Words Matter

by JC

Given today’s events surrounding the shooting in Arizona today, and the ongoing debate about Senator Tester’s use of the word “extremists” to label people who don’t agree with his FJRA legislation, I thought an open thread would be good.

There are many more examples of politicians using inflamed and inciting language. They have come to define much of what passes for politics the last few years.

My thoughts are that politicians should lead by example. That the words that they use matter, and in some cases have life or death consequences for people. I feel that any politician that chooses to use language to inflame people, and put lives at risk doesn’t deserve to be a politician.

Hammer away…

Update: Here is a video of Congresswoman Giffords talking about being targeted by Sarah Palin with the crosshairs of a gunsight targeted on her district. She also talks about the “extremists” at both ends of the political spectrum and how public figures need to work to defuse the dangerous rhetoric that is out there.

“We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. People do that they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.” –Gabrielle Giffords

So this now begs the question: what sort of consequences should be handed out to people like Sarah Palin? And Jon Tester?

    • more divertimento in bs minor…. nice try big swede.

      the truth is that sarah palin and her highly charged rhetoric may not be responsible for this shooting…..

      but there is no question that she and other right wing lunatics who throw around aggressive jargon toward those who disagree with them are certainly irresponsible.

      but then, i wouldn’t expect responsible behavior from someone who quits half way through her term as governor.

      • Craig Moore

        Pbear, it’s irresponsible to jump to conclusions for political purposes. More to come: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2011/01/jared_loughner_alleged_shooter.php

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

        Caitie Parker did not immediately respond to our request for an interview, but her “tweets” in the hours after the shooting paint a picture of Jared Loughner as a substance-abusing loner who had met Giffords prior to the shooting. She says, Loughner described the congresswoman as “stupid and unintelligent.”

        We’ve confirmed the two went to high school together at Mountain View High School in Tucson and both attended Pima Community College, so her claims of knowing Loughner seem to be legit.

        Parker “tweets” that she and Loughner were in the band together and were friends until 2007 when he became “reclusive” after getting alcohol poisoning and dropping out of college.

        She describes him as being “quite liberal” and as a “political radical.”

      • The Polish Wolf

        “lunatics” – Is this better than ‘extremists’?

        I’m not nearly as concerned with words as I am with meaning. Calling someone an extremist, a war criminal, a terrorist, none of these words are half as scary as ‘second amendment remedies’ or calling for revolution or burning out the opposition.

        • JC

          This isn’t about you. You are relatively sane, as far as I can tell.

          It is about how people who aren’t so sane (like the guy who committed the shooting today) take stuff like Sarah Palin’s cross-hair gun sight posters. Or Jon Tester’s “extremist” statement.

          • The Polish Wolf

            I see what you’re saying, but my thought is this – the form of the idea, the words selected, may be important, but what’s more dangerous in my opinion is the idea behind them. I agree that using guns and gun imagery in political campaigns is troubling. This isn’t Mao’s China – political power oughtn’t have anything to do with the barrel of a gun. We are not a country in need of second amendment remedies – we just need to exercise our first amendment remedies.

            However, I don’t think calling someone an extremist is quite in the same vein as implying that bullets are a legitimate substitute for ballots when the latter has not been denied you.

            • mr benson

              Thing is, there’s just simply no tie between Loughner and Jon Tester. None. It’s a total strawman. And it’s doubtful that Loughner was as guided by Palin’s campaign rhetoric as he was “Turner Diaries” or some other egregious philosophy.

              • the problem with marginalizing our opponent rather than debating the issues which divide us is that, in politics, it almost always rewards bad behavior.

                keeping an open mind and courteously debating is boring to the public. people pay no attention to compromise and give no credit to those who build consensus while the spotlights are trained on those who throw out accusations first.

                americans like to watch predators being aggressive. we don’t care what the bunnies do.

                there is no cure save changing the psyche of the american public. and no one has done that since punch and judy shows have been used by aristocrats to divert the peasants attention from their corruption and injustices.

                yes, i wish that politicians would show more responsibility in their daily discourse and in their conduct. but until it is rewarded, i doubt if integrity will ever be rewarded in this country.

                and conversely, until aggressive political tactics are punished by voters and the media who feed the frenzy, we can only expect more of it.

                we are in a bad cycle and there appears no way out of it. politics is already getting so ugly that good people are staying out of it now, which will only exacerbate the problem by increasingly concentrating those who have no moral compass to continue to abuse the system to their selfish and larcenous ends.

              • JC

                I never implied any tie between Laughner and Tester.

