Tucson shootings & political rhetoric

Conservative polemics are being blamed for the shooting in Tucson that critically wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed nine others, including a judge and a little girl. The killer shows clear symptoms of insanity, though, and was evidently motivated by schizophrenia rather than politics. And the liberals are ignoring their own history of demonizing their opponents and violent rhetoric. (There was a book, a play, and a movie fantasizing the assassination of George W. Bush.)

But still. . . .Do you think our polarized politics and the inflammatory rhetoric from both sides might have created a climate that could push a lunatic over the edge so that he actually does what many people have been advocating metaphorically? Or even if that is unlikely to happen, does our rhetoric create a negative ethos that is harmful to the country? Or is the problem greatly exaggerated? (We see great animosity in our entertainment media, but don’t we get along pretty well with our neighbors and family members despite political differences?)

Some lawmakers are proposing special laws against threats or symbols of threats (e.g., the tea-party cross-hairs targeting enemy politicians) against office holders or political figures.

Is there an ethical issue in the use of flamethrowing rhetoric? Does it violate the commandment against bearing false witness, as the Small Catechism defines it? (“We should fear and love God, so that we do not lie about, betray or slander our neighbor, but excuse him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”)

What do you think?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Caleb

    I personally don’t see any reason to doubt that the political climate contributes to the violence in the air. This is only SORT of on-topic, but I’m currently reading Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, which correctly laments the dying of print culture and rising of television culture when it comes to politics/religion, etc., and this anger and violence seems to be the logical conclusion of the extreme polemicism (is that a word?) brought about by info-tainment news stations that exist only to provoke and entertain.

  • Caleb

    I personally don’t see any reason to doubt that the political climate contributes to the violence in the air. This is only SORT of on-topic, but I’m currently reading Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, which correctly laments the dying of print culture and rising of television culture when it comes to politics/religion, etc., and this anger and violence seems to be the logical conclusion of the extreme polemicism (is that a word?) brought about by info-tainment news stations that exist only to provoke and entertain.

  • Steve

    Dr. V,
    Your last paragraph points to the heart of the issue. Our society is so far from Biblical behavior that it has no idea how to control itself. Fr. Luther saw so clearly the morality behind the ten commandments and penned them so clearly that decadent societies like our simply cannot comprehend their demands.

    There is so much room for maneuver in words like could, should, and maybe that to adequately recover from such atrocities is to realize through the law our nihilistic wickedness and in faith believe the Gospel.

    For what its worth, it seems to me that lessons from the parable of the ten virgins might have strong implications here.

    Peace,
    Steve

  • Steve

    Dr. V,
    Your last paragraph points to the heart of the issue. Our society is so far from Biblical behavior that it has no idea how to control itself. Fr. Luther saw so clearly the morality behind the ten commandments and penned them so clearly that decadent societies like our simply cannot comprehend their demands.

    There is so much room for maneuver in words like could, should, and maybe that to adequately recover from such atrocities is to realize through the law our nihilistic wickedness and in faith believe the Gospel.

    For what its worth, it seems to me that lessons from the parable of the ten virgins might have strong implications here.

    Peace,
    Steve

  • Steve

    BTW, it’s pretty obvious Luther did not pen the Scriptures, his Small and Large Catechisms are pretty informative though, wouldn’t you say?

  • Steve

    BTW, it’s pretty obvious Luther did not pen the Scriptures, his Small and Large Catechisms are pretty informative though, wouldn’t you say?

  • John C

    You’re a bit cheeky Dr Veith, comparing a “book, a play and a movie” with the daily river of bile flowing from the Murdoch empire.

  • John C

    You’re a bit cheeky Dr Veith, comparing a “book, a play and a movie” with the daily river of bile flowing from the Murdoch empire.

  • Trey

    This is clearly an 8th Commandment issue. While Luther summarizes its meaning in the Small Catechism it is explained by Jesus and the Apostles. So no it is not informative since the Scriptures command it.

    What contributes to violence is the actual call for violence not metaphors. The DNC ran the same type of ad in 2004 “targeting” GOP seats. So this is all hogwash on the liberals side. I think both sides should agree not to do this anymore, but the government CANNOT make a law to prohibit such speech since it and of itself is not inflammatory or immediately causes danger to any persons. See the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.

    John C what bile is flowing from Murdoch empire? This is what is meant about vitriolic language. You could simply say that you disagree with Fox New’s perspective and say why. Why attack it with sensational language without explaining any reason why we should take you serious.

  • Trey

    This is clearly an 8th Commandment issue. While Luther summarizes its meaning in the Small Catechism it is explained by Jesus and the Apostles. So no it is not informative since the Scriptures command it.

    What contributes to violence is the actual call for violence not metaphors. The DNC ran the same type of ad in 2004 “targeting” GOP seats. So this is all hogwash on the liberals side. I think both sides should agree not to do this anymore, but the government CANNOT make a law to prohibit such speech since it and of itself is not inflammatory or immediately causes danger to any persons. See the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.

    John C what bile is flowing from Murdoch empire? This is what is meant about vitriolic language. You could simply say that you disagree with Fox New’s perspective and say why. Why attack it with sensational language without explaining any reason why we should take you serious.

  • WebMonk

    Trey, you call it “hogwash” from the liberals.
    JohnC calls it “bile” from the Murdoch empire.

    There isn’t any difference between they way you two are describing things, so I think this is a plank-and-plank issue (rather than a plank and speck) that you’re making, Trey.

  • WebMonk

    Trey, you call it “hogwash” from the liberals.
    JohnC calls it “bile” from the Murdoch empire.

    There isn’t any difference between they way you two are describing things, so I think this is a plank-and-plank issue (rather than a plank and speck) that you’re making, Trey.

  • Carl Vehse

    Gene, here’s Michelle Malkin’s column on The progressive “climate of hate:” An illustrated primer, 2000-2010. The hate-mongering comes from the same radical extremist leftwing that spawned the Arizona mass murderer and includes those who legislate, lobby, and vote for candidates who support genocidal murder by abortion as well as the fifth column MSM and the leftwing apologists.

    Is there an ethical issue in the use of flamethrowing rhetoric? Does it violate the commandment against bearing false witness, as the Small Catechism defines it?

    If by the equivocating phrase, “flamethrowing rhetoric,” you mean lies, distortions, unsubstantiated attacks, and hatred of the truth, then yes. But if the phrase is being used as a pejorative for telling the truth and pointing out the public evil that people say and do, then as Luther explained the eighth commandment in his Large Catechism:

    “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.”

  • Carl Vehse

    Gene, here’s Michelle Malkin’s column on The progressive “climate of hate:” An illustrated primer, 2000-2010. The hate-mongering comes from the same radical extremist leftwing that spawned the Arizona mass murderer and includes those who legislate, lobby, and vote for candidates who support genocidal murder by abortion as well as the fifth column MSM and the leftwing apologists.

    Is there an ethical issue in the use of flamethrowing rhetoric? Does it violate the commandment against bearing false witness, as the Small Catechism defines it?

    If by the equivocating phrase, “flamethrowing rhetoric,” you mean lies, distortions, unsubstantiated attacks, and hatred of the truth, then yes. But if the phrase is being used as a pejorative for telling the truth and pointing out the public evil that people say and do, then as Luther explained the eighth commandment in his Large Catechism:

    “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.”

  • Joe

    I think the notion that our political discourse is at some new found level of vitriol is laughable. Anyone who cares to look into our past will be able to find lots of examples of harsh rhetoric in any period of our history. The media is talking about an idealized past that never existed. Check out these actual statements from our nations past (within this link is a hyperlink to the historical sources for the statements):

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/10/29/attack-ads-circa-1800

    All of that said, I think we would do better to tone down the rhetoric.

  • Joe

    I think the notion that our political discourse is at some new found level of vitriol is laughable. Anyone who cares to look into our past will be able to find lots of examples of harsh rhetoric in any period of our history. The media is talking about an idealized past that never existed. Check out these actual statements from our nations past (within this link is a hyperlink to the historical sources for the statements):

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/10/29/attack-ads-circa-1800

    All of that said, I think we would do better to tone down the rhetoric.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Luther himself used flamethrowing rhetoric at times, if I am not mistaken, but I bet he believed/knew he was telling the truth like he saw it and was merely shining a light into darkened places. I would assume he saw a difference between vitriol and bearing false witness.

    Fear has been eating away at the basic philosophical foundations in the U.S. When people act out of fear then the rhetoric becomes polarized and increasingly polemical. Democratic values cease to be acted upon because to do so is to let go a little of one’s desires in order to compromise. You can’t let go if you live in fear. Compromise is one of the great hallmarks of American democracy, and it has waxed and waned since the beginning of this country. Still, to put a slight spin on an old saying, all governments bear false witness.

    On the other hand, I doubt a clear line can be drawn between the current political/media climate and the shooting in Arizona. It makes more sense to draw a line to the shooter’s experiences in Afghanistan – which has its own politicized pedigree as well. War begets all kinds of evil, and some of that evil always makes its way home.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Luther himself used flamethrowing rhetoric at times, if I am not mistaken, but I bet he believed/knew he was telling the truth like he saw it and was merely shining a light into darkened places. I would assume he saw a difference between vitriol and bearing false witness.

    Fear has been eating away at the basic philosophical foundations in the U.S. When people act out of fear then the rhetoric becomes polarized and increasingly polemical. Democratic values cease to be acted upon because to do so is to let go a little of one’s desires in order to compromise. You can’t let go if you live in fear. Compromise is one of the great hallmarks of American democracy, and it has waxed and waned since the beginning of this country. Still, to put a slight spin on an old saying, all governments bear false witness.

    On the other hand, I doubt a clear line can be drawn between the current political/media climate and the shooting in Arizona. It makes more sense to draw a line to the shooter’s experiences in Afghanistan – which has its own politicized pedigree as well. War begets all kinds of evil, and some of that evil always makes its way home.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    If using military and firearms imagery contributes to violent actions, why isn’t every NFL and college football game a bloodbath?

    Reality here is that violent rhetoric is only the result of our habit of putting everything into the hands of the state. We put 45% or so of all resources in the state’s hands (federal/state/local government), and then we wonder why we’re fighting over that money. It’s like we’ve forgotten James 4!

    H/T Walter Williams

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    If using military and firearms imagery contributes to violent actions, why isn’t every NFL and college football game a bloodbath?

    Reality here is that violent rhetoric is only the result of our habit of putting everything into the hands of the state. We put 45% or so of all resources in the state’s hands (federal/state/local government), and then we wonder why we’re fighting over that money. It’s like we’ve forgotten James 4!

    H/T Walter Williams

  • CRB

    It seems that the discourse going on in the country is really not much different than it is always been, depending of course, on what area one is reporting on, being exposed to. Though the law of God is definitely the guide for Christians, can it really be applied to all people in speaking about, i.e. the 8th commandment? No one can force another person to believe that the commandments “apply to all people, therefore, you should follow this commandment”.

    What really seems to be a detriment to civil discourse, especially in the political arena is the resorting to ad hominem attacks. I do not recall who said it, but it’s true that when one resorts to this method of discourse, one has already lost the argument. Unfortunately, the media (O’Reilly, Hannity, Chris Matthews, et al) do not offer any help in avoiding ad hominems, but rather encourage such.

  • CRB

    It seems that the discourse going on in the country is really not much different than it is always been, depending of course, on what area one is reporting on, being exposed to. Though the law of God is definitely the guide for Christians, can it really be applied to all people in speaking about, i.e. the 8th commandment? No one can force another person to believe that the commandments “apply to all people, therefore, you should follow this commandment”.

    What really seems to be a detriment to civil discourse, especially in the political arena is the resorting to ad hominem attacks. I do not recall who said it, but it’s true that when one resorts to this method of discourse, one has already lost the argument. Unfortunately, the media (O’Reilly, Hannity, Chris Matthews, et al) do not offer any help in avoiding ad hominems, but rather encourage such.

  • Carl Vehse

    Tucker:

    It makes more sense to draw a line to the shooter’s experiences in Afghanistan – which has its own politicized pedigree as well.

    Tucker, when was Jared Louchner in Afghanistan and what were his “experiences” in Afghanistan from which you say, “It makes more sense to draw a line”?

  • Carl Vehse

    Tucker:

    It makes more sense to draw a line to the shooter’s experiences in Afghanistan – which has its own politicized pedigree as well.

    Tucker, when was Jared Louchner in Afghanistan and what were his “experiences” in Afghanistan from which you say, “It makes more sense to draw a line”?

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Is it only me, or is it ever so ironical to read a diatribe against the left’s rhetoric, in a post about overt use inflamable rhetoric, written by none other than Vehse?

    That is Irony Squared.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Is it only me, or is it ever so ironical to read a diatribe against the left’s rhetoric, in a post about overt use inflamable rhetoric, written by none other than Vehse?

    That is Irony Squared.

  • Tom Hering

    Joyce Kaufman: “If ballots don’t work, bullets will.”

    Sharron Angle: “… if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies …”

    These are not “metaphors.”

    And Sarah Palin’s crosshairs are now surveyor’s marks? Hilarious.

  • Tom Hering

    Joyce Kaufman: “If ballots don’t work, bullets will.”

    Sharron Angle: “… if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies …”

    These are not “metaphors.”

    And Sarah Palin’s crosshairs are now surveyor’s marks? Hilarious.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    The first reports on Jared Loughner said he is a 22 year old Afghanistan war veteran. If that info is incorrect then I stand corrected (and so must be the media). It could be that info was conflated with his views on the Afghanistan war.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    The first reports on Jared Loughner said he is a 22 year old Afghanistan war veteran. If that info is incorrect then I stand corrected (and so must be the media). It could be that info was conflated with his views on the Afghanistan war.

  • S Bauer

    Telling the truth sometimes involves “flamethrowing rhetoric” (John the Baptizer and “Ye generation of vipers” comes to mind). But these examples are outweighed by inflammatory talk that exists to serve hate rather than the truth, such as deliberately distorting the President’s name in order to ridicule.

  • S Bauer

    Telling the truth sometimes involves “flamethrowing rhetoric” (John the Baptizer and “Ye generation of vipers” comes to mind). But these examples are outweighed by inflammatory talk that exists to serve hate rather than the truth, such as deliberately distorting the President’s name in order to ridicule.

  • Tom Hering

    Never mind Giffords, or the six dead, or the thirteen wounded. The response to all this by conservative media pundits is that they – they! – are the victims. The liberals are trying to deprive them of free speech!

    This is the root of the problem: the widely held – because it’s constantly repeated – belief on the right that they’re a persecuted group in America. Violence is inevitable in a subculture of victims.

  • Tom Hering

    Never mind Giffords, or the six dead, or the thirteen wounded. The response to all this by conservative media pundits is that they – they! – are the victims. The liberals are trying to deprive them of free speech!

    This is the root of the problem: the widely held – because it’s constantly repeated – belief on the right that they’re a persecuted group in America. Violence is inevitable in a subculture of victims.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Three points.
    First, Christ said that murder proceeds from the heart of man. The blame game fails to grapple with the shooter as a responsible moral agent who chose evil.

    Second, the militaristic language from both parties has frankly gone too far. We should be concerned, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that the shooter was influenced by this.

    Third, the argument that the weak-minded might interpret violent metaphors literally may have merit, but I can think of no society that improved itself by making every concession for the lowest common denominator.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Three points.
    First, Christ said that murder proceeds from the heart of man. The blame game fails to grapple with the shooter as a responsible moral agent who chose evil.

    Second, the militaristic language from both parties has frankly gone too far. We should be concerned, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that the shooter was influenced by this.

    Third, the argument that the weak-minded might interpret violent metaphors literally may have merit, but I can think of no society that improved itself by making every concession for the lowest common denominator.

  • Orianna Laun

    Polarized politics and inflammatory rhetoric can be harmful to any country. To say it is what pushed someone over the edge to a shooting spree is missing the sinful human nature aspect. Did polarized politics and human rhetoric push Cain to kill Abel? I don’t mean that flippantly, but one can point all fingers in all directions, but the fact remains that human nature is NOT essentially good, and murderous intentions lie within all of us. It’s just that not everyone acts on them.

  • Orianna Laun

    Polarized politics and inflammatory rhetoric can be harmful to any country. To say it is what pushed someone over the edge to a shooting spree is missing the sinful human nature aspect. Did polarized politics and human rhetoric push Cain to kill Abel? I don’t mean that flippantly, but one can point all fingers in all directions, but the fact remains that human nature is NOT essentially good, and murderous intentions lie within all of us. It’s just that not everyone acts on them.

  • Joe

    Tom said “And Sarah Palin’s crosshairs are now surveyor’s marks? Hilarious.”

    Just as funny as the bullseye Daily Kos put on the congresswomen in 2008 I guess. But that is not the point. The point is that this guy was insane and taking scary language out of our politics is not going too stop crazy people from being crazy.

  • Joe

    Tom said “And Sarah Palin’s crosshairs are now surveyor’s marks? Hilarious.”

    Just as funny as the bullseye Daily Kos put on the congresswomen in 2008 I guess. But that is not the point. The point is that this guy was insane and taking scary language out of our politics is not going too stop crazy people from being crazy.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    John, Orianna – sure. But one needs a little wisdom here. Being a public persona means that whatever you say, influences people. While you cannot always concede to the lowest common denominator, you should also temper your own tones. For what would you do if an even bigger crisis or threat arrives, for one thing.

    I think Tom’s examples are pertinent here.

    As I always say, just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean it is good to do that thing.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    John, Orianna – sure. But one needs a little wisdom here. Being a public persona means that whatever you say, influences people. While you cannot always concede to the lowest common denominator, you should also temper your own tones. For what would you do if an even bigger crisis or threat arrives, for one thing.

    I think Tom’s examples are pertinent here.

    As I always say, just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean it is good to do that thing.

  • Carl Vehse

    Tucker:

    The first reports on Jared Loughner said he is a 22 year old Afghanistan war veteran.

    Tucker, since you have not provided any specific link or evidence for your claim, you are simply passing on hearsay, or unsubstantiated gossip. Luther referred to this in his Large Catechism:

    “God therefore would have it prohibited, that any one speak evil of another even though he be guilty, and the latter know it right well; much less if he do not know it, and have it only from hearsay. But you say: Shall I not say it if it be the truth? Answer: Why do you not make accusation to regular judges? Ah, I cannot prove it publicly, and hence I might be silenced and turned away in a harsh manner [incur the penalty of a false accusation]. “Ah, indeed, do you smell the roast?…. False witness, then, is everything which cannot be properly proved. Therefore, what is not manifest upon sufficient evidence no one shall make public or declare for truth; and, in short, whatever is secret should be allowed to remain secret, or, at any rate, should be secretly reproved, as we shall hear.”

    Thus your recommendation of drawing a line between being an Afghan war veteran and a mass murderer falsely attacks the character and reputation of Afghan war veterans, some of whom I know and I worked with in Iraq.

    Do you smell the roast burning, Tucker?

  • Carl Vehse

    Tucker:

    The first reports on Jared Loughner said he is a 22 year old Afghanistan war veteran.

