOv3 says:

    Silent prominent voices? You mean the assholes who have been shown to be liars, ripping off their customers with GOLD DEALS, and got people killed with their rhetoric? Seriously? Yeah those people should be shut the fuck down but for some reason we tolerate, or have tolerated, HATE SPEECH FROM THE RIGHT! I hope those days are over now, because enough is fucking enough.

  15. christian says:

    Glad to see the fat media cows like Breitbart spinning themselves into Hell:

    Left can never see its inherent blatant present hypocrisy: Self-righteous idjuts are creating H8ful rhetoric about @SarahPalinUSA.

  16. Teddy says:

    I just keep thinking of Columbine and the more recent Columbine book that showed us that all the “bullying” stories was bullshit. We don’t know shit about this guy yet, but luckily we will.

    If he’s sane and he’s bought into the Palin stuff, fine, all the liberals in here are right. The right wing provoked this. But if he really is a crazy person — and we all know that he appears to be — I think it’s disgusting to try to use a tragedy to make political points. The idea that a climate of violence provoked a mentally ill person is just wild speculation. What climate provoked Hinckley or Chapman? The climate of being a fucking crazy person.

  17. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Even if he turns out to have been living in his basement on tins of beans for the last 10 years and thought Clinton was still president, I think it still serves as a reminder that using imagery associated with shooting other people for a political campaign is a fucking stupid idea.

  18. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think anyone here lives in Arizona. Some people might be overlooking the fact that the nasty rhetoric has been at extremely high levels there, possibly higher than any other state in the nation. Of course immigration and border security are the main issues, but not the only ones. Giffords had been threatened before and her office was vandalized. Her tea party opponent in last year’s election held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. The federal judge murdered received hundreds of violent threats after one of his rulings in 2009 and had 24-hour U.S. Marshal protection for a while. McCain and Hayworth had a very bitter and personal primary campaign. One could go on and on. I don’t live there, but it certainly seems that the political and cultural climate there has been overheated for some time now.

  19. mysteryperfecta says:

    After this act, the left pointed to an image of crosshairs on a map that practically no one saw, on a website nobody heard of until Palin’s detractors publicized it. An image that 99.99% of those who originally saw it didn’t give a moment’s thought to an ulterior context.

    An image, and a website, and a woman who has never explicitly or implicitly encouraged or condoned acts of violence against elected officials. A depraved act with no discernable link to alleged “violent rhetoric”. Yet, some didn’t hesitate to link them.

    The Hinckley comparison is apt. He was directly influenced by Scorcese’s starkly violent imagery. Isn’t he more culpable than Palin could ever be? Be consistent.

  20. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Was Hinckley very political? Giffords seems to have been directly influenced by politics. He was extremely anti-government and had been tracking Giffords for years, going back at least to 2007, when he asked her a question at an event.

  21. torpid bunny says:

    You’re right mystery, the real victims are right wing politicians who innocently engaged in a little all american incitement.

    Stop being a baby. Most people understand this shooting doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with idiotic things said on Fox news. That doesn’t make those things any less irresponsible.

  22. anghus says:

    we’re looking for someone to blame. i think the real issue is the nihilistic approach to journalism. We are constantly told by the media we are on the precipice of something truly terrible. the 24 hour news cycle keeps tensions so high, even the most simple, mindless tragedy is given national significance. if we allow ourselves to buy into the concept of perpetual descent, we will eventually succumb to it.

  23. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    And the media is going to kick into overdrive if anything can be linked to Palin, no matter how tenuous the link is. She drives traffic and sells copies and increases viewership. Plus the media loves to simplify and sensationalize, so factor that in as well. I think Palin’s Take Back the 20 was irresponsible and nasty politics at their worst, but I don’t believe it’s fair to hold it responsible in any way for what the shooter did.

