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Shooting in Tucson: An Inevitable Tragedy?

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In the months leading up to last year’s mid-term elections, Tea Party candidate Sharon Angle floated the idea of using “Second Amendment remedies” for dealing with Congress. Sarah Palin ran a controversial ad encouraging her Tea Party followers to “target” several Representatives: “reload” and “aim” were the “metaphors” used by Palin and her Tea Party disciples. Among her targets was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Giffords won her seat, narrowly defeating Tea Partier Jesse Kelly. Kelly ran equally provocative ads in his campaign to beat the Democratic Giffords.

This morning, while holding an open forum with her constituents in the parking lot of a Safeway food store, Giffords was shot point blank in the head with what is believed to be a semi-automatic gun. Others were wounded and killed in the attack on Giffords, including a federal judge. As of this writing, Giffords is out of surgery, and in critical condition. Hospital spokesmen are, at this point, optimistic about Giffords’ chances for recovery.

Are Kelly and Palin directly responsible? No, of course not. But the problem with Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Rep. Michelle Bachman and others with public profiles who preach hate while vilifying those with other political views as “evil” and “Godless” is that other people don’t understand hyperbole.

Some people take this stuff seriously. They take seriously perceived missions to “target” public officials (and others) for their political beliefs, whether that means hurling rocks though a Congressman’s district window, brandishing weapons at political rallies—or opening fire at a Congresswoman’s constituent gathering. When public figures warn that “second amendment” solutions will be brought to bear, and elected representatives are attacked when they are on “the other side” it is time to pause and ask ourselves where we are as a nation.

We do not, at this point, know much about the gunman. He has been identified as Jared Lee Loughner, a young man with a seemingly pretty parnaoid view of goverment. Was he inspired to action or somehow influenced by the incendiary anti-goverment (and anti-Administration) rhetoric that tries very hard to shout down more responsible political discourse? (And unfortunately, yes, that does more often come from the Right.) Was Loughner, in his mind, taking “Second Amendment” actions he believed necessary?

This moment should give us all pause. Civility has long been eroding from public discourse. It has gotten much worse, over the last two years. Perhaps what we should all take from today’s tragedy in Tucson, is that it’s time to hit pause on the inflamatory rhetoric and demonization of poliltical opponents. Because if we don’t, today’s tragedy surely won’t be the last.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Clavos

    I am, thanks, Mark; I wish you the same.

  • Mark

    Same ol’ — the working class horses are getting less groceries and manincures while the ruling class equines remain pampered (and I get to eat).

    I hope you’re well, Clavos.

  • Clavos

    Point taken, Mark…

    How’s the farrier biz in this economic pause? Do the horses care?

  • Mark

    So who’s inspiring Obama…

    his pr firm

  • Clavos

    So who’s inspiring Obama in his allusions to violence (“belligerence”?) in his speeches?

    Surely not the right, he’s not their president…

    Just a few of Obama’s recent references (advocacies?) to violence:

    “”If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. … Folks in Philly like a good brawl.”

    Called on Hispanics to join him and “punish our enemies.”

    “Nancy Pelosi, that’s one tough lady. And she’s so elegant. Even as she’s ripping your heart out. If you mess with her.”

    Obama’s warning of “hand-to-hand combat” if the Republicans take over.

    His comment that one of his supporters could “tear [Sean Hannity] up”

    And on and on…

  • Boeke

    Char #154: good point, and that’s why IMO Loughren was not inspired by Palin, Angle, etc., but he was caught up in the belligerence that they were contributing to, and their words gave him the green light to commit violent action.

  • zingzing

    “Too bad our own papers haven’t the balls to call a spade a spade.”

    um. yeah they did. and clearly as well, rather than wrapping the facts up and dumbing them down in some silly pun.

  • CharInOhio

    This guy had been stalking Giffords for well OVER 3 YEARS….that is well BEFORE Sarah took the political stage, BEFORE the Tea Party….and BEFORE that chart with the “bullseyes” occurred in March of 2010…..THREE YEARS AFTER this psycho was corresponding and going to see Gabby at these “on the corner” events.

    This psycho had an obsession with Gabby for YEARS…..its JUST A FACT….they found WRITTEN EVIDENCE IN HIS HOUSE….GET IT ?

    Sarah had NOTHING to do with this….

  • A 50c price tag is an admission of defeat.

    What does that say about the London Evening Standard, then, Stan, which you may be surprised to learn is now free?!

  • It’s just the right kind of headline to demonstrate and capture Yankee arrogance and primitive ways. Too bad our own papers haven’t the balls to call a spade a spade.

  • STM

    A 50c price tag is an admission of defeat.

  • zingzing

    it’s still a pun, best relegated to the rags… it doesn’t impart a bit of information and is the sign of a newspaper going for sensationalism above journalism.

    but it’s not a bad headline if you want to sell newspapers, which is exactly what they wanted to do, and probably did.

    put a 50c price tag on your paper vs a dollar and you’ll sell as well.

  • STM

    zing: Blood-spangled banner is pretty apt. Context is everything … if it reflects the view of how we see America, its politics and its fascination with guns and the confluence of both – or at the very least, a nut with a gun – then it’s apt.

    And it’s not a bad headline either.

  • zingzing

    although randy has its charms…

  • zingzing

    aynal, most certainly.

  • I’m a mild Ayn Rand fan myself but was wondering if people who are obsessive Ayn Rand fans are known as Aynal or Randy?

  • Ayn Rand advocates can be dangerous people.

  • Ruvy

    The title on that post “Hitler Lover…” could have, as easily been, “Ayn Rand Advocate…”

    An Ayn Rand advocate would have tried to murder a congresswoman? Interesting thought…

  • It’s in the watermark…

  • It’s in the water, Mark.

  • Mark


    I blame the odd light in Tucson — it can be a dusty, desperate little desert town…or perhaps the ubiquitous u-turns drove him over the edge.

    the kid’s another ‘crazed anarchist’ seduced by violence

  • Doug Hunter

    Loughner was just as correct about the government using grammar to control us as Bush was about the state of Iraqi WMD programs with alot less collateral damage.

  • Baronius

    Loughner’s actions were his. Whatever analogy you might make to worldwide food distribution, whatever group you might be able to connect him with, Loughner decided (to the extent that he was able) to commit a fundamentally evil act. We may find out over time just how clear his thinking was, and what influenced it, but let’s put the blame primarily where it belongs, on Loughner.

  • Doug Hunter


    Why? Because our legislatures might do something outlandish. There’s little popular support, this is the cost of letting people perceive themselves as sovereigns. Sometimes, like the US government they go to war. It’s worth the cost in my opinion. As someone pointed out elsewhere, a single politician is assassinated once every few decades while tens of thousands of motorist die on the freeways every year. It’s only more important because they want you to believe it’s more important.

    Have you ever seen one of those movies with a King, perhaps English, who when faced with a similiar crisis/insurrection/uprising declares how he’s been too nice to the peasants, pointing out how they repay his liberties, and cracking down on the populace. You laugh thinking how silly this is, but it is exactly what governments do. They’ll look you in the eye and tell you that guns don’t solve political problems (unless of course the problem is Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Panama?, Haiti, states that want to secede, taxation without representation, etc, etc, etc, etc) and that the peasants have been given far too many liberties. They never say, you know, guns don’t solve political problems and that’s why we’re pulling the troops from Afghanistan to set an example. No it’s guns don’t solve problems… for you… we need the highest military spending in the world for us.

  • …perhaps we should observe a five second moment of silence for each death by starvation that occurs worldwide

    that certainly would control the rhetoric

    That is the best idea I have heard.

  • The title on that post “Hitler Lover…” could have, as easily been, “Ayn Rand Advocate…”

  • 126 – Ruvy,

    The interesting thing here is that your link to a pro-Ayn Rand site, that makes big of the Mein Kampf angle, fails to mention, along with the news outlets, that Jared Loughner listed Ayn Rand’s We the Living as one of his favorite titles.

  • Mark

    …perhaps we should observe a five second moment of silence for each death by starvation that occurs worldwide

    that certainly would control the rhetoric

  • Baronius

    Doug – This was an attack on the system, and that *is* more serious than a killing over love or money. That’s not to say that this particular new legislation is a good idea, though.

  • 20 – Kenneth Pakal, aka “Frequency”

    A crazy family system breeds crazy members. A crazy organization, breeds crazy members. A crazy community breeds crazy members, whether that is a local community or larger. Sane communities have sane members.

    Your participation in and your acceptance of the system in place, protects the system that makes crazy people. Where you fail to see or question the system (knowingly or unwittingly), you aid it in continuing to produce crazy people. You silently nod in agreement and participate. We all do, when we accept and do not challenge this social system.

    And once you see that, it becomes very difficult just to carry on as if this system were not the problem, in the first place.