    Tucker, since you have not provided any specific link or evidence for your claim, you are simply passing on hearsay, or unsubstantiated gossip. Luther referred to this in his Large Catechism:

    “God therefore would have it prohibited, that any one speak evil of another even though he be guilty, and the latter know it right well; much less if he do not know it, and have it only from hearsay. But you say: Shall I not say it if it be the truth? Answer: Why do you not make accusation to regular judges? Ah, I cannot prove it publicly, and hence I might be silenced and turned away in a harsh manner [incur the penalty of a false accusation]. “Ah, indeed, do you smell the roast?…. False witness, then, is everything which cannot be properly proved. Therefore, what is not manifest upon sufficient evidence no one shall make public or declare for truth; and, in short, whatever is secret should be allowed to remain secret, or, at any rate, should be secretly reproved, as we shall hear.”

    Thus your recommendation of drawing a line between being an Afghan war veteran and a mass murderer falsely attacks the character and reputation of Afghan war veterans, some of whom I know and I worked with in Iraq.

    Do you smell the roast burning, Tucker?

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    the First Amendment was written for a reason-

    my question to my fellow Christians-
    how many checks do we have to turn—and for how long—

    why are the two Hassans -Hassan (wife murderer) and Hassan (Ft Hood traitor) still ‘on trial’
    will Jarid Loughner get off on technicalities..

    BTW-according to the accurate reports-Loughner could not pass the urine sample to test to get into the military-Wonder why SARC–
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    the First Amendment was written for a reason-

    my question to my fellow Christians-
    how many checks do we have to turn—and for how long—

    why are the two Hassans -Hassan (wife murderer) and Hassan (Ft Hood traitor) still ‘on trial’
    will Jarid Loughner get off on technicalities..

    BTW-according to the accurate reports-Loughner could not pass the urine sample to test to get into the military-Wonder why SARC–
    C-CS

  • Cincinnatus

    Joe@8 and @20 couldn’t be more correct: the vitriolic nature of our contemporary political discourse is (for better or worse) nothing new, but has rather been a feature of our political landscape since the founding of the Republic. Meanwhile, attempts to politicize this shooting–attempts like those engaged in, yes, by many “liberal” and “rightest” media outlets, and by our own Tom Hering–are reprehensible. Tom, guess what: many of my progressive friends were blaming Sarah Palin (of all people) for this shooting literally one hour after it had taken place, before the shooter had even been identified, and they were citing journalistic “evidence” to bolster their claims. While “conservative” pundits do indeed labor under a serious martyr complex, it cannot be denied that pundits from the other side of the spectrum have in fact exploited this tragedy in order to attack something they call “the right” (as if it were a monolithic, coherent entity purposely injecting vitriol into public discourse). Indeed, these same folks are and were blaming only the right for the tone of our discourse–this from the same folks who insisted upon “restraint” and “caution” when attempting to discern the motives and ideological persuasion of the Fort Hood shooter!

    In the end, it’s patently foolish to “blame” the shooting on the tone and volume of our political rhetoric. First of all, while the shooter no doubt intended his shooting to be an assassination (i.e., a political act), what evidence we have–his YouTube channel, testimony from his colleagues, etc.–proves that he was a sick man (not in the pathological sense that absolves responsibility, but in the sense connoting mental imbalance), and it would be an insult to real assassins to deem his act “political.” He’s a murderer, and he doesn’t deserve the anti-heroic embellishment afforded by the title “assassin.” He would have killed regardless of what pundits said and regardless of what sort of political incoherence with which he could drape his violence. Speaking of what pundits have or have not said, there is literally no evidence whatsoever that the shooter had been exposed to or encouraged by Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, or any of the other morons who populate our popular journalistic outlets. In fact, he cites figures as diverse as Marx, Hitler, Orwell, and Swift (evidence of his cognitive dissonance) as influential in his personal philosophy (whatever that might have been); Palin does not make the list. Moreoever, classmates describe him as a “leftist.” Oops. Finally, it is absurd and myopic to claim that militaristic language is unique to the so-called “right” and/or a demonstrable goad to violence. Militaristic metaphors in political speech are as old as speech itself, and they certainly haven’t been restricted to one element of our political discourse.

  • Cincinnatus

    Joe@8 and @20 couldn’t be more correct: the vitriolic nature of our contemporary political discourse is (for better or worse) nothing new, but has rather been a feature of our political landscape since the founding of the Republic. Meanwhile, attempts to politicize this shooting–attempts like those engaged in, yes, by many “liberal” and “rightest” media outlets, and by our own Tom Hering–are reprehensible. Tom, guess what: many of my progressive friends were blaming Sarah Palin (of all people) for this shooting literally one hour after it had taken place, before the shooter had even been identified, and they were citing journalistic “evidence” to bolster their claims. While “conservative” pundits do indeed labor under a serious martyr complex, it cannot be denied that pundits from the other side of the spectrum have in fact exploited this tragedy in order to attack something they call “the right” (as if it were a monolithic, coherent entity purposely injecting vitriol into public discourse). Indeed, these same folks are and were blaming only the right for the tone of our discourse–this from the same folks who insisted upon “restraint” and “caution” when attempting to discern the motives and ideological persuasion of the Fort Hood shooter!

    In the end, it’s patently foolish to “blame” the shooting on the tone and volume of our political rhetoric. First of all, while the shooter no doubt intended his shooting to be an assassination (i.e., a political act), what evidence we have–his YouTube channel, testimony from his colleagues, etc.–proves that he was a sick man (not in the pathological sense that absolves responsibility, but in the sense connoting mental imbalance), and it would be an insult to real assassins to deem his act “political.” He’s a murderer, and he doesn’t deserve the anti-heroic embellishment afforded by the title “assassin.” He would have killed regardless of what pundits said and regardless of what sort of political incoherence with which he could drape his violence. Speaking of what pundits have or have not said, there is literally no evidence whatsoever that the shooter had been exposed to or encouraged by Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, or any of the other morons who populate our popular journalistic outlets. In fact, he cites figures as diverse as Marx, Hitler, Orwell, and Swift (evidence of his cognitive dissonance) as influential in his personal philosophy (whatever that might have been); Palin does not make the list. Moreoever, classmates describe him as a “leftist.” Oops. Finally, it is absurd and myopic to claim that militaristic language is unique to the so-called “right” and/or a demonstrable goad to violence. Militaristic metaphors in political speech are as old as speech itself, and they certainly haven’t been restricted to one element of our political discourse.

  • Cincinnatus

    *I should probably call out Carl (and others) who are also politicizing this event inappropriately.

  • Cincinnatus

    *I should probably call out Carl (and others) who are also politicizing this event inappropriately.

  • Carl Vehse

    In his column, “Blaming the Right for the Giffords Attack Is Pure McCarthyism,” George Will points out that after JFK was assassinated, the “explainers” claimed the real culprit was a “climate of hate” in conservative Dallas rather than a self-described Marxist who had lived in Moscow. The leftist “explainers” are at it again.

    “It would be merciful if, when tragedies such as Tucson’s occur, there were a moratorium on sociology. But respites from half-baked explanations, often serving political opportunism, are impossible because of a timeless human craving and a characteristic of many modern minds.

    “The craving is for banishing randomness and the inexplicable from human experience. Time was, the gods were useful. What is thunder? The gods are angry. Polytheism was explanatory. People postulated causations.

    “And still do. Hence: The Tucson shooter was (pick your verb) provoked, triggered, unhinged by today’s (pick your noun) rhetoric, vitriol, extremism, ‘climate of hate.’

    “Demystification of the world opened the way for real science, including the social sciences. And for a modern characteristic. And for charlatans….

    “This McCarthyism of the left — devoid of intellectual content, unsupported by data — is a mental tic, not an idea but a tactic for avoiding engagement with ideas. It expresses limitless contempt for the American people, who have reciprocated by reducing liberalism to its current characteristics of electoral weakness and bad sociology.”

    One can see evidence of Will’s description of the left’s reaction, their “mental tic,” in several of the posts above.

  • Carl Vehse

    In his column, “Blaming the Right for the Giffords Attack Is Pure McCarthyism,” George Will points out that after JFK was assassinated, the “explainers” claimed the real culprit was a “climate of hate” in conservative Dallas rather than a self-described Marxist who had lived in Moscow. The leftist “explainers” are at it again.

    “It would be merciful if, when tragedies such as Tucson’s occur, there were a moratorium on sociology. But respites from half-baked explanations, often serving political opportunism, are impossible because of a timeless human craving and a characteristic of many modern minds.

    “The craving is for banishing randomness and the inexplicable from human experience. Time was, the gods were useful. What is thunder? The gods are angry. Polytheism was explanatory. People postulated causations.

    “And still do. Hence: The Tucson shooter was (pick your verb) provoked, triggered, unhinged by today’s (pick your noun) rhetoric, vitriol, extremism, ‘climate of hate.’

    “Demystification of the world opened the way for real science, including the social sciences. And for a modern characteristic. And for charlatans….

    “This McCarthyism of the left — devoid of intellectual content, unsupported by data — is a mental tic, not an idea but a tactic for avoiding engagement with ideas. It expresses limitless contempt for the American people, who have reciprocated by reducing liberalism to its current characteristics of electoral weakness and bad sociology.”

    One can see evidence of Will’s description of the left’s reaction, their “mental tic,” in several of the posts above.

  • Eric

    We need to be careful when trying to discern the ethics of the current “political rhetoric.” Most of the discussion I have seen or heard alternates between gross generalization and anecdotes interspersed with clever use of metaphor and syllogism. This sort of discussion has a paradoxical feel to it, as it uses rhetorical devices to criticize the use of rhetoric.

    Any implication that concern over current rhetoric should result in legislation, or even a code of ethics, is troubling. What will we lose if we make enforceable decisions about what use of media is appropriate or inappropriate regarding political discussion (cf. Tucker, above, re Martin Luther)? How would we be sure that any such legislation or standard does not have, as its primary motivation, advancement of an unrelated political ambition?

    I think it is good to try to understand contemporary issues in the context of God’s Word. It reminds me how much I need God’s forgiveness. When the issue, however, involves extreme thought or speech, we need to make sure we are not advocating an ethical position that could eventually preclude discussions like those that occur on this blog. (Sorry, if I strayed from the original question!)

  • Eric

    We need to be careful when trying to discern the ethics of the current “political rhetoric.” Most of the discussion I have seen or heard alternates between gross generalization and anecdotes interspersed with clever use of metaphor and syllogism. This sort of discussion has a paradoxical feel to it, as it uses rhetorical devices to criticize the use of rhetoric.

    Any implication that concern over current rhetoric should result in legislation, or even a code of ethics, is troubling. What will we lose if we make enforceable decisions about what use of media is appropriate or inappropriate regarding political discussion (cf. Tucker, above, re Martin Luther)? How would we be sure that any such legislation or standard does not have, as its primary motivation, advancement of an unrelated political ambition?

    I think it is good to try to understand contemporary issues in the context of God’s Word. It reminds me how much I need God’s forgiveness. When the issue, however, involves extreme thought or speech, we need to make sure we are not advocating an ethical position that could eventually preclude discussions like those that occur on this blog. (Sorry, if I strayed from the original question!)

  • SKPeterson

    Cincinnatus @24 – Marx, Hitler, Orwell, and Swift? Sounds more like a conflicted Nietzschean nihilist, perhaps with the exception of Swift.

    I’ve also seen reports that Congressman Gifford’s own website had a video link to Loughner’s website. Very, very odd.

    My biggest concern, beyond that for the families of the victims, is that this event will be used not just for efforts to curb political speech, but also as another argument for separating Congressmen from the hoi polloi leading to more disengagement and disparity between reality and the political class.

  • SKPeterson

    Cincinnatus @24 – Marx, Hitler, Orwell, and Swift? Sounds more like a conflicted Nietzschean nihilist, perhaps with the exception of Swift.

    I’ve also seen reports that Congressman Gifford’s own website had a video link to Loughner’s website. Very, very odd.

    My biggest concern, beyond that for the families of the victims, is that this event will be used not just for efforts to curb political speech, but also as another argument for separating Congressmen from the hoi polloi leading to more disengagement and disparity between reality and the political class.

  • DonS

    I second Cincinnatus that Joe @ 8 and 20 has hit the nail on the head (oops! a violent metaphor). Political discourse in a free land will always be sharp and pointed. The reason? We actually have a stake in the outcome of elections and other political activities. It is a good thing. Moreover, violence today is actually much lower than it has been in the past. Violent crime rates are down 30-40% from a few decades ago. Look at the 60′s as an example of when politicians were in real danger from violent nuts. This doesn’t mean that we, as believers, should dive in with both feet. I try very hard to keep my politics civil and not make it personal, though I am sure I am not always successful.

    The attempt to paint the right, especially Sarah Palin, with blame for the Giffords incident, is very unfortunate, pathetic, and crass political opportunism. There was no justification for laying blame on anyone or anything for what were clearly the actions of an unhinged nut, who apparently had a personal history with Giffords, at least in his own mind. This was particularly true for those who wrote despicable newspaper and online columns and expressed hateful opinions on TV before they knew anything at all about the background and motivations of the shooter or his mental state. The statements of the Pima County Sheriff were especially vile, particularly given his official position and need to reserve judgment until investigations are complete.

    To the extent we need “healing” in our political discourse, it will not be served by immediately laying blame on one’s political opponents for a heinous and senseless act. That is for sure.

  • DonS

    I second Cincinnatus that Joe @ 8 and 20 has hit the nail on the head (oops! a violent metaphor). Political discourse in a free land will always be sharp and pointed. The reason? We actually have a stake in the outcome of elections and other political activities. It is a good thing. Moreover, violence today is actually much lower than it has been in the past. Violent crime rates are down 30-40% from a few decades ago. Look at the 60′s as an example of when politicians were in real danger from violent nuts. This doesn’t mean that we, as believers, should dive in with both feet. I try very hard to keep my politics civil and not make it personal, though I am sure I am not always successful.

    The attempt to paint the right, especially Sarah Palin, with blame for the Giffords incident, is very unfortunate, pathetic, and crass political opportunism. There was no justification for laying blame on anyone or anything for what were clearly the actions of an unhinged nut, who apparently had a personal history with Giffords, at least in his own mind. This was particularly true for those who wrote despicable newspaper and online columns and expressed hateful opinions on TV before they knew anything at all about the background and motivations of the shooter or his mental state. The statements of the Pima County Sheriff were especially vile, particularly given his official position and need to reserve judgment until investigations are complete.

    To the extent we need “healing” in our political discourse, it will not be served by immediately laying blame on one’s political opponents for a heinous and senseless act. That is for sure.

  • Cincinnatus

    “My biggest concern, beyond that for the families of the victims, is that this event will be used not just for efforts to curb political speech, but also as another argument for separating Congressmen from the hoi polloi leading to more disengagement and disparity between reality and the political class.”

    Both things have already happened: Congressmen have, since Saturday, proposed bills that would outlaw “threats” to elected officers (if framed properly, such a bill could be constitutionally legitimate, but the trend itself is troubling) and bills that would increase security for and reduce access to members of Congress. Yay.

    The point is this: a mentally troubled individual slaughtered six people. Political discourse had nothing to do with it. His incoherent political ramblings gave him an excuse. It is a shame that we are attempting to make them a point of contention when the real problem was Jared Loughner.

  • Cincinnatus

    “My biggest concern, beyond that for the families of the victims, is that this event will be used not just for efforts to curb political speech, but also as another argument for separating Congressmen from the hoi polloi leading to more disengagement and disparity between reality and the political class.”

    Both things have already happened: Congressmen have, since Saturday, proposed bills that would outlaw “threats” to elected officers (if framed properly, such a bill could be constitutionally legitimate, but the trend itself is troubling) and bills that would increase security for and reduce access to members of Congress. Yay.

    The point is this: a mentally troubled individual slaughtered six people. Political discourse had nothing to do with it. His incoherent political ramblings gave him an excuse. It is a shame that we are attempting to make them a point of contention when the real problem was Jared Loughner.

  • CRB

    For those interested in spending about 24 min., here is a wonderful
    sermon that speaks to the topic at hand, as the preacher considers the text concerning the 12 yr. old child, Jesus coming to the temple, Lk 2:41-52
    Scroll down to 1-9-10

    http://www.stpaulbluepoint.org/page1/page3/page3.html

  • CRB

    For those interested in spending about 24 min., here is a wonderful
    sermon that speaks to the topic at hand, as the preacher considers the text concerning the 12 yr. old child, Jesus coming to the temple, Lk 2:41-52
    Scroll down to 1-9-10

    http://www.stpaulbluepoint.org/page1/page3/page3.html

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Figurative rhetoric has always been used by everybody in politics and in every other area of life in general on a regular basis ever since communications between individuals became possible. That happened, like a long time ago.

    Nobody but a lunatic would think that Palin’s use of crosshairs on a map of political opponents to be “targeted” for special attention (or for that matter, Obama’s “If they bring a knife, we bring a gun” statement) constitutes a call for literal assassination.

    Now, I don’t think that the progressives who are whining about the use of common rhetorical devices for political purposes are lunatics themselves. I’m sure they don’t really believe that Palin was calling for murder, or that anybody but a lunatic would take it as a call for murder.

    But, why are they trying to convince the rest of us that they are, in fact , lunatics?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Figurative rhetoric has always been used by everybody in politics and in every other area of life in general on a regular basis ever since communications between individuals became possible. That happened, like a long time ago.

    Nobody but a lunatic would think that Palin’s use of crosshairs on a map of political opponents to be “targeted” for special attention (or for that matter, Obama’s “If they bring a knife, we bring a gun” statement) constitutes a call for literal assassination.

    Now, I don’t think that the progressives who are whining about the use of common rhetorical devices for political purposes are lunatics themselves. I’m sure they don’t really believe that Palin was calling for murder, or that anybody but a lunatic would take it as a call for murder.

    But, why are they trying to convince the rest of us that they are, in fact , lunatics?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Youtube has a short video of tweets wishing death to Sarah Palin.

    Lots of bad language in it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Youtube has a short video of tweets wishing death to Sarah Palin.

    Lots of bad language in it.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Carl,

    “Thus your recommendation of drawing a line between being an Afghan war veteran and a mass murderer falsely attacks the character and reputation of Afghan war veterans…”

    I am trying to understand your position. As I see it that’s a false argument and a poorly drawn conclusion. The stories of soldiers suffering from PSTD are prevalent. Stories of soldiers not being taken care of by the very government that send them to war are also prevalent. Our culture tends to look the other way when it comes to the effects of war on soldiers. None of this disparages any soldier (in particular or on the whole). The argument I made is specifically regarding the horrors of war and one Jared Loughner (though I now know the reports I read were false and he was not a part of the war in question). By your reasoning and, by what seems to me a false offense, any time a veteran commits a crime and a connection is made between his mental state and his war experiences, that all soldiers are being disparaged. But that is assuming a level of inappropriate connotation.

