Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 3:40 PM ET, 01/ 9/2011

What the shooting shouldn't change

By Ezra Klein

I've heard some talk on cable news of giving congressmen security details and using rope lines and so forth at events. I hope we don't end up going there, for the very reasons Jon Bernstein lays out:

American democracy has thousands and thousands of politicians, all of whom, collectively, are overvillified and undercelebrated. Alas, that's unlikely to change. What we can hope also won't change, however, is the very ordinariness of our politicians outside of the presidency, the way they can go about their lives as ordinary citizens, meeting with their fellow citizens and neighbors not just in great democratic events like the one interrupted in Tuscon, but in casual encounters, too.

I don't want to minimize the awful tragedy in Tucson. But the reality is that violent attacks on legislators are very rare. The last congressman killed while doing his job was Rep. Leo Ryan, who was slain in Jonestown in 1978. Indeed, as you can see from this Congressional Research Service report listing every member of Congress who has died from non-natural causes while still in office, political assassinations are very, very rare in this country. And there's no reason, at least as of yet, to think they're going to become more common in the years to come.

There's going to be a desire to do something in the coming days, to respond somehow. And we need to take care to make sure our response pushes us in the right direction. A simple principle, I think, is that whatever we do should emphasize our commitment to the sort of everyday democracy that Rep. Giffords and her constituents were practicing. As I said yesterday, I think one way to pay tribute to those who died or were harmed in the shooting is to do as they did and attend your congressperson's next community meeting. Conversely, making community meetings more difficult and politicians more physically distant from their constituents would be giving something important away, and it's not clear that we'd gain any real safety or security in return.

By Ezra Klein  | January 9, 2011; 3:40 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Some thoughts on the shooting in Arizona
Next: Wonkbook: Congress grieves; post-shooting legislation; committee chair elections

Comments

As a practical matter, the idea of giving protection to 535 members of Congress would be wildly impractical and absurdly costly. This is an isolated incident.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 9, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Debbie Wasserman on Meet the Press today said that she never has a town hall without some police presence. Both Wasserman and Gifford have received serious threats. This is not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern of threats of violence that undermines our democracy. As Wasserman points out, the staff and public are also at risk of violence when it happens. We can not expect anyone in government to easily go unprotected into a public that obviously hates them and threatens them.

Posted by: LillithMc | January 9, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

In a free and open society there is an inherent risk in living a public life or in living period. We have to deal with terrorist threats and crime but for the majority of us those threats are remote.

However, the fervor of denouncing political positions and making policy issues personal there is a danger in being an elected or public official.

To paraphrase a German cleric, "First they came for the abortion doctors, then the judges and now the politicians..."

Make no mistake, the right has been blowing the "dog whistle" in politics for many years. Most of us hear their words and either dismiss them or become indignant; others hear those words and they resonate to their extant fears and prejudices. Of that subset a small group may be moved to action.

Don't do the false equivalence that "both sides do it!" because it is painfully obvious the right owns the franchise in hate talk.

Forget the idea of "toning down the rhetoric" just decode the words and tell the general public just what these fear mongers are saying. Stop with the "even-handed" coverage when one side is blatantly lying.

Posted by: larrybellinger | January 9, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, if I were a Democrat and a woman in this climate, I think you'd better have some enhanced security to protect you from the haters your fellow politicians and Fox News is egging on.

Posted by: SarahBB | January 9, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

For once, Klein writes something I agree with!

The worst way that we could respond to this is by restricting transparency, access to government, and/or civil liberties.

Posted by: jboogie1 | January 9, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

@LillithMc:

If Wasserman is so concerned about her safety that she feels she can't do her job, she ought to step aside.

Being a member of Congress is a privelege. The benefits of service should be worth the risks. There are plenty of capable, qualified candidates who would love Wasserman's job in spite of the dangers that might go along with it.

Posted by: jboogie1 | January 9, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Ezra, but I beat him to it. Yet, as usual, no one ever listens to me or gives me credit for saying it first.

http://giveusthisdayourdailydread.blogspot.com/2011/01/ok-corral-on-your-corner.html

Posted by: crawman2 | January 9, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein's own language about Joe Lieberman "causing" the deaths of thousands of people is no less heinous than anything that Palin or Angle has ever said or done. Pot, kettle. Klein is the last person who needs to get sanctimonious about conservatives' language.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 9, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

RADIO AND CABLE JOCKS ARE PAID MILLIONS TO DIVIDE USA TO SELL PRODUCTS:

Just take a look at the earnings of the top three anti-Obama radio and cable demagogues each year: Limbaugh 60MM, Hannity 30MM and Beck 30MM, AND these are just estimates. The names mentioned are among the top ten where most are all rabid anti-conservative radio jocks.

These jocks are being paid big money to divide us as a people by spewing their ideology and selling product all at the same time, but yet these same jocks are careful to have their own security near their person and at home.
Here, the irony is that only President Obama is being paid (400K and the use of a house and an airplane) to keep the country together. Yet he is virulently criticized for his efforts as though he is going to personally benefit from passages of proposed legislation.
Those radio and cable anti-Obama, anti-government voices have this masterful capability of leading their flocks of low intelligent, anti-Obama, listeners to vote against the very programs their listener's families depend upon.
You can almost hear the Limbaughs'Hannitys' laughter as they get their listeners to put into office people who will not vote to raise their taxes and other rich. They know, of course, if taxes are not raised on them that increased government benefits of healthcare, medicare, and other middle class safety-net programs cannot be paid to their very own listeners. However, through ignorance and prejudice we see the anti-Obama radio "lemmings" are so hell bent on denying the legitimacy of President Obama, they shoot themselves in the foot voting against their own interests. "The American people are smart and know best". Ha, go figure!