    How anyone can look at the behavior of any public figures, of entertainment figures, of commercial coercion, and not say…holy fuck…this is sick, is a sure sign that you are one of those who are suffering from, and engulfed by, and participating in that sickness without any insight at all.

    You are responsible. Your acquiescence and participation is required to keep the pathological system going–whether you can see that or not.

  • Ruvy: the facts that you turn to a blog run by a conservative American Jewess (what on Earth is she doing trading off Ayn Rand’s work by the way?) or that you consider it “evidence” come as no surprises.

    Having read her piece of work, you may care to contrast it with this rather more balanced and informative profile of Jared Loughner from your favourite British news source.

    It has no mention of anti-Jewish sentiment at all, the nearest it comes to it is including the information that Loughner had Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto amongst his favourite books.

    I also learned there for the first time that he was actually disarmed by a woman, which I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else yet.

    You may be mildly disturbed to learn that you may not necessarily find all his views abhorrent. He also appears to have considered his own government traitors and distrusted fiat money not backed by actual gold or silver. Sounds like anyone you know?

    He was clearly a mixed up and confused young man that made some really bad choices.

  • Doug Hunter

    “Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) reportedly plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.”

    That didn’t take long.

    As for who “cares” enough about the deaths, frankly I don’t. Thousands of people in the US have died, many tragically and some murdered, since the shooting. What makes these people any more important?

    We’re expected to feign indignation and sadness when one of the elites die… bullshit. Thousands die everyday, I don’t hold these people special.

  • Baronius

    Zing & Jordan – All three of us are saying the same thing. (Please read my comments 11, 58, 66, and 85.)

  • zingzing

    jordan: “Are some just forgetting that six people died in this attack, including a nine-year-old girl? Or is that just not a part of the agenda?”

    i’m not sure if that was aimed at me or not, but i did make a point of it in #90, which was my first comment of the evening.

    stm: “So, no, zing, unless you want to put yourself in the same category as Sudan, they don’t happen all over the world, all the time.”

    to be fair, we haven’t had an assassination on this level in a while either. (although also “to be fair,” we have had more than our fair share in our history.)

    but that’s no reason to reduce yourself to the level of a tabloid and put out punning headlines when the facts would have been far more sobering and appropriate.

    to put it another way, on the morning after the shooting, the ny times read “congresswoman shot in rampage near tuscon,” while the ny post read “ASSASSIN STRIKES.” neither are puns (which is kinda shocking given that i quoted the fucking post), but one gives useful information, the other does not.

  • zingzing

    jordan: “Is their political rhetoric so mired in violent imagery because it reflects the society?”

    or does it have something to do with the prevalence of guns and the fight over the second amendment?

  • Ruvy

    Just going where the evidence appears to lead, Chris. It isn’t my fault if it doesn’t lead down the roads everyone here seems to prefer.

    Barbara’s article is tame compared to the other trash out there. But she is still fundamentally wrong to blame Palin and other “right wingers” for this animal’s acts. This is not a right-left issue. This was a hate crime committed by a young man out to kill Jews where they were available to kill. And unfortunately, he had some success.

  • Ruvy: “zing, you are asking intelligent questions, and telling people to hold off on judgment… As for this particular murder/assassination, it is relatively clear that it was a hate crime… from what I can see, she took a bullet in the brain for her beliefs from a Jew hater”.


  • Ruvy

    I’m sure Ruvy is fucking beaming, and maybe he should ask himself why.

    I am beaming. zing, you are asking intelligent questions, and telling people to hold off on judgment. You’re showing a level of maturity here that truly surprises me, and yes, over that, I am beaming.

    As for this particular murder/assassination, it is relatively clear that it was a hate crime. While Giffords is not Jewish by Jewish law, she identifies herself with us as though she were one of us and she stands with Israel. While some rabbis would violently shake their heads and say “no, no, no, she is not a Jew!”, from what I can see, she took a bullet in the brain for her beliefs from a Jew hater who ranted on about the Zionist Occupation Government. She took all the risks that Jews take in public life, and she certainly deserves recognition – the kind of recognition that Ruth got when she told her mother-in-law, “your G-d is my G-d” and your land is my land”. It’s bad law and a bad precedent, but in this case, I’d bend it for her using the example of Ruth. I’m sure if this guy had a more available Jewish target to kill, he would have focused on that target. But Giffords has made a point of making herself available to her constituents, and doing what a good congresscritter ought to do, fight for their interests. So, there she was – and there he was. Bang!! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!!!

    As for Roger’s question, but why is [it] that this [sick] culture is so thriving in the land of the free and the brave?, the answer is evident. America is no longer really free or brave.

    Count your blessings. You are not yet Sudan or Pakistan, or South Africa, or the Congo or Rwanda and Burundi – not yet, anyway.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Here’s a VERY interesting article with screenshots on the rather perplexing editing process over at Sarah Palin’s Facebook page.

  • The question to ask is not whether we have sick political culture and the poisonous political rhetoric- of course we do! – but why is that this culture is so thriving in the land of the free and the brave? Isn’t it rather obvious that it falls on many receptive ears?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Good article on the subject here.

  • Jordan Richardson


  • Jordan Richardson

    So what is it that makes the Americans unique in this regard, at least in the modern world?

    Is there political rhetoric so mired in violent imagery because it reflects the society? The incentive to “shoot a gun” at a political rally certainly seems to indicate this. In Canada, our conservative politicians head to Tim Horton’s. In America, it’s the firing range.

  • STM

    I think the attempt on the Queen’s life was in 1970. So not that long ago.

  • STM

    make that republicans – mostly, but NOT always …

    And the Newman shooting was in 1994.

  • STM

    I think we’ve had the one – and three attempts, including a supposed republican plot to blow up the Queen when she was here (interestingly, republicans mostly – but always – tend to be on the left of the political spectrum in Australia, while monarchists are on the right).

    The actual assassination was of a member of the State Legislature in New South Wales: the shooting of Labor MP John Newman, for which his political opponent (in the same party), local councillor Phuong Ngo, was convicted and jailed for life.

    However, the Leader of the Opposition, Arthur Calwell, was shot through the window of his car by a student at an anti-conscription rally in 1966 as Australian stepped up its involvement in the Vietnam War; the bullet lodged in Calwell’s lapel and he suffered only minor injuries from flying glass. He later visited his attacker, Peter Kocan, in the psychiatric hospital where the man was held for 10 years (Kocan is now an award-winning writer and poet).

    Prince Alfred (Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) was shot on a visit to Australia in March 1868, the bullet lodging near his spine, and survived the attempt and recovered after six weeks in hospital in Sydney.

    The shooter, Henry James O’Farrell, was arrested at the scene, tried, convicted by a jury and quickly hanged in April, 1868, barely six weeks later.

    The attempt on the Queen apparently involved putting a large log on railway tracks while she was travelling to Sydney in a bid to derail the Royal train. The train knocked the log off the tracks and the Queen continued her journey, likely unaware.

    Imagine if that had succeeded??

  • Clavos

    Postal workers and others go off the rails and shoot up everyone in sight on a fairly regular basis in this country, and invariably, the furor dies down, the public’s attention turns elsewhere and life goes on.

    The only reason this incident seems different is because the apparent target is a politician, but this too, shall pass.

    US highway traffic deaths totaled 33,808 in 2009 (2010 numbers have not yet been announced), that’s an average of 92 people per day — every day! Practically no one pays any attention. I would bet that far more people were killed Saturday by people texting while driving; certainly, more died in all traffic accidents nationwide.

    Automobiles should be banned — along with politicians.

    Problem solved.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Agree, Stan (#112). It’s a debate that’s long, long overdue. The poisonous rhetoric is spreading and many Americans don’t seem to get that there are other ways to discuss political issues.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Well, no, they’re not … at least not in the developed democracies.


    Canada has had two assassinations total in its history. Two.

    The first was Thomas D’arcy McGee in the late 1800s and the most recent was in 1970 when Pierre Laporte was killed during the October Crisis by Quebecois terrorists.

  • STM

    Jordan, I agree … the shooter is the one responsible.

    But it’s still worth having the debate about whether the kind of extreme and nasty rhetoric that has totally polarised the political process in the US might have been a contributing factor in someone’s decision to take the most extreme of measures.

  • STM

    Doc: “My Black & Decker router”.

    It’s a lot more useful than a gun, though.

  • STM

    No, Jordon, certainly not forgetting six people died and one of them was nine-year-old girl.

    Not forgetting that at all. That’s what makes it all the more mind-boggling.

  • STM

    zing: “politicians are shot all over the world all the time.”

    Well, no, they’re not … at least not in the developed democracies.

    In places like Sudan, Somalia, Egypt, Colombia, other parts of Africa.

    I think the headline is very apt, because of all the developed western nations, the one that might be seen – arguably – to have the most dynamic democracy (in the modern sense), is also the one with the long litany of political killings and attempted killings: the US.

