Deadly violence in Arizona

Ten people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., were shot earlier today at an event hosted by the congresswoman. Reports at this time say five people are dead, including a federal judge who was at the event and a nine-year-old girl. The congresswoman was shot in the head, but her doctors are "optimistic" following surgery.

No motive has yet been reported for the shooting. Talking Points Memo has been doing an excellent job following the story as it unfolds, so I'll refer you there for the details as they develop.

Meanwhile, Brad DeLong just posted this, from an April 24, 1995, speech by President Bill Clinton. It seems on point:

In this country we cherish and guard the right of free speech. We know we love it when we put up with people saying things we absolutely deplore. And we must always be willing to defend their right to say things we deplore to the ultimate degree. But we hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable. You ought to see—I'm sure you are now seeing the reports of some things that are regularly said over the airwaves in America today.

Well, people like that who want to share our freedoms must know that their bitter words can have consequences and that freedom has endured in this country for more than two centuries because it was coupled with an enormous sense of responsibility on the part of the American people.

If we are to have freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and, yes, the freedom to bear arms, we must have responsibility as well. And to those of us who do not agree with the purveyors of hatred and division, with the promoters of paranoia, I remind you that we have freedom of speech, too, and we have responsibilities, too. And some of us have not discharged our responsibilities. It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of reckless speech and behavior.

If they insist on being irresponsible with our common liberties, then we must be all the more responsible with our liberties. When they talk of hatred, we must stand against them. When they talk of violence, we must stand against them. When they say things that are irresponsible, that may have egregious consequences, we must call them on it. The exercise of their freedom of speech makes our silence all the more unforgivable. So exercise yours, my fellow Americans. Our country, our future, our way of life is at stake. I never want to look into the faces of another set of family members like I saw yesterday, and you can help to stop it.

Our democracy has endured a lot over these last 200 years, and we are strong enough today to sort out and work through all these angry voices. …

  • sharky

    And this, might I remind everyone, without any shred of evidence that the shooter paid any attention to Palin, or right-wing radio, or anyone. Much less that he treated the crosshair map as some sort of hit list (or that he even knew the map existed). I, for one, have no problem with people are rallying against violent rhetoric.
    Okay, Xavier. Resisting the urge to haul out the caps lock, here are the points I have already said, one more time:
    1. Palin knows perfectly well that policitians get death threats. Her daughter got death threats before appearing on “Dancing With the Stars,” and security took them seriously. Palin was foolish in putting it up in the first place, because she knew it was a real risk, and she knew she might be dropping another pebble on the scale of an imbalanced person. Her actions since then, trying to minimize her appearance of wrongdoing, show that she knows she shouldn’t have put the idea out there.
    2. You can’t prove that the shooter didn’t. We don’t know, but since it creates an unhealthy atmosphere, you can’t argue that someone unhealthy could not possibly have been affected.
    3. If you have no problem with people rallying against violent rhetoric, why not? Because words and images have power. You can’t say “these things are so powerful that you can object to having them in the air” and not “having these in the air affects things.”

  • Xavier

    Renniejoy, was it your birthday, too? Happy birthday!

    Seconded!
    Caravelle, look, I’m not defending Palin. If you ask me, she and her Tea Party supporters are fascists, and I mean it literally (literally literally). I’m defending standards of evidence. The accuser has to provide the evidence to support his claims. And I’d like to think that we in the reality-based community only make conclusions after we at least skim through the available evidence. There’s absolutely no evidence that the shooter was an avid listener of Palin’s.
    If this baseless presumption that Palin is to blame for the shootings is only a provisional hipothesis, as you claim, why wasn’t it dropped now that official investigators are pointing toward a particularly paranoid right-wing anti-semite group? Or are you saying that Palin is responsible (agreed. Bad choice of words) guilty for that too?
    As for wasting my time being outraged at how people (many people, not just one person. I’ve given many examples, I can give more) jump at conclusions and blame The Other Side when tragedy strikes, thank you for your concern. If this blog was right-wing, I would agree that I’d be only providing more ammo to regular right-wing posters. But since this is a mostly Liberal blog, I don’t see how spending my time repeating what everyone already knows about the vileness of Tea Party rhetoric would be any more useful than what I’m currently doing.
    Still, since you insist: The violent rhetoric of the Tea Party is vile. Innuendo about shooting people and threatening “second amendment solutions” should not be tolerated in any minimally democratic society. And we don’t need to pretend that Palin had anything to do with the Arizona shooting in order to condemn her and her rhetoric in the harshest words possible.