    If Loughner had been an Afghanistan war veteran then what I said makes sense: “On the other hand, I doubt a clear line can be drawn between the current political/media climate and the shooting in Arizona. It makes more sense to draw a line to the shooter’s experiences in Afghanistan – which has its own politicized pedigree as well. War begets all kinds of evil, and some of that evil always makes its way home.” If the early reports had been true of his supposed war record then looking at the rhetoric political pundits, it could be argued, is a kind of copout.

    Those earliest reports (see: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/7834827-jared-lee-loughner-killer-identified-of-az-incident) reported he was a war veteran. They, apparently have pulled down many of those stories, but a Google search find the hearsay easily. As for it being hearsay, I can only plead ignorance based on my watching the news on the day of the shooting and basing my perspective on what I heard then. I have not followed it much since. My apologies to you and anyone who might have been offended, but only as long as the offense taken truly comes from any action on my part. I am not interested in false piety, rather dialog that seeks the truth. Though I fail at that project frequently.

    As for war veterans, I know many, some are family and others are close friends of mine, and I respect them personally. I would never attack any for doing what they think is the right thing to do. On the other hand, I am frank with them that I believe war is evil and, as a Christian, my views lean away from the “just war” theory. I also see a strong connection between violence within our borders and our culture’s love of war. I might be wrong in my perspectives, but I believe they are biblically grounded.

    As for Luther, I look at both his teachings and at his life. Though he is a hero on one level for me, I believe he just might have smelled a few roasts burning in his own life on more than one occasion.

    Again, my apologies for passing on information that, as it turns out, was false. I meant no harm, and any offense taken can be easily remedied by a mere roll of the eyes and a “whatever.”

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Carl,

    “Thus your recommendation of drawing a line between being an Afghan war veteran and a mass murderer falsely attacks the character and reputation of Afghan war veterans…”

    I am trying to understand your position. As I see it that’s a false argument and a poorly drawn conclusion. The stories of soldiers suffering from PSTD are prevalent. Stories of soldiers not being taken care of by the very government that send them to war are also prevalent. Our culture tends to look the other way when it comes to the effects of war on soldiers. None of this disparages any soldier (in particular or on the whole). The argument I made is specifically regarding the horrors of war and one Jared Loughner (though I now know the reports I read were false and he was not a part of the war in question). By your reasoning and, by what seems to me a false offense, any time a veteran commits a crime and a connection is made between his mental state and his war experiences, that all soldiers are being disparaged. But that is assuming a level of inappropriate connotation.

    If Loughner had been an Afghanistan war veteran then what I said makes sense: “On the other hand, I doubt a clear line can be drawn between the current political/media climate and the shooting in Arizona. It makes more sense to draw a line to the shooter’s experiences in Afghanistan – which has its own politicized pedigree as well. War begets all kinds of evil, and some of that evil always makes its way home.” If the early reports had been true of his supposed war record then looking at the rhetoric political pundits, it could be argued, is a kind of copout.

    Those earliest reports (see: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/7834827-jared-lee-loughner-killer-identified-of-az-incident) reported he was a war veteran. They, apparently have pulled down many of those stories, but a Google search find the hearsay easily. As for it being hearsay, I can only plead ignorance based on my watching the news on the day of the shooting and basing my perspective on what I heard then. I have not followed it much since. My apologies to you and anyone who might have been offended, but only as long as the offense taken truly comes from any action on my part. I am not interested in false piety, rather dialog that seeks the truth. Though I fail at that project frequently.

    As for war veterans, I know many, some are family and others are close friends of mine, and I respect them personally. I would never attack any for doing what they think is the right thing to do. On the other hand, I am frank with them that I believe war is evil and, as a Christian, my views lean away from the “just war” theory. I also see a strong connection between violence within our borders and our culture’s love of war. I might be wrong in my perspectives, but I believe they are biblically grounded.

    As for Luther, I look at both his teachings and at his life. Though he is a hero on one level for me, I believe he just might have smelled a few roasts burning in his own life on more than one occasion.

    Again, my apologies for passing on information that, as it turns out, was false. I meant no harm, and any offense taken can be easily remedied by a mere roll of the eyes and a “whatever.”

  • Tom Hering

    “… attempts to politicize this shooting–attempts like those engaged in, yes, by many “liberal” and “rightest” media outlets, and by our own Tom Hering …” – Cincinnatus @ 24.

    The target was a Democratic Congresswoman. How is the shooting not political, not right wing in nature, regardless of the shooter’s mental state?

  • Tom Hering

    “… attempts to politicize this shooting–attempts like those engaged in, yes, by many “liberal” and “rightest” media outlets, and by our own Tom Hering …” – Cincinnatus @ 24.

    The target was a Democratic Congresswoman. How is the shooting not political, not right wing in nature, regardless of the shooter’s mental state?

  • Jacob

    This madman is a natural product of what used to be called the new left (now the new left is the establishment). It is leftist doctrine that you can create your own reality (and drugs can help you with that) – and you can create a new morality. In their infantile philosophy, you are the center of the universe and you are entitled to lash out whenever your slightest whim is not satisfied. And if any one gets hurt, why it is society’s fault! And if your whims do not make any sense, then it is because society is “oppressing” you with reason and logic and morality and this oppressive society must therefore be destroyed.

  • Jacob

    This madman is a natural product of what used to be called the new left (now the new left is the establishment). It is leftist doctrine that you can create your own reality (and drugs can help you with that) – and you can create a new morality. In their infantile philosophy, you are the center of the universe and you are entitled to lash out whenever your slightest whim is not satisfied. And if any one gets hurt, why it is society’s fault! And if your whims do not make any sense, then it is because society is “oppressing” you with reason and logic and morality and this oppressive society must therefore be destroyed.

  • Joe

    Tom – “The target was a Democratic Congresswoman. How is the shooting not political, not right wing in nature, regardless of the shooter’s mental state?”

    Because all reports are that this man was not motivated by rightist politics? Because his primary concern seemed be with the congresswomen’s failure to understand the power of words in the formation of realities?

    Jumping to the conclusion that it was right wing in nature simply because she was a democrat is extremely poor deduction. By your reasoning, Sirhan Sirhan becomes a right winger and not the crazy pro-Palestine guy he was. Lee Harvey Oswald stops being a crazy Marxist and becomes a republican.

  • Joe

    Tom – “The target was a Democratic Congresswoman. How is the shooting not political, not right wing in nature, regardless of the shooter’s mental state?”

    Because all reports are that this man was not motivated by rightist politics? Because his primary concern seemed be with the congresswomen’s failure to understand the power of words in the formation of realities?

    Jumping to the conclusion that it was right wing in nature simply because she was a democrat is extremely poor deduction. By your reasoning, Sirhan Sirhan becomes a right winger and not the crazy pro-Palestine guy he was. Lee Harvey Oswald stops being a crazy Marxist and becomes a republican.

  • Tom Hering

    Jacob @ 36, so the logical conclusion of your argument is that it’s Giffords’ own fault she was shot?

  • Tom Hering

    Jacob @ 36, so the logical conclusion of your argument is that it’s Giffords’ own fault she was shot?

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    Loughner the ‘shooter’ was NEVER in the MILITARY—
    Loughner could not pass the urine sample test –
    interesting how the left makes things up before the facts are in!!!
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    Loughner the ‘shooter’ was NEVER in the MILITARY—
    Loughner could not pass the urine sample test –
    interesting how the left makes things up before the facts are in!!!
    C-CS

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom: There are two gigantic problems with your assertion-disguised-as-a-question. First, as I claimed above, it is uncertain that Loughner’s actions can actually be deemed political (i.e., it is uncertain whether he had political motives for his actions and whether they were designed to communicate some kind of political statement). Perhaps it was political, perhaps not. Evidence is now being exposed that may indicate that Loughner had a personal rather than a purely, abstractly political vendetta against Giffords. It is simply too early to designate his murders as political, much less political in a certain way. If they were political murders, it’s still far too soon to claim that they were “right wing in nature”: his colleagues and acquaintances describe him as extremely “leftist”; insofar as they can be at all interpreted, his YouTube proclamations are an incoherent conglomeration of anarchism, libertarianism, and gold-standard economics–but mostly anarchism (which isn’t particularly or necessarily “right wing” whether one is using the European or the American political spectrum); his list of influential books and persons is an incomprehensible mix of children’s authors, Marxists, Fascists, revolutionaries, and counterrevolutionaries. I’m not sure where you’ve found the evidence that grants you the confidence to proclaim him indubitably a right-winger; the fact that he happened to target a Democrat (confusingly: a Blue-dog Democrat who didn’t behave particularly “Democratly”) doesn’t connote much at this point.

    Second, even if you could demonstrate that his act was purely political, and that it was political in a certain “right wing” way, that still doesn’t implicate anyone other than Loughner in the act. Just because he might be some kind of perverted right-winger doesn’t mean that anyone else who is or considers himself to be “right wing” (Palin, Beck, Savage, Limbaugh, or whoever you have in mind) is somehow partially responsible for these murders–especially since there is literally no evidence connecting any member or ideals of the American “right wing” to what Loughner has done. Crude social commentators blame Nietzsche for Hitler; we couldn’t even do something like that in this case, as Palin hasn’t created some kind of world-historic zeitgeist (the old “murder of God permitted the murder of man” trope in Nietzsche’s case), and there is no basis upon which to claim that Loughner partook of her “philosophy,” whatever that might be.

    And, let me repeat: whether he is right- or left-wing is completely irrelevant, and to “make much” of his political persuasion is shameless opportunism. Jared Loughner is a murderer, and his actions are not at all indicative of conservatives or liberals, Michaels Savage or Moore. At times, our political rhetoric is regrettable. But it is absurd to blame it for Loughner. Again, he is a murderer. No one is responsible for his actions but himself. No pundit told him to assassinate anyone, no political “wing” implanted murderous intentions in his brain. Give it a rest. So-called conservatives attempted to blame leftist pundits for the Fort Hood shooter; it was inappropriate then, and I think “liberals” ought to extend the same courtesy they craved during that tragedy to this one.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom: There are two gigantic problems with your assertion-disguised-as-a-question. First, as I claimed above, it is uncertain that Loughner’s actions can actually be deemed political (i.e., it is uncertain whether he had political motives for his actions and whether they were designed to communicate some kind of political statement). Perhaps it was political, perhaps not. Evidence is now being exposed that may indicate that Loughner had a personal rather than a purely, abstractly political vendetta against Giffords. It is simply too early to designate his murders as political, much less political in a certain way. If they were political murders, it’s still far too soon to claim that they were “right wing in nature”: his colleagues and acquaintances describe him as extremely “leftist”; insofar as they can be at all interpreted, his YouTube proclamations are an incoherent conglomeration of anarchism, libertarianism, and gold-standard economics–but mostly anarchism (which isn’t particularly or necessarily “right wing” whether one is using the European or the American political spectrum); his list of influential books and persons is an incomprehensible mix of children’s authors, Marxists, Fascists, revolutionaries, and counterrevolutionaries. I’m not sure where you’ve found the evidence that grants you the confidence to proclaim him indubitably a right-winger; the fact that he happened to target a Democrat (confusingly: a Blue-dog Democrat who didn’t behave particularly “Democratly”) doesn’t connote much at this point.

    Second, even if you could demonstrate that his act was purely political, and that it was political in a certain “right wing” way, that still doesn’t implicate anyone other than Loughner in the act. Just because he might be some kind of perverted right-winger doesn’t mean that anyone else who is or considers himself to be “right wing” (Palin, Beck, Savage, Limbaugh, or whoever you have in mind) is somehow partially responsible for these murders–especially since there is literally no evidence connecting any member or ideals of the American “right wing” to what Loughner has done. Crude social commentators blame Nietzsche for Hitler; we couldn’t even do something like that in this case, as Palin hasn’t created some kind of world-historic zeitgeist (the old “murder of God permitted the murder of man” trope in Nietzsche’s case), and there is no basis upon which to claim that Loughner partook of her “philosophy,” whatever that might be.

    And, let me repeat: whether he is right- or left-wing is completely irrelevant, and to “make much” of his political persuasion is shameless opportunism. Jared Loughner is a murderer, and his actions are not at all indicative of conservatives or liberals, Michaels Savage or Moore. At times, our political rhetoric is regrettable. But it is absurd to blame it for Loughner. Again, he is a murderer. No one is responsible for his actions but himself. No pundit told him to assassinate anyone, no political “wing” implanted murderous intentions in his brain. Give it a rest. So-called conservatives attempted to blame leftist pundits for the Fort Hood shooter; it was inappropriate then, and I think “liberals” ought to extend the same courtesy they craved during that tragedy to this one.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    CCS, it is easy to say later, oh, sorry it was a mistake.

    However, many never hear the retraction and the association sticks.

    It seems intentional.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    CCS, it is easy to say later, oh, sorry it was a mistake.

    However, many never hear the retraction and the association sticks.

    It seems intentional.

  • Tom Hering

    “Because all reports are that this man was not motivated by rightist politics? Because his primary concern seemed be with the congresswomen’s failure to understand the power of words in the formation of realities?” – Joe @ 37.

    Not rightist? Unless he came up with his “government-mind-control-through-grammar” theory all on his own, he was influenced by David Wynn Miller and the Sovereign Citizen anti-tax movement.

  • Tom Hering

    “Because all reports are that this man was not motivated by rightist politics? Because his primary concern seemed be with the congresswomen’s failure to understand the power of words in the formation of realities?” – Joe @ 37.

    Not rightist? Unless he came up with his “government-mind-control-through-grammar” theory all on his own, he was influenced by David Wynn Miller and the Sovereign Citizen anti-tax movement.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 35: You can’t be serious. So, is it your contention that a politician cannot be murdered by anyone other than his/her political opposition?

    Jared Loughner was a registered independent, who apparently did not vote in November. He has a history of making bizarre statements and engaging in bizarre anti-social activities http://www.kgun9.com/Global/story.asp?S=13809065 His statements imply no discernible cogent political philosophy. He apparently has a criminal record, and was expelled from community college (that’s pretty hard to do!) for disruptive and menacing behavior. He also apparently, according to acquaintances, had previous contact with his Congresswoman, Ms. Giffords, and was unhappy with her response to his contact.

    Some people respond poorly to power, regardless of its political orientation. There is not a shred of evidence that it would have made any difference to Loughner and his chosen action whether Ms. Giffords were a Democrat or a Republican. None at all.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 35: You can’t be serious. So, is it your contention that a politician cannot be murdered by anyone other than his/her political opposition?

    Jared Loughner was a registered independent, who apparently did not vote in November. He has a history of making bizarre statements and engaging in bizarre anti-social activities http://www.kgun9.com/Global/story.asp?S=13809065 His statements imply no discernible cogent political philosophy. He apparently has a criminal record, and was expelled from community college (that’s pretty hard to do!) for disruptive and menacing behavior. He also apparently, according to acquaintances, had previous contact with his Congresswoman, Ms. Giffords, and was unhappy with her response to his contact.

    Some people respond poorly to power, regardless of its political orientation. There is not a shred of evidence that it would have made any difference to Loughner and his chosen action whether Ms. Giffords were a Democrat or a Republican. None at all.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@42: Since you’re not willing to play nicely or intelligently, I’ll debate on your terms. So what? So what if Jared Loughner was a “right winger”? What would be the implications of that conclusion? Why should anyone care?

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@42: Since you’re not willing to play nicely or intelligently, I’ll debate on your terms. So what? So what if Jared Loughner was a “right winger”? What would be the implications of that conclusion? Why should anyone care?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I have to see a little contingency planning here.

    Step 1. Label the assailant “right wing”

    Step 2. Wait for folks to claim that his motives are apolitical.

    Step 3. If investigation reveals he is “left wing”, then

    Step 4. Whew, sure glad it wasn’t politically motivated.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I have to see a little contingency planning here.

    Step 1. Label the assailant “right wing”

    Step 2. Wait for folks to claim that his motives are apolitical.

    Step 3. If investigation reveals he is “left wing”, then

    Step 4. Whew, sure glad it wasn’t politically motivated.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Whoaa there folks!

    The question is not the guy’s political position. The question is whether the level of political discourse, irrespective of political party, creates a climate that makes the occurrence of this type of thing more likely. Whether the left or the right actually mean all they say is not the issue. The question is if somebody might just take them literally, even if that somebody is deranged. To what extent is a person responsible for the effects of your words, your rhetoric?

    I would actually recommend Jon Stewarts’ opening statement/item on last nights’ “Daily Show”. It showed some maturity way beyond what is shown in the halls, and airwaves of politcal rhetoric. That is shameful.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Whoaa there folks!

    The question is not the guy’s political position. The question is whether the level of political discourse, irrespective of political party, creates a climate that makes the occurrence of this type of thing more likely. Whether the left or the right actually mean all they say is not the issue. The question is if somebody might just take them literally, even if that somebody is deranged. To what extent is a person responsible for the effects of your words, your rhetoric?

    I would actually recommend Jon Stewarts’ opening statement/item on last nights’ “Daily Show”. It showed some maturity way beyond what is shown in the halls, and airwaves of politcal rhetoric. That is shameful.

  • Joe

    Well Tom you got us. We never thought that anyone would figure out that David Wynn Miller was really the secrete leader of the right wing in this country. Your assertion is an unthinking reaction. I would like to use different words but I can’t, words being so important to those of us who would be typically put on the right.

    David Wynn Miller is not “right wing” he is insane (or at least an anarchist). He claims he can use some linear-grammar-mathematical formula he “discovered” to prove that the Constitution (and the Magna Carta for good measure) are invalid documents. In case you missed the last 2 (or 50) years, the right wing in this country has not been arguing that the Constitution is invalid but rather that it is controlling (you can disagree with the rights notion of how to read the document but you can’t disagree with the fact that they have been pledging allegiance to it).

    Tom you are going to have to do better – plus you are pulling one influence out of a cast of incoherent influences and trying to build a case. What about his fondness for Marx (who surely advocated violence for political ends) does that not get any weight because it does not fit your narrative?

  • Joe

    Well Tom you got us. We never thought that anyone would figure out that David Wynn Miller was really the secrete leader of the right wing in this country. Your assertion is an unthinking reaction. I would like to use different words but I can’t, words being so important to those of us who would be typically put on the right.

    David Wynn Miller is not “right wing” he is insane (or at least an anarchist). He claims he can use some linear-grammar-mathematical formula he “discovered” to prove that the Constitution (and the Magna Carta for good measure) are invalid documents. In case you missed the last 2 (or 50) years, the right wing in this country has not been arguing that the Constitution is invalid but rather that it is controlling (you can disagree with the rights notion of how to read the document but you can’t disagree with the fact that they have been pledging allegiance to it).

    Tom you are going to have to do better – plus you are pulling one influence out of a cast of incoherent influences and trying to build a case. What about his fondness for Marx (who surely advocated violence for political ends) does that not get any weight because it does not fit your narrative?

  • Carl Vehse

    Tucker:

    I am trying to understand your position.

