Monday, January 10, 2011

Politicizing tragedy

We all knew it was only a matter of time before the Gabrielle Giffords shooting became a political matter. Depending on how this plays out, it could spell political disaster for either party...or neither party.

Not surprisingly, Sarah Palin is taking the brunt of the political heat. Democrats can ally her enough with Republicans to paint the GOP as fanatical, while Republicans are eager to throw her under the bus because she and the other Tea Partiers create political problems.

At the heart of the controversy concerning Giffords is a map depicting several congressional districts overlaid by crosshairs, Giffords' district being among them. The idea was to encourage voters to remove Democrats from Republican-voting districts because these Democrats had voted in favor of the health care bill. The argument from some on the left is that her violent imagery might easily spur violence.

Palin's speeches have at times had violent undertones as well, oftentimes referred to as lock-and-load rhetoric. In April 2010 she was quoted as saying, "Don't retreat. Reload. And that is not a call for violence."

Many individuals are quick to lay some blame on Plain for the Giffords tragedy. I am not among them. Loughner seems unhinged from what I can gather. The blame should rest with the crazy person who pulled the trigger, not the crazy person with her foot perpetually lodged in her mouth.

Still, I think Palin is guilty of an intentional fallacy here. She may not mean to "call for violence," but violence is occurring, and violently politicized rhetoric like hers is likely feeding the flames.

Also, her qualifier is a bit of a dodge. If I say, "I wish someone would shoot this guy. And that's not a call for violence," it kind of is. Clearly Palin's rhetoric is not so direct, but she calls for channeling anger into action, yet provides no all to action other than to "reload."

While Palin and others may not intend to spark violence, they certainly intend to inspire hatred. At some point, hatred often boils over into violence. I don't believe Palin owes anyone an apology, despite clamoring from the left. I do, however, believe she -- and other pundits as well -- should be more deliberate with her words, as they may not always be interpreted as intended.


  1. great post and I agree. He's just a crackpot that seemed to be fixed on strange mind control theories, and most of that kind of stuff. The Tea Bag stuff was just more of his insane BS he warped himself into.

    Have you seen his Youtube videos?

    There also seems to be a video supposedly of him being interviewed floating around youtube.

  2. I have actually seen a few things on his YouTube site. Not exactly the most stable of people is he?