  24. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    And maybe this will reignite serious gun control discussions. Here’s a kid who was denied entrance into the Army for failing a drug test, was kicked out of school for repeatedly causing disturbances in classrooms and libraries (5 total run ins with campus police), yet he easily purchased a handgun after passing an FBI background check. That’s messed up.

  25. Hopscotch says:

    The argument at the core is How much does Media effect human behavior? And we can’t compare it to Hinkley or other very damaged people: They didn’t have cable back then, or the internet or talk radio. If I want to sit at my computer and read and listen to how evil the policies of Obama or Bush are for 12 hours. That won’t be difficult.

    My father is a state judge and one of the big trends in crime he’s noticed in the last 20 years is a DRAMATIC

  26. Hopscotch says:

    …sorry) DRAMATIC increase in sex crimes amongst adults and children, and children on children. Why? no brainer, it’s the internet. Pedophiles and sex abusers can look at horrible pictures all day on line and it feeds their desires. They can be on chat rooms to exchange pictures with other pedophiles. Should we shut down the internet? No. But there’s a direct link, it’s a problem and it’d be foolish to think otherwise.

    This was a demented individual that shot Congresswoman Giffords. But aware enough to plan it.

    I know I live in Los Angeles, granted, but literally EVERYONE I’ve spoken to about this story has brought up the Palin-angle. The fact that everyone is having this conversation tells me the story has been connected. I’m very curious what happens next…

  27. christian says:

    This was a POLITICAL ASSASSINATION. So to deny the over the top, repeatedly condemned GOP/Tea Party call to arms over the past two years — and especially when the FBI warned of extremist militia groups and sales of ammo have gone through the roof — regardless of Loughner’s clearly deranged ideology is to deny reality. Which America seems intent on doing over and over while guns are made available to wackos and cartels. Obama needs to step up. Now he and every other politician out there sees what happens when rhetoric meets reality.

    And Palin’s continued gun taunts are disgusting and she should be held accountable for her own actions. As should the GOP. These are irresponsible rabble-rousers.

  28. christian says:

    mystery, you’re truly pathetic.

    “After this act, the left pointed to an image of crosshairs on a map that practically no one saw, on a website nobody heard of until Palin’s detractors publicized it. An image that 99.99% of those who originally saw it didn’t give a moment’s thought to an ulterior context. ”

    In March, this story was all over the news, including such Palin’hatin’ sites like The Christian Science Monitor. And you know else on “the left” who did see it and didn’t approve?

    “When people do that, they’ve got to realize there are consequences to that action.” – Gabriele Giffords, March

    I guess she’s just another paranoid liberal.

  29. IOv3 says:

    Teddy, again, that’s letting the right off the hook for rhetoric they have been using for close to two years. The right have basically been turned into angry, white, gun-totting crazies, who do not believe Obama is an American citizen and believe everyone of his policies are going to GET THEM! Seriously, the right play to people that are damaged a lot of the time and now this happened. It’s easy to make the link between the two because this is not the first time it happened.

    That aside, Mystery, Giffords received campaign funds from Keith Olbermann because of the GUNSIGHTS! Sure, it’s not a big story on the propaganda news sites or network you watch but to the rest of us in the civilized world, it was a big deal, and now it’s just another knocking down of a truly hideous woman.

  30. cadavra says:

    Possibly the biggest tragedy here is that one of the victims was a nine-year-old girl…and hardly anybody is talking about her.

  31. christian says:

    America has been blinded by the perverted notion of gun rights and that little girl is another victim. There are sadly far too many children gunned down in this country.

    “The high-capacity magazine of the semiautomatic pistol used in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and more than a dozen other people on Saturday would have been illegal to manufacture and difficult to purchase under the Clinton-era assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.”

  32. mysteryperfecta says:

    On Loughner’s motivations:

    By the way, Giffords is pro-gun rights. They showed pics on the evening news of her shooting assault rifles.