What those radio demagogues have shown to anyone who dare to look is that al Qaeda is not our nations number one deadly problem. It is the American media who are intimidated to criticize these rich radio and cable demagogues' sponsors who are making a profit on national dissension and division. By their silence they are being complicit to allowing the continuing deterioration of our national backbone to say no to division and unite for progress.

Posted by: october30 | January 9, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Your ThinkThank link to CRS primer on filibuster nuclear option ends up here:

http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/news/moment-truth-report-national-commission-fiscal-responsibility-and-reform

Posted by: Clear_Eye | January 9, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

What about the slew of terrorist threats targeting Democrats in the wake of the healthcare? Has there or has there not been an escalation of threats against congress, the president and judges that has followed the Republican Party and rightwing media's escalated use of urgent rhetoric with revolutionary overtones? Has there not been a rash of rightwing violence against law enforcement and civilians? If the attack on Giffords was rare maybe it's because the ubiquitous incitement we've seen the past two years coming from the Right has been rare. Ezra Klein himself noticed it and wrote about it one day before the attack.

Posted by: birchbeer | January 9, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, your thinking is good but it is quite possible things would not improve from here onwards.

Gun control would not have directly stopped this incidence or anyone who is really interested in killing. But just consider this - we are around 300 Millions in USA and there are 250 Million fire arms! Look at the 'jock photo' of Giffords political opponent of GOP as published on Andrew's site Daily Dish. The guy is with fully loaded automatic rifle with spread legs trying to bring attention to his manhood. And his supporters were going to get an opportunity to fire these loaded fire arms with the candidate.

Yes, you can find such photos and behavior of Democrats too who support gun / NRA too. (Hint - look for those in West Virginia.) Point is where are we going with this culture of 'touting guns' in our Politics? Those rowdy militia touting their guns in African endless wars - how different our these politicians are from those third world power brokers or Afhgan war lords?

And now think - what is going to change in America's gun culture after this incidence. Anything? I doubt.

Half of this country is enamored with some extreme and selective reading / interpretation of Constitution. We do not understand how much damage 'intellectually empty political discourse of Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Tea Party' is doing to this country (and Democrats are doing by not fighting it back).

No, we are not done with the path of self inflicted damage on which we are going. Collectively, I just don't see any signs that we will be stopping any such bad/sad incidences in future as well as stopping the negative effects which your post talk about.

We have lost an entire decade in improving lives of we Americans just because we did not have collective emotional maturity to handle 9/11. Half of America's people and their leaders do not consider 'increasing inequality' as any problem or impeding danger of the same.

Economists do not have much credibility but collectively all of them see on the path on which we are (http://www.cnbc.com/id/40989690).

It is depressing, it is dark and more and more wounds are going to unfold in front of us. The fratricide between early White European settlers and later immigrants like Hispanics, Asians and other people along with Blacks and other minorities is not going away and it is likely to explode further. The class war between Robber Baron Capitalists and exploited, begging for jobs is not resolved and unlikely to be resolved. When even after worst of recession causing behavior of Bankers we have strong caucus of Congress Members who want to loosen up any constraints on Bankers; there cannot be any hope in this country. Hey, the very word 'hope' is totally discredited now with that satire of 'hopy thingy'.

Our night has only started and we do not know what destructive end is awaiting for us.

Posted by: umesh409 | January 9, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for being the voice of sanity here, Ezra. It does surprise me, to a degree, that more elected officials don't find themselves targets. But the reality is that, by and large, they aren't targets of anything other than a few empty threats.

It's normal for there to be a security presence at any large public event, but there's no reason to expect that it is necessary or desirable to have secret-service-levels of protection for hundreds of elected officials. It would be a mistake to try to turn public buildings into walled-fortresses and public appearances where a politician is flanked by layers of security to "protect" them.

Posted by: tyromania | January 9, 2011 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Not that I was his biggest fan, but perhaps we should include Larry McDonald.

Posted by: gerbilsbite | January 9, 2011 6:05 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr. Klein. These attacks are rare. As rare as dating the US Constitution just 100 years ago (instead of 231 years ago), as Mr. Klein has done.

Posted by: edgar_sousa | January 9, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Make no mistake, the right has been blowing the "dog whistle" in politics for many years. Most of us hear their words and either dismiss them or become indignant; others hear those words and they resonate to their extant fears and prejudices. Of that subset a small group may be moved to action.
*****************************
That's just a stupid, uneducated opinion made without merit. Apparently, you slept through the Bush years when protestors were often arrested, hung Bush in effigy and did damage to local property.

The Left has suffered the past two years trying to convince Americans why Obama is good for the country, economy and jobs. It's been a difficult task so they have had to play the race/bigot card whenever possible. A common democrat tactic even used in the dem promary by Obama against both Hillary & Bill. Then again, with McCain.

This guy is a loon, period.

Posted by: Tostitos | January 9, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, if the President and First Lady changed color, the racial intensity, and thus partisan rhetoric, would diminish. Think about it. A historic election of a black president immediately gives rise to an all white, "angry" wing of the republican party, whose principal tenet is "less government". Right. The media aided and abetted this libertarian wing which looked at its newcomers and said "why not". I like Rand Paul and his Dad, but I don't think they like that the libertarian party has become a proxy for racists.

Read the kid that killed the Congresswoman's postings. He hated mexicans and blacks. This country hasn't moved forward as much as we have thought, and in the south and southwest it has regressed.

Posted by: johnkomalley | January 9, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

There are reports Ms. Giffords had a CCW permit. We're talking about Ariz. In the West, people carry their weapons.