    So, no, zing, unless you want to put yourself in the same category as Sudan, they don’t happen all over the world, all the time.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I’ve also seen some equate the blaming of political rhetoric with the blaming of heavy metal music in similar circumstances. I view it as an inaccurate comparison, but maybe my perspective is a little off as an outsider.

    Is this a purposeful equation of the political realm with the entertainment industry? If so, how telling is that as to how most Americans view their political process?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Are some just forgetting that six people died in this attack, including a nine-year-old girl? Or is that just not a part of the agenda?

    I’m asking because I’m not seeing it mentioned all that often.

  • zingzing

    “The day that ruthless American political rhetoric turned deadly”

    yeah, well, here we are. again. hopefully, we can do something with this. such as the tea party will die because their rhetoric came to bloody truth, and with a balanced congress, we can actually get some shit done. the political process in this country has been breaking down for a while and maybe this is the kind of kick in the pants we needed to get our heads in the right place (all good wishes to the congresswoman, and all good hopes to her complete and speedy recovery).

    i think this shit will knock a lot of people into the right place. yes, we have differing opinions, but we are all human and we all have similar desires. the fact is that we should work together. constant bickering gets us nowhere.

    when it gets to the point that we’re shooting each other, we ought to step back and ask why. and the shooting party should fucking step back and reevaluate themselves. and i’m sure jared is doing that right now.

  • zingzing


    what a rag (is it? i dunno). why do they rely on puns? ugh. politicians are shot all over the world all the time. they could have something better, or more appropriate, or more respectful, or more… anyway, if i was the editor there, i’d have not let that headline run… although it is short and to the point and catchy… so i guess, as an editor with business in mind, that’s a headline i’d run. but jesus. have a fucking head. think about things for a second. dumb.

  • guns are stupid.

    No, guns are tools. The way they’re depicted/regarded in popular culture is stupid.

    About as stupid as if I were to suggest that my Black & Decker router could solve every conceivable human problem.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Some Canadian perspective on the incident from The Globe and Mail is here.

    “And while we don’t yet know what noxious idea inspired the alleged assailant to kill, we can see in the assault a manifest demonstration of several disturbing trends in American political culture.”

  • STM

    The sub-head says: “The day that ruthless American political rhetoric turned deadly”, and is accompanied by a lead editorial detailing other political killings and attempted assasinations of elected political figures in the US.

    Why the commentary overseas? I think – and I hope – it’s because we find it inconceivable.

  • zingzing

    “It is not cute or amusing to put cross hairs over a congressional district.”

    cute and amusing politicians need to step out of the way and let real politicians do the work. palin won’t live this down, no matter what her culpability is.

  • STM

    The headline on today’s Page 1 story in today’s The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, Australia, about the political rally shooting in the US:


    Hit the nail on the head in this instance? I think so.

  • zingzing

    “But is there a reason politics and violence appear to be so linked in America? Is there a reason politicians are threatened with startling regularity? Is there are reason why people bring guns to political rallies? Is there a reason people attach such violent rhetoric to political issues?”

    those are the questions that should be asked and have to be answered. and i think such thing should have no part of american politics. or any politics.

    i also hope that they have nothing to do with this, or shit might turn nasty. not that they haven’t already.

    i’m sure ruvy is fucking beaming, and maybe he should ask himself why.

    as more of the truth becomes clear, maybe we’ll be able to answer those questions, and maybe the solution will be more obvious. i’d bet politicians will be more careful with their words, now that they’ve made themselves a target. i’m not sure how we ever got to this point. guns are stupid.

  • Jordan Richardson

    This article rightly suggests that “It is not partisan to observe that there are cycles to violent rhetoric in our politics.”

    And further:

    “The point is not to ‘blame’ American conservatism for the actions of a possibly deranged man, especially since the views of Jared Lee Loughner seem so thoroughly confused. But we must now insist with more force than ever that threats of violence no less than violence itself are antithetical to democracy. Violent talk and playacting cannot be part of our political routine. It is not cute or amusing to put cross hairs over a congressional district.”

  • Jordan Richardson

    Giffords had been, like many American politicians, the target of death threats and vandalism before this incident. There’s no word on if the suspect was linked to any such events, of course, but this again underlines my suggestion that there is a culture to blame here.

    I don’t think Sheriff Dupnik was far off when he said: “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capita. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

    Can you blame Palin or Jesse Kelly’s M16 shooting campaign or the targets or the gunsights or the vandals specifically for this incident? No. Only the perpetrator deserves specific blame for his specifics actions.

    But is there a reason politics and violence appear to be so linked in America? Is there a reason politicians are threatened with startling regularity? Is there are reason why people bring guns to political rallies? Is there a reason people attach such violent rhetoric to political issues?

  • zingzing

    “It seems we’re playing a game of “Who, Me?” with our respective political sides.”

    i agree.

    “Again, I didn’t say they did.” [taken with all the meaningful context.]

    i didn’t mean to suggest you did. just going on all the shit in both the media and the comments it’s generated. it was a general statement, not something aimed at you specifically.

    “But do you really think such rhetoric is helpful or beneficial in any way?”


    “The examples are many and you know it.”

    i know it.

    “I think you have to be hopelessly naive to suggest that this horrifying situation didn’t have a political motivation of SOME stripe, however batshit crazy it may be.”

    i’m hoping not. i hope that this is more about the fact that the guy is crazy, which he is. his politics are very much up in the air right now, and it’s impossible to tell what he was thinking, or if he had a specific point in mind. he sought to kill a congresswoman, that’s for sure, but why? she wasn’t particularly anti-guns (and he liked guns), she wasn’t particularly anti-immigration (and he hated immigration, it seems), so why?

    it doesn’t seem to be her politics. or her political stripe. so what was it?

    the ability to bear arms does have something to do with this, that’s for sure. how did this obviously disturbed individual purchase a firearm? and why do we have to ask that question again and again?

    but he’s been variously described as a hardcore left-winger and as a hardcore right-winger. maybe he changed from one to another, as crazy does, but it’s still impossible to tell why he did what he did.

    i’m just saying that putting the blame on someone for what they said before you know the facts is stupid.

    once the facts come out, if he ever talks, i’ll be glad to assign blame, but now is not the time. now is the time that may have created such ignorant rhetoric as what made this lunatic do this shit.

  • Jordan Richardson

    i’m not convinced that this guy was particularly motivated by any right wing politician/celebrity ranting.

    I don’t recall saying he was. And I don’t recall Barbara’s article suggesting it, either, yet the vast majority of this topic’s discussion has been about shirking blame and responsibility. It seems we’re playing a game of “Who, Me?” with our respective political sides.

    i’m not sure that palin or rush or “second amendment solutions” really affected his thoughts.

    Again, I didn’t say they did. But do you really think such rhetoric is helpful or beneficial in any way? Do you think informing older, vulnerable citizens that the health care plan represents “death camps” is responsible rhetoric? The examples are many and you know it.

    None of my comment had to do with placing blame on any specific person or even entity, but I think you have to be hopelessly naive to suggest that this horrifying situation didn’t have a political motivation of SOME stripe, however batshit crazy it may be. It was, after all, an attack on a political figure that the perpetrator was familiar with. We can’t just shovel that under the rug somewhere. He didn’t randomly shoot into a crowd on a psychotic whim.

    There is a culture to blame, I maintain. It’s not a matter of narrowing things down to specific persons or groups. It’s a matter of recognizing that something is wrong in a society that so readily equates violent imagery with political standpoints.

  • zingzing

    my point is that even if media is instant these days, truth and justice still move slowly, so let’s let those things take their course before condemning or “celebrating,” sick as that may be… baronius.

  • STM

    Of course, it’s also probably worth noting here that the vast majority of people with polar-opposite political views in the US don’t go around shooting their opponents.

    That said, it still freaks me out that people are so at odds with the political process that they might feel the only way to have some redress for their imagined grievances is to pull out a gun and start blasting away.

    And for all the talk going on … isn’t that what makes us (collectively, I’m not in the US) different to places like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union … we elect someone, and we accept the majority decision even if we don’t like it because that is the important part of the entire process?

    Whatever the case, you are always going to have nutcases who think the end might justify the means.

    Not sure we should be blaming other individuals who had no part in it, even if extreme views led this bloke to do what he’s done.

  • zingzing

    be that as it may, jordan, i’m not convinced that this guy was particularly motivated by any right wing politician/celebrity ranting. unless some new information comes out, it just seems to me that he is some nut bent on his own bullshit. after viewing his youtube videos, it’s pretty easy (maybe too easy) to come to the conclusion that he was nuts. i’m not sure that palin or rush or “second amendment solutions” really affected his thoughts.

    of course, politicians shouldn’t use such violent language. especially in this packing nation. however, the idea of blaming them is rather ludicrous at this point. unless something else comes to light, which it very well might.

    we’ll just have to wait and see what happens before we start assigning motives and blame. and that’s what we should do. the commenters on foxnews.com were blaming a “person of color” and an “immigrant” before they knew the man was white. then they blamed “a leftist.” on the left, they were all blaming the “tea party” and a “right wing extremist.”

    obviously, this guy is white, so fox commenters are wrong, and he’s not someone you could simply say is a tea party attender or anything. he may be a right-wing extremist, but it’s hard to tell. he may or may not have had a connection with that racialist “magazine.”

    it’s far too early to say who he was or why he did it, and people are placing blame everywhere. it’s stupid. just fucking wait.