    Also, this sheriff who’s been out front of this “vitriol” angle should ashamed for interjecting his (admittedly baseless) personal opinion into a murder investigation. I don’t know that ever seen this type of behavior from a law enforcement official before. Its irresponsible.

    The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel:

  33. Martin s says:

    So, following the Christian/IO/Poland logic, I should be able to blame WB/Nolan/Ledger for this also, right?

    “I think the reason he did it was mainly to just promote chaos. He wanted the media to freak out about this whole thing. He wanted exactly what’s happening. He wants all of that.” Tierney thinks that Loughner’s mindset was like the Joker in the most recent Batman movie: “He fucks things up to fuck shit up, there’s no rhyme or reason, he wants to watch the world burn

  34. IOv3 says:

    Martin, if you want to think that go right ahead but anyone whose paid attention to what’s happened since 2009 knows what’s going on, and the Joker has nothing to do with it.

  35. leahnz says:

    hey mystery, so

    “After this act, the left pointed to an image of crosshairs on a map that practically no one saw, on a website nobody heard of until Palin’s detractors publicized it. An image that 99.99% of those who originally saw it didn’t give a moment’s thought to an ulterior context. ”

    you are FoS man. emailed to me, this segment on ‘the view’ (which i’ve never watched, i don’t think we have it here but i gather it’s a bit of a talk show) aired well before the massacre and i think proves that the disgusting map with the crosshairs was clearly in the public consciousness, and controversial to boot.

  36. christian says:

    Dance, Martin. Dance.

  37. hcat says:

    I used to live next to Virginia for many years, its no suprise when there is gun violence in a state that has terribly lax gun laws.

    And while a minor point, though one that I can’t help but irk me, the announcement of the killing of a nine year old, a judge, and four other people is the first time all week that Boehner stopped bawling.

  38. Martin S says:

    I’m not dancing. I’m using the same Christian/I0/Poland logic that’s been on display for two threads.

    A map had crosshairs over Congressman’s Giffords district. Someone shot Congressman Giffords. Ergo, the shooter was influenced by the map.

    The last person the shooter called was his friend. His friend said the shooter’s mindset was like the Joker. Ergo, the shooter was influenced by TDK.

    What else do I need?

    When they begin to list the video games he played and music he listened to, I’ll draw the same lines. It’s a nifty trick I learned from Tipper Gore; ignore the individual, politicize the intangible and you’ve got a new weapon.

    Poland – As I wrote, it happens on both sides. It’s just as wrong coming from the left. But it’s not as violent..

    OK, let’s ignore ELF and those WTO rascals as they can be romanticized as righteous causes. How about this cat?

    Or do we need a body count to qualify?

    The sad irony is that the left and the media is playing the exact game this dude wants with his “words without meaning” rants. The “rhetoric” from whatever politician didn’t manifest into a bullet, ala Videodrome. He pulled the trigger. It’s the same ideas Alan Moore and Burroughs have been talking about for decades. the difference is they’re not schizophrenic. Alan Moore thinks he can conjure tangibles into existence through magic, this guy believed he was doing it through Dreamscape or Inception.

  39. IOv3 says:

    Martin, again, if you think the left is as violent as the right in recent history, then you are just fucking out of it.

    The fact that you think his friend making an analogy is the same as putting crosshairs on a map of a congresswoman who already had death threats and her office vandalized then again, you sir, are fucking full of it.

  40. leahnz says:

    first of all, palin’s map didn’t just have a map w/crosshairs corresponding to location, it had THE NAMES OF PEOPLE who need to be removed from office listed under the map as clearly corresponding targets. the PEOPLE are the target, NOT the place. how convenient to overlook that little fact in a bunch of defensive, self-serving rationalisations.

    and DP said: “It’s just as wrong coming from the left. But it’s not as violent..”

    then martin s quotes this and appears to argue against DP’s point with the example of a guy who DIDN’T kill anybody and then says, “Or do we need a body count to qualify?”

    uh, YES YOU DO, actually, are you fucking kidding? in order for left wing loonies to qualify as being “as violent” as right wing loonies, the left wing loonies would actually have to, you know, harm somebody, shoot a number of – or ever ONE – innocent bystanders. bloody hell that may be the most absurd attempted rebuttal i’ve ever seen.

    indisputable fact: right wing loonies massacre people. left wing loonies don’t. DEAL WITH IT. your loonies are heavily armed killers and must be stopped. and a crazed anti-government white supremacist is absolutely a far-right winger.

