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Posted at 10:49 AM ET, 01/10/2011

'Violent imagery' in politics isn't the problem

By Adam Serwer

The shooting in Tucson that grievously injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six people, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, has sparked a conversation about violence in our political discourse. The conversation is probably long overdue.

We need to be clear that we're not talking about the mere use of violent imagery -- but political rhetoric that implicitly or explicitly justifies actual violence.

Jack Shafer warns that calls to "tamp down the political rhetoric" are misplaced. He writes that "Not once have the use of these [violent] images or words tempted me or anybody else I know to kill." Likewise, Kathy Kiely draws an implicit comparison between President Obama quoting The Untouchables and the rhetoric of Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who literally said that she wanted "people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax," because "having a revolution every now and then is a good thing."

This kind of conservative eliminationism -- the idea that liberals are not merely wrong, but an existential threat to the United States -- is a problem. Who can forget that Sharron Angle, a woman who was almost a United States senator, suggested that Americans might look to "Second Amendment remedies" if Congress wasn't more responsive to their complaints. Rush Limbaugh casually invokes the potential for a "Second American Revolution," just as he did prior to Oklahoma City, only now he has Glenn Beck to cosign his apocalyptic warnings. There are qualitative differences between the way the right viewed Bill Clinton and the way it looks at Barack Obama, but the basic approach is the same: Liberals aren't merely wrong, they're a threat to the country that needs to be destroyed. As Matt Bai noted, many conservatives employ this kind of language "as if blind to the idea that Americans legitimately faced" with tyranny "would almost certainly take up arms." 

I wouldn't draw a straight line between the views of the alleged Tucson shooter Jared Laughner -- fringe right-wing ideas mixed with odd metaphysics and what appears to be a very personal hatred of Giffords -- and mainstream conservative discourse. This didn't happen because the Tea Party called for lower taxes or opposed the Affordable Care Act. 

Yet Republicans still reacted defensively to the incident. The GOP isn't "responsible" for Loughner, but it's well aware that, for the past two years, the rhetoric some of its members employed in order to rile up their base crosses a line. That defensiveness shouldn't be mistaken for contrition. It's only now that they may pay a political price for it that the tone may change. It's not that this incident was caused by a "toxic political atmosphere," it's that it has reminded everyone that at some point, someone might actually take this stuff seriously. The quick attempts to assign political blame for the incident in the immediate aftermath are comforting in the sense that when it comes down to it, neither side really views violence as a legitimate political tool.  

Some commentators have drawn comparisons between this incident the death last week of Salman Taseer, a governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, who was assassinated for speaking out against Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Pakistan represents both a cautionary tale of a nation plagued by two extremes: The government strongly regulates what speech is appropriate, while at the same time the political discourse is one in which calls to violence are common. The solution to this problem, whatever it is, does not involve the government policing our national political discourse. We must never forget Justice Louis Brandeis's observation that, "that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones."

Whether or not counsels are heeded often depends on their source rather than their wisdom. Only conservatives can truly persuade other conservatives that the situation has gotten out of hand. Yet good counsels have been conspicuously absent. Republican politicians and leaders were perfectly willing to fan the flames of their base's rage when they believed it would get voters to the polls. Those who weren't actively participating stood silent as Limbaugh, Beck and others casually invoked the specter of violent revolution. 

These circumstances persist because most of us understand the game. We understand that Republicans don't really mean that Obama is a tyrannical socialist trying to destroy America and that this is merely the language Republicans use to satisfy what John McCain once referred to as "fringe people." The discrepancies between the way the two parties talk about each other is ignored, and we begin to focus on the meaninglessness of "violent imagery" in political rhetoric instead of a coherent political belief system in which one side views the other as an inherently illegitimate political actor, one whose role in politics verges on demanding a violent response. As far as the discourse is concerned, that is the problem, and it's not one liberals can really solve.

By Adam Serwer  | January 10, 2011; 10:49 AM ET
Categories:  House Dems, Political media  
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Next: Official: DHS has not determined any possible ties between Arizona shooter and right wing group

Comments

"Only conservatives can truly persuade other conservatives that the situation has gotten out of hand."