As for protection -- think of all the news media folks who work in inner-city metros. I'm sure some have CCW permits and are carrying. Still, it is dangerous. Lots of creeps out there, who would be creeps under Communism.

As for the left-wing trolls blaming the TPs -- imagine how the bombing victims of Billy Ayers of Chicago ("BHO For Hyde Park") felt. Or the folks at Fort Hood.

Praying for Ms. Giffords.

Posted by: BHO_ONE_TERM | January 9, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps if Democrats hadn't pushed through the healthcare takeover in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve after bribing their fellow Democrats, breaking every rule in the book and disrespecting the will of the American People they wouldn't be so villified. Do what the people elected you to do and they won't be angry. It is really very simple. When the American People say DON'T DO THAT with a united, loud voice don't call them "astroturf", "racists" and "stupid". Do what the People elected you to do. As a Democrat at least being shot in the brain she didn't get hit in a vital organ.

Posted by: oldno7 | January 9, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I have a problem with this as well and mine centers on costs. Assassinations of our elected officials are extremely rare. If Congressional officials concentrated more on their job and meeting obligations of their constituents you would see happier citizens.

If Democrats are worried about their personal safety concerning upcoming health care legislation votes I suggest they revisit the issue and how they may not be best representing their constituents. Rep Giffords represents a conservative Republican district and voted the Reid/Pelosi/Obama agenda for two years straight. As you can imagine the backlash she felt was over her voting record- Yes on TARP. Yes on stimulus. Yes on Obamacare. Then Rep Giffords wonders why she feels the Tea Party discontent. You can't represent conservative Republicans voting a Pelosi/Reid/Obama agenda. Ignoring your constituents will cost you your job. We almost got her last election and would have defeated her in 2012 with the aid of redistricting. If officials are concerned about personal safety I urge you to listen more to your constituents and less to party leadership. You really do work for the people and this should be a loud wake up call.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | January 9, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

First episode schizophrenia is a hard thing.

The commentariat nor the politicians seemed to have learned anything from the Virginia Tech shootings.

Posted by: ahengst | January 9, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

oldno7 says:

"As a Democrat at least being shot in the brain she didn't get hit in a vital organ."

No matter how cogent the point you were trying to make, it would tend to be nullified by your last comment above. As Americans, we may disagree over how our country should be governed, but the discussion is hardly served by offering an unthinking crack like that. Please, take a hard look in the mirror without delay.

We've ceded enough of our personal liberties to the state in the wake of the post-9/11 "war on terror" hysteria. Let's not surrender anymore of the openness of a free society by overreacting to the cowardly deeds of a nut job with a gun.

And, let's remember that we're all in this together.

Posted by: hardrain | January 9, 2011 7:44 PM | Report abuse

--*I don't want to minimize the awful tragedy in Tucson.*--

Yet, that's exactly what you're doing. And did, yesterday, when you dragged Palin, "Sharron Angle (R)", "Rep. Michele Bachmann (R)", and Jesse Kelly into your dim musings on the subject.

You're a disgrace, Klein, from start to finish.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 7:54 PM | Report abuse

"As a Democrat at least being shot in the brain she didn't get hit in a vital organ."

what is truly terrifying, is to think that any one of us, no matter what our beliefs, could actually be living next door to someone capable of writing a comment like that.



Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 7:55 PM | Report abuse

"In a free and open society there is an inherent risk in living a public life or in living period"

Really only applies to a country that has more guns than people.--pretty scary when you think about it

Posted by: staussfamily | January 9, 2011 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I see a bunch of people here justifying violent rhetoric and outrage because of health care bill passed by the president and congress who won the election, but surprisingly these people were pretty silent about the government's use of torture and miring ourselves in a pointless war in Iraq. You'll excuse me if I don't take all that outrage too seriously, you moral cowards.

Posted by: tyromania | January 9, 2011 8:00 PM | Report abuse

"the right owns the franchise in hate talk."

You can be sure they also own the vast majority of the guns!!!

Posted by: staussfamily | January 9, 2011 8:02 PM | Report abuse

If you had just one or two policemen standing in the background at that Tucson meet and greet (which was at a store I’ve been to, just ten minutes from the university I work at), that would have had virtually zero impact on the ability of citizens to interact with Gabby, but it would have saved probably at least half of those lives, if not all. When it’s broadcast when and where a major politician like a U.S. congressperson will be, in those rare instances it’s not a big deal at all to have a couple of cops standing in the background surveying the crowd. For most people they’re just going to blend into the woodwork.

And as far as it’s happened little in the past, we never before had death panel, socialism, destruction of the currency, save the country from the death of freedom propaganda mass broadcast by a major party, including its top members, its mainstream, not its fringe.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | January 9, 2011 8:07 PM | Report abuse

"Yet, that's exactly what you're doing. And did, yesterday, when you dragged Palin, "Sharron Angle (R)", "Rep. Michele Bachmann (R)", and Jesse Kelly into your dim musings on the subject."

msoja

palin, angle and bachman are deeply, morally complicit in what has happened....
but i honestly believe that you already know this,
despite whatever philosophical or political differences you may have with opinions that are expressed here.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 8:11 PM | Report abuse

RichardSerlin:

While there is certainly no harm in having policemen at such an event, there is no evidence that it would have made any difference. Many politicians have been shot and killed with law enforcement close at hand.

Stick to a subject you know something about.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 9, 2011 8:32 PM | Report abuse

--*palin, angle and bachman are deeply, morally complicit in what has happened....*--

Well, that's certainly what Klein would like you to believe (and he made sure to include the little (R)s for Republican, too), but that doesn't make it true.

But do go on. Continue accusing solid citizens of complicity in murder, continue tarring whole political movements with the same ignorant, dark brush, continue insisting that you have a right to what others struggle to produce, and I'm sure you'll be back here again, moaning about the divisiveness and lack of civility in the culture.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Too much speculation based on a vacuum of information.