  • patter

    @Kit — Fine analysis. I’d always wondered why SarahP reminded me of Randall, the bad guy in “Monsters Inc.”

  • Xavier

    Sorry, this post wasn’t there when I wrote the last one.

    Okay, Xavier. Resisting the urge to haul out the caps lock, here are the points I have already said, one more time:
    1. Palin knows perfectly well that policitians get death threats. Her daughter got death threats before appearing on “Dancing With the Stars,” and security took them seriously. Palin was foolish in putting it up in the first place, because she knew it was a real risk, and she knew she might be dropping another pebble on the scale of an imbalanced person. Her actions since then, trying to minimize her appearance of wrongdoing, show that she knows she shouldn’t have put the idea out there.

    I agree Palin was foolish (actually, I think she just didn’t care about actual consequences). But her actions since then show only that she’s trying to save her own arse. People were accusing her of things that might hurt her political career even more. She wants to preserve what little chance she has of actually winning an election. I doubt very much she took that map off her site and tried to back-pedal for any reason beside cold political calculation.

    2. You can’t prove that the shooter didn’t. We don’t know, but since it creates an unhealthy atmosphere, you can’t argue that someone unhealthy could not possibly have been affected.

    I don’t need to prove the shooter didn’t. No one does. That’s how evidence works. People who accuse other people of being to blame have to prove something. He could possibly have been affected, and he could possibly not have been affected, or he could possibly have been affected by someone else. There are many possible hypotheses. “Palin’s vile rhetoric was what led him to shoot people” wasn’t the most plausible one two hours after the crime, when people started accusing her. And it is even less plausible now that reports surfaced that the shooter has links to an anti-Semitic group.

    3. If you have no problem with people rallying against violent rhetoric, why not? Because words and images have power. You can’t say “these things are so powerful that you can object to having them in the air” and not “having these in the air affects things.”

    It affects things, sure. But did it affect this thing? To what extent? Neither of these questions is anywhere close to answered yet, then why can’t I be sceptical of Palin’s guilt?

  • Will Wildman

    I’d always wondered why SarahP reminded me of Randall, the bad guy in “Monsters Inc.”

    I haven’t seen Monsters Inc, so when you said ‘Randall, the bad guy’, my first thought was “Hmm, there are parallels to be drawn here to Randall Flagg, the Antichrist from The Stand.”
    He rarely kills, but wherever he goes, discontent becomes riot and anger becomes murder.

  • sharky

    I doubt very much she took that map off her site and tried to back-pedal for any reason beside cold political calculation.
    Yes. Exactly. But it’s unlikely she did it entirely because of immediate accusations, and more because suggesting use of a gun, followed by someone using a gun, suggests a connection.
    Neither of these questions is anywhere close to answered yet, then why can’t I be sceptical of Palin’s guilt?
    It’s clear that Palin didn’t actually go shoot Giffords. Nobody is accusing her of hiring an assassin. Nobody is accusing her of calling up the shooter and telling him to go do what he did.
    So nobody is actually arguing what you seem to be defending.
    People are arguing that public figures endorsing coded violence, followed by violence, suggests a degree of intent and makes discussing the whole thing fair game.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    Happy birthday renniejoy!
    How does the Palin analysis connect to Randall? I’ve seen Monsters Inc, but I don’t see the parallel.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lorik922 Lori

    Drat, I meant that to Lori – I’m in the Pacific time zone, where it’s sill our birthday.

    @renniejoy: I’m sorry that I missed the fact that it was your birthday too. Belated best wishes for a happy year.
    I had totally forgotten that we get Les Paul. That shoots January 9th’s cool factor up many, many notches. (How is it possible to remember Richard Halliburton and forget Les Paul? The inside of my head can be a strange and confusing place.)
    And thanks again to everyone for their birthday wishes to me.

  • Caravelle

    Xavier :

    >Caravelle, look, I’m not defending Palin.

    I don’t think you are, no worries there.

    If you ask me, she and her Tea Party supporters are fascists, and I mean it literally (literally literally). I’m defending standards of evidence. The accuser has to provide the evidence to support his claims. And I’d like to think that we in the reality-based community only make conclusions after we at least skim through the available evidence. There’s absolutely no evidence that the shooter was an avid listener of Palin’s.