And yet when a "senior Republican senator" wanted to make this point to a reporter yesterday, he felt he had to do it off the record. The committment to this kind of rhetoric is still pretty strong.

Posted by: zimbar | January 10, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The Obama paid trolls and the Obama talking points machine emailed out talking points aimed at pinning BLAME for the lone nut on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party - they directed their people to start pushing this line on blogs around the nation.

That much is CLEAR AND TRUE.


The QUESTION is: Is it appropriate for the majority party which is in charge of the criminal investigation into a crime to engage in a SMEAR campaign against INNOCENT parties while the criminal investigation is underway???


I am wondering if that is even legal. Public officials have special responsibilities. All weekend, we NEVER heard Obama saying to HIS PEOPLE KNOCK IT OFF.

Obama is PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE for not stopping this SMEAR CAMPAIGN WHICH WAS DIRECTED BY HIS OWN PEOPLE. This is an OBAMA OPERATION.


It is highly inappropriate.


This time, Obama crossed the line. These smear operation is not much difference from the FALSE CHARGES OF RACISM that we have been hearing from the Obama people for the last two years. Obama has been SUPPORTING the setting of this tone of hostility OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS.


It is wrong.


At some point the adults of both parties this nation are going to have to tell Obama that his brand of dragging down the political atmosphere in this nation is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.

I have to wonder if this smear campaign is even legal - or if it is an impeachable offense. Obama is supposed to be in charge of PROPER law enforcement - he shouldn't have his people RUNNING SMEAR CAMPAIGNS ON THE SIDE.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 10, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

If these crazies believe Obama isn't American who knows what they will believe and what they are capable of.

God protect all innocent people.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 10, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"This kind of conservative eliminationism -- the idea that liberals are not merely wrong, but an existential threat to the United States -- is a problem."

I'm sorry, but aren't conservatives views as an existential threat to the United States? I'm pretty sure numerous commentators here feel that way. I do not see either side as an existential threat to the United States, BTW.

"Only conservatives can truly persuade other conservatives that the situation has gotten out of hand."

This isn't true. In fact, conservatives are unlikely to persuade other conservatives when the left tackles it with arguments that are basically either (a) your expressing your opinion led to this, so stop or (b) your expressing a passionate opinion about taxes or regulation is no different than calling for violence.

And while you don't exactly do that, Greg, there is an implication that a metaphorical mention of a second American revolution from Rush Limbaugh had some sort of relationship to the Oklahoma City Bombing (which, obviously, would have been planned well in advance of that) or that, at the least, such a thing meant that conservative commentators (presumably, this is not a restriction that would apply to liberals, because violence is inherently a right wing problem, the 1968 Democratic convention and the Weather Underground not withstanding) could not longer use certain metaphors, or talk about "revolution" or at least "American revolution" or evoke "radical change" or say something like, "whatever we do, we've got to put a stop to all this government spending" . . .

Frankly, I think it's a broken windows kinda thing. If we can get people to be generally polite, and have an expectation of politeness (even in relatively anonymous online conversations), maybe we'd all find violent language in politics--or suggestions that certain politicians should be put to death in gas chambers--beyond the pale.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 10, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Rush, Beck and Mark Levin along with certain individuals at Fox very much drive the conversation in right wing circles. They frame the arguments and debates for their listeners into soundbites.

It's what they do. Consider them the company commanders.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 10, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

We need to remember that it's just the blatently violent rhetoric that needs to change, but also some of the more insidious legitimizing of fringe ideas that is also happening.

When Speaker Beohner says in an interview that he know Pres. Obama was born in the US, but then still feels the need to qualify "but I won't tell anyone what to think." that's a wink-wink-nudge-nudge to those that live on the extreme and believes those types of things. It gives oxygen to the fire - and eventually some (already) disturbed individual is going to go over the edge.

I'm sure the GOP will (slightly) back off the more direct war-themed slogans and violent rhetoric for a short while...but I don't expect them to back off on that sort of subversive stoking of the extremists at all. And I don't expect right-wing comentators to back off on anything...because it pays their bills.