Next will begin some kind of conspiracy theory, just as in most other cases of this kind, because it's too difficult to accept that a loser with a gun can change so many people's lives in a few seconds.

In the coming days, each side will pick and choose from his distorted preception of reality, whatever suits their cause best.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 9, 2011 8:39 PM | Report abuse

in my opinion, i believe that after today, sarah palin is finished as a formidable political force to be reckoned with.
i think that all credible political figures in the republican party will see her now as a real liability, and will start quietly distancing themselves from her, just as they do from george bush.
it will not have been moral courage, but a great tragedy, and political expedience, that will give credible republicans the incentive to finally loosen their yoke from her.
she will likely try to paint herself as a victim in all of this, but her unrepentent words today, will now seal her political fate.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 8:49 PM | Report abuse

--*the government's use of torture*--

What's the difference between that and the FDA telling people they can't buy drugs that have been proven effective in other countries?

Soja's conjecture: It's the same thing, and you can't have one without the other.

Government cannot be in the business of taking things from one faction and giving them to another and not create great rifts and resentments. Our government ought not to be in Iraq in the same way our government ought not to be in the health care biz, or the education biz, or any of the other hundred bizzes it's in.

But, even if, a loony still might have wreaked havoc in that shopping center.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Recently concocted right wing tripe goes something like: "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim." It should now read that all terrorists are Muslim or U.S. Christian right wing crazy people.

Posted by: Rocketman4 | January 9, 2011 8:53 PM | Report abuse

--*i think that all credible political figures in the republican party will see [Palin] now as a real liability*--

I've got news for you: The group most responsible for keeping Palin viable is the leftist media, hanging on every tweet and Facebook update, renting the house next door to her, hounding her family, crawling up her womb, even, precisely because on days like yesterday they can immediately invoke her name, which they assiduously kept before the public eye, in the service of throwing their mud at everyone else holding the slimmest association to her. It's the professional bigotry and propaganda of the left, and Klein's a big part of it.

I have no love whatsoever for Palin, but she regularly brings the utter worst out of the left, showing them for the utter reprobates they are.

Posted by: msoja | January 9, 2011 9:03 PM | Report abuse

"you'll be back here again, moaning about the divisiveness and lack of civility in the culture."


and what is wrong with that......
if there was more civility in political life....if once-vice-presidential candidates didnt use crosshairs on fellow political leaders.. if congresspeople werent yelling out invectives during a state of the union address and circulating racist jokes and songs...we wouldnt find ourselves in such a terrible place.
there have been many times in our history, when there was embittered disagreement between the parties, but the level of discourse was never this debased, cruel and dysfunctional... on a daily basis.
and it is something to lament.
when civility is gone in a culture, and those who are the most irresponsible become the most popularized, something is terribly wrong.
and i dont consider sarah palin to be a "solid citizen."
she absconded from her elected position and responsibilities, without any emergency, in alaska. she has fomented discord and strife for her own self-aggrandizement...she endangered the lives of other political leaders on the day she put them in crosshairs and through her constant incendiary language, and worst of all, she ran for the office of the vice presidency, when she was completely under-qualified and worse...thoroughly uninformed... and could have jeopardized our entire country...that is not the act of a patriot, but of a political opportunist.
i dont consider her a solid and upstanding citizen at all.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 9:09 PM | Report abuse

" The group most responsible for keeping Palin viable is the leftist media,"


i agree with you.
the more pernicious and outrageous a person is, the more attention they receive. it saps the energy from what is good and healthy and beautiful, and leaves us exactly where we now find ourselves.

Posted by: jkaren | January 9, 2011 9:22 PM | Report abuse

"If Wasserman is so concerned about her safety that she feels she can't do her job, she ought to step aside."
----

or maybe she should just carry a gun and arm her staff, as heath shuler proposes?

yeah, that'll take care of things.

Posted by: stoat1 | January 9, 2011 9:44 PM | Report abuse

So many angry white males in this country. Anger does affect health. Guns speak loud and fast. Why don't boys in Arizona carry their guns in a holster- quick draw? Why conceal the guns? People could move away from men with guns. Do non gun owners have any rights in Arizona?

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | January 9, 2011 10:34 PM | Report abuse

It's a corporate media.

If it were a liberal media, people like Palin beck Limbaugh wouldn't be on the air. And republicans wouldn't get more and better coverage during elections, and groups like the swiftboat vets wouldn't be allowed to spew their lies.

The fact msoja has complete and utter hatred for all liberals shows he is as deranged as that shooter. And the fact he is more offended by klein dragging palin into this tragedy instead of being offended that Palin dragged Gifford into this shooters sights again shows derangement.

Rughtwing nuts like msoja need to stop preaching hatred for all liberals, and instead they need to hold their own accountable in the same way they demand Muslims hold their own accountable.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 12:32 AM | Report abuse

--*if once-vice-presidential candidates didnt use crosshairs on fellow political leaders*--

Yeah, but it's okay if the Democrat Leadership Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Kos do the same thing. Right.

The "level of discourse", as you refer to it, is where it is because of the level of political action that the collectivists have undertaken in furtherance of their dim, misguided aims. The more collectivists try to squeeze and regulate people, the angrier people will become. The promise of a free country was the happiness that comes from not having a monarch or despot making one's life miserable. That the old, easily identifiable despot has been supplanted by the amorphous smiley face (yet equally heartless and destructive) bureaucracy is immaterial. Human nature is what it is, and no matter how much you don't like your fellows, humans should be free to conduct themselves as they see fit.