    (and i’d just ONCE like to see a republican comment here to say, “you know, what palin did is unacceptable” instead of blathering away with a bunch of defensive rationalisations and spurious conclusions. it doesn’t MATTER if this latest gunman is a palin follower or not, because it has put the spotlight firmly on her sick shit and the serious problem with gun control in the US. my uncle in austin is the person who emailed me that youtube, along with quite a few other items, a vietnam vet and big-time patriot who is sick to shit of the senseless gun violence in his beloved country. anyone trying to defend palin in this should be ashamed of themselves)

  41. leahnz says:

    more succinctly:

    “We do not yet know whether the Arizona massacre was directly fueled by rightwing rhetoric. But we do know this: one of the most dangerous myths promulgated by the media and political establishment is that there is a comparable level of extremism among conservatives and liberals, that left and right are mirror images.

    Even the most cursory perusal of rightwing radio, television, blogs and assorted punditry illustrates a profound distinction: in large measure, the right’s overarching purpose is to stoke hatred of the left, of liberalism. The right’s messaging infrastructure, meticulously constructed and refined over decades, promotes an image of liberals as traitors and America-haters, unworthy of their country and bent on destroying it. There is simply no comparable propaganda effort on the left.

    The imbalance is stark: Democrats and liberals rail against the right’s ideas; the right rails against the left’s very existence.

    The result is an atmosphere where bigotry thrives, where science and reason are under assault, where progress (associated with progressivism) is frowned upon. And it’s an atmosphere where violence becomes more likely. Pretending this is not the case is to enable it.”

  42. David Poland says:

    Just repeating… not obsessing on the specific use of crosshairs… but the tone coming from some percentage of the right has been undeniably threatening and violent in the last few years. Just has. You can write off every racist and xenophobic rant at all of those Palin/McCain rallies if you want… but how many times does the same tone need to be offered before we believe it’s not just a coincidence or random lunatic?

  43. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I thought we were calling for a moratorium on violent imagery such as “The right rails against the left’s very existence” and “science and reason are under assault”?

  44. Gliding Ottomans Martin, again, if you’re thinking that the left is as violent because the right in recent history, then you’re simply fucking out of it.

    The fact that you simply assume his friend creating an analogy is that the same as putting crosshairs on a map of a congresswoman who already had death threats and her workplace vandalized excluding, you sir, are fucking jam-packed with it.

  45. leahnz says:

    i should say quickly now i have the chance: i ran out of time earlier before i could note that i don’t know to whom that quote above is attributable, it was part of the stuff my uncle sent but unfortunately w/out quoting the source from what i can tell (not him tho). it seemed apt at the time.

    (foamy, who said anything about calling for a moratorium on ‘violent’ verbs and adverbs? it’s the MESSAGE/intent/incitement to violence at issue here. there’s no comparison between saying “science and reason are under assault” – which uses imagery as a grammatical device for emphasis in social commentary, to describe higher principles under threat, and in no way could be construed as inciting of violence – to the actual visual graphic of gunsight crosshairs on a map that correspond directly to a list of candidates for whom there is a “prescription” for removal, intended to ‘fire up’ those very people who are already worked up, pissed off, and tend to tote guns to begin with. are you really trying to equate the two, or just being fussbudgety or whathaveyou, playing devil’s advocate. context matters; there is a line, and using the verb ‘rail’ does not even begin to approach it, whereas providing a list of names and a map where ‘the enemy’ can be put in yer crosshairs crosses it right into batshit gun loon territory)

  46. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Context does matter, but so do words. Words hurt, words wound, and words leave scars. Any schoolkid will tell you that if the message they hear is continually “You are an idiot” then there’s going to be problems – and that’s the message that pretty much everyone who takes an interest in politics hears regardless of affiliation.