Oh, and by the by...one of the bills that was postponed by the House, has "KILLER" in the freaking bill title. I have to wonder if they'll update that bit of hyperbole before they attempt a vote on it.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | January 10, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

If it is "hatred and vitriol" to cite EVIDENCE of Leftist hate and vitriol, then Leftists wounds are entirely self-inflicted.

Palin's campaign target pale in comparison to serial Leftist hate rhetoric.
http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/10/the-progressive-climate-of-hate-an-illustrated-primer-2000-2010/

"Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." [Matthew 23:24]

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 10, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Kevin_Willis writes
"I'm sorry, but aren't conservatives views as an existential threat to the United States? I'm pretty sure numerous commentators here feel that way."

I think there's a difference between blog commentators and public figures. Yes, when an anonymous coward on a blog calls for violence or crosses the line with 'eliminationist' rhetoric, they should be called on it - and the posts noted to be the ridiculous nonsense they are. But, if you ask me, there is a huge gulf between someone posting on a blog and political candidates or media figures calling for 'second amendment solutions' and the like.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 10, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Kevin_Willis writes
"I'm sorry, but aren't conservatives views as an existential threat to the United States? I'm pretty sure numerous commentators here feel that way."


Can you see acknowledge the difference between an anonymous coward posting on a blog vs. a political candidate or other public figure calling for a 'second amendment solution,' or revolution?

It is ridiculous to argue that cao/chris fox's rantings are comparable to Sharron Angle's statements, or Beck's, or Limbaugh's, or Palin's, or Bachmann's.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 10, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Leftists want to focus on (alleged) Republican “rage" after the atrocity this weekend by one of their own. Maybe they should start focusing on Obama's rage. He's clearly the worst offender.
http://gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2011/01/did-barack-obama-cause-the-shootings-yesterday-in-tucson

** Obama: “They Bring a Knife…We Bring a Gun”
** Obama to His Followers: “Get in Their Faces!”
** Obama on ACORN Mobs: “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
** Obama to His Mercenary Army: “Hit Back Twice As Hard”
** Obama on the private sector: “We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.“
** Obama to voters: Republican victory would mean “hand to hand combat”
** Obama to lib supporters: “It’s time to Fight for it.”
** Obama to Latino supporters: “Punish your enemies.”
** Obama to democrats: “I’m itching for a fight.”

If Leftists really want to consider the atmosphere of "rage", they should start at the White House.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 10, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I like how Sargent just like all the other hacks at this newspaper tries to blame the GOP for a nutcase shooting people. For what it's worth, the dude was a pot-smoking hippeish type who counts the Communist Manifesto among his most favored readings.

Let me repeat, the dude is a nutcase; it was no one's rhetoric that led to this. But it is unseemly that people like Sargent are trying to score political points by painting their opponents as extreme and mischaracterizing their comments. Especially when it is clear that if there is any ideology to blame, it resides on the left in this case.

Posted by: octopi213 | January 10, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

FLASHBACK August 2010: Michael Enright (Leftist interfaith film company volunteer) stabbed an anti-mosque Muslim NYC cabbie and faces trial this year.
http://michellemalkin.com/2010/08/25/left-the-muslim-cabbie-stabbing-was-right-wing-islamophobia-oh-wait-a-minute/

Leftists rushed to lynch the entire Right for that "progressive" hate crime, too.

Giffords shooter is all yours, Leftists. Own him.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 10, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

@bsimon1:
I'm as liberal as they come, but FL Dem Congressman Alan Grayson painted his opponent as 'Taliban Dan' so it is on both sides.
.
I do think it's fair to say that it's far more prevalent on the GOP side and that they've been doing it much much longer and more extreme though.

Posted by: rpixley220 | January 10, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The difficulty with free speech is that you must take responsibility for your statements. If you don't explain in full what your meaning is, then you are in some respect responsible for the meaning taken. If Sarah Palin wishes us to believe that gun sights are something else, then her credibility must be questioned. She must lose a portion of her believability. Is Sharon Angle needs to say something about 2nd Amendment Rights, let her be specific and not couch it in political rhetoric. If Rep. Bachmann wants the people of Minnisota 'armed', then she must be specific or just shut up.
You have the right to free speech, but without the responsibility to define your meaning you devalue your self worth and the rights you use. When you vie for power be worthy of it.
AW

Posted by: abcwrite | January 10, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Why are conservatives defensive?