  • Jordan Richardson

    No, you shouldn’t blame specific politicians or television/radio personalities.

    But you can and should blame a culture of politics that not only allows but encourages violent rhetoric to be such a part of the equation. What purpose is there in linking the firing of a machine gun to “Victory in November?” What is the point of that? What place does such a gimmick have in the political realm? Why describe American politicians, any of them, as “Nazis?”

    These politicians and personalities promote this culture of violent rhetoric through their use of imagery because they know it’s popular they know it appeals to their base. There’s a reason the left in America typically doesn’t appeal to violence as much as the right. And there’s a reason this rhetoric doesn’t work in Canada or, I’m willing to bet, places like Australia. Perhaps Stan can provide more insight on his end, but I’m struggling to find a similar incident in Canadian history.

    Americans get so riled up over political matters that a very minute fraction turns to action over it. When politicians stoke those fires and say “if ____ doesn’t happen, people will turn to ‘second amendment solutions’ and the like,” that’s stoking the fires of violent rhetoric and there ought to be some responsibility there.

    I don’t think it’s too much to suggest that a lightening of the violent rhetoric is in order. Responsible public figures wouldn’t even need to be asked, but the Palins of the world still fumble about shrugging and humming over this nonsense like nothing’s going on.

  • zingzing

    whether he was a communist or an antisemitic jew-hater or a right-wing anti-immigration asshole or gun-nut all seems to be up in the air right now. the guy was obviously confused about a lot of things. and for such a grammar nazi, his grammar was terrible. he obviously had a falling out with reality and stuffed it into a big clip and went wild. attaching political motivations to this is a bit hairy, and blaming specific politicians or celebrities (classify palin and rush how you want,) would be rather pointless.

    yes, many politicians could and should rein in their more violent metaphors. as much as i find palin, etc, repellent, i have to question the validity of bringing them into the equation. i also have to look at baronius’ glee (“the guy is an atheist[…] If that pans out, it’d be freakin’ sweet,”) with some disgust. that’s not christian. that’s not even human. i hope he suggested as much with some degree of irony or detachment or something. nasty. (and the “passing comment” was more about the lack of a gold standard and the fanciful “in god we trust” than it was any statement about religious belief as far as i can tell.)

    we don’t know why this guy did this, and we may never know why. mental problems most definitely overwhelmed whatever possible political point he was trying to make. but we have a dead child, a dead judge, four other dead humans (if i’m up to date), and a woman in critical condition.

    i hope that the other guy they’re looking for has no connection to far-right politics. i hope he has nothing to do with this and it was one man who was insane, rather than this nation.

    as for ruvy… it’s hard to say if he really liked mein kampf or not. you can’t like mein kampf and the communist manifesto AND be profoundly anti-government. you just can’t. so to posit your entire theory on that rather shaky board is a bit silly. i hope you like water.

  • STM

    It’s really an extreme example of how polarised the grass-roots political process has become in the US.

    Nothing wrong there provided you have a populace that can accept and work with the reaility of the democratic process. That is, accept that this time around, the person you wanted as prez/congresxsman/senator/local official didn’t get the nod because despite your views, more people held the opposite view.

    Without that acceptance, a recipe for disaster. And in this case, just add guns …

  • “That could work out for Roger and Clavos, too, if the country slid into disaffection and tyranny.” Dirty-Pool Baronius #85

    What a snotty remark. You’re suggesting I wish such a thing. And if you think all is well in America, look again. You’re just as out of touch with ordinary, everyday people as most of our politicians in Washington, D.C.

    I was right, after all. You do live in a cocoon of your own making – “the world according to Baronius,” for short.

  • Howling Winds

    Those who’ve suggested Palin or others should be prosecuted in connection with this recent murder are remarkably close to those who called for the impeachment and trial of George W. Bush as a war criminal. If there had been any way whatsoever to bring Bush to trial, the left would have done so; but you need evidence to get something in a courtroom, not an internet chatroom. Think about it, the left has access to millions of dollars and some of the best lawyers in the world, and not *one* of them were or are willing to so much as even sniff the former or latter case. Case closed.

  • Ruvy, actually what is really “disingenuous and dishonest” is deliberately and wilfully seeing things that aren’t there, making claims that can never be proven, or preferring dogma over insight.

  • Baronius

    How awesome would it be if this guy was motivated by anti-Semitism, and the country fell apart? That’d be like a double-win for Ruvy. That could work out for Roger and Clavos, too, if the country slid into disaffection and tyranny. Me, I’m just happy that some Christian websites are reporting that the guy is an atheist (because of a passing comment in a rant about US currency). If that pans out, it’d be freakin’ sweet.

  • Reverting to the theme of the article, I think this is a very good response.


  • Ruvy

    If I must speculate on the reason for this attack, it is rather simple. Rep. Giffords self-identified as a Jew (her father was Jewish and her mother was a Christian Scientist; by Jewish law she is not a Jew)- and the shooter, a fan of Adolf Hitler – attacked a Jew. No Sarah Palin crosshairs, no “Second Amendment solutions”, a la Sharron Angle, no tortured philosophical bullshit, as we see in Roger’s comment above. Plain old Jew-hatred. Kill the kike! Shiv the sheeny, etc., etc. The “smoking gun” is found in this JTA article. Money lines follow:

    A U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo reportedly notes that Gabriel Giffords is Jewish in describing the motives of the Arizona congresswoman’s alleged assailant.

    The memo, obtained by Fox News Channel, says that Jared Lee Loughner mentioned American Renaissance, an extremist anti-immigrant group, in some of his own postings.

    “The group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic,” says the memo sent to law enforcement, which also notes that Giffords, a Democrat, was the first Jewish congresswoman from Arizona.

    Boy! It’s always the old story, ain’t it? Kill the kike! Barbara, no matter how hard you try, you can’t get away from that nasty little mantra.

  • Of course I’m stretching the point, DM; it’s always a matter of degree at least at the start. But all governments, in the course of time, gravitate towards absolutism. Name one in the course of history that didn’t; and it it didn’t, it would cease to exist.

    I do believe that the notion of sovereignty lies at the bottom; it’s the requirement of statehood. And sovereignty must be maintained by hook or by crook in the realm of international relations if the government is to be taken seriously at home and its edicts enforceable.

    I present a more extensive argument in the following article, “In Defense of Anarchism, Part II.”

    As to your #80, I agree with the proviso that demagoguery knows no party affiliation.

  • Ruvy

    This is the full quote from Sharon Angle: “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”

    This particular quote borders on incitement to murder, Barbara, and in Israel would be prosecuted as such – if the person saying it was out of favor with the establishment.

    But from the facts in this particular assassination attempt, it does not appear – at this point anyway – that what Sharron Angle said influenced the (alledged) killer in custody. That is what bothers me about this article. Under the pretense of calling for civility in political speech, you have taken a swipe at tarring Sharron Angle, Sarah Palin and others with the brush “inciters to murder” – even though you never use these words yourself. That, madame, is disingenuous and dishonest.

  • Roger, here’s another for you.

    hate filled-responses need no encouragement; they’re bound to keep on recurring whether provoked or not.

    I agree. However, the point being made here and elsewhere by many seems to be that they are precipitated by right-wing demagogues inciting others to violence for political purposes.


  • forced to act the part of absolute tyrants to protect their sovereignty.

    Interesting thought but I do question its validity, including the part about their sovereignty. There are few “absolutely” tyrannical governments (Venezuela and North Korea and a very few others seem to fit in that category) and generally they do as they do mainly to preserve their rulers in power.


  • It’s not just our government, Doug, but all governments, democratic or totalitarian. They’re forced to act the part of absolute tyrants to protect their sovereignty. Government by the people … you know the refrain … is a myth. The only way to remedy the situation is to dismantle the State.

  • Doug Hunter

    When was the last time a senator/congressman/president was actually killed? How does this compare to historical rates especially when taking the large population into account (in 300,000,000 there are bound to be a few nuts)?

    Perhaps Nalle can shed some light. I don’t think this time is particularly dangerous or unprecedented. Perhaps some stats are in order.

  • Doug Hunter


    Exactly Clavos. The government has armies that kill hundreds of thousands a year, governments imprison millions upon millions at all times and command police forces that intimidate, shakedown, and even kill many more. They expect an absolute monopoly on power preferably with a disarmed populace.