Posted by: msoja | January 10, 2011 12:45 AM | Report abuse

--*If it were a liberal media, people like Palin beck Limbaugh wouldn't be on the air. And republicans wouldn't get more and better coverage during elections, and groups like the swiftboat vets wouldn't be allowed to spew their lies.*--

You've let your inner fascist out again. Tch tch.

You live in what was once the freest country on the planet, don't understand the concept of freedom at all, and continue to kick yourself in the head over the ongoing degradation even as you call for more government intrusion into the lives of the citizenry.

That's messed up.

Posted by: msoja | January 10, 2011 1:13 AM | Report abuse

"The more collectivists try to squeeze and regulate people, the angrier people will become"

msoja

whatever your political and philosophical beliefs may be, it is a separate issue, from the manipulative and violent rhetoric of sarah palin and others.
a person has a choice, in the words they use, and that includes hate speech.
and you say that "other humans should be free to conduct themselves as they see fit..."
well, when you are sharing a country in 2011, with billions of people, in apartment buildings with hundreds of people, and driving on freeways with seas of cars, and going into malls with thousands of people, you simply are not free to conduct yourself, however you see fit.
even in the garden of eden, the first story of how humans chose to conduct themselves, the idea was, they were really not free to conduct themselves as they saw fit.
there were even rules in the garden of eden.
there was never a human being on earth who was unnaccountable, and could do whatever he saw fit, without rules and serious consequences.
not even in a myth.
not even in a creation story.

the interrelationships between all things on this planet, make it impossible for all humans to do whatever they see fit to do, especially in a complex society...but having this conversation, is like the retelling of the monkey and the weasel, going around the mulberry bush, again and again.
but exercising the choice to use hate speech, and inciteful words, is a separate choice,but also has consequences in a society where people need to act responsibly and with compassion, no matter how angry they may be.

Posted by: jkaren | January 10, 2011 4:56 AM | Report abuse

That "something" that needs to happen is a declaration by the two major political parties that there will be henceforth a zero-tolerance policy for allusion and innuendo concerning assassination by their party members, backed up with impeachment and expulsion from their party, forever.

Posted by: brickcha | January 10, 2011 7:08 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to read some of the nonsensical rhetoric from the right. It's also hard to absolve the fanning of flames practiced by the media, on behalf of the right. There are those on this thread who have basically condoned the tragedy in Arizona by equating the actions of a madman to "healthcare reform." Are you serious? If that's not politicizing this heinous act, what is?

Posted by: rhmn | January 10, 2011 7:13 AM | Report abuse

The rational part of my brain, the part that can process the fact that no member of Congress has been killed in the line of duty since the 70s, agrees with you. It's important for people to know their legislators and more people should attend events like the one Rep. Giffords was doing with her constituents.

But there's another part of my brain. The part that remembers that I've staffed candidates at events just like that with zero security, not even a single police officer - or at chaotic events like carnivals where anything could happen. The part that works in the Russell Senate Office Building, where the only reason someone didn't get shot two weeks ago when a man tried to bring a gun into the building is that the Capitol Police brought him down before he could get inside. The part that knows our mail has to be screened offsite because people keep mailing poisoned letters and bombs to government buildings. The part that is in daily contact with our Director of Constituent Services, the same position the murdered Gabe Zimmerman held. The part that's been threateningly ordered off people's property when trying to drop off campaign literature any number of times. The part whose friends' cars have been vandalized because of the political bumper stickers and visible campaign material inside.

And that part is terrified. I don't know what the answer is. I even agree that the answer is not to put members of Congress and staff in a security bubble. But I do know I'm even more grateful for the Capitol Police and the fact that our mail is screened today, and that I will make sure to keep my Senate ID badge hidden in public.

Posted by: amy130 | January 10, 2011 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Best thing we can do to protect both our public servants and ourselves is to enact and enforce gun laws that require proof of psychological health to buy a gun or bullets and to enforce waiting periods.

Posted by: edhazer | January 10, 2011 8:25 AM | Report abuse

If you read this story about the details of what happened:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/us/10reconstruct.html?hp

It looks like if there were two police officers in the background, they might have stopped this. The man was acting suspicious before the shooting in a way that should have drawn attention from even moderately trained officers. Then he ran up from the back of 20 people leaving time for the officers to stop him, and certainly after he shot the people in front, police officers would have had plenty of time to fire back before he had a chance to turn to the crowd and kill four others.

Having a couple of police officers in the background at these events would make virtually no difference in the ability of citizens to interact with their legislators, but at least in this case it would have probably saved many lives.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | January 10, 2011 8:39 AM | Report abuse

"You've let your inner fascist out again."

And you have yet again revealed you are an idiot. I simply described what the media would look like *IF*, as you say, it was a liberal media.

And BTW, if you hate fascism, why then do you support the politicians who lied about the justification for the invasion of Iraq and created the Patriot Act and suspended habeous corpus and the new Arizona immigration law and HATE ALL LIBERALS and support corporate personhood status in America and legalized torture and put innocent people in GITMO and allowed rendition camps?

You probably also think its a good idea to have fusion centers in each state that allow Americans to report other Americans, without cause, and have their names be put in databases as being suspicious.

I'm guessing you also abhor all anti-war demonstrators, you think McCarthy got a raw deal, and you think Obama is a Kenyan and perhaps a muslim, and you want to expel millions of hispanics from the USA regardless of how long they have been here or whether they were born here or served in the US military or whether it would cause a human tragedy of epic proportions.

Perhaps you are the nazi here.

Indeed if I am right about the above, then you display all the hallmarks of a good nazi. And here you are today defending the violent rhetoric of politicians who you worship instead of being offended that a little girl was shot down by a crazed, anti-gvmt shooter.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 10, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

"The more collectivists try to squeeze and regulate people, the angrier people will become."