Posted by: walkerjl1 | January 10, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Why are Leftists so offensive?

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” [Obama at a Philadelphia fundraiser, June 2008]
http://weaselzippers.us/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/obama-knife-crime-tough.png

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 10, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Quite clearly, the BEST way to handle this on-going incident is for Republicans to act like adults and condemn anti-government rhetoric and violent imagery.

The fact that right wing maggots are here to protest against that notion is a sign of the collective lunacy of the Republican Party.

There NEEDS to be political consequences for not standing up to hate-mongers and those who would seek to profit off of the manipulation of right wingers' fears. Sarah & Todd Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the like.

If Republicans cannot or will not stand up to these people, then there needs to be political consequences.

I call on ALL moderate Republicans -- commenters here, lurkers here, and folks everywhere -- to reach out to your Republican moderate representative or Senator and ask them, beg them, to please stand up against right-wing anti-government rhetoric and violent and provocative language. Tell them they will lose your vote if they do not stand up against these unspeakably horrible and divisive forces.

Only when the moderate Republicans stand up to the extremist fringe, that has taken over the mainstream Republican Party, will common sense and a sense of American Unity prevail in this country once again.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 10, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Tyranny of the majority or of the minority?

Some folks can't get over fact that in a democracy, some win and some lose, and if you take the long view, you know that nothing is permanent. I really like the comment someone made on Saturday's open thread shortly after this happened:"the social contract is breaking down."
I think that is very prescient. I have said it before here and I'll say it again, this is not "red or blue" problem but an American one.

I'll get slammed by the Lefties for saying it but they have to remember the late-60s.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 10, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"FL Dem Congressman Alan Grayson painted his opponent as 'Taliban Dan'"

Agreed, that was over the line, as was Joe Manchin shooting the cap & trade bill in a political ad.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 10, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

* Didn't notice this was Serwer's post.

Not that it really matters since they have identical views.

Posted by: octopi213 | January 10, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

News Report

A this point - this suspect is an OBAMA PERSON - A LEFT WING NUT.

There is NO LINKAGE to the Tea Party and the democrats really have an issue on their hands concerning their conduct and the SMEAR campaign they conducted over the weekend.


____________________


A classmate of the man accused of shooting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords this morning describes him as "left wing" and a "pot head" in a series of posts on Twitter this afternoon.

Caitie Parker did not immediately respond to our request for an interview, but her "tweets" in the hours after the shooting paint a picture of Jared Loughner as a substance-abusing loner who had met Giffords before the shooting

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 10, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Can anyone imagine TEA ralliers fantasizing about Giffords' severed head?
http://www.lookingattheleft.com/2008/10/festival-of-obama/

The shooter was one of your own. Own the climate of hate, Leftists.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 10, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"I'll get slammed by the Lefties for saying it but they have to remember the late-60s."

I wasn't alive then, but I think that's a fair criticism. I'm not sure that we've learned much from that.

Kevin-
("a) your expressing your opinion led to this, so stop or (b) your expressing a passionate opinion about taxes or regulation is no different than calling for violence."

There are lots of ways to be passionate about politics. Calling for second amendment solutions, is not justified by claims of being passionate. As a poster above noted, express yourself however you feel, but then take responsibility for those statements. Explain what you mean, don't make implied statements like those you (correctly) criticize Greg for.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 10, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Can Leftists imagine a Gifford effigy hung from a noose?
http://michellemalkin.com/2008/10/27/can-you-imagine-if-an-obama-effigy-were-hung-from-a-noose/

Own the Leftist violent rhetoric and vitriol.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 10, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"This isn't true. In fact, conservatives are unlikely to persuade other conservatives when the left tackles it with arguments that are basically either (a) your expressing your opinion led to this, so stop or (b) your expressing a passionate opinion about taxes or regulation is no different than calling for violence."