    My position, Tucker, in response to your several comments is straight forward. You claimed, “It makes more sense to draw a line to the shooter’s experiences in Afghanistan”. I asked for substantiation.

    You then responded that it was what you had heard from “first reports.” And you said, “If that info is incorrect, then I stand corrected,” leaving the reader with having to determine whether your assertion about the war veteran claim was based on fact or not.

    Thus by drawing an alleged line, which “makes more sense” between being a mass murderer and an Afghan war veteran, and providing no supporting evidence, you make an association that, by its implication, relates to all Afghan war veterans. In response, I quoted an excerpt from the Large Catechism about passing on such unsubstantiated hearsay for which one is unwilling or unable to proved support.

    In your latest post you now admit an initial news report about Loughner’s war status was not true. But you bring up “stories of soldiers suffering from PSTD” and allegations of lack of care, with the implication that such a massacre in Tucson by “an Afghanistan war veteran” (and not just a veteran suffering from PTSD) could be linked with “a clear line” to his war experiences. But since it was not an Afghan war veteran who committed the Tucson massacre, such a claim, without evidence, but loads of conjecture, remains insulting to all Afghanistan war veterans.

    You then state:

    “My apologies to you and anyone who might have been offended, but only as long as the offense taken truly comes from any action on my part.”

    An apology to “anyone who might have been offended” is no real apology at all.

  • Carl Vehse

    Tucker:

    I am trying to understand your position.

    My position, Tucker, in response to your several comments is straight forward. You claimed, “It makes more sense to draw a line to the shooter’s experiences in Afghanistan”. I asked for substantiation.

    You then responded that it was what you had heard from “first reports.” And you said, “If that info is incorrect, then I stand corrected,” leaving the reader with having to determine whether your assertion about the war veteran claim was based on fact or not.

    Thus by drawing an alleged line, which “makes more sense” between being a mass murderer and an Afghan war veteran, and providing no supporting evidence, you make an association that, by its implication, relates to all Afghan war veterans. In response, I quoted an excerpt from the Large Catechism about passing on such unsubstantiated hearsay for which one is unwilling or unable to proved support.

    In your latest post you now admit an initial news report about Loughner’s war status was not true. But you bring up “stories of soldiers suffering from PSTD” and allegations of lack of care, with the implication that such a massacre in Tucson by “an Afghanistan war veteran” (and not just a veteran suffering from PTSD) could be linked with “a clear line” to his war experiences. But since it was not an Afghan war veteran who committed the Tucson massacre, such a claim, without evidence, but loads of conjecture, remains insulting to all Afghanistan war veterans.

    You then state:

    “My apologies to you and anyone who might have been offended, but only as long as the offense taken truly comes from any action on my part.”

    An apology to “anyone who might have been offended” is no real apology at all.

  • Jacob

    Tom Hering @38
    I don’t know where you got the idea I was blaming the victim. But when our culture teaches irrationalism it should come as no surprise that weaker, unstable minds act out this irrationalism in bizarre, violent ways. The shooter described himself as a nihilist. He grew up in a popular culture that teaches nihilism at almost every turn. This is bigger than right or left although in America it is almost exclusively the left that teaches that you can be a superman and dispense with reason or any code of right or wrong. The madness of the gunman is an extreme example of the irrationalism that our young people are taught evey day.

  • Jacob

    Tom Hering @38
    I don’t know where you got the idea I was blaming the victim. But when our culture teaches irrationalism it should come as no surprise that weaker, unstable minds act out this irrationalism in bizarre, violent ways. The shooter described himself as a nihilist. He grew up in a popular culture that teaches nihilism at almost every turn. This is bigger than right or left although in America it is almost exclusively the left that teaches that you can be a superman and dispense with reason or any code of right or wrong. The madness of the gunman is an extreme example of the irrationalism that our young people are taught evey day.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Carl,

    We may have to remain in disagreement. Neither your reasoning regarding my statements or your definition of what is an apology makes much sense to me.

    But I will say my apology is real. If you presume to know otherwise then you presume to know my heart.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Carl,

    We may have to remain in disagreement. Neither your reasoning regarding my statements or your definition of what is an apology makes much sense to me.

    But I will say my apology is real. If you presume to know otherwise then you presume to know my heart.

  • DonS

    Louis @ 46: Maybe you don’t think that’s the question, but the Sheriff of Pima County, a host of liberal commentators, and our friend Tom Hering sure seem to think so. Moreover, they’re only pointing fingers at one side, without a shred of support. Natch, we on the right take some offense to that, and are entitled to set the record straight.

    However, the evidence so far does not support the notion that today’s level of political discourse had a thing to do with this guy’s decision to shoot up a Safeway parking lot and anyone who happened to be in the vicinity of Congresswoman Giffords. He appears, rather, to have been in his own little world, and to have been motivated by some strange notion of personal affront because of his past association with this particular woman. Over time, we may learn more about his motivations, but the insane don’t respond rationally to stimulus, so it is difficult to adjust the level of discourse to attempt to avoid irrational reaction by nuts without infringing on the legitimate rights of the people to address their grievances.

  • DonS

    Louis @ 46: Maybe you don’t think that’s the question, but the Sheriff of Pima County, a host of liberal commentators, and our friend Tom Hering sure seem to think so. Moreover, they’re only pointing fingers at one side, without a shred of support. Natch, we on the right take some offense to that, and are entitled to set the record straight.

    However, the evidence so far does not support the notion that today’s level of political discourse had a thing to do with this guy’s decision to shoot up a Safeway parking lot and anyone who happened to be in the vicinity of Congresswoman Giffords. He appears, rather, to have been in his own little world, and to have been motivated by some strange notion of personal affront because of his past association with this particular woman. Over time, we may learn more about his motivations, but the insane don’t respond rationally to stimulus, so it is difficult to adjust the level of discourse to attempt to avoid irrational reaction by nuts without infringing on the legitimate rights of the people to address their grievances.

  • DonS

    My bottom line message to our friends on the left is that, if you are serious about improving comity, stop shamelessly politicizing a senseless tragedy by engaging in unsupported scapegoating of those on the right.

  • DonS

    My bottom line message to our friends on the left is that, if you are serious about improving comity, stop shamelessly politicizing a senseless tragedy by engaging in unsupported scapegoating of those on the right.

  • Kandyce

    To the question of the harm of political rhetoric: I believe that rhetoric stifles political conversation, rather than invigorates it. I consider myself to be more right than left on a majority of political issues, even though I don’t watch FOX news, listen to Limbaugh or really any other political commentaters. Many times I see political discussion and I choose not to enter because the political vitriol that is being spewed makes it very clear that the point of the discussion isn’t to listen and understand, to explain and convince, or to work for a commmon solution, but to demean and separate. We have an opportunity in this society to work together to come up with solutions for problems, but we use that opportunity to prove our superiority instead.
    Is that vitriol responsible for the tragedy in Tuscon? I don’t personally believe so. Is it good for the country for all of us to stop screaming and start listening anyway? One would hope such a thing would be possible.

  • Kandyce

    To the question of the harm of political rhetoric: I believe that rhetoric stifles political conversation, rather than invigorates it. I consider myself to be more right than left on a majority of political issues, even though I don’t watch FOX news, listen to Limbaugh or really any other political commentaters. Many times I see political discussion and I choose not to enter because the political vitriol that is being spewed makes it very clear that the point of the discussion isn’t to listen and understand, to explain and convince, or to work for a commmon solution, but to demean and separate. We have an opportunity in this society to work together to come up with solutions for problems, but we use that opportunity to prove our superiority instead.
    Is that vitriol responsible for the tragedy in Tuscon? I don’t personally believe so. Is it good for the country for all of us to stop screaming and start listening anyway? One would hope such a thing would be possible.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    …and of course:

    ‘The Westboro Baptist Church said Monday it plans to picket Thursday’s funeral for Christina Taylor Green because “God sent the shooter to deal with idolatrous America.”‘

    From: http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/lawmakers-to-head-off-801181.html

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    …and of course:

    ‘The Westboro Baptist Church said Monday it plans to picket Thursday’s funeral for Christina Taylor Green because “God sent the shooter to deal with idolatrous America.”‘

    From: http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/lawmakers-to-head-off-801181.html

  • Dust

    to Tucker above in 50…..do you realize that when you click on your name it takes you to a SatelliteSaint website and this is the opening line to a video on the assassination of RFK:

    “In light of the shooting in Arizona today by an 22 year old Afghanistan war veteran that left several people dead, including a 9 year old girl, I am reminded of a speech by another politician:”

    Just thought you would want to know about the “error” re: the war veteran thing…and would get right on it to make sure it is updated, in the name of objective journalism and all?

  • Dust

    to Tucker above in 50…..do you realize that when you click on your name it takes you to a SatelliteSaint website and this is the opening line to a video on the assassination of RFK:

    “In light of the shooting in Arizona today by an 22 year old Afghanistan war veteran that left several people dead, including a 9 year old girl, I am reminded of a speech by another politician:”

    Just thought you would want to know about the “error” re: the war veteran thing…and would get right on it to make sure it is updated, in the name of objective journalism and all?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Agree with Louis @ 46. That Jon Stewart piece is really quite good. That is leadership. If only he weren’t such a smart a__.

    All parties should own up to this one. The jerk shooter was our own, and no matter what side you’re on, your politics will not work very well if they do not represent everyone in some meaningful way. We all do well to think carefully of more than “our own side” before talking.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Agree with Louis @ 46. That Jon Stewart piece is really quite good. That is leadership. If only he weren’t such a smart a__.

    All parties should own up to this one. The jerk shooter was our own, and no matter what side you’re on, your politics will not work very well if they do not represent everyone in some meaningful way. We all do well to think carefully of more than “our own side” before talking.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Dust,

    Thanks for catching that! When I posted that I was going on those false early reports which are now patently wrong. I have made the correction.

    Though, I will say, I am not nor have ever claimed to be a very good journalist!

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Dust,

    Thanks for catching that! When I posted that I was going on those false early reports which are now patently wrong. I have made the correction.

    Though, I will say, I am not nor have ever claimed to be a very good journalist!

  • Joe

    I’m going to stop following this thread as I think it is beyond constructive and I allowed myself to get to worked up over it. Tom, I probably made some poor word choices along that way that may have been less than respectful to you. For that I apologize. I do not, however, apologize for disagreeing with you.

  • Joe

    I’m going to stop following this thread as I think it is beyond constructive and I allowed myself to get to worked up over it. Tom, I probably made some poor word choices along that way that may have been less than respectful to you. For that I apologize. I do not, however, apologize for disagreeing with you.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    It may be convenient to ‘win’ political points by finger-pointing in the immediate aftermath of violence.

    It appears to me that identifying the motivations of Laughner’s violence is best left to the experts at the FBI and its criminologists and psychologists.

    Any debate about motivations probably is best done when we know the facts, not when we’re ignorant.

    Perhaps we ought to focus instead on the clearer consequences of heated rhetoric (separation, prejudice) instead of as yet imagined consequences (violence).

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    It may be convenient to ‘win’ political points by finger-pointing in the immediate aftermath of violence.

    It appears to me that identifying the motivations of Laughner’s violence is best left to the experts at the FBI and its criminologists and psychologists.

    Any debate about motivations probably is best done when we know the facts, not when we’re ignorant.

    Perhaps we ought to focus instead on the clearer consequences of heated rhetoric (separation, prejudice) instead of as yet imagined consequences (violence).

  • Dust

    to Tucker at 58….you’re welcome, but do have to say am worried about you, in the sense that your feelings about certain subjects are so intense and personal, that they motivate you to the extent that you would take precious time out of your busy day and life in order to create your own website to share and promote them….uh, just kidding :)

  • Dust

    to Tucker at 58….you’re welcome, but do have to say am worried about you, in the sense that your feelings about certain subjects are so intense and personal, that they motivate you to the extent that you would take precious time out of your busy day and life in order to create your own website to share and promote them….uh, just kidding :)

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I have to wonder what it is about our society that many want to blame their own enemies for whatever evil rather than those who actually did it.

    It seems there is one guy who acted alone. Whatever his (insane) reasons were, he is still the only one responsible for his actions.

    So have they found out whether he voted for Obama?

    I am kidding, but it is about that stupid. Like one in 50 some odd million voters could somehow reflect on the others. Goofy.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I have to wonder what it is about our society that many want to blame their own enemies for whatever evil rather than those who actually did it.

    It seems there is one guy who acted alone. Whatever his (insane) reasons were, he is still the only one responsible for his actions.

    So have they found out whether he voted for Obama?

    I am kidding, but it is about that stupid. Like one in 50 some odd million voters could somehow reflect on the others. Goofy.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Dust, ha! I’m worried about me too.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Dust, ha! I’m worried about me too.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    #62, In tribes of Africa an outsider visiting the village is considered responsible for any good or ill that befalls the village during his visit.

    In explaining this to an outsider a leader said “There are no coincidences”.

    I wonder if in our modern pagan worldview if we don’t ascribe to the same magical thinking while secularizing it with ambiguous psychological jargon.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    #62, In tribes of Africa an outsider visiting the village is considered responsible for any good or ill that befalls the village during his visit.

    In explaining this to an outsider a leader said “There are no coincidences”.

    I wonder if in our modern pagan worldview if we don’t ascribe to the same magical thinking while secularizing it with ambiguous psychological jargon.

  • Tom Hering

    Joe @ 59, I didn’t find anything disrespectful in your comments. So no worries. And if shadowy government figures come knocking at your door in the middle of the night, it’s not because I gave them your name today. Really. It wasn’t me.

  • Tom Hering

    Joe @ 59, I didn’t find anything disrespectful in your comments. So no worries. And if shadowy government figures come knocking at your door in the middle of the night, it’s not because I gave them your name today. Really. It wasn’t me.

  • Porcell

    What has clearly happened here is that a terrible tragedy perpetrated by a deranged killer has become politicized by the hard left. We have no evidence that this madman was influenced by political rhetoric.

    Few on the left or right criticized Obama when he remarked in 2008 that, if his political opponents came with a knife, he would come with a gun. Most sensible people understood this as exaggerated metaphor, just as they did with Palin’s lock and load metaphor.

    Heated political rhetoric goes far back onAmerican history. John Adams called Alexander Hamilton a a bastard brat of a Scottish pedlar. Lincoln was termed a crude baboon; George Bush was routinely targeted rhetorically for assassination. Those moralists who argue for pure political discourse are dreaming. Politics, like religion, is subject to deep passion, causing a certain quantum of stupid things to be said.

  • Porcell

    What has clearly happened here is that a terrible tragedy perpetrated by a deranged killer has become politicized by the hard left. We have no evidence that this madman was influenced by political rhetoric.

    Few on the left or right criticized Obama when he remarked in 2008 that, if his political opponents came with a knife, he would come with a gun. Most sensible people understood this as exaggerated metaphor, just as they did with Palin’s lock and load metaphor.

    Heated political rhetoric goes far back onAmerican history. John Adams called Alexander Hamilton a a bastard brat of a Scottish pedlar. Lincoln was termed a crude baboon; George Bush was routinely targeted rhetorically for assassination. Those moralists who argue for pure political discourse are dreaming. Politics, like religion, is subject to deep passion, causing a certain quantum of stupid things to be said.

  • Jacob

    J@55
    I agree that the right’s idea of defunding mental health programs is short sighted. But it was mostly the left’s idea to make it almost impossible to institutionalize an insane person until he has killed someone. A problem is what to do with such troubled people to protect them as well as society. The left seems to think insane people have a right to disrupt peaceful society while the right says the police can just pick up the dead bodies because it is cheaper that way.

  • Jacob

    J@55
    I agree that the right’s idea of defunding mental health programs is short sighted. But it was mostly the left’s idea to make it almost impossible to institutionalize an insane person until he has killed someone. A problem is what to do with such troubled people to protect them as well as society. The left seems to think insane people have a right to disrupt peaceful society while the right says the police can just pick up the dead bodies because it is cheaper that way.

  • SKPeterson

    @Jacob – This is one of those sticky issues. From the perspective of one who generally thinks the government botches or will botch any effort it seeks to undertake, the care and treatment of the mentally ill is a particular problem. So, I’ll blame it on the left. ;) Actually, the left’s policy of anti-institutionalization did do some good – the elimination of mental wards as dumping grounds for inconvenient people, but where the right has gone wrong is simply in giving up. The Left has turned the mentally ill out on the street and the Right has turned its back. There are a couple of problems: 1) Insurance companies are loathe to pay for mental health treatment
    2) this is the fault of the psychiatric profession, which has medicalized so many “conditions,” that the number competing for insurance dollars is enormous, thus
    3) legitimately mentally ill people are squeezed out and left to become the primary population behind the statistics for homelessness (As an aside, Loughner lived at home, make from it what you will)
    4) Churches and denominations have shrunk away from providing indigent care (many of whom are likely mentally ill)

    What to do?

    1) Make it easier for families, with the help of courts and churches, to take in and care for the mentally ill.
    2) Encourage churches to build more hospitals, clinics, and treatment centers
    3) Make more doctors and nurses and eliminate the stranglehold the AMA has on the profession at the state level, by creating more church-related teaching hospitals and/or medical programs. I’m generally against anti-trust laws, but the AMA’s control over the production of doctors is on the verge of being criminal (that isn’t too hateful, is it?).

  • SKPeterson

    @Jacob – This is one of those sticky issues. From the perspective of one who generally thinks the government botches or will botch any effort it seeks to undertake, the care and treatment of the mentally ill is a particular problem. So, I’ll blame it on the left. ;) Actually, the left’s policy of anti-institutionalization did do some good – the elimination of mental wards as dumping grounds for inconvenient people, but where the right has gone wrong is simply in giving up. The Left has turned the mentally ill out on the street and the Right has turned its back. There are a couple of problems: 1) Insurance companies are loathe to pay for mental health treatment
    2) this is the fault of the psychiatric profession, which has medicalized so many “conditions,” that the number competing for insurance dollars is enormous, thus
    3) legitimately mentally ill people are squeezed out and left to become the primary population behind the statistics for homelessness (As an aside, Loughner lived at home, make from it what you will)
    4) Churches and denominations have shrunk away from providing indigent care (many of whom are likely mentally ill)

    What to do?

    1) Make it easier for families, with the help of courts and churches, to take in and care for the mentally ill.
    2) Encourage churches to build more hospitals, clinics, and treatment centers
    3) Make more doctors and nurses and eliminate the stranglehold the AMA has on the profession at the state level, by creating more church-related teaching hospitals and/or medical programs. I’m generally against anti-trust laws, but the AMA’s control over the production of doctors is on the verge of being criminal (that isn’t too hateful, is it?).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    You know, I was really looking forward to discussing this sad event on Cranach, to see what people would say. And maybe it’s just that I’m coming to it late, some 60-plus comments in, but … phew, I’m no longer so excited about this discussion.

    I do think Cincinnatus’ comment (@40) is something of a winner, resonating with what I was thinking by the time I’d gotten to that part of the discussion. I especially liked the part where he said:

    So-called conservatives attempted to blame leftist pundits for the Fort Hood shooter; it was inappropriate then, and I think “liberals” ought to extend the same courtesy they craved during that tragedy to this one.