    Incidents like this are part of living in a free society, unfortunately if you don’t have the freedom to do bad things you don’t have freedom period. The only thing you should do is keep your eyes open and take care of the people you can. For every government official that has their lives/careers/health destroyed by a member of the citizenry there are orders of magnitude more citizens who suffer at the hands of the politicians.

  • This is the full quote from Sharon Angle: “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”

    The fact that this comes from a Senatorial candidate (who thank heaven was defeated) is the sort of speech that is worrisome. There’s no war=election campaign metaphor here, it’s simply irresponsible.

  • Clavos

    …tell me where you think you would be better off.

    In Washington DC, working for the federal government at twice the rate of the private sector and without having to do much more than show up — immune to firing, and with all my bennies paid, including a very generous retirement.

    But I’m not moving until I have a guarantee in writing.

    Of course, that’s not gonna happen, so alternatively, I iuntend to do all I can within the limits of the law to run every federal elected official (D or R) out of office and/or in jail (where deserved).

    After that we’ll start on their employees…

  • Here is an article from Politico today pointing out how tempting and easy it is to seek political advantage from tragedy. That seems to be what is happening with the tragedy in Arizona but it is hardly new. As the article notes,

    “But of course Oklahoma City also illustrates how much more quickly the political culture moves than 16 years ago. Back then, the political debate did not begin in earnest until five days after the bombings, when Clinton in a speech in Minneapolis denounced conservative commentators with ‘loud and angry voices’ who he said ‘spread hate’ and ‘leave the impression…by their very words, that violence is acceptable.’

    The article continues with the observation that this tactic had been recommended to President Clinton by his political advisers.


  • Greg Barbrick

    Comment #72:

    I have read the previous 70-some comments, and they still come down to D vs R.

    Or Red versus Blue.

    Doesn’t anyone get it? Despite “Jack-Booted Stormtrooper” fantasies, despite the high unemployment rates, despite the “budget deficit,” tell me where you think you would be better off.

    Then prove it and move there!


  • Clavos

    In fact,Arch, I suspect that the government will hardly pause in its unbridled quest for total power and complete control of the people. On the contrary, I predict this incident will be used as an excuse to further erode the Constitution and strengthen the government’s control.

  • Boeke

    Rightist propagandists incited people to pick up guns and “assassinate” people they don’t like and someone did! Rightists provided the Green Flag to unleash hatred.

    The people the rightists seek to pose as leftist equivalents were powerless individuals, whereas the rightists who were inciting to riot are powerful people in the republican party and even in various state and federal governments. There is no equivalence between Palin inciting crazies to use ‘second amendment’ means, clearly a reference to deadly weapons, and some comedian making fun of Bush.

    The rightists, and most particularly the republican party, must undergo a purge to cast out these treasonous, unAmerican, murderous people. Otherwise they lose all respect.

  • Greg Barbrick

    Barbara — Just a couple of days ago, I had a review that received some nice front page “play” on BC. It was about Badass LEGO Guns.

    The entire meaning behind it was in sort of a “post 9/11” kind of manner. My final comment was “Fun, scary, ingenius – or all? I’m not sure…”

    And the very next day — this rampage happens.

    I cannot agree with you more that this insane political rhetoric has to stop. I still VERY much believe in the good old USA!

    Are our political differences really worth killing each other over?

    I don’t think so. But it really F***ing sucks that so many people do.

    Bravo on a very well-reasoned take on this horrible tragedy.


  • Arch Conservative

    We all forget that we are all individuals. Labels make the difficult in life easier to comprehend and deal with.

    I don’t think slapping a label on Loughner is going to do Giffords nor the body of political discourse in this nation any good. But we’re intent on doing it anyway.

    This happened and it is very sad. Calls for civility in future discourse are ubiquitous but we all know civility hasn’t worked in a very long time and that once the drama surrounding this event dies down our corporate sponsored government will resume pushing the nation further down into that deep dark, abyss with it’s big black boot.

  • Ruvy

    (the shooter) had referred to a woman who’d just had an abortion as “a baby-killing terrorist” (or words to that effect). That’s NOT rhetoric that comes from someone on the Left.

    Glenn, are you the thedakar of what is “left and “right”? You mean a leftist cannot regard abortion as murder? Why not? Is there some rule book on all of this? If there is, what is it called, and where can I read it?

  • Baronius

    Good for you, Glenn! ‘Cause if he’s a right-winger, you win.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    For all those who think the shooter is from the Loony Left –

    A few minutes ago I was watching on ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour, and one of the shooter’s friends noted how he (the shooter) had referred to a woman who’d just had an abortion as “a baby-killing terrorist” (or words to that effect).

    That’s NOT rhetoric that comes from someone on the Left. I’ve already stated in an earlier comment on this thread that he hasn’t been shown to be a right-wing tool…but neither is he a left-wing tool. So far, he’s just another nutcase.

  • … more hate and …

  • Dave, hate filled-responses need no encouragement; they’re bound to keep on recurring whether provoked or not. As one of the editors of this site, you ought to be more than aware of it.

    I find it ironic, however, that you find Barbara’s article “sickening [and only] spreading more head and representation.” At least she’s calling for greater restraint on the part of public figures when it comes a political speech, as opposed to the kind of practices engaged in daily by such as Rush or Glenn.

    As usual, you’re to be commended for taking the party line and disavowing any association with the fringe elements; and in that sense, you’re being ideologically true. But you would be far more convincing, at least to this commenter, if once in a while you had courage enough to rise above the madding crowd and speak with your own voice. I know you can.

  • I don’t give a shit, Kenneth, whether you’re a newcomer or an old-timer. My response was to the comment, nothing else. So take it personally for all I care.

  • Dave, if you think what appears to be a reasonably written article is a “Pretty sickening article, spreading more hate and misrepresentation”, either you are as deluded as Ruvy or I have missed something. Would you mind pointing out the “hate and misrepresentation”?

    Chris, you did miss something. The fact that it generated some of the hate filled responses which it did and the fact that it demonizes groups of people regardless of their individual beliefs, and the fact that it is based largely on ignorant assumptions and bias. Aside from that it’s just a peachy article.


  • Ruvy

    Now, to deconstruct the premises of this article. Apparently a young woman who went to school with the alleged shooter (Jared whatever-his-face-is) indicates that he was a left wing pot-head. If this is the case, he was not influenced by the likes of Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin. In addition, it does appear that a second individual is being sought. Unless that second person is a fan of people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, it is likely that targeting them and the right wing for “incendiary language” is just plain not on target.

    While Barbara’s outrage over the possible consequences of heated debate is understandable, that does not appear to be an issue here. What appears to be the issue is the political opinion of this well armed left-wing pot-head, and his method of expressing that opinion.

  • Ruvy

    Thank you, Barbara. You answered my question. That was really all I wanted – an answer.

    No, you never said “incitement to murder”. But you might as well have. The way you wrote this piece, what you described, and the way you described it, is actionable under Israeli law as incitement to murder.

    I find it telling that you cannot see this. Not because you ought to be a genius knowing Israeli law, but because you cannot see that in your outrage over what you view as careless use of language, you cannot see that you constructed a case for incitement to murder. Other commenters here see that, and have pursued that line of reasoning – even if they do not use the precise legal language I do.

    I’m not interested in whether this piece is “partisan” or not. I feel bad that a woman was targeted for assassination this way, that in addition to this, she is a supporter of Israel, and that others were murdered by this anarchist as well.

  • Baronius

    Of course Barbara’s article is partisan. From what I’ve read of her previously, I don’t think she’s deliberately trying to score points, but that’s what the article does. So what? Does it really matter that we pounce on her for it? Can’t we try to learn a lesson from this shooting?

  • Ruvy, You and I live on opposite ends of the world (nearly)–metaphorically and literally. There is an eight-hour time difference between Israel and Chicago.

    First of all I never used the words “incite murder.” My point, and I think it’s pretty clear, is that words have consequences and the freedom of speech we enjoy here in the U.S. comes with it responsibility. That is especially true of public figures, who bear a special responsibility for knowing when their words cross a sometimes difficult-to-define line.

    I would not prosecute Palin or Angle–or even Rush. But like so many others in the aftermath of this tragedy I would urge a self-examination of how we use language in this superheated political environment.

    Argument–heated argument, vigorous argument–is a necessary component of a free society, but with that we need to acknowledge responsibility for what we say and how it is perceived. That’s all this article says. And its a message that has been reverberating (and I don’t mean to suggest that the reverberations were started with this small blog) not only here, but in newspapers, discussion and news TV shows and throughout the Internet this morning. It’s a discussion that needs to be had.

  • Ruvy

    Chris, your comments are really pathetic. I say “alleged shooter” because this fellow has not been found guilty in a court of law – but he will be accused of murder and attempted murder shortly, if he hasn’t already been. Until he is found guilty, he is presumed innocent.