You are whitewashing what conservatives have been doing. The problem here is not that Michelle Bachman made a statement against cap-and-trade or that she was rude while doing so. It's that her language could so easily be construed as encouragement to stop Democrats by violence if necessary. It's an implication that has echoed throughout Republican or conservative media messaging a great deal since they lost power (or Obama was nominated really)- cited in this column- and has been accompanied by a big spike in threats against Democratic officials and actual violence by rightwing terrorists such as the attack on the IRS in Austin. Republicans participation in the rhetoric and/or refusal to push back makes them morally complicit.

"And while you don't exactly do that, Greg, there is an implication that a metaphorical mention of a second American revolution from Rush Limbaugh had some sort of relationship to the Oklahoma City Bombing (which, obviously, would have been planned well in advance of that) or that, at the least, such a thing meant that conservative commentators (presumably, this is not a restriction that would apply to liberals, because violence is inherently a right wing problem, the 1968 Democratic convention and the Weather Underground not withstanding) could not longer use certain metaphors, or talk about "revolution" or at least "American revolution" or evoke "radical change" or say something like, "whatever we do, we've got to put a stop to all this government spending" . . ."

Greg didn't write this column and you had to go back to the 60s to find a time when violent liberal extremism wasn't insanely dwarfed by the violence of conservative extremism. Even when one Republican's office was shot at as if he was a Democrat, Eric Cantor, it was done by a rightwing radical. You are misrepresenting conservative messaging. It is way less innocuous than your paraphrasing of it.

Posted by: birchbeer | January 10, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

chuck: "I have said it before here and I'll say it again, this is not "red or blue" problem but an American one."

Yes, it most certainly is. I am majorly dismayed, though, at how some on both sides try to justify their position based on what someone else on the other side has done in the past. It's stupid, and advances nothing.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | January 10, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

@bsimon: Of course there is a difference, but I refer you to Kadaffi's list that, frankly, is limited to Obama. Did Rahm Emannuelle recount the names of a number of political figures while stabbing the table with a knife as saying "dead!" or some such?

Why, yes, he did.

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2008/11/06/the_five_most_infamous_rahm_emanuel_moments

"Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead!" And then stab the table with a steak knife. Then I think he said something about the problem of violent rhetoric on the right, but maybe I'm thinking of something else.

While I'm not going to defend Sharron Angle and her "2nd amendment solutions", I'm pretty sure there's not an equivalent moment in her campaign of table stabbing, reciting specific people's names, and yelling "Dead!"

Or mailing a dead fish to somebody.

Well, anyhoo. If anyone is interested in a little light reading, might I recommend •Checkpoint• by Nicholson Baker.

http://www.slate.com/id/2104805/

Or this fine motion picture:

http://www.deathofapresident.com/

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 10, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

[birchbeer: "you had to go back to the 60s to find a time when violent liberal extremism wasn't insanely dwarfed by the violence of conservative extremism."]

You're either a liar or an ignoramus.

Obama's Leftist "progressives" spent the last decade on CNN committing acts of criminal mayhem during their kristalnaght-style, anti-Semitic gutter riots (masquerading as "peace" protests) in support of Islamo-supremacism to achieve their hate-America political agenda. http://www.zombietime.com/hall_of_shame

Yet Leftists now have the temerity to climb up on their hind legs (without a shred of evidence) and howl about (alleged) "the violence of conservative extremism"?

This shooter was one of your own. Own him, Leftists.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 10, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

[birchbeer drooled: "you had to go back to the 60s to find a time when violent liberal extremism wasn't insanely dwarfed by the violence of conservative extremism."]

FLASHBACK 2008: Remember when spitting, rock throwing and chemical spraying were "the highest form of patriotism"?
http://michellemalkin.com/2008/09/02/rnc-protest-update-spitting-rock-throwing-poison-spraying-and-cub-scout-harassing

Own the Leftists terrorism. The AZ shooter is all yours.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 10, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"While I'm not going to defend Sharron Angle and her "2nd amendment solutions"

You apparently aren't going to codemn it either.

I still think it's a complete false equivalency to compare Angle's comments and Rahm's and Obama's. Nobody is suggesting, or they shouldn't be, that we can't say "we're going to kill them at the polls" or "their political career is dead" or something similar where such phrases are common or at least well understood.