So in other words, this happened because everybody should pay in to a universal healthcare system, not because rightwing politicians inflate that to a phony loss of freedoms and suggest violent responses.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 10, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

--*I'm guessing*--

You're projecting your hate.

Posted by: msoja | January 10, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

As those victims that standing on a parking lot to listen the words of a congress woman showed us…

From the book “AN AUTISTIC WORLD (1)”

“It is understood that the word “sacrifice” involves the voluntary handing over of something valued. This description claims the acceptance of a choice, without it a sacrifice wouldn’t take place. Pain and struggle shape the bridge that connects the following choice; either we stay where we are at a present time, or we move on with our decision.

Every person has to deal with sacrifice in one way or another through their lives. It is probably the most unrecognized virtue of our existence. We cross the bridge with each resolution, gaining something in the future, and loosing something in the past. The present is what appears most difficult to deal with, usually because it is affected by fear of the unknown, as well as of known situations.

But do we really have a choice? The force that enabled us to cross the breach is made by our morals. The distinction of what’s right, from what’s wrong is fundamental to determining our movement or our immobility. If we discard the essence of ourselves, our morals, we put aside who we are, and for some individuals that is not always an option.”

Posted by: kanino | January 10, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

lauren2010:
"...the fact he is more offended by klein dragging palin into this tragedy instead of being offended that Palin dragged Gifford into this shooters sights again shows derangement."

Anyone who frequents these boards knows I'm civil, and rarely resort to name-calling. But in this case, I see no other way to say it: lauren2010, you are an idiot.

Read something other than left-wing media, and you will find out that this shooter was obsessed with Giffords as early as 2007, long before anyone outside of Alaska knew who Palin was. Palin did not 'drag Giffords into his shooters sights'.

You will also find out that, according to high school classmates, the shooter had no obvious poliitical affiliation but was 'frustrated' with the Bush administration. Hmmmm, does that mean that this shooter was just like any other Democrat, but ultimately 'pushed over the edge' left-wing hate-mongers in the media who fanned the flames of resentment against Bush?

Of course, anyone with a brain will recognize this tragedy is the result of, as George Will said yesterday, one of the 'unhinged' citizens who unfortunately are a reality in a nation of our size. It has nothing to do with political affiliation, right-wing radio, or left-wing tv.

Unfortunately, we have loons like lauren2010 who will continue to try to use tragedies such as this one to score political points. In my humble opinion, people like as this rank somewhere lower than email spammers on the human chain.

Posted by: dbw1 | January 10, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"Best thing we can do to protect both our public servants and ourselves is to enact and enforce gun laws that require proof of psychological health to buy a gun or bullets and to enforce waiting periods."

edhazer,

Mentally ill people will still remain able to steal guns or buy them on the black market. Psychological profiling won't catch all of the bad apples either - you hear now and again about shootings in which the shooter wasn't troubled or obviously screwed up in some way.

Criminals will always have access to weapons. Crazies will always have access to weapons.

The fact of the matter is that if several other people are also armed in these types of situations, it would be awfully hard for these clowns to shoot one or two dozen people before being brought down.

Now, politicians might prefer to have several armed police officers or staff members with them rather than random armed members of the general public, but in general these situations scream out in support of concealed carry.

Posted by: justin84 | January 10, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

--*So in other words, this happened because everybody should pay in to a universal healthcare system, not because rightwing politicians inflate that to a phony loss of freedoms and suggest violent responses.*--

Ah, the Lee_A_Arnold shows up to do his/her purposeful misunderstanding routine.

No, "this happened" because some loony tune flipped over the edge.

A separate issue is: Why do libtards continue to insist that "right wing hate" is a marketing strategy of talk radio (and Sarah Palin) when it is rather more obviously a completely understandable reaction to libtard efforts to turn a once free country into a stumbling socialist welfare state?

Posted by: msoja | January 10, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Why does this country allow handguns? The only reason anyone needs one is to defend themselves from somebody else who may have one. This country is insane and uncivilized.
All handguns should be banned, like in europe, and long guns should have minimum length barrels, which length should be quite long, to discourage concealment. Of course this won't prevent determined nutcases from acting, but it might cut down on a lot this crap. Make possession of handguns a mandatory 3-5 yr prison sentence.

Posted by: rjewett | January 10, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

"So in other words, this happened because everybody should pay in to a universal healthcare system, not because rightwing politicians inflate that to a phony loss of freedoms and suggest violent responses."

No, this happened because the shooter was a psychopath. He didn't seem to have a coherent political philsophy.

The angry rhetoric, on the other hand, is a direct result of various government policies.

Posted by: justin84 | January 10, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

"And BTW, if you hate fascism, why then do you support the politicians who lied about the justification for the invasion of Iraq and created the Patriot Act and suspended habeous corpus and the new Arizona immigration law"

Lauren, what on Earth makes you believe msoja is a Republican?

"Perhaps you are the nazi here."

Seriously, do you even read?

At 12:45am, msoja wrote:

"Human nature is what it is, and no matter how much you don't like your fellows, humans should be free to conduct themselves as they see fit."

Right out of Mein Kampf, huh?

YOU are the one who wants to impose YOUR values on others, via the force of government.

"And here you are today defending the violent rhetoric of politicians who you worship instead of being offended that a little girl was shot down by a crazed, anti-gvmt shooter."

He's clearly defending free speech from politicians he likely despises, if his comments elsewhere are any indication. He's attacking the politiciziation of this tragedy by the left, which to me reminds of Republicans trying to capitalize on 9-11.