    His choices in books seem to be those of an anarchist. Not all anarchists are like Cindy and Roger, who just gab away on internet sites while trying to decipher the worthless tomes of lefty philosophers. Some actually kill because they intend to make a point. This fellow did so – “allegedly”.

    Another anarchist, commenting to a friend of mine, said, “the more I read about her (Giffords), the more I want to kill her myself.”

    As for Barbara Barnett’s intent, this says it all:

    In the months leading up to last year’s mid-term elections, Tea Party candidate Sharon Angle floated the idea of using “Second Amendment remedies” for dealing with Congress. Sarah Palin ran a controversial ad encouraging her Tea Party followers to “target” several Representatives: “reload” and “aim” were the “metaphors” used by Palin and her Tea Party disciples. Among her targets was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Giffords won her seat, narrowly defeating Tea Partier Jesse Kelly.

    It’s obvious she believes that Palin and her ilk incited to murder, even if she doesn’t say so in so many words. I asked her – now four times – how she would sentence Palin and her ilk for incitement to murder. She has declined to answer.

    There was evidence of a second person in the Murrah Federal Building bombing over a decade ago in Oklahoma – evidence that was whitewashed away (along with a lot of other evidence). And now there is mention of evidence of a second shooter in this incident. If patterns are followed as usual in the States, this evidence will be whited out as well. I’m afraid, Christopher, that it is you, looking at all this through your distorted lenses from your home abutting the frozen seas around the Isle of Wight, who misunderstands Barbara’s article.

    She is outraged at what she regards as the incitement to murder engaged in by the Tea Party. But she refuses to follow the thought process to its logical end – the arrest and trial of the Tea Party and is most outspoken representatives for incitement to murder. One would have though that after reviewing countless episodes concerning a man who does follow the thought process to its end, she would know better.

  • Arch Conservative

    Arch, it is astonishingly stupid to assert that “people like Barbara and Rob care more about bashing Palin and the Tea Party than they do about the life of Gabbie Giffords?”

    But it’s not astonishingly stupid for liberals to be claiming because some lone nutjob took a shot at A Demecrat Rep the tea party and Sarah Palin are responsible?

    Within hours of the incident, before any details about the shooter were even known, the liberal blogospehere was rife with assertions that the shooter was among the most earnest of Palin devotees and that she was responsible for his actions. As Giffords lay in a hospital ER fighting for her life liberals were revving up the Palin hate machine to warp 5. Of course they threw in the obligatory we’re praying” for her bit but it hardly seemed sincere given the foam forming at the corners of their mouths as they ranted and raved about Palin. So no, my previous assertion about people like Barbara and the other guy isn’t astonishingly stupid, it’s the truth.

    With regard to the antiwar protests in this nation. While it is true that there may still be protests, they are nowhere near as many nor as loud as they were during the bush years and the MSM gives them nowhere near the coverage that they once received.

  • Ruvy, you, like Archie, passed the end of the thought process long since.

    Dave, if you think what appears to be a reasonably written article is a “Pretty sickening article, spreading more hate and misrepresentation”, either you are as deluded as Ruvy or I have missed something. Would you mind pointing out the “hate and misrepresentation”?

    Arch, it is astonishingly stupid to assert that “people like Barbara and Rob care more about bashing Palin and the Tea Party than they do about the life of Gabbie Giffords?”.

    For a start, you don’t know anything at all about the degrees of care Barbara or Rob may feel about anything, so your point was cheap and only served to make you look utterly stupid, not something your online rep needs really.

    As to your second point, I’m not particularly following the details of US politics, but is it actually true that all anti-war protest has ceased? A quick and simple search of Google News proves that it is not.

    Ruvy, your #53 is as deliciously nutty as only you can brew. Having failed to understand Barbara’s article, you then proceed to find all kinds of stuff in it that isn’t actually there at all.

    You would be better served by stopping all that instinctive but wrong-headed perusing of the entrails you’re so fond of and trying to catch what is right there on the surface for you to grok – if you can, which is pretty doubtful after all the many years you’ve voluntarily immersed yourself in magical thinking.

    And, yes, of course you don’t think the “alleged” shooter is crazy… What with your reknowned clear thinking and your utter distaste for violence as a political process or solution, that was a given.

  • Ruvy

    Barbara seems to have brought out all of the worst in comments here, Bing. And having implied that Palin, Bachmann, and others are guilty of incitement to murder, she refuses to say how she would sentence them, were they found guilty – which by her standards, they are. Unfortunately, this article is the worst kind of exploitation of a murder attempt.

    I don’t think the alleged shooter is as crazy as some imply. His actions are those of a frustrated and angry anarchist – a Czogolsz. We have oodles of those types here in Israel, too. But the politics are different and therefore the targets are different as well. There is also evidence of another person involved – evidence that probably will be hushed up to simplify matters. If there is a second person, then I’d be inclined to think that “radical leftist” types were involved in what amounts to a false flag operation – to smear conservatives as inciters to murderer. It was tried here in the Rabin assassination, and it worked just fine. It was used even more successfully to smear the name of an innocent man, Dr. Baruch Goldman, who was implicated in a massacre he was innocent of. A riff off that idea may have been what happened in the States. And Barbara’s article is the example of a useful idiot pumping out just the right kind of “outrage”, the kind desired to condemn opponents of a fascist tyranny.

  • Arch Conservative

    Ruvy is it any surprise that people like Barbara and Rob care more about bashing Palin and the Tea Party than they do about the life of Gabbie Giffords?

    Where have all the rabid leftist antiwar protesters gone since Obama’s taken office? Obama has pretty much carried out the exact same policy in Iraq and Afghanistan and some of the deadliest months have come under the Obama administration. Yet we don’t hear a peep from the far left that was so vociferous in the protestations during the Bush years. Is that because they don’t give a damn about the troops but rather were only using the wars to advance their own political agenda? Me thinks so!

  • Ruvy

    I shoulda previewed the damned comment: that should read “END OF THE THOUGHT PROCESS”.

  • Ruvy

    Barbara, I’m calling YOU out. YOU posted this article. YOU implied that a number of individuals were guilty of incitement to murder. I asked you a question – how would you sentence them? I asked it twice. At least some people have the guts to state their opinions of Palin, Bachmann, etc., calling them seditious. You wiggle and you waggle and you woggle all around cannot seem to bring yourself to state the consequences of your accusations, calling for the arrest of said individuals for incitement to commit murder. Put differently, you seem unable to bring yourself to the “END OF THE THOUGH PROCESS”. You need to learn from the characters you review, Barbara.

  • Alan, if there is a lot of anger today, it is because our government is so far out of sync with the expectations we have of what government should be in America. Fix the government and much of this problem would go away – the angry left or right, not the crazy people who are going to do stupid things no matter what.


  • Since this act of domestic terrorism was committed by a psychotic anarchist, it is unfair to pin the responsibility for his carnage on the TEA Party, Palin, or the American Right. However, as noted by Barbara, Palin did play a direct role in fostering an environment in which Giffords herself stated that she felt, at the very least, nervous for her well being. This was, of course, due to that unspeakably disgusting map in which the crosshairs of a rifle scope were placed over her congressional district, referenced to by the words “Don’t retreat, reload” in a posting of Palin’s.

    The sad reality is that the fringe elements of both the Left and Right in this country have gained control of its public discourse. This is a problem which, at the very best, will take years to remedy and whose root causes extend far beyond the political spectrum.

  • In the past few months I’ve been disappointed in Keith Olbermann because I’ve felt he has become a bit too bombastic and full of himself–his own rhetoric over the top. He just completed an excellent “special comment” suggesting that those who spew forth the vitriol do a little bit of self-accounting.

    How hypocritical since he is one of the most relentless spewers of partisan hate on the airwaves.


  • Pretty sickening article, spreading more hate and misrepresentation.

    You do realize that this “targeting” terminology was first used by Organizing for America on behalf of the Democrats in the 2008 campaign? They even used similar symbols in their literature.

    And Jim, not only did people talk about assassinating Bush, an entire movie was produced and released to acclaim from the left about how great it would be if he were assassinated.


  • #40 jamminsue If you stuff legal tender into your mattress, you will soon be VERY sorry you did that, because when Geithner devalues the dollar and it goes to hyperinflation, the money you put away won’t even buy lunch. If you must prepare, put it in gold or silver. Sadly, I don’t have anything spare to buy gold with!

  • Maybe you only read your local paper at that time, Jim.

    In 2004, an arab astrologer predicted Bush would be assassinated. A man was charged with plotting to assassinate Bush in 2005. In 2006, a British TV docudrama assassinated Bush. Last year, a Brazilian artist imagined himself killing Bush, the Pope and the Queen of England. An Air America host said Bush should be shot. There are many more examples.