Angle's comment wasn't a methaphor for anything and I'm struggling to come up with any non-violent interpretations of that.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 10, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The constant invoking of violence from the right wing has the effect of legitimizing the use of violence, especially in the fragile minds of the unstable.

Speakers, especially political leaders, should steer a wide berth around violence, instead of embracing violence.

I specifically refer not to common figures of speech but to statements like:

"Don't retreat - RELOAD."
"Next time we are bringing our guns."
"Bullets not ballots."
Blood of tyrants quote and other calls for revolution.
All the hysteria about America being taken over.

And there is ZERO equivalence on the two sides on this score. Claims of equivalence are flat out lies.

Posted by: ANDYO1 | January 10, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

@birchbeer (you taste nasty, by the way, no offense): "Greg didn't write this column ..."

Aw, crap. I've called out other people for doing this, and now I just did it myself. And of course it was Adam. I should have known.

"and you had to go back to the 60s to find a time when violent liberal extremism wasn't insanely dwarfed by the violence of conservative extremism."

Well, then, just forget I said anything.


"Even when one Republican's office was shot at as if he was a Democrat, Eric Cantor, it was done by a rightwing radical."

Well, then, what do you suggest?

"You are misrepresenting conservative messaging. It is way less innocuous than your paraphrasing of it."

Well, I don't really agree, on the whole, but I see your point. What's the answer, practically? These folks aren't likely to change tactics. Trying to draw connections between tragedies like this and what many folks think of as "common sense" conservatism and "natural reactions" to the politics of the day isn't going to change their minds.

So, they are likely to keep on keeping on. What do you suggest?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 10, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Kevin,

It is sad that you make such a disingenuous stretch in comparing Rahm Emmanuel to Sharron Angle.

Truly pathetic. You are part of the problem if you refuse to stand up to extremists in your own party.

Let's hear you condemn Sharron Angle.

Go ahead.

Condemn Rush Limbaugh. Condemn Glenn Beck.

Go ahead.

Or don't and continue to be a major part of the problem by your silence.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 10, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

ashotinthedark apparently isn't going to condemn Obama either.

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” [Obama at a Philadelphia fundraiser, June 2008]
http://weaselzippers.us/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/obama-knife-crime-tough.png

Metaphor, my ass! The shooter was one of your own. Own him, progressives.

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

ashotinthedark: "You apparently aren't going to codemn it either."

Well, not right in the post, but, since you brought it up, yes, I condemn it, for what it's worth. Such rhetoric is worthless and counterproductive. I never thought Angle was a great candidate, such things convinced me of it, and the Republicans lost an important, and winnable, seat because Angle was a terrible choice.

Taxes and over regulation are real problems that need to be addressed by convincing the people, and winning at the ballot box. Suggesting that we're not all that far from "2nd amendment solutions" is bs. And, such statements, "I condemn thee!"

I hope that clarifies my position. Now, I'll be curious as to why the example of Sarah Palin's "target" election flyer is an incitement to violence while Obama's statements, Rahm stabbing the table with a knife and shouting "Dead!" after specific people's names, and the Democrat's own use of bullseye election flyers to target vulnerable Republicans, is innocent and it's understood, and everybody does it, and, come on, these aren't remotely the same thing.

"I still think it's a complete false equivalency to compare Angle's comments and Rahm's and Obama's. Nobody is suggesting, or they shouldn't be, that we can't say 'we're going to kill them at the polls' or 'their political career is dead' or something similar where such phrases are common or at least well understood."

Well, I would like to think so, but I'm not sure. At least, not when a Republican says them. But, to some extent, I think this illustrates a difficulty which makes this debate unresolvable--people will, without knowing they are doing it, hold themselves and folks who agree with them to a completely different standard than others who disagree with them. Thus, when Rham stabs a table and says "Dead!" It's understood he's making a political point. When Rush Limbaugh says it's time for a second American revolution, he actively wants hundreds of people killed and injured by a domestic terrorist, and is thus, in some way, responsible for Timothy McVeigh.