    To all the people here who are shocked — shocked! — at the Left’s attempting to make political hay out of the actions of one man, I look forward to your rushing to decry similar actions by the Right next time they do something similar (they have, and they will). I look forward to all of your spirited defenses of those on the Left the next time someone draws a line — no matter how tenuous or even ridiculous — between some tragedy and rhetoric by someone on the Left.

    Anyhow, along with Louis (@46) and Bryan (@57), I have to recommend yesterday’s Daily Show intro.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    You know, I was really looking forward to discussing this sad event on Cranach, to see what people would say. And maybe it’s just that I’m coming to it late, some 60-plus comments in, but … phew, I’m no longer so excited about this discussion.

    I do think Cincinnatus’ comment (@40) is something of a winner, resonating with what I was thinking by the time I’d gotten to that part of the discussion. I especially liked the part where he said:

    So-called conservatives attempted to blame leftist pundits for the Fort Hood shooter; it was inappropriate then, and I think “liberals” ought to extend the same courtesy they craved during that tragedy to this one.

    To all the people here who are shocked — shocked! — at the Left’s attempting to make political hay out of the actions of one man, I look forward to your rushing to decry similar actions by the Right next time they do something similar (they have, and they will). I look forward to all of your spirited defenses of those on the Left the next time someone draws a line — no matter how tenuous or even ridiculous — between some tragedy and rhetoric by someone on the Left.

    Anyhow, along with Louis (@46) and Bryan (@57), I have to recommend yesterday’s Daily Show intro.

  • Kandyce

    @ Porcell 66, I know I’m dreaming when I imagine civil political discourse, but I’m a dreamer, that’s what I do.

    @SKP 69 You have some good ideas on mental health in this country, it’s a rough situation with no easy remedy

    @tODD 70 Color me not at all shocked by the left’s behavior after this shooting, or shocked by the right’s either. Two wrongs don’t make a right though, and I’m always disappointed by arguments that imply they do.

  • Kandyce

    @ Porcell 66, I know I’m dreaming when I imagine civil political discourse, but I’m a dreamer, that’s what I do.

    @SKP 69 You have some good ideas on mental health in this country, it’s a rough situation with no easy remedy

    @tODD 70 Color me not at all shocked by the left’s behavior after this shooting, or shocked by the right’s either. Two wrongs don’t make a right though, and I’m always disappointed by arguments that imply they do.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “There are a couple of problems: 1) Insurance companies are loathe to pay for mental health treatment”

    One of the reasons for that is that so many psychological conditions do not respond to treatment. Insurance companies pay for treatments that meet a certain standard of care. Ineffective treatments do not meet that minimum standard of care. So, insurance companies won’t pay for them.

    In our zeal to blame someone or something, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that the world is not perfect and we are powerless to make it so. Sure we should make a good faith effort to find effective treatments and we are, but right now there aren’t that many and we can’t lock up everyone who is weird. Spending mountains of money on ineffective measures won’t help anyway. There really isn’t some all powerful group or entity on this earth that is just stingily withholding the money that would make everything perfect instantly.

    I think we all know this, but we sometimes just need to be reminded.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “There are a couple of problems: 1) Insurance companies are loathe to pay for mental health treatment”

    One of the reasons for that is that so many psychological conditions do not respond to treatment. Insurance companies pay for treatments that meet a certain standard of care. Ineffective treatments do not meet that minimum standard of care. So, insurance companies won’t pay for them.

    In our zeal to blame someone or something, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that the world is not perfect and we are powerless to make it so. Sure we should make a good faith effort to find effective treatments and we are, but right now there aren’t that many and we can’t lock up everyone who is weird. Spending mountains of money on ineffective measures won’t help anyway. There really isn’t some all powerful group or entity on this earth that is just stingily withholding the money that would make everything perfect instantly.

    I think we all know this, but we sometimes just need to be reminded.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oops, spoke too soon!

    “Few on the left or right criticized Obama when he remarked in 2008 that, if his political opponents came with a knife, he would come with a gun” (@66).

    Sorry, that statement does not match with reality, at least as far as the “few on the right” part goes. I know you hate footnotes, Porcell, so if you have a better way for me to present you with these links that contradict your claim, let me know. Until then, a list of links showing those on the right criticizing Obama for that statement.

    Politicians on the Right:
    * politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0608/Obama_brings_a_gun_to_a_knife_fight.html
    * blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/06/14/obama-if-they-bring-a-knife-to-the-fight-we-bring-a-gun/
    * thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/14/obama-we-bring-a-gun/

    Blogs on the Right:
    * strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/5545
    * theamericanmind.com/2008/06/14/obama-wants-a-gun-fight/
    * ginacobb.typepad.com/gina_cobb/2008/06/obama-if-they-b.html
    * hotair.com/archives/2008/06/14/obama-channels-sean-connery/
    * rsmccain.blogspot.com/2008/06/obama-delivers-tough-talk.html
    * tammybruce.com/?s=obama+knife+gun
    * powerlineblog.com/archives/2008/06/020757.php

    Feel free to read more people on the Right jumping all over Obama’s remarks. I got tired of clicking on links:
    * memeorandum.com/080614/p48
    * Time-restricted Google search

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oops, spoke too soon!

    “Few on the left or right criticized Obama when he remarked in 2008 that, if his political opponents came with a knife, he would come with a gun” (@66).

    Sorry, that statement does not match with reality, at least as far as the “few on the right” part goes. I know you hate footnotes, Porcell, so if you have a better way for me to present you with these links that contradict your claim, let me know. Until then, a list of links showing those on the right criticizing Obama for that statement.

    Politicians on the Right:
    * politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0608/Obama_brings_a_gun_to_a_knife_fight.html
    * blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/06/14/obama-if-they-bring-a-knife-to-the-fight-we-bring-a-gun/
    * thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/14/obama-we-bring-a-gun/

    Blogs on the Right:
    * strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/5545
    * theamericanmind.com/2008/06/14/obama-wants-a-gun-fight/
    * ginacobb.typepad.com/gina_cobb/2008/06/obama-if-they-b.html
    * hotair.com/archives/2008/06/14/obama-channels-sean-connery/
    * rsmccain.blogspot.com/2008/06/obama-delivers-tough-talk.html
    * tammybruce.com/?s=obama+knife+gun
    * powerlineblog.com/archives/2008/06/020757.php

    Feel free to read more people on the Right jumping all over Obama’s remarks. I got tired of clicking on links:
    * memeorandum.com/080614/p48
    * Time-restricted Google search

  • Carl Vehse

    From today’s WSJ editorial column, “The Authoritarian Media: The New York Times has crossed a moral line,” James Taranto writes:

    After the horrific shooting spree, the editorial board of New York Times offered a voice of reasoned circumspection: “In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions . . .,” the paper counseled.

    Here’s how the sentence continued: “. . . from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.”

    The Tucson Safeway massacre prompted exactly the opposite reaction. What was once known as the paper of record egged on its readers to draw invidious conclusions that are not only prejudicial but contrary to fact. In doing so, the Times has crossed a moral line. Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s editorial:

    “…Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.”

    To describe the Tucson massacre as an act of “political violence” is, quite simply, a lie.

    The leftist NYT fishwrap and its Adam Clymer crossed that line decades ago, but it’s nice that Taranto noticed.

  • Carl Vehse

    From today’s WSJ editorial column, “The Authoritarian Media: The New York Times has crossed a moral line,” James Taranto writes:

    After the horrific shooting spree, the editorial board of New York Times offered a voice of reasoned circumspection: “In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions . . .,” the paper counseled.

    Here’s how the sentence continued: “. . . from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.”

    The Tucson Safeway massacre prompted exactly the opposite reaction. What was once known as the paper of record egged on its readers to draw invidious conclusions that are not only prejudicial but contrary to fact. In doing so, the Times has crossed a moral line. Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s editorial:

    “…Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.”

    To describe the Tucson massacre as an act of “political violence” is, quite simply, a lie.

    The leftist NYT fishwrap and its Adam Clymer crossed that line decades ago, but it’s nice that Taranto noticed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kandyce (@71), who here are you implying is arguing that “two wrongs make a right”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kandyce (@71), who here are you implying is arguing that “two wrongs make a right”?

  • Porcell

    Actually, in the case of the radical Muslim Fort Hood shooter, Hasan, we have much more evidence of an ideological motive than is the case of the Arizona killer, Loughner.

    In the case of Hasan the Left asked for compassion for a deranged Islamic man, while in the case of Laughner, whose politics are at best vague, conservatives are blamed for influencing him.

    The truth is that the left, smarting badly from recently decisive political defeat, sees the Arizona tragedy as rich with political
    potential.

    At any rate, serious analysts know better to distinguish certified nut-cakes from ordinary political rhetoric.

  • Porcell

    Actually, in the case of the radical Muslim Fort Hood shooter, Hasan, we have much more evidence of an ideological motive than is the case of the Arizona killer, Loughner.

    In the case of Hasan the Left asked for compassion for a deranged Islamic man, while in the case of Laughner, whose politics are at best vague, conservatives are blamed for influencing him.

    The truth is that the left, smarting badly from recently decisive political defeat, sees the Arizona tragedy as rich with political
    potential.

    At any rate, serious analysts know better to distinguish certified nut-cakes from ordinary political rhetoric.

  • Kandyce

    @tODD, I was talking to you. You responded to the post by saying we shouldn’t be shocked by the left’s behavior and further implying that it is acceptable behavior because the right does it to. That may have not been your intention, but it definitely reads that way to me.
    I understand that you probably come in here guns up because of the tenor of much of the posters, but your comments consistently imply that the left is not responsible for it’s behavior because of the actions of the right.
    Even when the right is wrong in their behavior (and they often are, we have commenters here as residents in proof), that doesn’t give the left carte blanche to respond uncivilly.
    I’m sorry to leave this hanging like this, but I must go for tonight.

  • Kandyce

    @tODD, I was talking to you. You responded to the post by saying we shouldn’t be shocked by the left’s behavior and further implying that it is acceptable behavior because the right does it to. That may have not been your intention, but it definitely reads that way to me.
    I understand that you probably come in here guns up because of the tenor of much of the posters, but your comments consistently imply that the left is not responsible for it’s behavior because of the actions of the right.
    Even when the right is wrong in their behavior (and they often are, we have commenters here as residents in proof), that doesn’t give the left carte blanche to respond uncivilly.
    I’m sorry to leave this hanging like this, but I must go for tonight.

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus, #40,

    “So-called conservatives attempted to blame leftist pundits for the Fort Hood shooter;”

    Hmmm. Not really disagreeing with your point, but that statement doesn’t pass the “recollection” test. I don’t remember anyone saying the Fort Hood shooter was inflamed by pundits on the left. The argument, as I recall, was whether he was influenced by Islam or not.

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus, #40,

    “So-called conservatives attempted to blame leftist pundits for the Fort Hood shooter;”

    Hmmm. Not really disagreeing with your point, but that statement doesn’t pass the “recollection” test. I don’t remember anyone saying the Fort Hood shooter was inflamed by pundits on the left. The argument, as I recall, was whether he was influenced by Islam or not.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Even when the right is wrong in their behavior (and they often are, we have commenters here as residents in proof),”

    examples please.

    “that doesn’t give the left carte blanche to respond uncivilly.”

    Respond?

    How about this response:

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Even when the right is wrong in their behavior (and they often are, we have commenters here as residents in proof),”

    examples please.

    “that doesn’t give the left carte blanche to respond uncivilly.”

    Respond?

    How about this response:

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kandyce (@78), that really wasn’t my argument at all. I don’t think the reactions to the Arizona event are actually “shocking”, since making political hay out of current events is a common occurrence. That doesn’t mean I endorse the political hay-making — if I did, why would I have endorsed Cincinnatus’ comment (@40)?

    In short, I wasn’t justifying wrong behavior on the part of the Left, at all. I was inviting those rightly decrying the wrong behavior by the Left to be as charitable next time when the situation does not benefit their own political views.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kandyce (@78), that really wasn’t my argument at all. I don’t think the reactions to the Arizona event are actually “shocking”, since making political hay out of current events is a common occurrence. That doesn’t mean I endorse the political hay-making — if I did, why would I have endorsed Cincinnatus’ comment (@40)?

    In short, I wasn’t justifying wrong behavior on the part of the Left, at all. I was inviting those rightly decrying the wrong behavior by the Left to be as charitable next time when the situation does not benefit their own political views.

  • Pingback: Jumpin’ Jack Rhetoric « Gadaboutblogalot's Blog

  • Pingback: Jumpin’ Jack Rhetoric « Gadaboutblogalot's Blog

  • Carl Vehse

    In her speech, “America’s Enduring Strength,” Sarah Palin notes:

    Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.

    President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own.

  • Carl Vehse

    In her speech, “America’s Enduring Strength,” Sarah Palin notes:

    Like many, I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.

    President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own.

  • mark†

    The treatment of former President Bush by the left was and continues to be despicable. No political figure has been subject to the kind of venom and vulgarity as former Governor Palin.

    See: http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2011/01/the-face-of-hate.html#comments

    It would be nice if those who now call for civility would actually practice it.

  • mark†

    The treatment of former President Bush by the left was and continues to be despicable. No political figure has been subject to the kind of venom and vulgarity as former Governor Palin.

    See: http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2011/01/the-face-of-hate.html#comments

    It would be nice if those who now call for civility would actually practice it.

  • Tom Hering

    “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own.” – Sarah Palin channeling Reagan.

    It’s always amazing how the man who commits a monstrous act is disavowed by everyone (except terrorist groups). Suddenly, advertising doesn’t work anymore – no one’s purchases are motivated by what they see and hear, or by what others own and show off. No one is concerned that their children hang around with the right group of friends, and avoid bad influences – real or virtual. No one’s vote is influenced by political campaigns, and no German of the 1930s was … well, you get the idea.

    Yes, suddenly, the monster is a completely independent moral agent. As I said, it’s amazing.

  • Tom Hering

    “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own.” – Sarah Palin channeling Reagan.

    It’s always amazing how the man who commits a monstrous act is disavowed by everyone (except terrorist groups). Suddenly, advertising doesn’t work anymore – no one’s purchases are motivated by what they see and hear, or by what others own and show off. No one is concerned that their children hang around with the right group of friends, and avoid bad influences – real or virtual. No one’s vote is influenced by political campaigns, and no German of the 1930s was … well, you get the idea.

    Yes, suddenly, the monster is a completely independent moral agent. As I said, it’s amazing.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom: I see your point (though my arguments above still hold). So who else would you like to see held culpable? And what should be done to them?

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom: I see your point (though my arguments above still hold). So who else would you like to see held culpable? And what should be done to them?

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, nothing should be “done” to anyone (unless they conspired with the shooter). The question is, what should we “do” to ourselves – how should each of us change his behavior in order to change the atmosphere in America? Heck, I don’t even think that conservative media pundits should be restrained in any way, as I value free speech above every other American ideal. (Unless they’re actually promoting violence and insurrection. Then the restraint on shouting “fire” in a crowded theater comes into play.)

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, nothing should be “done” to anyone (unless they conspired with the shooter). The question is, what should we “do” to ourselves – how should each of us change his behavior in order to change the atmosphere in America? Heck, I don’t even think that conservative media pundits should be restrained in any way, as I value free speech above every other American ideal. (Unless they’re actually promoting violence and insurrection. Then the restraint on shouting “fire” in a crowded theater comes into play.)

  • Cincinnatus

    “Teachable moments” are dandy and everything, but what exactly is teachable from this moment? That mentally unbalanced criminals are capable of committing violent actions? That reprehensible political opportunism is alive and well in our nation?

    What exactly is wrong with the “atmosphere” in this country and what should be changed about it? As I’ve argued earlier (with, I think, validity both historical and theoretical), there is nothing particularly remarkable or disturbing about the current condition of political discourse in the United States; it is as virulent and punchy as ever. Moreover, as DonS has pointed out, hyperbolic, personal, and even violent rhetoric, all the staples of discursive agon, are indelible features of democracy where rhetorical contestation for power is real–indeed, one of the reasons at least part of me harbors a distaste for democracy; it’s too dang noisy and unstable. If there is anything “wrong” or unexpected in our public political discourse, it is the illiteracy latent therein–the Tweets of Chris Matthews and Sarah Palin are barely legible–but that is another problem altogether, and it too is rooted in the leveling tendencies of democratic education and democracy in general. Meanwhile, there is still precisely zero evidence proving that our political “atmosphere” had anything whatsoever to do with the actions of Loughner–who was, it seems increasingly, a lone and crazed gunman. So, yes, perhaps “we” as a culture can, in fact, wash our hands of his deeds. Even if we could not, I direct your attention to Brandenburg v. Ohio, currently our gold-standard regarding the limits of free speech and the advocacy of violence; suffice to say that publicly and literally promoting race war before a crowd of agitated KKK members is constitutionally protected speech. But I would argue that, both constitutionally and morally, the only thing wrong with Rush Limbaugh and Co. (who, I will remind you, had no demonstrable link to Loughner) is that they are intellectually feeble, not that they are goads to political violence.

    Put another way, just because there are postcolonial Marxist revolutionaries (I think the Fort Hood shooter was in this camp? If not, the point still holds) doesn’t mean we should reevaluate the placement of Marx in our educational curricula. That Hitler read Nietzsche doesn’t mean we should ban Nietzsche. But then, you’re not asking that we ban those who may or may not have inspired Loughner’s actions–so I’m not really sure what you want. You ask what “each of us” should do to change his behavior in light of our “atmosphere” and the shooting. I’ll tell you what I’ll change: precisely nothing, as I have no connection whatsoever to Loughner, and I have virtually no capacity (at the moment) to shape our atmosphere.

    In short, I’m not quite sure where you’re going with this. Yes, like you, I reject the autonomous liberal (small-l) individual who alone is responsible for his deeds. But what does such rejection entail in the current situation, particularly given our own communal standards and Constitutional barriers? I’m not sure if it entails anything; no one has demonstrated that our “atmosphere” has anything whatsoever to do with Loughner and his bullets, and even fewer have outlined how the atmosphere should be changed in a way that would prevent assassinations by insane actors.

  • Cincinnatus

    “Teachable moments” are dandy and everything, but what exactly is teachable from this moment? That mentally unbalanced criminals are capable of committing violent actions? That reprehensible political opportunism is alive and well in our nation?