    In America there is a lot of anger. Conservatives like to say it is “the left” Democrats like to say it is “the wingnuts.” It looks like it is all over the place and everyone thinks it is someone other than themselves. It seems to me the elected representatives bear a good amount of the blame. They’ve been lining their own pockets, and the pockets of their friends, they’ve been adding millions and billions of dollars in earmarks for their pet projects and they’ve been generally ignoring “the people.” It’s little wonder the people are angry, because they are the ones paying for those earmarks the congress spends like water.

    Today is a very sad day for all of America. I think the rhetoric needs to be ratcheted down. Pundits on left and right were keen to stick it to the other side today, but it turns out that so far, the shooter just seems unstable and nobody can tell anything about his politics or his motivations.

    Its easy to be first with a comment, if you don’t care whether its the truth or if you think it gets you points with your constituency. Everyone needs to slow down a little and engage their brain before opening their mouth. (me too)

  • Robert Weller

    Now that I have read back through here I have one question. What free speech? Obama and his clowns are doing everything they can to end whatever shreds are left of it. Ask Julian Assange. And where are the baggers and rightwing GOP who claim government is too big and claiming too much power. We have no representatives.

  • Meena

    Full disclosure: I am a leftist kook, gladly. Lively liberal, more than conservative, certainly. Not a democrat, and never a republican (at least, not as represented in the past two centuries).

    Just wanted to present a different fair-and-balanced viewpoint as such, for I personally never wanted Bush dead. And re: Cheney, I, as the child of a parent with a severe heart condition, I would never wish that on anyone – though I think that Dick Cheney is an unmitigated, evil-intelligent, frightening svengali who mismanaged our government for 8 years in office while Bush was on his 57th vacation.

    But that really doesn’t matter today.

    If you listen to the youtube videos of the alleged gunman, he is clearly having some sort of psychotic break. Whether he is a democrat, republican, tea party member, etc., he is clearly irrational. Anyone who shoots anyone else at blank-range is irrational and unstable, no matter their reasons.

    While I personally think that the tea party members are deluded idiots, and may be swayed by rhetoric at times, I don’t think that at the heart of it they, as a collective, actually want people to die.

    Also, I don’t think there is some explanation, or some deterioration of society, that has lead to this, per se – that would be too rational. Our society is at a schism, for a multitude of complex reasons.

    As much as I loathe Sarah Palin, and think that her crosshairs map is extremely wrong, if I blame her for this, it’s like blaming heavy metal when some kid goes out and kills indiscrimiately (a la Judas Priest). I will exercise my constitution-given right to critique and criticize those like Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, etc., publicly. Just like the conservatives so openly criticize every little hair out of place on Obama’s head…

    But I will offer this – imagine if Obama had put out a crosshairs map of ornery republicans (I’m talking to you, Mitch McConnell), WOW, would the shit hit the fan.

    Barbara, I follow you on the House blog, and while I might not completely agree with you on this one, I appreciate your op ed regarding this complex subject.

  • Robert Weller

    Initially it appears that politics played a big role here. Whether it was Republicans and Tea Partiers urging violence, or just hatred of the government.

  • jamminsue

    Um, lots of people have been students of all kinds of political treatises without going nuts. I do not think that is the source of this event. I watched his posts on UTube, and find them confusing. I agree that it would be much better to be off fiat and back on some monetary standard, which does not leave me wanting to kill someone, but does leave me stuffing a certain amount of legal tender in my mattress. He seems to be linking knowledge with currency, which I guess, is reasonable, but what does that have to do with Section 10?

  • Rob B

    Fox News should be shut down and Hannitty, Beck, Savage, O’Reilly and Limbaugh should be indictedas accessories to murder. The Left is weak and jelly-spined and Obama is a wuss; the Right are vicious and play on ignorance,race, hate and fear. Notice how it’s always the Democrat getting shot and having their offices vandalized and being threatened? That’s because the Right has all the SCUM and Fox News riles them up by bypassing thinking and discourse for appeal to the above emotions. FOX News ansd ABC Radio are the equivalent of Goebbels and the Ministry of Propaganda-and they will continue unless stopped-period.

  • Zing, you’re right.

    “Nuts” respond to things like speech. What is advertising about, if not speech? And “nuts” become terrorists, people without regard for life, their own or anyone else’s.

    However, being nuts is not a defense anymore than being drunk, at least in most of the world.

  • Arch Conservative

    You’re damn right the AZ sheriff’s press conference was a joke. It was dripping with innuendo based on Dupnik’s own political inclinations. He barely managed to get through the damn thing without spitting on the lectern as he told us what he really thought of the Tea Party and Palin.

    Amateur hour.

  • I got all the facts available at The Trough, and the AZ sheriffs press conf was a joke. He blamed freedom of speech for the shootings. Laughner’s pic I’ve posted but he may not have acted alone. They are looking for an older man as well. Jared is in custody too.

  • zingzing

    the guy was a nut. i hope that’s all. he “liked” various political texts (mein kampf, communist manifesto), but was really against the [american?] government and their grammar policy[?], and for the gold standard [?]… i dunno that this can be blamed on anything but a nut.

    (i dunno how you can be a big fan of the the communist manifesto and mein kampf and also hate government to this degree without there being some sort of ironic, historical relationship going on there…)

  • jamminsue

    Thank you, Barbara for speaking out. It is wrong to call for control of speech, as enforced silence is the real threat. What is necessary is educating people to think for themselves. I am not talking about mind control, only teaching the ability to think and to recognize that the instructions for behavior in the Bible and law apply to everyone. Calling people who act “nutjobs” makes them “others,” which they aren’t, they are still people, and only reinforces the “others” idea for those who have the potential to be future shooters. These people have been abandoned, and thus listen seriously to “entertainment.”
    A further note: If we did not have the economic problems we do, much of the heated rhetoric would not have such a large audience.

  • Kenneth Pakal, aka “Frequency”

    #30: I take it you are the resident frumpy schoolmarm on this site, scolding newcomers lest they misbehave. Thanks for keeping me in line.

  • Kenneth Pakal, aka “Frequency”

    Updated at 8:23 p.m. ET CNN has confirmed that the suspect’s name is Jared Lee Loughner, 22, whose apparent online footprint professes an [sic] distrust of government and a fondness for novels [sic] including “Mein Kampf,” “The Communist Manifesto,” “Peter Pan” and “The Republic.”

    Looks like elementary school interns are staffing the CNN news desk tonight.

  • After Sarah Palin posted the rifle scope cross hair target map on her Facebook page, she entered the frontier of sedition using Twitter. “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!” Today’s shooting atrocity confirms Palin’s seditious speech. Palin deserves derision for such speech and for not pulling down her “Target map” until one of her targets was publically shot in the head.
    Palin’s speech is protected under the 1st Amendment. The murderer’s right to bear arms is protected under 2nd Amendment. The terrorist himself did not reload and in retreat was apprehended. However he can count on the 5th Amendment’s guarantee of “due process of law” – ironic since he killed a judge.
    After Palin’s followers are instructed on what to say (on Facebook and Twitter), they will assert that no connection to her seditious speech can be made other than for its tragic coincidence. They will say that she is in no way responsible for such a terrorist act as today’s public murders, especially since the gunman does not appear to be one of her “peace-seeking Muslims.”

    As to the continual AP assertions that Ms. Palin is a presidential contender, let us hope that idea is put to rest in respect for those who lost their rights to life, liberty, and happiness.

  • Then do so with a clear voice and you won’t be misrepresented.

    As to your so-called “sociological observation,” don’t put it forward either as anything other than your personal opinion lest again you be misrepresented. There are other views kicking about in case you don’t know, Dostoyevsky’s for instance. So excuse me for saying so, but I’m rather partial to his POV than yours.

  • Clearly there is no equivalence these last two years between the rhetoric on the left and right. The far right has come dangerously close far too often crossing the line between free speech and incitement.

    What people used to think of as the fringe right has moved quite far into the mainstream. I remember a time when people said just not to listen to them “they’re on the fringe,” “they’re the lunatics of politics.” “No one pays attention to them.” Unfortunately that’s not longer true. People are listening and taking to heart even the most out-there rhetoric.

    In the past few months I’ve been disappointed in Keith Olbermann because I’ve felt he has become a bit too bombastic and full of himself–his own rhetoric over the top. He just completed an excellent “special comment” suggesting that those who spew forth the vitriol do a little bit of self-accounting. He’s right. Maybe they don’t need to take direct responsibility for this tragic and deadly shooting spree, but they need to take responsibility for their words–words that have consequences. Words have consequences: it’s a phrase I’ve heard today uttered by newspeople, commentators, Senators, Congressmen, Sheriffs and others in public life. It’s an important acknowledgement–one that needs to be explicitly stated, by certain purveyors of hateful speech.

  • Arch Conservative

    You don’t remember Jim?

    Rhandia Rhodes played a satirical skit on her Air America radio show that depicted Bush being assassinated.