    I don’t see why there is always a rush to the bottom – often with the cry of “Look what THEY are doing” to justify actions. If someone on “their” side does something out of line (and there always does seem to be a “them”), you bring them up sharp. If someone on your side does something out of line, you do exactly the same. Don’t say “Well, THIS case is different” because often the only difference is the person saying it.

    Listen to other side, steal their best ideas (because they are never going to be wrong 100% of the time, and you are never going to be right 100% of the time), and then say “Thank you for your contribution, now we’re going to do it this way”. If they pull a quip, you pull a quote. If they bring rhetoric, you bring reason. If they use lies, you use logic. You win by being better than them, not by being marginally less worse.

  47. leahnz says:

    but how does using the verb ‘rail’ or ‘assault’ make you only marginally less worse or on a “rush to the bottom”? i get what you’re saying but your conclusion about the use of words is highly debatable. using strong or powerful verbs doesn’t mean you are guilty of taking the low road; language can be strong and pointed and even provocative and still be thoughtful, intelligent, well- reasoned, on point and constructive. this is why context makes all the difference; i don’t think not using certain verbs is the answer or the lynch pin of civil debate, it’s the way the words are used and most importantly the intent of the words that matters. “science and reason are under assault” is nice imagery, because it conveys the theme of higher intelligence/consciousness under threat from those who are disposed to use physical intimation rather beautifully.

  48. Foamy Squirrel says:

    The problem is that if you say things like “science and reason are under assault (from the right)”, the implication from the context is that the right lacks reason. “The result (of THEIR actions) is an atmosphere where bigotry thrives” = They are bigots. The message that people of a conservative bent hears is “You’re an idiot. You’re a bigot. You’re bloodcrazed”. How do you expect “them” (for whoever the “them” of the day is) to respond to that? Is that the message that a “reasonable” person should be delivering?

    To quote Terry Pratchett:

    “‘Ah, then it is context that has power,’ said Vetinari, turning around with a look of unmasked delight. ‘Did I say that I am a politician? Cunning: artful, sly, deceptive, shrewd, astute, cute, on the ball and, indeed, arch. A word for any praise and every prejudice. Cunning is… a cunning word.’

    …’What we have here, gentlemen, is but a spat between the heads of a venerable respected institution and an ambitious, relatively inexperienced and importunate new school of learning.’

    ‘Yes, that’s what we’ve got all right,’ said Ridcully.

    Vetinari raised a finger. ‘I hadn’t finished, Archchancellor. Let me see now. I said that what we have here is a spat between an antique and somewhat fossilized, elderly and rather hidebound institution and a college of vibrant newcomers full of fresh and exciting ideas.’

    ‘Here, hang on, you didn’t say that the first time,’ said Ridcully.

    Vetinari leaned back. ‘Indeed I did, Archchancellor. Do you not remember our talk about the meaning of words a little while ago? Context is everything.'”

    Yes, using “rail” or “assault” makes it powerful. It also makes it pretty insulting in that context – similar to the example quoted – and failing to acknowledge that is taking the low road.

  49. mysteryperfecta says:

    We can agree that the amount of vitriol in the political rhetoric of the day is excessive. Its exemplified by SOME PERCENTAGE of the left who took the occasion of a tragedy to slander their political enemies.

    Thankfully, the majority of Americans, including a majority of Democrats, reject the assertion that the political climate had anything to do with the murders in Arizona.