Sarah Palin may be quite dim, and putting targets on a map of congressional districts might well have been tasteless. However, it's hard to believe, knowing what we know now, that anything Sarah Palin did was even a motivating factor for this guy - and even if it were, responsibility remains 100% with the derranged animal who went on a shooting spree.

We are all offended that the 9 year old girl died, but some of us are also offended that liberals are trying to use her tragic death for political gain. It's disgraceful.

Posted by: justin84 | January 10, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

@Justin: However, it's hard to believe, knowing what we know now, that anything Sarah Palin did was even a motivating factor for this guy - and even if it were, responsibility remains 100% with the derranged animal who went on a shooting spree.

No, part of the responsibility is on this country's easy availability of handguns, especially in Arizona, where nutcases have no problem buying them "legally". And stop giving animals a bad name. No animal is capable of what this wacko did.

Posted by: rjewett | January 10, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Klein notes: "And there's no reason, at least as of yet, to think they're going to become more common in the years to come."

larrybellinger: "Don't do the false equivalence that "both sides do it!" because it is painfully obvious the right owns the franchise in hate talk."

Mr. Klein, the above comment from the self-same writer who spends more time vilifying the right as hate-mongers than in thoughtful analysis based on factual evidence? Wow, I am glad I am sitting down, because I detected a rare note of civility here.
larrybellinger, "the right owns the franchise in hate talk," is tantamount to "only the American left burned George W. Bush in effigy." What a crock!
I have never heard more frothing vitriol and hate speech than that of Keith Olbermann. Remember him? The guy from MSNBC? He is the penultimate hater, the journalistic incarnation of and quintessential example of the kind of punditry you say you decry. To say the least, your blind rage is hypocritical.

Posted by: jay_thompson | January 10, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"Debbie Wasserman on Meet the Press today said that she never has a town hall without some police presence.
Posted by: LillithM"

That's not surprising. Most meeting places require some level of police presence once a crowd size meets a certain threshold. That has nothing to do with the threats posed to Wasserman or others.

Posted by: cprferry | January 10, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

apologists and revisionists for the tea party movement, do themselves no favors today.
you have planted hate. and you have sown hate.
that is the beginning and end of your story...
from the early newsletters of ron paul, to the outrageous statements of his son....to the violent inspirations of their media cult figures...to their minions in congress, their aspiring minions like christine o'donnell....to their dark queen, who is completely alone on her throne today.


any sane, patriotic, intelligent american will now see the essence of the tea party movement as a blight on our nation...without a doubt.


there is no revising their words, no excuses or accusations that can change the truth of the movement.....or the glaring intent of their leadership.

watching sarah palin, in a clip this morning, in her black leather jacket...brandishing, mocking, insolent, disrespectful... talking about b.s....it seems hideous, in the light of the tragedy that has occurred.
this is what an abuse of the rights of free speech lead to....this is what happens when free speech turns into hate speech.
this is what happens when reckless, irresponsible and malevolent people become cult figures in any country.
now, people will see the truth of what that movement is about. its roots are in chaos and hatred, and so grows their tree.
they can scurry about, cleansing their words, and revising them, but that is futile, now.

Posted by: jkaren | January 10, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"No, this happened because the shooter was a psychopath. He didn't seem to have a coherent political philsophy.

The angry rhetoric, on the other hand, is a direct result of various government policies."

So in other words, angry rhetoric about taking back the gov't by guns is not to be believed because it is just emotional bloviation, and you know enough about psychopaths to prove a theory that they are never triggered by what they see or hear.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 10, 2011 7:37 PM | Report abuse

--*So in other words, angry rhetoric about taking back the gov't by guns is not to be believed because it is just emotional bloviation*--

You're big on the "in other words" thing, aren't you? I guess it allows you to try to put words in other people's mouths.

And you're wrong, again.

Maybe it will help if you think of what's going on in the country as being similar to a home invasion or burglary. People (generally) have no argument with those who forcefully defend their possessions against interlopers. You break in, you take the risk of having your head blown off. If someone breaks in and you shoot them dead, the government will usually not bring charges against you. In cases involving some sort of police corruption or incompetence, one may even legitimately defend with lethality against police intrusions.

And, of course, people are free to declare their intentions to defend their domains with lethal force against the ill intentions of others.

There is nothing particularly radical about extending the same principle to the larger encroachments of an out of control government. The founders embraced the principle. What is now being termed extremist hate rhetoric is little more than declarations of intentions to mount proportionate defenses against the illegitimate intrusions of a gang that just happens to be government sanctioned.

You would like to pretend that you are not part of the state sanctioned gang that is holding your neighbor(s) hostage, but that's exactly what you are. You ought not to be surprised that people deeply resent what you are, and don't particularly see any reason to be overly civil to you in such matters.

Posted by: msoja | January 11, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

So the violent rhetoric is to be believed, but the people who express it are not to be held responsible for any actions which may come of it.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 11, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

--*So the violent rhetoric is to be believed, but the people who express it are not to be held responsible for any actions which may come of it.*--

LOL. You just can't help it, can you?

A. The "violent rhetoric" to which you refer largely isn't. Violent, that is. Alleging otherwise, as you do, is just another cheap way collectivists have found to corrupt discourse, meaning, and thought. Did you know that the word "campaign" is a term of war? Ooo, scary. Should it be banned from use by all improperly educated non-collectivist types? Yes? No? You're just gibbering and can't really answer?

B. Individuals should be held responsible for their actions. Period. Trying to trace incitement to murder through a generic symbol on a campaign map is about as convoluted, moronic, and fatuous as any other clever thing collectivists are wont to come up with.

You're a joke, Lee. All you have are joke arguments. All you want to do is take things from people (the rich!), and the only way you can think to do it is to come up with one insane justification after another. You should grow up.