    On Bill Mahr’s TV show Real Time the following exchange occured:

    MAHER: You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one

    KERRY: Or, I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone

    A british film was made about assassinating Bush with no objections from our now so sensitive liberals on this side of the pond.

    Numerous books were written…….

    Art work……

    It was commonplace at leftist antiwar rallies to hear talk of Bush being assassinated.

    If you don’t remember it may be because you choose not to or you have no problem with it, but it did happen, and often.

  • Kenneth Pakal, aka “Frequency”

    #22, besides invoking Godwin’s law to no avail, you’ve misrepresented my comments. I nowhere claimed to “to speak on behalf of the entire nation.” When I wrote that, “as a society, we are not collectively to blame for every outrage perpetrated by deranged individuals,” I merely made a sociological observation. I represent no one. I speak only for myself.

  • Arch Conservative

    Hey Glenn. If you can show me where I defended Dick Cheney or Scotter Libby w/ regard to Valerie Plame on this site I’ll give you 1000 dollars.

    If you can’t maybe you should admit that [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor] penchant for putting words in other peoples’ mouths.

    Fair enough?

  • Jim

    I don’t remember that anyone talked about assassinating Bush. Impeachment was the demand.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    For all –

    Thus far I don’t see any indication that the shooter was a right-wing lunatic…only that he was indeed just a lunatic.

    And for Arch – what do you call it when someone deliberately and publicly exposes a CIA agent…and at the same time compromises the entire operation – and some of her informants were apparently killed.

    WHAT DO YOU CALL THAT, Arch? I don’t know about you, but I call it treason. How you can keep defending an outright traitor like Dick Cheney, I don’t know.

  • Arch Conservative

    After 8 years of joking about Bush being assassinated, comparing him to Hitler, reveling in Dick Cheney’s heart problems you leftist kooks have the unmitigated gall to even suggest that Sarah Palin was responsible for what happened today?

    How fucking deranged are you?

  • The entire German nation, Kenneth, disclaimed any responsibility for Hitlerism, but they were all complicit, if only by their silence. But that’s just a side point, something you might want to ponder about.

    Point two. If you happen to think that “deranged individuals” are only few and far between, look again or tell me everything’s alright in America.

    Point three: your argument to the effect that indirect responsibility is a criminal offense won’t wash. In the Nuremberg trials, only those directly implicated in war crimes were tried. But in a sense, and indirectly, the entire German nation was on trial.

    Point four: I wouldn’t dare disclaim your personal avowal of any responsibility for the event. I don’t know what you do and the kinds of things you stand for. I find it interesting, however, that your claim to innocence notwithstanding, somehow you’re made to feel obliged to speak on behalf of the entire nation.

  • Jim

    Incendiary anti-goverment rhetoric “more often” comes from the Right? You’re way too kind to the Right. Too early to know what inspired this particular nutjob of course…

  • Kenneth Pakal, aka “Frequency”

    After reading the other comments here, I remain unconvinced that, as Barbara wrote in her article, “it is time to pause and ask ourselves where we are as a nation.” It’s a liberal cliché to pretend that we are all somehow responsible for a singular event such as today’s slaughter. #6 is wrong when he contends “this nation is full of deranged individuals.” Both Sharron Angle and Jesse Kelly were defeated at the polls last November. Their appeal is limited. As far as we know, only one man was directly responsible for the Arizona shootings. If the others Barbara named–Angle, Kelly, Palin, Limbaugh and Bachman–are indirectly responsible, they should be held accountable. But I for one refuse to accept any part of the blame for the actions of a homicidal maniac.

  • Thanks, Glenn. This is a sad day. I don’t hold politicians in any higher regard than anyone else, but still …

    I appreciate Baronous’s gesture that we all should tone down our rhetoric if only for today. And let’s all hope she’ll make it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    BTW, Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly is a commander in training for an April space shuttle mission.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger #16 –

    That is the absolute truth.

  • Limbaugh or Palin may not be guilty of an intent to incite. No one really knows what’s in their heart. But there are always consequences of irresponsible action and speech. And the fact that no one may be directly responsible for anybody else’s actions doesn’t absolve the individual from not taking responsibility for what they say or do in the political arena, especially when their stature, to some, is iconic.

  • Doug Hunter


    And I suppose in your opinion smearing people with murder and incitement is not “ratcheting up the rhetoric”. Pardon me if I find that to be a bit disingenuous.

  • Doug Hunter


    Even in times of political breakdown being a politician is far safer than say… being a black man in Detroit (and the accomodations are better too). Us normal people are just “collateral damage” or statistics on a page when we suffer, but when one of the elite gets nicked times are indeed a changin’.

    ** The NYT puts the odds of a black man being murdered in his lifetime as 1 in 21, there may be 435 members of congress, you do the math.

  • Ruvy

    And your solution, Barbara? I gotta read how you sentence those you have convicted of incitement. I’m still waiting…..

  • Larry Linn

    When I saw that about a year ago, I said, “If any of these people get shot, Palin will have blood on her hands.” Sarah, go wash your hands!

  • Baronius

    Barbara’s right that we need to tone down the rhetoric. I’m not saying we shouldn’t disagree, but things get pretty heated around here, and BC is one of the kinder, gentler corners of the web. We all need to remember that there are some real nutbars out there who could be reading any of our tirades. We can point fingers tomorrow. Today let’s remember to dial it down.

  • Anyway, thanks for a timely piece. Personally, I’m of the opinion that there are plenty of reasons for discontent both from the left and the right, and that we’re evidencing social and political breakdown. But of course, I never condone this kind of violence.

    If anything, the rhetoric you’re alluding to should always be constructive and inspiring, never divisive or appealing to the basest instinct. But these were yesteryears.

  • #8: on the other hand, I didn’t run a provocative advert with gun sights honed in on specific candidates’ districts. I didn’t suggest that “Second Amendment Remedies” might be required for Congress. I don’t incite like Rush, who laughs it off as being “entertainment” not taking any responsibility for the nutjobs he just may inspiring with the hate he spews.

  • Doug Hunter

    #7 Bullshit.

    It’s embarassing that the country is full of people chomping at the bit to write rubbish like this. It is simply partisan douchebaggery taking advantage to spin a crisis to your liking. Sarah Palin has no more in common with this nutjob than you do to Communists who killed scores of millions and caused untold human suffering for the last 100 years. I haven’t seen you taking responsibility for pushing on the same side of the spectrum as Stalin.

  • Huddy757–That is the main point here. Words have impact, and the more public or popular the figure, the bigger audience. Public figures have to take responsibility for their words. They have consequences.

    Roger: I’m sure the copycats are out there–and those emboldened by the events today. The rhetoric needs to be ratcheted down.

  • This nation is full of deranged individuals, Kenneth, the point you seem to be missing. Hell, the land of the free and the brave has become the breeding ground. And if you think this was an isolated incident, you just wait for the copycats to come out of the woodwork or wherever they’re hiding.

  • Ruvy, I take this as a warning to us all (not just here in the U.S.–but everywhere, even where you live), that once civility of discourse evaporates, people die. Prime Ministers are assassinated by others who think they are doing good. Innocent people are intimidated because of their beliefs or for advocating a policy on the public stage. In a free society, this is untenable. (Of course, Ruvy, you wouldn’t know anything about using incendiary language, would you?)

  • huddy757

    I think we have to be more responsible with the things we say. Public figures have influence and that is a fact. If we have a voice that is being heard then it is being heard by everyone. If we desire to lead a country then we must take the resposibility for the path our words lead that country to.

  • Doug Hunter

    It’s a sad state of affairs, everyone’s waiting with bated breath for any details about the gunman that they can spin for political points. Right wingers were hoping it was an illegal immigrant, the author of these piece wants to jump on parts of the lunacy and tie it to the tea party and Republicans. The ramblings were pretty incomprehensible, but parts of them did indeed sound a bit constitution oriented, other parts sounded anarchist and atheist so there’s a nugget for everyone.

  • Kenneth Pakal, aka “Frequency”

    I don’t understand your willingness to let Sharron Angle (whose name you misspell), Sarah Palin, Jesse Kelly, Rush Limbaugh and Rep. Michelle Bachman off the hook. “Are Kelly and Palin directly responsible?” you write. “No, of course not.”

    But the people you name are indirectly responsible, no? So let’s hold them accountable. I’m not saying hunt them down with guns. That would be wrong. I am saying point the finger of guilt at them without immediately turning that finger back on ourselves as a nation, the way you do, Barbara. As a society, we are not collectively to blame for every outrage perpetrated by deranged individuals.

  • Ruvy

    So, lets see… Sarah Palin “targeted” a Democrat; she’s is not responsible for the actions of this fascist who tried to kill the democrat – but she is somehow linked to it all. So is Michelle Bachmann and all sorts of other individuals whom you imply acted in a way to incite the attempted murder of this Democrat from Arizona.

    And your solution, Barbara? I gotta read how you sentence those you have convicted of incitement.