    I tend to agree with you on the fascist bit. That’s why I disagree on the standards of evidence although normally I’d agree : for one thing I don’t think the point of view you’re decrying is common enough to matter, for another I don’t think their position is as unreasonable as you think, and given those things I don’t think it’s productive to worry about them considering the, you know, fascist threat. Your point that this is a liberal blog so attacking liberals makes more sense than attacking right-wingers is well-taken, and again I’d usually agree with you but in this case I think fighting the other side is more important. For example : Tom Levenson on Balloon Juice had a post on the effectiveness of assassination as a political tool, so I’m wondering : how does one oppose it ?

    If this baseless presumption that Palin is to blame for the shootings is only a provisional hipothesis, as you claim, why wasn’t it dropped now that official investigators are pointing toward a particularly paranoid right-wing anti-semite group? Or are you saying that Palin is responsible (agreed. Bad choice of words) guilty for that too?

    I think the issue of whether Palin (which I’m using as a shorthand for “violence-inciting people”) had anything to do with this is besides the point. She’s promoting a climate where violence becomes more likely. If she didn’t cause this shooting she might still cause the next, and even if she causes no shooting whatsoever it won’t have been thanks to her. I’m agnostic as to whether “blame Palin, blame the Right” is the best way to get that message across in placard form.
    Earlier you said something about how it looked like some people’s first thought was “a shooting ! How can I blame it on Palin ?” and I think that illustrates the problem. People have been talking about the problem with the Right’s violent rhetoric for a long time now, often pointing out that this is the kind of talk that gets people shot. It’s natural if you’ve been at all paying attention to these arguments, i.e. if you watch Olbermann or Maddow or read Dave Neiwert or Digby or even this site that the first thing one would think when hearing of a US politician being shot is “so it’s happening”. It’s not a matter of going on the internet looking for the bullseye map : they’d been complaining about that map long before the shooting occurred. It’s all part of a larger argument that was happening before the shooting and will (unfortunately) continue after it.

  • J

    *I’m not talking about mourning. I’m talking about not playing the blame game until the facts of the matter are cleared up. Right now, the Right is blaming the Left and the Left is blaming the Right even though no investigation was done at all. This, I think, is not the best way to act when a tragedy happens.*
    This is why we lose: We think we’ll somehow win great rewards for “keeping to the high ground” and “staying classy” and “being reasonable.”
    Keep twiddlin’ and tweetin’, moderates and liberochristians.

  • sharky

    If she didn’t cause this shooting she might still cause the next, and even if she causes no shooting whatsoever it won’t have been thanks to her.
    Since it was a matter of statistical chance that this one happened at all, it’s just a matter of chance that this one didn’t.
    And although Palin’s just one voice, really, who brought her into the discussion? Palin. Who made the map? Palin. Who publicized it as part of a campaign? Palin. Who didn’t react or respond when Griffords specifically mentioned the map as a negative? Palin. Who said “don’t retreat, reload?” Palin. Who consistently rabble-roused and named liberals as non-patriotic problems? Palin. Who constantly used gun-related rhetoric? Palin. Who insulted our intelligence afterwards by trying to sanitize all idea of violence, to the point of claiming surveyors commonly use crosshairs to the point of their being likely to appear in political ads? Well, Palin.
    It’s not as if the local Tea Party candidate didn’t give the idea of normalcy to carrying a gun and talking about taking Griffords out of office with bullets. He did. It’s not as if radio personalities haven’t been just as inflammatory with just as much suggestion of violence.
    But Sarah Palin didn’t just trip and fall into this discussion.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    J: people have died. This is not the time to ride out your hobbyhorse.

  • renniejoy

    Thank you for the birthday wishes! :)

  • sharky

    Happy birthday Renniejoy!
    (It feels like such a major shifting of gears to be talking about sociology and violence on one hand, and cheerful birthday wishes on the other. I fall behind.)

  • renniejoy

    sharky – Honestly, I am trying not to think about the bad things right now – I’ve had a couple of shitty weeks (better now) – and I don’t have anything to add to the discussion about sociology and violence (besides Do Not Want violence) because you folks are awesome.
    I posted birthday greetings in this thread because it was where people were talking and I would like to think that it would be a reminder (sort of) that there are nice things in the world too.
    I apologize to anyone I offended.