  50. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Does anyone know exactly what did cause the murders in Arizona? Can one definitively say what did and did not contribute to it? And of course the right has never, ever used a tragedy to slander their political enemies. The right-wing would never do such a thing. Limbaugh would never stoop so low.

  51. christian says:

    Mystery, your attempts to spin are beyond sad. You actually try to claim it’s the left’s vitriol that’s excessive in an atmosphere of Tea Party gun and flag waving combined with undisguised bigotry (i.e., Where’s Your Birth Certificate?).

    Mystery, what magic poll showed that Democrats reject the assertion that the Arizona political climate of gun-waving patriots HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH A POLITICAL ASSASSINATION? Sheriff Dupnik has called out your party’s “moral” leaders because he’s standing in the wreckage of anti-government pro-gun pathology whose epicenter has been Arizona for some time.

    You’re in your usual denial despite the massive evidence of Tea Party violence rhetoric and their “2nd Amendment Remedies” dance – quick, what does that mean? What does DON’T RETREAT – RELOAD mean? What does Michelle Bachmann mean when she hopes citizens will be “ARMED AND DANGEROUS” against, get this, Obama’s energy tax?

    What does an atmosphere of gun fetishizing do in a state that keeps pretending it’s the Wild West:

    “A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Obama’s speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which weapons have been seen near presidential events.” – CNN, August 17, 2009

    And the reason you righties spun out of control about this is because you KNEW THE VIOLENCE WAS INHERENT in the Tea Party/GOP rhetoric since 2008 — when your VP choice declared that Obama was “pallin’ around with terrorists.”

    And watch this Tea Party imbecile pretend he’s actually “STUNNED” that somebody would take a shot at an elected government official in America!

  52. christian says:

    Oh, and mystery?

    Target Practice

    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, andLowry shot at a human-shaped target that had Wasserman Schulz’s initials written next to it. He later said it was a “mistake.”

    Shooting With The Candidate

    Giffords’ own opponent, Republican Jesse Kelly, had a gun-themed fund-raiser in June in which supporters could come and shoot an M-16 rifle with Kelly. It was promoted thusly: Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

    Cleaning My Guns
    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.

    Second Amendment Remedies
    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.

    Armed And Dangerous
    This example is a little older, but it’s notable that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is one of the few to win her race after repeated references to guns and violence.

    In March 2009, she said on a radio show: “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.”

    We Hunt Democrats
    Another one from 2009: 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.”

    Ballots & Bullets
    New Rep. Allen West (R-FL) almost hired a Florida talk-radio host, Joyce Kaufman, as his chief of staff. But Kaufman withdrew after media coverage of some of her more fiery statements, such as:

    “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.”

  53. christian says:

    And George Packer summed it up well for mystyery and Martin:

    “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.”

  54. leahnz says:

    “The problem is that if you say things like “science and reason are under assault (from the right)”, the implication from the context is that the right lacks reason. “The result (of THEIR actions) is an atmosphere where bigotry thrives” = They are bigots. The message that people of a conservative bent hears is “You’re an idiot. You’re a bigot. You’re bloodcrazed”. How do you expect “them” (for whoever the “them” of the day is) to respond to that? Is that the message that a “reasonable” person should be delivering?”

    “Yes, using “rail” or “assault” makes it powerful. It also makes it pretty insulting in that context – similar to the example quoted – and failing to acknowledge that is taking the low road.”

    wow that’s quite a mass of assumptions, generalisations and leaps of logic foamy, i don’t even know where to begin…if the original quote i used is perhaps unspecific in certain instances, your (inserted) generalisations and leaps of logic are far too aggressive the other way. i do appreciate a good debate, but there are perhaps too many issues to address from your post in the time i have, i’ll try my best on a basic level.