    What exactly is wrong with the “atmosphere” in this country and what should be changed about it? As I’ve argued earlier (with, I think, validity both historical and theoretical), there is nothing particularly remarkable or disturbing about the current condition of political discourse in the United States; it is as virulent and punchy as ever. Moreover, as DonS has pointed out, hyperbolic, personal, and even violent rhetoric, all the staples of discursive agon, are indelible features of democracy where rhetorical contestation for power is real–indeed, one of the reasons at least part of me harbors a distaste for democracy; it’s too dang noisy and unstable. If there is anything “wrong” or unexpected in our public political discourse, it is the illiteracy latent therein–the Tweets of Chris Matthews and Sarah Palin are barely legible–but that is another problem altogether, and it too is rooted in the leveling tendencies of democratic education and democracy in general. Meanwhile, there is still precisely zero evidence proving that our political “atmosphere” had anything whatsoever to do with the actions of Loughner–who was, it seems increasingly, a lone and crazed gunman. So, yes, perhaps “we” as a culture can, in fact, wash our hands of his deeds. Even if we could not, I direct your attention to Brandenburg v. Ohio, currently our gold-standard regarding the limits of free speech and the advocacy of violence; suffice to say that publicly and literally promoting race war before a crowd of agitated KKK members is constitutionally protected speech. But I would argue that, both constitutionally and morally, the only thing wrong with Rush Limbaugh and Co. (who, I will remind you, had no demonstrable link to Loughner) is that they are intellectually feeble, not that they are goads to political violence.

    Put another way, just because there are postcolonial Marxist revolutionaries (I think the Fort Hood shooter was in this camp? If not, the point still holds) doesn’t mean we should reevaluate the placement of Marx in our educational curricula. That Hitler read Nietzsche doesn’t mean we should ban Nietzsche. But then, you’re not asking that we ban those who may or may not have inspired Loughner’s actions–so I’m not really sure what you want. You ask what “each of us” should do to change his behavior in light of our “atmosphere” and the shooting. I’ll tell you what I’ll change: precisely nothing, as I have no connection whatsoever to Loughner, and I have virtually no capacity (at the moment) to shape our atmosphere.

    In short, I’m not quite sure where you’re going with this. Yes, like you, I reject the autonomous liberal (small-l) individual who alone is responsible for his deeds. But what does such rejection entail in the current situation, particularly given our own communal standards and Constitutional barriers? I’m not sure if it entails anything; no one has demonstrated that our “atmosphere” has anything whatsoever to do with Loughner and his bullets, and even fewer have outlined how the atmosphere should be changed in a way that would prevent assassinations by insane actors.

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, I reject the argument that “it’s always been this way.” I’m just a few years away from turning sixty, and I remember very well those times when the media and politicians were far more civil – when the line that shouldn’t be crossed was drawn a lot closer to one’s own toes.

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, I reject the argument that “it’s always been this way.” I’m just a few years away from turning sixty, and I remember very well those times when the media and politicians were far more civil – when the line that shouldn’t be crossed was drawn a lot closer to one’s own toes.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom, that’s called nostalgia. I can show you heaps and heaps of evidence to the contrary, though I’ve not got time at the moment, and it likely wouldn’t convince you anyway.

    But that’s all beside the point, as the relative civility of the media and politicians still has no demonstrable connection (direct or indirect) to the shooting in Arizona.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom, that’s called nostalgia. I can show you heaps and heaps of evidence to the contrary, though I’ve not got time at the moment, and it likely wouldn’t convince you anyway.

    But that’s all beside the point, as the relative civility of the media and politicians still has no demonstrable connection (direct or indirect) to the shooting in Arizona.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom (@84), at least the right-wingers are consistent in this belief in completely independent moral agents.

    Remember the Ft. Hood shooting? Remember the news stories in which Walter Reed officials had suggested that Hasan might have been “psychotic”, but ultimately decided not to act on these concerns?

    Remember how, upon learning about these concerns about Hasan’s mental state, right-wingers — to a man — all declined to blame Hasan’s actions on Islam, claiming that doing so would be attempting to score cheap relgious/cultural/political points at a time when we needed to focus on those who had been harmed by this tragedy performed by one man with mental problems?

    Remember that, Tom?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom (@84), at least the right-wingers are consistent in this belief in completely independent moral agents.

    Remember the Ft. Hood shooting? Remember the news stories in which Walter Reed officials had suggested that Hasan might have been “psychotic”, but ultimately decided not to act on these concerns?

    Remember how, upon learning about these concerns about Hasan’s mental state, right-wingers — to a man — all declined to blame Hasan’s actions on Islam, claiming that doing so would be attempting to score cheap relgious/cultural/political points at a time when we needed to focus on those who had been harmed by this tragedy performed by one man with mental problems?

    Remember that, Tom?

  • Tom Hering

    “… I’ve not got time at the moment …” – Cincinnatus @ 89.

    Aha! I knew it! You’re really Grace! :-D

  • Tom Hering

    “… I’ve not got time at the moment …” – Cincinnatus @ 89.

    Aha! I knew it! You’re really Grace! :-D

  • Tom Hering

    “Remember that, Tom?” – tODD @ 90.

    I’m “nostalgic.” I remember everything.

  • Tom Hering

    “Remember that, Tom?” – tODD @ 90.

    I’m “nostalgic.” I remember everything.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 84 and following: Cincinnatus states the matter well. My question to you is, if you don’t believe Loughner was an independent moral agent, then whom do you think should step up and claim responsibility for his actions, and why? Be very specific, particularly if you are going to blame his actions only on those who politically oppose you, and take no responsibility yourself.

    Sometime, in this world, bad things happen, for no discernible reason. Madmen exist in this world. I’m not too far behind you, agewise, yet I don’t recall “those times when the media and politicians were far more civil”. Sure, public discourse was more civil back in the ’60′s and ’70′s, for the simple reason that Big Media controlled the airwaves and presses, and no one else had a voice in daily discourse. But, since I was born, just off the top of my head, JFK, RFK, MLK, George Wallace, Gerald Ford, George Moscone, and Ronald Reagan were all the victims of assassinations or attempts by lone mad gunmen/women (I’m sure I’m leaving others out, and I’m not delving into unproven, silly, conspiracy theories). Not too civil, that, but we are stuck with it, and I’m certain there will be more in the future, until Christ returns. There’s nothing any of us can do about these things except realize we live in a fallen world, and pray for the victims and their families.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 84 and following: Cincinnatus states the matter well. My question to you is, if you don’t believe Loughner was an independent moral agent, then whom do you think should step up and claim responsibility for his actions, and why? Be very specific, particularly if you are going to blame his actions only on those who politically oppose you, and take no responsibility yourself.

    Sometime, in this world, bad things happen, for no discernible reason. Madmen exist in this world. I’m not too far behind you, agewise, yet I don’t recall “those times when the media and politicians were far more civil”. Sure, public discourse was more civil back in the ’60′s and ’70′s, for the simple reason that Big Media controlled the airwaves and presses, and no one else had a voice in daily discourse. But, since I was born, just off the top of my head, JFK, RFK, MLK, George Wallace, Gerald Ford, George Moscone, and Ronald Reagan were all the victims of assassinations or attempts by lone mad gunmen/women (I’m sure I’m leaving others out, and I’m not delving into unproven, silly, conspiracy theories). Not too civil, that, but we are stuck with it, and I’m certain there will be more in the future, until Christ returns. There’s nothing any of us can do about these things except realize we live in a fallen world, and pray for the victims and their families.

  • Tom Hering

    Well, goshdarnit DonS, we’ve got to do something when faced with things we can do nothing about. Examining ourselves and changing for the better isn’t exactly a terrible response.

  • Tom Hering

    Well, goshdarnit DonS, we’ve got to do something when faced with things we can do nothing about. Examining ourselves and changing for the better isn’t exactly a terrible response.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 90: I appreciate your concern for balance, and it’s certainly justified. I recall responding in a very measured way when the news came out about the Ft. Hood shootings. I honestly don’t believe the conservative meme was to blame liberals and their outspokenness, as has been the case by many liberals presently concerning conservatives. But, that case was not on all fours with the Giffords shootings. Hasan shouted “Ali Akbar” (sp) as he attacked, and had a clear Muslim connection, as clergy. He seemed to be acting based on motivations rooted in his Muslim faith. It was reasonable, in that light, especially given past experience, to express concern that he might have been in conspiracy with Muslim terrorists and to wonder if this angle was being properly investigated by authorities, and also to wonder about future security measures on military bases.

    On the other hand, Loughner expressed nothing discernible while engaged in his heinous acts, and there was absolutely nothing upon which to base the diatribes in the media concerning conservative outspokenness. If one desires to tone down political rhetoric, it doesn’t seem wise to stir it up by attacking your political opponents without evidence or measure.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 90: I appreciate your concern for balance, and it’s certainly justified. I recall responding in a very measured way when the news came out about the Ft. Hood shootings. I honestly don’t believe the conservative meme was to blame liberals and their outspokenness, as has been the case by many liberals presently concerning conservatives. But, that case was not on all fours with the Giffords shootings. Hasan shouted “Ali Akbar” (sp) as he attacked, and had a clear Muslim connection, as clergy. He seemed to be acting based on motivations rooted in his Muslim faith. It was reasonable, in that light, especially given past experience, to express concern that he might have been in conspiracy with Muslim terrorists and to wonder if this angle was being properly investigated by authorities, and also to wonder about future security measures on military bases.

    On the other hand, Loughner expressed nothing discernible while engaged in his heinous acts, and there was absolutely nothing upon which to base the diatribes in the media concerning conservative outspokenness. If one desires to tone down political rhetoric, it doesn’t seem wise to stir it up by attacking your political opponents without evidence or measure.

  • DonS

    Exactly my point, Tom @ 96. We should be examining OURSELVES, not our political opponents.

  • DonS

    Exactly my point, Tom @ 96. We should be examining OURSELVES, not our political opponents.

  • Tom Hering

    Exactly my point too, DonS. Kumbaya. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    Exactly my point too, DonS. Kumbaya. ;-)

  • DonS

    Ohhhh. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that “Tom Hering” is actually a pseudonym for “Joyce Kaufman”, “Sharron Angle”, “Sarah Palin” (post 14), or “David Wynn Miller” (post 42), or that you were a member of “the right” or “right-wing” (posts 17 and 35).

    My mistake. ;-)

  • DonS

    Ohhhh. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that “Tom Hering” is actually a pseudonym for “Joyce Kaufman”, “Sharron Angle”, “Sarah Palin” (post 14), or “David Wynn Miller” (post 42), or that you were a member of “the right” or “right-wing” (posts 17 and 35).

    My mistake. ;-)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@97) said, “I honestly don’t believe the conservative meme was to blame liberals,” but then, that wasn’t my point, either.

    My point is, when can we safely assert that a person with mental issues acting on behalf of others — a group, a culture, a religion, an ideology — and when should we conclude he was merely acting on his own, mentally-ill ideas?

    Right-wingers are simply aghast that anyone would try to score points based on the actions of a mentally-ill man. At least when he shoots a Democrat. But when a man described as “disconnected, aloof, paranoid, belligerent, and schizoid” kills his fellow soldiers — oh, and shouts “Allahu Akbar and had emailed Anwar al-Awlaki (which is what I presume you were referring to with “a clear Muslim connection, as clergy”) — then his mental issues are judged to not have precluded him from freely exercising his agency as influenced by ideology and the words of others.

    So sometimes ideology is to blame for a mass shooting. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, the words of others are to blame for inciting murder. Sometimes they’re not.

    Which makes me wonder, if Loughner had shouted “Allahu Akbar” before he pulled the trigger, would conservatives still be stumbling over themselves to insist that he is a mentally ill man acting alone, and decrying anyone trying to draw a larger conclusion from his actions?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@97) said, “I honestly don’t believe the conservative meme was to blame liberals,” but then, that wasn’t my point, either.

    My point is, when can we safely assert that a person with mental issues acting on behalf of others — a group, a culture, a religion, an ideology — and when should we conclude he was merely acting on his own, mentally-ill ideas?

    Right-wingers are simply aghast that anyone would try to score points based on the actions of a mentally-ill man. At least when he shoots a Democrat. But when a man described as “disconnected, aloof, paranoid, belligerent, and schizoid” kills his fellow soldiers — oh, and shouts “Allahu Akbar and had emailed Anwar al-Awlaki (which is what I presume you were referring to with “a clear Muslim connection, as clergy”) — then his mental issues are judged to not have precluded him from freely exercising his agency as influenced by ideology and the words of others.

    So sometimes ideology is to blame for a mass shooting. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, the words of others are to blame for inciting murder. Sometimes they’re not.

    Which makes me wonder, if Loughner had shouted “Allahu Akbar” before he pulled the trigger, would conservatives still be stumbling over themselves to insist that he is a mentally ill man acting alone, and decrying anyone trying to draw a larger conclusion from his actions?

  • Tom Hering

    Okay, so it’s exactly my larger point – that we must ultimately examine ourselves, after first pointing a finger at those conservatives who are clearly guilty of everything that’s wrong with the world. Happy now? ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    Okay, so it’s exactly my larger point – that we must ultimately examine ourselves, after first pointing a finger at those conservatives who are clearly guilty of everything that’s wrong with the world. Happy now? ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    Sorry. My comment @ 102 was a reply to DonS @ 100.

  • Tom Hering

    Sorry. My comment @ 102 was a reply to DonS @ 100.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 102 — Yes. Thank you. ;-)

  • DonS

    Tom @ 102 — Yes. Thank you. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    WARNING. The following is from an editorial by CBS News.com editor-in-chief, Dan Farber. Which means it will be dismissed out of hand, by some, as liberal media-elite nonsense. Still, it’s an excellent example of the non-conservative argument.

    “Did the vitriol in political discourse, crosshairs and phrases like ‘Don’t retreat, reload’ (by Sarah Palin) or ‘If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun’ (by President Obama) influence Loughner’s state of mind?”

    “Perhaps in an idiosyncratic way, according to Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University. ‘Political rhetoric provided some of the context for his thinking, the pretext for his actions, but the core reasons for his actions were his psychosis,’ Lieberman told National Journal.”

    “Regardless of what motivated Loughner to pull the trigger, the tragedy in Tucson has put the tone of political discourse, and those who tend to inflame more than inform, in the spotlight.”

    “Campaigning has often been rough and tumble and full of venom and half-truths since the founding of the country, but as Giffords told MSNBC on March 25, 2010, after her campaign headquarters in Tucson was vandalized, ‘In the years that some of my colleagues have served – 20 to 30 years – they’ve never seen it like this.’”

    “In reference to her district being targeted with the image of a crosshairs gun sight by Sarah Palin, Giffords said, ‘We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, the way she has it depicted, it has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that they have to realize that there are consequences to that action.’”

    “But Palin doesn’t seem to think that there are any negative consequences associated with her campaign words and images.”

    “Like the rest of the country, she was shocked by what happened to Giffords and others killed or wounded in Loughner’s rampage. Following the Saturday shooting rampage, she issued a statement, offering her ‘sincere condolences’ to the families. At the same time, Palin’s sighting of Giffords in the crosshairs stirred up the press and pundits regarding the overall tone of political discourse and the former Alaska governor’s campaign rhetoric.”

    “Palin surfaced again on Wednesday with an eight-minute video on her Facebook page, in which she said, ‘There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy,’ and used the anti-Semitic term ‘blood libel’ in an accusation aimed at journalists and pundits.”

    “‘If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible,’ Palin said.”

    “Blood libel is the false accusation, perhaps originating in the 12th century, that Jews murder children to use their blood for religious rituals and holidays. Palin appears to be appropriating the term to indicate that she is a victim, as a result of some groups and individuals claiming that her political rhetoric contributed to the actions of the deranged, lone gunman.”

    “But the real victims are Rep. Giffords and the others who were wounded or killed, not Palin, who appears to be tone deaf to Giffords statement that there are consequences to actions. The consequences of Palin’s crosshairs may not be directly related to the shooting rampage in Tucson and assassination attempt, but they are related to the level of divisiveness in the country.”

    “‘Community leaders, not just political leaders, need to stand back when things get too fired up,’ Giffords said during her MSNBC appearance in March 2010.’

    “The likely presidential aspirant doesn’t seem to take any responsibility for ratcheting up the political dialog or believe that there is any need to moderate the tone of political discourse in America.”

    “In her video, Palin said, ‘And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.’”

    “In responding to the crosshairs image from the Palin camp, Giffords wasn’t advocating for intolerance to differing opinions or muzzling dissent. She was calling for more civility in the democratic process.”

    “‘Our democracy is a light, a beacon really around the world. Change is affected change at the ballot box … and not because of these outbursts of violence in certain cases and the yelling,’ she told MSNBC.”

    “It’s time for Palin and others engaged in the democratic process to stand back and consider the full impact of their words and images.”

  • Tom Hering

    WARNING. The following is from an editorial by CBS News.com editor-in-chief, Dan Farber. Which means it will be dismissed out of hand, by some, as liberal media-elite nonsense. Still, it’s an excellent example of the non-conservative argument.

    “Did the vitriol in political discourse, crosshairs and phrases like ‘Don’t retreat, reload’ (by Sarah Palin) or ‘If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun’ (by President Obama) influence Loughner’s state of mind?”

    “Perhaps in an idiosyncratic way, according to Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University. ‘Political rhetoric provided some of the context for his thinking, the pretext for his actions, but the core reasons for his actions were his psychosis,’ Lieberman told National Journal.”

    “Regardless of what motivated Loughner to pull the trigger, the tragedy in Tucson has put the tone of political discourse, and those who tend to inflame more than inform, in the spotlight.”

    “Campaigning has often been rough and tumble and full of venom and half-truths since the founding of the country, but as Giffords told MSNBC on March 25, 2010, after her campaign headquarters in Tucson was vandalized, ‘In the years that some of my colleagues have served – 20 to 30 years – they’ve never seen it like this.’”

    “In reference to her district being targeted with the image of a crosshairs gun sight by Sarah Palin, Giffords said, ‘We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, the way she has it depicted, it has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that they have to realize that there are consequences to that action.’”

    “But Palin doesn’t seem to think that there are any negative consequences associated with her campaign words and images.”

    “Like the rest of the country, she was shocked by what happened to Giffords and others killed or wounded in Loughner’s rampage. Following the Saturday shooting rampage, she issued a statement, offering her ‘sincere condolences’ to the families. At the same time, Palin’s sighting of Giffords in the crosshairs stirred up the press and pundits regarding the overall tone of political discourse and the former Alaska governor’s campaign rhetoric.”

    “Palin surfaced again on Wednesday with an eight-minute video on her Facebook page, in which she said, ‘There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy,’ and used the anti-Semitic term ‘blood libel’ in an accusation aimed at journalists and pundits.”

    “‘If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible,’ Palin said.”

    “Blood libel is the false accusation, perhaps originating in the 12th century, that Jews murder children to use their blood for religious rituals and holidays. Palin appears to be appropriating the term to indicate that she is a victim, as a result of some groups and individuals claiming that her political rhetoric contributed to the actions of the deranged, lone gunman.”

    “But the real victims are Rep. Giffords and the others who were wounded or killed, not Palin, who appears to be tone deaf to Giffords statement that there are consequences to actions. The consequences of Palin’s crosshairs may not be directly related to the shooting rampage in Tucson and assassination attempt, but they are related to the level of divisiveness in the country.”

    “‘Community leaders, not just political leaders, need to stand back when things get too fired up,’ Giffords said during her MSNBC appearance in March 2010.’