  • sharky

    Renniejoy: No, no! I’m sorry! I meant that I fall behind in telling people “happy birthday!” It’s not offensive, you made no mistake, and I’m sorry to have implied that!

  • renniejoy

    sharky – I don’t think you implied anything – I’m just feeling hypersensitive right now and over- inferred. :)

  • http://www.agirlcalledraven.blogspot.com sarah

    Happy birthday to renniejoy and belated birthdays to Lori and Albanaeon. I hope they’re wonderful, despite everything. :)

  • http://scyllacat.livejournal.com Thalia

    Lori, Oh, yeah, happy birthday.
    Believe it or not, it was my New Year’s Resolution. If I have something to say, I will think it through, write it out, and post it. I will not kneejerk, jerk chains, or simply “look for something wrong so I can point it out and score nebulous internet points for being right.”
    I realized the other day that I am actually accustomed to both a larger amount of anonymity AND a higher degree of social culpability (on the Web) than most. I think I’ll spend more time in that close-knit-yet-basically-anonymous community and try to temper my speech.
    I wish we had more room on the Internet to just muse, ponder, ask, and wonder, rather than having to defend any scrap of reasoning or feeling as if it were a Stance.
    I’m with all the people, though, who heard about the most recent tragedy, and went, DAMN, this crap is getting serious. Seeing it inductively as ongoing unrest and going too far, rather than an “isolated incident.”
    I think eventually we’re going to have to talk about group dynamics. I don’t think Palin is the issue as much as she and this poor benighted soul are symptoms of something that is fracturing America. I’m sure we’ll realize it in hindsight. I don’t know if it’s our economics, our racial issues, our class barriers, our government system, or what.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ministerformagic Pius Thicknesse

    I missed someone! Happy birthday, renniejoy :)

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    Sorry you had a bad couple of weeks, renniejoy. Hope you’re feeling better now. :-)

  • Charles Robertson

    I’ve recommended this blog to my pastor, though I don’t think he’s ever followed up. Here is his sermon from Sunday, when he was already going to preach on the Beatitudes–I think it will be of interest to people here. WBC Sermon Jan 9 2011

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    Hi Charles Robertson. If you want to discuss your pastor’s sermon, it would be helpful if you could precis it, as it’s very long and following up long links is time-consuming.

  • http://scyllacat.livejournal.com Thalia

    And happy birthday to Albaneon (lost spelling?) and renniejoy! I feel like the Romper Room lady.

  • LKE

    Belated Happy Birthdays renniejoy and Albanaeon!

  • hapax

    Happy birthdays to renniejoy, Lori, Albanaeon, and hugs to everyone as needs ‘em.
    @Xavier — I would respectfully suggest that if anyone needs warnings about the evils of censorship, it is not those who are musing about the connections between deliberately violent rhetoric and violent behavior, but those who practice and endorse THIS kind of action:

    Then she carried off Wellman’s sign to dump it.
    Another sign had already been removed: “Republicans are murderers and un-American”

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jpc101280 Jason

    Happy Birthday, renniejoy
    Yeah, J, lowering ourselves to the behavior of those people who are causing problems and inciting violence is always the answer to making the world a better place. How about you share some more of your messed up bizarro-land logic with us?

  • bananacat

    I think it is actually relevant that the shooter targeted a woman. And it’s relevant that Palin is a woman. When it comes right down it, most extreme right-wingers are misogynist. They like some things about Palin, but at the same time, they resent her for being a powerful woman. So they’ll tolerate her but then transfer that anger to Other women that they already dislike because of politics, but they will hate them even more because they’re angry at women in general. Palin threw other women under the bus in exchange for the status of an Honorary Person-Who-Matters. Extreme rightists only tolerate her being in power because she tries to give them what they want, and because she is pretty. If she ran for president, I don’t think she would win, simply because she is a woman and if extremists had to make the choice, many of them wouldn’t vote for any woman at all. The only way Palin can maintain any power is to continue playing to misogyny and trampling down other women for her own gain. And she knows it.

  • renniejoy

    Thank you all. {{everyone}}

  • Brad

    Click here for a selection of cartoons on the Tucson shootings.

  • Albanaeon

    Happy Birthday renniejoy! And I thought all the Birthdays were in Septemeber…(odd family quirk)


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