And vice-versa. Obama's speeches are laced with violence while Sharron Angle is just talking and Sarah Palin is using surveyors marks to indicate areas where she wants friendly folks to wave to voters and say "hey, you betcha!"

Our biases prevent us from seeing our own rhetoric (and the rhetoric of those we agree with and respect) in same unflinching light we hold on the rhetoric of those we oppose. My personal opinion is that it is (again) and additive equation. If we agree with you, that counts for, say, +5 points. When you use crazy rhetoric, we deduct a -3 points, but you still don't see nearly as bad (at +2) as that person we disagree with, who started out at a -5 and then had and additional -3 deducted for crazy rhetoric. When we compare them, we see a person who is +2 good verus someone who is -8 batsheets crazy.

I think it makes any kind of meeting of the minds, or mutual change, very hard.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 10, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan: "Let's hear you condemn Sharron Angle."

Still not explicit enough for you? Perhaps you could suggest some language that you would find acceptable.

"Condemn Rush Limbaugh."

Based on what, specifically? I'm not in the habit of condemning people just because somebody else says so. A specific reason (not some general, amorphous thing) would be nice, and then I will focus on that particular thing. And let you know that I condemn it, if it is worth of condemnation.

"Condemn Glenn Beck."

I condemn Glenn Beck for his gold line commercials, his frequent invocation of Nazis and the apparent template for Democrats and Liberals, and the use of blackboards on television. If there's something I'm missing, let me know.

"Or don't and continue to be a major part of the problem by your silence."

Decisions, decisions.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 10, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

The left's agenda here is quite clear. This is an attempt to arrogate solely to themselves the right to determine what is acceptable speech in America.

Here's a perfect example:
============================
Quite clearly, the BEST way to handle this on-going incident is for Republicans to act like adults and condemn anti-government rhetoric and violent imagery.

====================

while I recognize that one shouldn't expect much from a New York liberal blow hard Weiner wannabe, this quote is very diagnostic.

First Ethan assumes that it was childish republicans that induced this mad man to pull the trigger. Ethan doesn't need any evidence to make this accusation. Of course not, he's a liberal and this is simply what they believe.

Next we see the agenda: the Republicans MUST give up their right to criticize the government. And of course both sides use imagery from the military ( as demonstrated today on countless websites) but it is only the Republicans that must change.

Finally what is embedded in this, part of the very fibre of Ethan's nasty little comment is this: Do as we say, not as we do.

The liberals here have once again proved what people are capable of once they get past the last vestiges of their sense of shame.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 10, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"Can Leftists imagine a Gifford effigy hung from a noose?
http://michellemalkin.com/2008/10/27/can-you-imagine-if-an-obama-effigy-were-hung-from-a-noose/

Own the Leftist violent rhetoric and vitriol."

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst


This poster appears deranged and obssessed with violence.

Greg/Adam -- shouldn't you now be thinking about the possibility of turning over potentially dangerous posters' internet info to the FBI/ authorities? The Washington Post seems to draw an inordinate number of dangerously unhinged nutjobs.

Posted by: fiona5 | January 10, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@fiona: "Greg/Adam -- shouldn't you now be thinking about the possibility of turning over potentially dangerous posters' internet info to the FBI/ authorities? The Washington Post seems to draw an inordinate number of dangerously unhinged nutjobs."

You're including Cao in that, right?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 10, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

@RainForestRising

Who needs a smear campaign with the likes of you claiming to represent the conservative point of view?

Posted by: mmyotis | January 10, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

'The liberals here have once again proved what people are capable of once they get pas"t the last vestiges of their sense of shame.'

"You're either a liar or an ignoramus.

Obama's Leftist "progressives" spent the last decade on CNN committing acts of criminal mayhem during their kristalnaght-style, anti-Semitic gutter riots (masquerading as "peace" protests) in support of Islamo-supremacism to achieve
their hate-America political agenda.

Yet Leftists now have the temerity to climb up on their hind legs (without a shred of evidence) and howl about (alleged) "the violence of conservative extremism"?"

Can anyone imagine TEA ralliers fantasizing about Giffords' severed head?"