    “The likely presidential aspirant doesn’t seem to take any responsibility for ratcheting up the political dialog or believe that there is any need to moderate the tone of political discourse in America.”

    “In her video, Palin said, ‘And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.’”

    “In responding to the crosshairs image from the Palin camp, Giffords wasn’t advocating for intolerance to differing opinions or muzzling dissent. She was calling for more civility in the democratic process.”

    “‘Our democracy is a light, a beacon really around the world. Change is affected change at the ballot box … and not because of these outbursts of violence in certain cases and the yelling,’ she told MSNBC.”

    “It’s time for Palin and others engaged in the democratic process to stand back and consider the full impact of their words and images.”

  • DonS

    tODD @ 101: It was not my intention to excuse everything that might have been said by others in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings. I believe that anything I said at that time was circumspect and didn’t involve making wild accusations against those with whom I have political disagreements, concerning their politics and their expression of those politics.

    The point I was trying to make @ 97 is that the two situations differ in their factual contexts. With respect to the Giffords shootings, there was never any indication by Loughner as to his motivations for doing what he did. The cries concerning our political environment and what it might have done to provoke this act were not based in any evidence whatsoever, and to the extent that they focused on the speaker/writer’s political opponents they were counter-productive. Groundlessly accusing your political opponents of wrongdoing, while holding your side blameless (or at least not bothering to cite specific examples from your own side while citing numerous examples from the opposing side) is hardly going to calm the political atmosphere.

    On the other hand, Hasan was a Muslim chaplain, and shouted a Muslim phrase often used by Muslim terrorists during the shootings. There was, then, some immediate evidence of a nexus to terrorism, though subsequent evidence seems to indicate that he acted alone and was a nut. It was, thus, reasonable to express concerns related to terrorism and the need to ensure that this angle was fully investigated and appropriate security measures taken. To speak ill of Muslims generally, as a faith group, would have been entirely inappropriate, however.

    In both instances, a full investigation and appropriate security precautions are necessary. We’re just talking, here, about what constitutes an appropriate response by our media, pundits, and politicians, as well as how we as individuals should respond.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 101: It was not my intention to excuse everything that might have been said by others in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings. I believe that anything I said at that time was circumspect and didn’t involve making wild accusations against those with whom I have political disagreements, concerning their politics and their expression of those politics.

    The point I was trying to make @ 97 is that the two situations differ in their factual contexts. With respect to the Giffords shootings, there was never any indication by Loughner as to his motivations for doing what he did. The cries concerning our political environment and what it might have done to provoke this act were not based in any evidence whatsoever, and to the extent that they focused on the speaker/writer’s political opponents they were counter-productive. Groundlessly accusing your political opponents of wrongdoing, while holding your side blameless (or at least not bothering to cite specific examples from your own side while citing numerous examples from the opposing side) is hardly going to calm the political atmosphere.

    On the other hand, Hasan was a Muslim chaplain, and shouted a Muslim phrase often used by Muslim terrorists during the shootings. There was, then, some immediate evidence of a nexus to terrorism, though subsequent evidence seems to indicate that he acted alone and was a nut. It was, thus, reasonable to express concerns related to terrorism and the need to ensure that this angle was fully investigated and appropriate security measures taken. To speak ill of Muslims generally, as a faith group, would have been entirely inappropriate, however.

    In both instances, a full investigation and appropriate security precautions are necessary. We’re just talking, here, about what constitutes an appropriate response by our media, pundits, and politicians, as well as how we as individuals should respond.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 105: “Regardless of what motivated Loughner to pull the trigger, the tragedy in Tucson has put the tone of political discourse, and those who tend to inflame more than inform, in the spotlight.” — To accuse, without evidence, your opponents of motivating a gunman to assassinate a politician is to inflame, not inform.

    “‘Community leaders, not just political leaders, need to stand back when things get too fired up,’ Giffords said during her MSNBC appearance in March 2010.’” — Agreed. I wish the Sheriff of Pima County had stood back, rather than make a fool of himself with his absurd statements.

    “At the same time, Palin’s sighting of Giffords in the crosshairs stirred up the press and pundits regarding the overall tone of political discourse and the former Alaska governor’s campaign rhetoric.” — Please. The “sighting of Giffords in the crosshairs”? I believe it was Giffords’ congressional district that was targeted, not Giffords. Sheesh. Politicos have been using the phrase “targeted district” and supplying maps showing targeted districts, using target symbols, since time immemorial. When this issue arose back in 2008, numerous prior examples of both sides using maps with targets on them to denote these districts were produced, but for some reason when Palin does it, she alone is responsible for Loughner’s actions. CBS is engaging in exactly the type of inflammatory rhetoric it claims to decry. Ridiculous, absurd, and sad.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 105: “Regardless of what motivated Loughner to pull the trigger, the tragedy in Tucson has put the tone of political discourse, and those who tend to inflame more than inform, in the spotlight.” — To accuse, without evidence, your opponents of motivating a gunman to assassinate a politician is to inflame, not inform.

    “‘Community leaders, not just political leaders, need to stand back when things get too fired up,’ Giffords said during her MSNBC appearance in March 2010.’” — Agreed. I wish the Sheriff of Pima County had stood back, rather than make a fool of himself with his absurd statements.

    “At the same time, Palin’s sighting of Giffords in the crosshairs stirred up the press and pundits regarding the overall tone of political discourse and the former Alaska governor’s campaign rhetoric.” — Please. The “sighting of Giffords in the crosshairs”? I believe it was Giffords’ congressional district that was targeted, not Giffords. Sheesh. Politicos have been using the phrase “targeted district” and supplying maps showing targeted districts, using target symbols, since time immemorial. When this issue arose back in 2008, numerous prior examples of both sides using maps with targets on them to denote these districts were produced, but for some reason when Palin does it, she alone is responsible for Loughner’s actions. CBS is engaging in exactly the type of inflammatory rhetoric it claims to decry. Ridiculous, absurd, and sad.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bob (@108), why would you bother to write a comment like that?

    You don’t agree with DonS. Fine. Then dispute him. Tell me how your brain reacts to his ideas, not your various sphincters.

    Also, it’s spelled “retch”. Unless you were trying to make a different point about your own condition.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bob (@108), why would you bother to write a comment like that?

    You don’t agree with DonS. Fine. Then dispute him. Tell me how your brain reacts to his ideas, not your various sphincters.

    Also, it’s spelled “retch”. Unless you were trying to make a different point about your own condition.

  • DonS

    Heh. Good one, Bob. Way to elevate the discourse.

    Hey, by any chance, are you and J related?

  • DonS

    Heh. Good one, Bob. Way to elevate the discourse.

    Hey, by any chance, are you and J related?

  • Wayne Almlie

    I’ll let Hillary speak for me.

  • Wayne Almlie

    I’ll let Hillary speak for me.

  • Tom Hering

    Bob @ 108: DonS has been civil. He’s not part of the national problem he’s loathe to admit exists.

  • Tom Hering

    Bob @ 108: DonS has been civil. He’s not part of the national problem he’s loathe to admit exists.

  • Stephen

    I’ve missed a lot of this, and I will admit that the news cycle is not my thing so much simply because it is just too much most days. That is not meant to trivialize what is being discussed, but actually to confess to my lack of knowledge of the details here. It’s funny though. These days you can pick up so much without even trying. This particular tragedy I have avoided because I am a father and I cannot imagine what the parents of that little girl are going through.

    But I have perused the comments and I have a question or sort of an idea. Is there a level at which one could hold another responsible for what another does or even says? Lawyers chime in please. Say for instance the guy with the abortion site with the blood dripping. At what point does it go from heated words to inciting actual violence. Is it a matter of language, specific words or constructions?

    I don’t claim an answer. It seems there are situations where one could be culpable for the commission of a crime by another simply by the language you use. How does that work out?

    I remembered a teacher who said that a preacher should use whatever rhetorical device he had at his disposal to get people to hear the sermon. It was like he was entreating students to be near deceitful, like in advertising or something – lay it on as thick as you know how. In Lutheranism we say the Word comes in, with and under and that the pastor is actually passive. God is the actor. But that’s a little side note.

    And that is maybe the wrong idea about advertising too. Marketing is really about discovering what motivates people and providing that to them. People will not buy what they do not want. Why they want it is not the issue really. They want it. And the seller wants to get it to them so he can get what he wants – profit. So, in that case, the agency or action, we say, is with the one who responds to the thing offered. They don’t have to want it.

    In the case of this discussion, you might say it is the rhetorician who says “do these things and the right results you want will happen” that is the seller who walks away with the loot and profits from the response to what they are selling. What are they selling. Demonization and vilification of the other guy perhaps? Villains must not be suffered right? Lessening their power or getting rid of them altogether “by any means necessary” seems like the pay off to me. Remember how that sent a chill through white society when Malcolm X said those words?

    Well, I’m not sure the metaphor holds, but it seems like a pretty good one for this culture, running as it is on a capitalist economy. So the guy with the bloody website sells the idea of killing abortion doctors and he finds buyers. He knows they are out there, buyers who like the idea of being righteous killers. The website guy sells his product in a way they like to hear it, that they will be righteous. It’s just like good marketing. These doctors get taken out – right between the cross hairs. And he keeps his website going and pockets his righteous “profit.” Is that what’s happened?

    I guess capitalism is pretty selfish isn’t it? Just sayin’

  • Stephen

    I’ve missed a lot of this, and I will admit that the news cycle is not my thing so much simply because it is just too much most days. That is not meant to trivialize what is being discussed, but actually to confess to my lack of knowledge of the details here. It’s funny though. These days you can pick up so much without even trying. This particular tragedy I have avoided because I am a father and I cannot imagine what the parents of that little girl are going through.

    But I have perused the comments and I have a question or sort of an idea. Is there a level at which one could hold another responsible for what another does or even says? Lawyers chime in please. Say for instance the guy with the abortion site with the blood dripping. At what point does it go from heated words to inciting actual violence. Is it a matter of language, specific words or constructions?

    I don’t claim an answer. It seems there are situations where one could be culpable for the commission of a crime by another simply by the language you use. How does that work out?

    I remembered a teacher who said that a preacher should use whatever rhetorical device he had at his disposal to get people to hear the sermon. It was like he was entreating students to be near deceitful, like in advertising or something – lay it on as thick as you know how. In Lutheranism we say the Word comes in, with and under and that the pastor is actually passive. God is the actor. But that’s a little side note.

    And that is maybe the wrong idea about advertising too. Marketing is really about discovering what motivates people and providing that to them. People will not buy what they do not want. Why they want it is not the issue really. They want it. And the seller wants to get it to them so he can get what he wants – profit. So, in that case, the agency or action, we say, is with the one who responds to the thing offered. They don’t have to want it.

    In the case of this discussion, you might say it is the rhetorician who says “do these things and the right results you want will happen” that is the seller who walks away with the loot and profits from the response to what they are selling. What are they selling. Demonization and vilification of the other guy perhaps? Villains must not be suffered right? Lessening their power or getting rid of them altogether “by any means necessary” seems like the pay off to me. Remember how that sent a chill through white society when Malcolm X said those words?

    Well, I’m not sure the metaphor holds, but it seems like a pretty good one for this culture, running as it is on a capitalist economy. So the guy with the bloody website sells the idea of killing abortion doctors and he finds buyers. He knows they are out there, buyers who like the idea of being righteous killers. The website guy sells his product in a way they like to hear it, that they will be righteous. It’s just like good marketing. These doctors get taken out – right between the cross hairs. And he keeps his website going and pockets his righteous “profit.” Is that what’s happened?

    I guess capitalism is pretty selfish isn’t it? Just sayin’

  • Carl Vehse

    Tom Hering @105,

    Sarah Palin’s use of “blood libel” is a well-chosen and perfect description of the MSM’s reporting on the Tucson massacre. The apoplectic response by the fifth column media is evidence the phrase fits the media’s hawking the leftist agenda hand-in-glove.

  • Carl Vehse

    Tom Hering @105,

    Sarah Palin’s use of “blood libel” is a well-chosen and perfect description of the MSM’s reporting on the Tucson massacre. The apoplectic response by the fifth column media is evidence the phrase fits the media’s hawking the leftist agenda hand-in-glove.

  • Tom Hering

    “Sarah Palin’s use of ‘blood libel’ is a well-chosen and perfect description of the MSM’s reporting on the Tucson massacre. The apoplectic response by the fifth column media is evidence the phrase fits the media’s hawking the leftist agenda hand-in-glove.” – Carl Vehse @ 114.

    Let me try something …

    .114 @ Vehse Carl – “.glove-in-hand agenda leftist the hawking media’s the fits phrase the evidence is media column fifth the by response apoplectic The .massacre Tucson the on reporting MSM’s the of description perfect and well-chosen a is ‘libel blood’ of use Palin’s Sarah”

    Nope, it doesn’t make any more sense that way, either.

  • Tom Hering

    “Sarah Palin’s use of ‘blood libel’ is a well-chosen and perfect description of the MSM’s reporting on the Tucson massacre. The apoplectic response by the fifth column media is evidence the phrase fits the media’s hawking the leftist agenda hand-in-glove.” – Carl Vehse @ 114.

    Let me try something …

    .114 @ Vehse Carl – “.glove-in-hand agenda leftist the hawking media’s the fits phrase the evidence is media column fifth the by response apoplectic The .massacre Tucson the on reporting MSM’s the of description perfect and well-chosen a is ‘libel blood’ of use Palin’s Sarah”

    Nope, it doesn’t make any more sense that way, either.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Hmm.. I dunno, Tom.

    They way Carl V. wrote it made sense to me.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Hmm.. I dunno, Tom.

    They way Carl V. wrote it made sense to me.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom (@115 and elsewhere), how cute you are now! Though–or perhaps because–you’ve reduced yourself to petty insults, I’m going to claim that I’ve made real progress with you and claim a minor victory. In early portions of this thread, you blustered in (as DonS has tabulated) asserting that the “political atmosphere” in contemporary America was certainly partially (at least) responsible for Loughner’s actions, and that this political atmosphere, of course, is the product of, first, Sarah Palin, right-wing pundits, and David Wynn Miller. The latter at least makes some sense, but it is still entirely unconfirmed. When, at various points, your arguments were demonstrated to be foolish–for instance, we have no evidence that Lougher is “definitely right-wing,” or that he was in any way motivated by any member of the right-wing, or that he was at all influenced by our current political climate, or even that our current political climate is particularly unique or hostile when compared with historical patterns and rhetoric, and that censorship is out of the question in any case–you finally averred (@86ff) that your real purpose for being here and your real argument was that this shooting should give us pause to examine ourselves so that we might change our own behavior, not to point fingers at anyone other than Loughner. But when it was pointed out that none of “us” in this thread had anything to do with the shooting and almost as little to do with the general political climate in the United States, you resorted to cutesy jokes and half-hearted insults.

    So what, really, is your point?

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom (@115 and elsewhere), how cute you are now! Though–or perhaps because–you’ve reduced yourself to petty insults, I’m going to claim that I’ve made real progress with you and claim a minor victory. In early portions of this thread, you blustered in (as DonS has tabulated) asserting that the “political atmosphere” in contemporary America was certainly partially (at least) responsible for Loughner’s actions, and that this political atmosphere, of course, is the product of, first, Sarah Palin, right-wing pundits, and David Wynn Miller. The latter at least makes some sense, but it is still entirely unconfirmed. When, at various points, your arguments were demonstrated to be foolish–for instance, we have no evidence that Lougher is “definitely right-wing,” or that he was in any way motivated by any member of the right-wing, or that he was at all influenced by our current political climate, or even that our current political climate is particularly unique or hostile when compared with historical patterns and rhetoric, and that censorship is out of the question in any case–you finally averred (@86ff) that your real purpose for being here and your real argument was that this shooting should give us pause to examine ourselves so that we might change our own behavior, not to point fingers at anyone other than Loughner. But when it was pointed out that none of “us” in this thread had anything to do with the shooting and almost as little to do with the general political climate in the United States, you resorted to cutesy jokes and half-hearted insults.

    So what, really, is your point?

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, was my comment uncivil? Did I attack Carl Vehse personally, or did I say his comment was nonsensical?

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, was my comment uncivil? Did I attack Carl Vehse personally, or did I say his comment was nonsensical?

  • Cincinnatus

    “Did I say his comment was nonsensical?”

    Um, yes: “Nope, it doesn’t make any more sense that way, either.

    Meanwhile, if you’re attempting to deny that you’re guilty of my accusation of “cute insults,” I’ll note that earlier you affiliated me with Grace, which, due to her typically inflammatory and undocumented rhetoric, I will take to be some sort of insult–at least in context (you were jabbing at my lack of evidence for a certain claim). I’m not offended, except insofar as your departure from actual substantive argumentation has derailed the discussion, but it is what it is.

    In an attempt to restore what little substance is left, I will ask again: now that many of your earlier points have been demonstrated to be dubious, what is your point, because I take your insults and continued comments to mean that you still have something you’re attempting to defend–I’m just not sure what.

  • Cincinnatus

    “Did I say his comment was nonsensical?”

    Um, yes: “Nope, it doesn’t make any more sense that way, either.

    Meanwhile, if you’re attempting to deny that you’re guilty of my accusation of “cute insults,” I’ll note that earlier you affiliated me with Grace, which, due to her typically inflammatory and undocumented rhetoric, I will take to be some sort of insult–at least in context (you were jabbing at my lack of evidence for a certain claim). I’m not offended, except insofar as your departure from actual substantive argumentation has derailed the discussion, but it is what it is.

    In an attempt to restore what little substance is left, I will ask again: now that many of your earlier points have been demonstrated to be dubious, what is your point, because I take your insults and continued comments to mean that you still have something you’re attempting to defend–I’m just not sure what.

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, in quoting me, you left out the “or” before “did I say his comment was nonsensical.” That little word indicated that, yes, I was saying Carl’s comment was nonsensical. Perhaps I should have phrased it as “or did I instead say his comment was nonsensical.”

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, in quoting me, you left out the “or” before “did I say his comment was nonsensical.” That little word indicated that, yes, I was saying Carl’s comment was nonsensical. Perhaps I should have phrased it as “or did I instead say his comment was nonsensical.”

  • Tom Hering

    Clearly, Cincinnatus, I owe you an apology for my jab @ 92. I apologize.

  • Tom Hering

    Clearly, Cincinnatus, I owe you an apology for my jab @ 92. I apologize.

  • Stephen

    Is there a point at which one is responsible for their own speech? Is this not about the uses of persuasive speech? I think earlier Tom was attempting to make something of a similar point, the point that our economy and/or culture runs on persuasion. Marketing, for instance, seems the perfect illustration of this. We do have some protections against this being false. Religion certainly relies heavily on making truth claims. We all do actually, as beings of language. So what ownership do we have of our words?

    We have issues of copyright infringement when someone puts their words out into the public sphere and expects them to retain a degree of integrity, even if it only economically. But it extends further than that. Witness the footnote and the bibliography. Even here on this blog, we make all kinds of demands to be quoted accurately, characterized properly, etc. as if after we have said things they are still ours, as if we still possess them. That would imply we are still responsible for them, wouldn’t it?