Posted by: msoja | January 11, 2011 9:14 PM | Report abuse

So let's see, talk of taking back the government by force is not violent, but psychopaths should be held responsible for their actions, because they somehow should have known not to become mentally ill, and we cannot afford to increase taxes to take care of these people before they do harm to others and to themselves, because universal healthcare is an out-of-control government infringement of people's freedom, so let's carry a gun at all times to protect ourselves against psychopaths, an Uzi in every crib, and perhaps now also to protect ourselves against emotional clowns who express violent rhetoric about taking over the government because they object to taxation, although it is one of the only ways to deal with these growing social transaction costs, since these childish libertarians themselves show the least ability of all to come up with any individual solutions, and in fact they appear unable to think their way out of a paper bag.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 11, 2011 10:12 PM | Report abuse

--*talk of taking back the government by force is not violent*--

You are purposely leaving out the qualifiers.

Try augmenting "government" with "government that has exceeded its charter by arbitrarily, negligently, and recklessly infringing the rights it was instituted to protect" and you'll be closer to the truth, but probably, in your case, no wiser. As a further hint (which I thought I made clear in an earlier comment to you) the violence you want to assign to conservatives or Tea Partiers is in most cases purely defensive, along the lines of, "You'll pry my gun out of my cold, dead hands." You might want to reflect on who is INITIATING the violence that your words seem to indicate you abhor. Eh?

--*but psychopaths should be held responsible for their actions, because they somehow should have known not to become mentally ill*--

Are you saying psychopaths should NOT be held responsible for their actions? Wee Ooooo. Is the current court system not capable of dealing with sane and insane criminals on an individual basis?

--*we cannot afford to increase taxes to take care of these people before they do harm to others*--

I wasn't aware that Loughner had been recommended for psychiatric help, but that the Arizona populace wasn't sufficiently taxed to provide that help. Could you provide some evidence of that, please?

--*taxation [...] is one of the only ways to deal with these growing social transaction costs*--

Ah, taxation. It's the universal answer to every question that dim witted, meddling, collectivist busybodies ever have. It's the eternal mindless non sequitur. You don't understand the problem, but are sure that giving someone you don't know more money to spend on things you have no idea about is somehow going to solve something somewhere.

You're ridiculous.

Posted by: msoja | January 12, 2011 12:33 AM | Report abuse

In other words, universal healthcare is initiating arbitrary and reckless violence. Denying transplants and cutting back psychiatric healthcare (as Arizona has been doing) is the way to proceed. Spending money is always spending it unwisely, because you say so.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 12, 2011 2:55 AM | Report abuse

--*In other words*--

Can't you just state what you think, instead of pretending to paraphrase your critics?

That Arizona is "denying transplants" is a symptom of the failure that is socialism. The state is unable to steal enough from its citizens to cover the obligations it has taken upon itself.

People are willing to work to insure their own survival, but few are willing to unnecessarily expend their energies (their lives, really) to save those who might not have been as responsible or industrious in providing for themselves.

Leaving people free to chart their own paths through life is a better way. The state of Arizona should get out of the health care biz, and you should learn to keep your nose out of other people's affairs and set to in making sure you don't become a burden on others.

Posted by: msoja | January 12, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

In other words, emotional resentments about who is deserving and who is not deserving will have to suffice, and it is to be called "thinking."

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 12, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

--*In other words*--

Sorry, dude, but I can no longer discern what it is you're getting on about.

People should be free to direct their own assets as they see fit, and not have governments filching X amount for health care, and X amount for retirement, and another X amount for a memorial in some dead Senator's district, etc.

In Arizona, now, transplants are a *political* issue. Life and death decisions are now in the hands of the stupid, glad handing politicians, and less and less in the hands of the people for whom the decisions are of utmost moment. We might as well be living in the Middle Ages.

Posted by: msoja | January 12, 2011 8:40 PM | Report abuse

"People should be free to direct their own assets as they see fit..."

In other words, bald statements instead of logical arguments. Leading to gibberish such as this:

"We might as well be living in the Middle Ages."

It's no wonder the rightwing needs so much violent metaphor.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 12, 2011 9:04 PM | Report abuse

--*It's no wonder the rightwing needs so much violent metaphor.*--

You're projecting your hate out of nothing so much as pure ignorance.

It is the left in this country that is steeped in espousing violence in the name of revolution.

Do you think Klein dragged Palin's name into into the discussion on the day of the Tucson massacre just to sell newspapers?

Posted by: msoja | January 13, 2011 12:34 AM | Report abuse

You're all about the comparison of rightwing and leftwing for purposes of winning an argument without facts. One side does it, so it must justify the other side doing it. Mindless and childish.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 13, 2011 2:25 AM | Report abuse

--*argument without facts*--

A few hours after Loughner's massacre, Klein decried the right's rhetoric of violence, writing:

"Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) said she wanted Minnesotans 'armed and dangerous' in opposition to cap-and-trade."

It turns out that Bachmann wanted her constituents "armed" *with information*, and "dangerous" in their knowledge and point-making abilities.

Now why would Klein lie like that? Any idea? Any idea at all?

Posted by: msoja | January 13, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Any idea what Michelle Bachmann means by having "information"? That global warming isn't happening? That carbon mitigation isn't necessary? What are her "facts", exactly? She appears to be using violent rhetoric because she doesn't possess any real facts.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 13, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

You didn't answer the question. You changed the subject (again). You continued your smears.

And, as far as I can tell, you don't believe in individual liberty. Or truth. Or Justice.

You just want to be able to force other people to live according to the echoes in your head.

Posted by: msoja | January 13, 2011 11:06 PM | Report abuse

This is all nonsense.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 14, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company