    the main issue is: what you appear to be saying is that one is ‘taking the low road’ to write even a reasoned, measured critical opinion wherein an opposing ideology/faction is criticised and the validity of such questioned with strong/pointed language. therefor this is no longer a debate about using certain words/verbs, but rather an argument that critical ideas must be phrased a certain way so that an opposing group can’t possibly find it offensive, which i’d say is not only unrealistic but unreasonable in vigorous debate, as well as perhaps downright dangerous considering humanity’s long, sad history of bigoted minority factions rising up (often by force) to wreak havoc/oppress with ignorant zeal. if suddenly it’s no longer acceptable for reasonable people to speak out and say ‘this is wrong’ with pointed commentary for fear of being misinterpreted or offending certain factions, then i suspect we are all in big trouble.

    ‘science and reason are under assault’ could be worded numerous different ways (science and reason are under threat, being marginalised, under siege, etc) and still offend in the exact same manner, so the adverb ‘assault’ is not really the issue according to your argument, but rather the expressed SENTIMENT that science and reason are under threat, which by your reasoning is ‘taking the low road’ because it could offend an opposing faction.

    so it’s poor judgment for a reasonable person to say “science and reason are under threat”, when – for one example – certain people are attempting to force creationism/intelligent design to be taught in schools and evolution to be downgraded or outright dismissed from the curriculum on religious grounds; or for another example, there are vocal party members and elected politicians who claim the US president is not american, a muslim, a socialist and an enemy of freedom. by this rationale the possibility of offending these factions who are indeed attempting to subvert/oppress the teaching of evolution in schools, and who do indeed exhibit a profound lack of reason and logic in their crazed crusade to discredit the US president as a non-american agent of social destruction, should be the concern, and prevent comments such as “there’s an assault on science and reason”, which is an entirely justifiable expression of dismay with the very real attempted and potentially dangerous marginalisation of science and reason currently taking place.

    i find this idea deeply troubling, that well-reasoned criticism should have to be sanitised so as not to include powerful language for fear of offending those of whom we are critical and about whom we are concerned.

    if someone interprets the reasonable opinion that ‘the result is an atmosphere where bigotry lives’ as ‘you’re all a bunch of crazed bigots’, i think the responsibility for this misguided interpretation lies with the person making that unfounded assumption. because commenting on an atmosphere where bigotry more easily thrives is a world away from calling an entire faction of people crazed bigots. holding the person who makes the well-reasoned claim responsible for being on “the low road” rather than holding the people who misinterpret the intent of the comment responsible for lack of comprehension and over-reacting is misguided.

  55. IOv3 says:

    Mystery, it is the right’s fault, they started this mess two years ago, and now it’s pissed people off thanks to all THE FUCKING DEATH IT’S CAUSED! Seriously, the fact that the right still do not get it, is not exactly surprising. Why? Go read the report about the right wing and their mental make up then get back to me. Colin Firth put you people in your place and I REVEILLE IN IT!

  56. OGDoccat says:

    McCain, Sarah Palin and the TEA Party have never once called for violent overthrow of the government. Where do you get your info. Oh, I know, you make it up. This is a blatant lie. If someone reported this and you ran with it, I suggest you find new sources because they are wrong. 100% wrong!

  57. IOv3 says:

    Are you high? Every Tea Party rally is based around the implication that the president is an unjust leader, he’s not from here, and he wants to make changes to the country that the scare these ignorant white people. The entire Tea Party is nothing sort of being one step slightly more progressive than the KKK 100 years ago. The fact that people in Tea Party ignore this, ignore how racist they are, and how disturbing their ads have been in terms of violent rhetoric would be surprising. If the people associated with the Tea Party had one collective brain in their freaking heads.

    Fucking TEABAGGERS!

  58. cadavra says:

    Take this to the bank: the day Obama leaves office is the day the Tea Party disappears. They care about nothing except getting rid of the n—– president. Their absolute ignorance, cognitive dissonance and/or misunderstanding of every other issue, not to mention the fact that they’re already butting heads with “traditional” Republicans on said issues, confirms this.

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