    Furthermore, I would think we engage in all of this because we anticipate or expect that our words have effect. Why is it difficult or unreasonable to imagine, first of all, that words could actually do what we want them to do? And second, who owns those words, or is that not the right question?

    And what about all this apologizing? What’s up with that? Responsibility? We expect it, do we not? I think Tom’s point has to do with conscience. He may not be saying it very well, but I think it is in there somewhere.

  • Stephen

    Is there a point at which one is responsible for their own speech? Is this not about the uses of persuasive speech? I think earlier Tom was attempting to make something of a similar point, the point that our economy and/or culture runs on persuasion. Marketing, for instance, seems the perfect illustration of this. We do have some protections against this being false. Religion certainly relies heavily on making truth claims. We all do actually, as beings of language. So what ownership do we have of our words?

    We have issues of copyright infringement when someone puts their words out into the public sphere and expects them to retain a degree of integrity, even if it only economically. But it extends further than that. Witness the footnote and the bibliography. Even here on this blog, we make all kinds of demands to be quoted accurately, characterized properly, etc. as if after we have said things they are still ours, as if we still possess them. That would imply we are still responsible for them, wouldn’t it?

    Furthermore, I would think we engage in all of this because we anticipate or expect that our words have effect. Why is it difficult or unreasonable to imagine, first of all, that words could actually do what we want them to do? And second, who owns those words, or is that not the right question?

    And what about all this apologizing? What’s up with that? Responsibility? We expect it, do we not? I think Tom’s point has to do with conscience. He may not be saying it very well, but I think it is in there somewhere.

  • Carl Vehse

    Instead of dwelling on leftist Tom Hering’s childish red herring (pun intended), it should be noted that in Sarah Palin’s comment,

    “… journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.”

    the phrase, “blood libel,” comes with an extensive etymology, going back to the 12th century or earlier.

    The phrase originally referred to false accusations that Jews sacrificed Gentile children and used their blood as part of Jewish religious rituals. Here Palin uses the phrase, blood libel, to refer to the false accusations from MSM reporters and journalists that conservatives leaders were responsible for causing the sacrifice of innocents killed or wounded in Tuscon.

    Of course, Palin was not the first to apply the phrase to the leftist political rants following the Tucson massacre. The WSJ columnist, Glenn Reynolds, used the phrase in his Jan. 10th article, and John Hayward used the phrase in his Jan. 11th Human Events column, all before Palin’s speech was released on Jan. 12.

    Given the construction of her sentence, it would be ludicrous to claim that Sarah Palin (as well as Reynolds and Hayward) didn’t know the meaning of the phrase before she used it. Furthermore, I am confident that Palin and her staff knew very well that the use of that phrase as a description would bring out (which it did!) the foaming-at-the-mouth livid rage of the contemptible liberal MSM and their sycophants.

  • Carl Vehse

    Instead of dwelling on leftist Tom Hering’s childish red herring (pun intended), it should be noted that in Sarah Palin’s comment,

    “… journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.”

    the phrase, “blood libel,” comes with an extensive etymology, going back to the 12th century or earlier.

    The phrase originally referred to false accusations that Jews sacrificed Gentile children and used their blood as part of Jewish religious rituals. Here Palin uses the phrase, blood libel, to refer to the false accusations from MSM reporters and journalists that conservatives leaders were responsible for causing the sacrifice of innocents killed or wounded in Tuscon.

    Of course, Palin was not the first to apply the phrase to the leftist political rants following the Tucson massacre. The WSJ columnist, Glenn Reynolds, used the phrase in his Jan. 10th article, and John Hayward used the phrase in his Jan. 11th Human Events column, all before Palin’s speech was released on Jan. 12.

    Given the construction of her sentence, it would be ludicrous to claim that Sarah Palin (as well as Reynolds and Hayward) didn’t know the meaning of the phrase before she used it. Furthermore, I am confident that Palin and her staff knew very well that the use of that phrase as a description would bring out (which it did!) the foaming-at-the-mouth livid rage of the contemptible liberal MSM and their sycophants.

  • Stephen

    Carl @ 123

    So your last paragraph suggests that not only do words have effects, and quite serious ones in people’s minds, but that they can be calculated for very specific effects, even quite “livid” ones. What other adjectives apply? What other calculations can we assume (or not)?

    It seems by what you’ve been saying that we are to bar the door against certain kinds criticism or speculation about the potential consequences of rhetoric. And as well, it seems the same goes about criticizing the motives of some when it comes to certain others. That is the only conclusion I can draw.

  • Stephen

    Carl @ 123

    So your last paragraph suggests that not only do words have effects, and quite serious ones in people’s minds, but that they can be calculated for very specific effects, even quite “livid” ones. What other adjectives apply? What other calculations can we assume (or not)?

    It seems by what you’ve been saying that we are to bar the door against certain kinds criticism or speculation about the potential consequences of rhetoric. And as well, it seems the same goes about criticizing the motives of some when it comes to certain others. That is the only conclusion I can draw.

  • Stephen

    In other words Carl, you’ve got two things going on that do not seem to line up.

  • Stephen

    In other words Carl, you’ve got two things going on that do not seem to line up.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@123), I’m sure you made some valid points in your comment, but I’ll never know, since you started off in the first sentence by calling someone else “childish”. I started chuckling, then giggling to myself. Soon the tears welled up in my eyes. I had to stop, I couldn’t read any more at that point.

    I mean, think of it. Carl “Zerobama” Vehse accused someone else of being “childish”! Carl “Obamessiah” Vehse accused someone else of being “childish”! Carl “demonrats” Vehse accused someone else of being “childish”!

    Oooohhh man, that’s good. That’s good, Carl. Thanks.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@123), I’m sure you made some valid points in your comment, but I’ll never know, since you started off in the first sentence by calling someone else “childish”. I started chuckling, then giggling to myself. Soon the tears welled up in my eyes. I had to stop, I couldn’t read any more at that point.

    I mean, think of it. Carl “Zerobama” Vehse accused someone else of being “childish”! Carl “Obamessiah” Vehse accused someone else of being “childish”! Carl “demonrats” Vehse accused someone else of being “childish”!

    Oooohhh man, that’s good. That’s good, Carl. Thanks.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Todd – as I said at #13, it is Irony Squared.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Todd – as I said at #13, it is Irony Squared.

  • Carl Vehse

    Stephen @124:

    “It seems by what you’ve been saying that we are to bar the door against certain kinds criticism or speculation about the potential consequences of rhetoric.”

    No, Stephen, it doesn’t seem that way at all, nor is it.

    tODD @126:

    … you started off in the first sentence by calling someone else “childish”.

    No, tODD. Try reading what I said again. This time focus on word comprehension and sentence construction, instead of “chuckling, then giggling” to yourself.

    Sarah Palin used a specific phrase, blood libel, because it was a clear and accurate description of the behavior of the liberal MSM (and one erratic sheriff) in the days following the Tucson massacre. That the phrase was tailor-made for the media’s maniacal antics was evident to those across the political spectrum from the supporters of Sarah Palin to the leftwing media elitists, the latter responding with their usual outrage at hearing the truth about themselves.

  • Carl Vehse

    Stephen @124:

    “It seems by what you’ve been saying that we are to bar the door against certain kinds criticism or speculation about the potential consequences of rhetoric.”

    No, Stephen, it doesn’t seem that way at all, nor is it.

    tODD @126:

    … you started off in the first sentence by calling someone else “childish”.

    No, tODD. Try reading what I said again. This time focus on word comprehension and sentence construction, instead of “chuckling, then giggling” to yourself.

    Sarah Palin used a specific phrase, blood libel, because it was a clear and accurate description of the behavior of the liberal MSM (and one erratic sheriff) in the days following the Tucson massacre. That the phrase was tailor-made for the media’s maniacal antics was evident to those across the political spectrum from the supporters of Sarah Palin to the leftwing media elitists, the latter responding with their usual outrage at hearing the truth about themselves.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@128) bade me thusly:

    No, tODD. Try reading what I said again. This time focus on word comprehension and sentence construction, instead of “chuckling, then giggling” to yourself.

    Will do, cap’n! By your leave, I will focus solely on the dependent clause with which you begin your sentence, as it alone contains the word in question:

    Instead of dwelling on leftist Tom Hering’s childish red herring …

    Ooh, you know what, technically, you’re right, Carl! You applied the adjective “childish” to the phrasal noun “red herring”. Of course, you also used the possessive to indicate that this was not merely any red herring, but one belonging to “Tom Hering”.

    So let’s see. You bristle at my saying that “you started off in the first sentence by calling someone else ‘childish’” because … you instead only labeled something belonging to (that is, said by) someone else as “childish”.

    Which leads me to one of two, mutually exclusive, conclusions:
    1) You actually believe that this “red herring”, though belonging to Tom, was actually not his doing, nor could he possibly be condemned by association when you decry the herring itself — and, you must stress, not Tom — as “childish”.
    2) You are continuing to be ridiculous, and won’t even own up to your own words.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@128) bade me thusly:

    No, tODD. Try reading what I said again. This time focus on word comprehension and sentence construction, instead of “chuckling, then giggling” to yourself.

    Will do, cap’n! By your leave, I will focus solely on the dependent clause with which you begin your sentence, as it alone contains the word in question:

    Instead of dwelling on leftist Tom Hering’s childish red herring …

    Ooh, you know what, technically, you’re right, Carl! You applied the adjective “childish” to the phrasal noun “red herring”. Of course, you also used the possessive to indicate that this was not merely any red herring, but one belonging to “Tom Hering”.

    So let’s see. You bristle at my saying that “you started off in the first sentence by calling someone else ‘childish’” because … you instead only labeled something belonging to (that is, said by) someone else as “childish”.

    Which leads me to one of two, mutually exclusive, conclusions:
    1) You actually believe that this “red herring”, though belonging to Tom, was actually not his doing, nor could he possibly be condemned by association when you decry the herring itself — and, you must stress, not Tom — as “childish”.
    2) You are continuing to be ridiculous, and won’t even own up to your own words.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Look, Carl. I’m tired of hearing about this “blood libel” nonsense, myself. I’m tired of seeing my truly liberal friends flog that quote all over Facebook and trying to make political hay out of it. Honestly, I am.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t think her use of “blood libel” isn’t yet another example of Palin’s tin ear when it comes to public rhetoric. To say nothing of her continued self-aggrandizement, making the murder of several people one in which she is the victim.

    And yes, I do think that is a better construction than the one you’re suggesting, in which Sarah Palin is little more than a troll (“the phrase was tailor-made for the media’s maniacal antics”).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Look, Carl. I’m tired of hearing about this “blood libel” nonsense, myself. I’m tired of seeing my truly liberal friends flog that quote all over Facebook and trying to make political hay out of it. Honestly, I am.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t think her use of “blood libel” isn’t yet another example of Palin’s tin ear when it comes to public rhetoric. To say nothing of her continued self-aggrandizement, making the murder of several people one in which she is the victim.

    And yes, I do think that is a better construction than the one you’re suggesting, in which Sarah Palin is little more than a troll (“the phrase was tailor-made for the media’s maniacal antics”).

  • Stephen

    Carl @ 128

    “No, Stephen, it doesn’t seem that way at all, nor is it. ”

    Not to you perhaps. Would you care to clarify, because that sure “seems” to be what you said? Language is all about interpreting what the other guy said. And you “seem” to be saying two opposing things. I’d like nothing better than to put the best construction on them. Help me out with that.

  • Stephen

    Carl @ 128

    “No, Stephen, it doesn’t seem that way at all, nor is it. ”

    Not to you perhaps. Would you care to clarify, because that sure “seems” to be what you said? Language is all about interpreting what the other guy said. And you “seem” to be saying two opposing things. I’d like nothing better than to put the best construction on them. Help me out with that.

  • DonS

    Did anyone else think that the “memorial service” last night more resembled a political rally?

    Also, the medical news on Rep. Giffords this morning is very encouraging. Praise God for that bit of good news.

  • DonS

    Did anyone else think that the “memorial service” last night more resembled a political rally?

    Also, the medical news on Rep. Giffords this morning is very encouraging. Praise God for that bit of good news.

  • Tom Hering

    DonS, not a political rally, but a football game. All the noise was from students who cheered, whistled, and shouted at every mention of their school, or of anything connected to their school. Beyond that, the crowd was trying to raise their own spirits and to pull together as Arizonans. It came off as inappropriate most of the time, but that’s all it was.

  • Tom Hering

    DonS, not a political rally, but a football game. All the noise was from students who cheered, whistled, and shouted at every mention of their school, or of anything connected to their school. Beyond that, the crowd was trying to raise their own spirits and to pull together as Arizonans. It came off as inappropriate most of the time, but that’s all it was.

  • DonS

    Tom, yes, I didn’t mean it as anything more than that. I just thought that, before the President spoke, someone should have admonished the crowd that this was a memorial service, and incessant cheering was inappropriate. It clearly made the President uncomfortable, and detracted from what was otherwise a pretty good speech.

    My summary of the topic of this thread:

    1) There is still no evidence that our “polarized politics” and “heated political rhetoric” had anything whatsoever to do with this tragic event. We will always be plagued by the occasional madman who precipitates a senseless and sad tragedy of this nature.

    2) Civil discourse is a worthy goal, whether or not it would have prevented this particular incident. We, as Christians, in particular should be civil. I have noticed the efforts of a number of regular commenters on this blog to be more civil, and I hope that others have noticed mine as well. When I am not perceived as being civil, please accept my apology. I know I still fail at this.

    3) Being civil does not mean being a milquetoast. Passion and earnestness in advancing one’s views are very appropriate. It’s just important to distinguish between your opponent’s views and him/her as a person and child of God.

    4) One will never further their stated goal of civil discourse by engaging in a vitriolic attack on the alleged uncivility of their political opponents. Naturally, such attacks will do nothing other than to engender a defensive reaction and to further heighten any incivility which may, in fact, exist. If you really desire to further civil discourse, you need to start by examining yourself and your own side. Then, when you’ve identified your own shortcomings, you can reasonably and fairly address those of your opponents in context, and likely receive a much less defensive response.

    5) Above all, civil discourse requires fairness on both sides. As an example, the incessant attacks on Obama related to his place of birth and citizenship, and the incessant attacks on Palin for the various things she says and does, apart from her views, don’t strike either side as being particularly fair, or proportionate. Take the personal out of politics, and civility will be greatly increased.

  • DonS

    Tom, yes, I didn’t mean it as anything more than that. I just thought that, before the President spoke, someone should have admonished the crowd that this was a memorial service, and incessant cheering was inappropriate. It clearly made the President uncomfortable, and detracted from what was otherwise a pretty good speech.

    My summary of the topic of this thread:

    1) There is still no evidence that our “polarized politics” and “heated political rhetoric” had anything whatsoever to do with this tragic event. We will always be plagued by the occasional madman who precipitates a senseless and sad tragedy of this nature.

    2) Civil discourse is a worthy goal, whether or not it would have prevented this particular incident. We, as Christians, in particular should be civil. I have noticed the efforts of a number of regular commenters on this blog to be more civil, and I hope that others have noticed mine as well. When I am not perceived as being civil, please accept my apology. I know I still fail at this.

    3) Being civil does not mean being a milquetoast. Passion and earnestness in advancing one’s views are very appropriate. It’s just important to distinguish between your opponent’s views and him/her as a person and child of God.

    4) One will never further their stated goal of civil discourse by engaging in a vitriolic attack on the alleged uncivility of their political opponents. Naturally, such attacks will do nothing other than to engender a defensive reaction and to further heighten any incivility which may, in fact, exist. If you really desire to further civil discourse, you need to start by examining yourself and your own side. Then, when you’ve identified your own shortcomings, you can reasonably and fairly address those of your opponents in context, and likely receive a much less defensive response.

    5) Above all, civil discourse requires fairness on both sides. As an example, the incessant attacks on Obama related to his place of birth and citizenship, and the incessant attacks on Palin for the various things she says and does, apart from her views, don’t strike either side as being particularly fair, or proportionate. Take the personal out of politics, and civility will be greatly increased.

  • http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/12/branding-the-tuscon-massacre-together-we-thrive-in-white-and-blue/ Carl Vehse

    Did anyone else think that the “memorial service” last night more resembled a political rally?

    Michelle Malkin has a column describing it, “Branding the Tucson massacre: ‘Together We Thrive’ in white and blue; Updated: Liveblogging the bizarre pep rally; Gov. Brewer booed; in sum: right speech, too late, boneheaded venue (WOOT!).”

  • http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/12/branding-the-tuscon-massacre-together-we-thrive-in-white-and-blue/ Carl Vehse

    Did anyone else think that the “memorial service” last night more resembled a political rally?

    Michelle Malkin has a column describing it, “Branding the Tucson massacre: ‘Together We Thrive’ in white and blue; Updated: Liveblogging the bizarre pep rally; Gov. Brewer booed; in sum: right speech, too late, boneheaded venue (WOOT!).”

  • Tom Hering

    Who was being “boneheaded”? It’s not like the President asked the University of Arizona to do this. The University invited him to their memorial service – a service they were going to hold whether he came or not. All things considered, the President conducted himself very, very well. For example, he did not use the occasion to divide the nation further.

  • Tom Hering

    Who was being “boneheaded”? It’s not like the President asked the University of Arizona to do this. The University invited him to their memorial service – a service they were going to hold whether he came or not. All things considered, the President conducted himself very, very well. For example, he did not use the occasion to divide the nation further.

  • Carl Vehse

    Stephen @131:

    And you “seem” to be saying two opposing things. I’d like nothing better than to put the best construction on them. Help me out with that.

    Okay, Stephen, glad to help. First, your statement,

    It seems by what you’ve been saying that we are to bar the door against certain kinds criticism or speculation about the potential consequences of rhetoric.

    is erroneous. I never said that or anything like that. Does this help?

    Second, your statement,

    And as well, it seems the same goes about criticizing the motives of some when it comes to certain others.

    is also erroneous. I never said that or anything like that. My reference to what Palin knew about the effect of the phrase on the MSM was prefaced as what I was confident in. Feel free to disagree with my confidence in that. So, rather than having seemed to say two opposing things, I actually said neither one of them.

    I hope you find this constructive.

  • Carl Vehse

    Stephen @131:

    And you “seem” to be saying two opposing things. I’d like nothing better than to put the best construction on them. Help me out with that.

    Okay, Stephen, glad to help. First, your statement,

    It seems by what you’ve been saying that we are to bar the door against certain kinds criticism or speculation about the potential consequences of rhetoric.

    is erroneous. I never said that or anything like that. Does this help?

    Second, your statement,

    And as well, it seems the same goes about criticizing the motives of some when it comes to certain others.

    is also erroneous. I never said that or anything like that. My reference to what Palin knew about the effect of the phrase on the MSM was prefaced as what I was confident in. Feel free to disagree with my confidence in that. So, rather than having seemed to say two opposing things, I actually said neither one of them.

    I hope you find this constructive.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X