Greg/Adam -- the blog comments are full of seething rightwing hate. Really, you should do something about it.

Posted by: fiona5 | January 10, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@fiona: "Greg/Adam -- the blog comments are full of seething rightwing hate. Really, you should do something about it."

And Cao, right?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 10, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Kevin-
"Our biases prevent us from seeing our own rhetoric (and the rhetoric of those we agree with and respect) in same unflinching light we hold on the rhetoric of those we oppose. My personal opinion is that it is (again) and additive equation. If we agree with you, that counts for, say, +5 points."

I'd like to think that I have distanced myself from many of my fellow liberal posters here who have the tendency to do what you point out, just as you have distanced yourself from those on the right who do the same.

I don't think the Palin comments can be meaningfully distinguished from the Rahm and Obama comments mentioned. Even after the violence in Arizona I don't take Palin's comments as encouragement to actually put politicians in the crosshairs of an actual loaded gun.

I'm sure my bias is about to show, but I'll openly admit that before I type the next sentence. In the context of armed protests of health care reform, Angle's second amendment solution comment and my general impression of the level of anger directed at our government I think there is presently an additional level of caution needed when using violent imagery. Does anyone really think the Sheriff down there who talked about this is off his rocker?

That really goes to both sides. Violent imagery can result in your opposition feeling it needs to premptively resort to violence because they think your words are more than just a metaphor.

As I said previously, I'm not saying people shouldn't or don't have the right to say someone is being targeted or other similar comments. I'm just saying accept the responsiblity of your word choices.

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

How would you classify a former Dem VPOTUS screaming to a thrilled and rabid crowd that the current POTUS had "betrayed his country?"

How would you classify a senior Dem Senator giving a speech on the floor comparing Bush and Cheney to Nazis, and following up with a book carrying out that theme called "Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency"?

Existential threat much?

We can go on with these examples of Democrat eliminationist rhetoric forever. They are far beyond what you've got.

Please answer the questions.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 10, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"Greg/Adam -- shouldn't you now be thinking about the possibility of turning over potentially dangerous posters' internet info to the FBI/ authorities? The Washington Post seems to draw an inordinate number of dangerously unhinged nutjobs."

So reminding leftists of their own hate images and statements is right-wing hate, now. Sounds logical.

Greg, fiona5 should definitely be on any short list for reporting. She was one of the first to jump in with the hate and accusations on Saturday. And hasn't stopped, obviously. She's a danger.


Posted by: quarterback1 | January 10, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey, here's a random thought.

How about everyone agree--from this moment forward--to stop the labelling and ridiculous rhetoric, including everyone on this board?

So far, this board is a microcosm of our current government--both sides blaming the other rather than working to actually fix the problem.

I don't care who's responsible for the current climate.
I just want it to end. Now.

It's ridiculous coming from either side.
This is not 1776, and none of you are Thomas Jefferson. Or Madison, depending on which you worship. No one is above reproach.

No more knee-jerk use of the word "nutjobs." No more empty claims of racism, socialism, totalitarianism, communism, or any other convenient isms.
No more claiming that the government is trying to take over the country or that the armed people are going to revolt.

If you're so damn passionate, get away from the convenient anonymity of the Internet and DO SOMETHING. Something within the law.

Sorry for the soapbox, but it feels like everyone's missing the point here.

Posted by: Mike_N | January 10, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I guess the Secret Service disagrees!

Sarah Palin's unstable rhetoric blamed by the US Secret Service over death threats against President Obama
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/sarah-palin/3405336/Sarah-Palin-blamed-by-the-US-Secret-Service-for-death-threats-against-Barack-Obama.html
The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling "terrorist" and "kill him" until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.

Posted by: BornAgainAmerican | January 10, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

You "guess" wrong. In fact, the Secret Service investigated that incident in Florida and found no threat there. I doubt that Palin even heard the "Kill him!" statement and even if she did is not indicating assent by failing to stop her speech.

http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2008/10/secret-service-looking-into-potential-threat-on-obama.php

Director Sullivan testified "The threats [against Obama are] the sane level as it has been for the previous two presidents at this point in their administrations."

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-5879268-503544.html

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 10, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

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