                But I see no difference between tester’s rhetoric and Palin’s when it comes to “extremists” and bull’s eyes.

                And I’m not trying to ascribe any motive to Laughner at this point. Just look at the rhetoric and take a stand, which you refuse to do.

              • The Polish Wolf

                “But I see no difference between tester’s rhetoric and Palin’s when it comes to “extremists” and bull’s eyes.”

                Really? I see a few. one was loaded with martial and hunting imagery, the other was a word that even the most passive members of congress have used repeatedly.

                I’m sorry you’ve known people to suffer after being called extremists, but it’s a stretch to call the link causal – Tester is using the exact same language as the rest of the political establishment, and more than that he was using it accurately to describe people he believes to be outside the mainstream. If Tester should suffer consequences, so should the rest of congress. Unfortunately, language used against incumbents is generally even worse. Lets focus on eliminating actually violent language and stop trying to bring into it everyday political description merely to forge an imaginary link between a Senator you don’t like and figures who are actually promoting divisive politics.

            • JC

              I have a friend who died from a car bombing after being labeled an extremist. This isn’t some self-absorbed fantasy I’m working out.

              Words matter. People die.

  1. this right wing blog makes no bones about shooting those with whom they disagree… take a good look at the comments too!


  2. This kind of incident is rare, and almost always the work of a lone gunman. At this point, I see nothing about this shooting that argues for a security crackdown anywhere else. In the meantime, all of should be mindful that initial reports often are incomplete or incorrect.

    • mr benson

      James, the gunman may have had an accomplice.

      The “fuck Sarah Palin” and #GOPMURDERS tweets started within a few minutes of the shooting. I can’t see this as a de-escalation of rhetoric.

      De-escalation of rhetoric is a good goal, but hardly one that extremists of either side endorse, as today made quite obvious. And before you claim that calling someone “extremist” is the same thing, let me add that I’m also intolerant of the intolerant. You can begin your verbal gymnastics now.

      Gabby Giffords and Jon Tester are good examples of moderate left or centrist candidates who’ve been called assholes and are “dead to…” the extremists in their party. Plenty of examples from the other extreme against “Rinos” too.

    • petetalbot

      Mr. Conner writes: “This kind of incident is rare, and almost always the work of a lone gunman.” You must be living in a different country. We’re a violent, gun-wielding society. Big shoot out in Baltimore today, too. Granted, it’s unusual that congressmen and women are targeted; plenty of Presidents, though: Kennedy, Ford, Reagan. And although those were the work of a single gunman (and woman); remember Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and the Oklahoma City bombings?

      This kind of violence IS rare in Western Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia … quite prevalent in less developed countries: Pakistan, Mexico, Iraq, Sudan …

      When it comes to violence, the U.S. is more akin to some third-world nation than a developed democracy. It deeply saddens me.

      • Craig Moore

        Pete, I’m not sure what you are recalling about Europe. Remember the IRA; the Basque separatists, Germany’s Red Army Faction, etc. The list of political violence is long… including the shot that started WWI.

        • petetalbot

          I’m talking recent history here, Craig, going back, say, 50 years. I’m also not focusing on political movements (IRA, Basques, Red Brigade/Army) as much as wackos with guns: Columbine, Virginia Tech and various sundry shootings at malls, schools, post offices, churches… well, you get the drift.

          • Craig Moore

            Pete, I get your drift, but I find it a distinction without a difference. Motivation that leads to violence doesn’t have a neat dividing line. Wackos find their way into political movements.

            • petetalbot

              I think you’re missing the original intent in my comment, Craig. It’s that the U.S. shows spectacular leadership in one area: violence, particularly mass shootings, compared to to other developed democracies.


            • The Polish Wolf

              I think it’s pretty easy to see why – European nations have (had) more or less homogeneous societies with a effective welfare systems that limited economic achievement to some extent but also minimized social disruption. They also have less free speech, more regulated media systems, and generally more collective-minded societies. No one is going to shoot up their old office after they get fired if they have several months of unemployment benefits.

              There are exceptions, of course. Naples, for one. And though guns are harder to get in Europe, individuals with guns have much more relative power than they do in the US because no one around them is likely to be armed.

              The only problem? If you’re not born into that society, it’s incredibly hard to join it. Thus you see that violence in Europe is increasingly caused by immigrants who don’t have the same safety net and lack the mobility that immigrants in America have. Hopefully they find a way to deal with it effectively.

      • mr benson

        I think this is very much like the OKC bombing, Pete. You’d be one “experienced enough” to remember the Freeman movement. Wulfgar has some specific knowledge as well.

        We are also seeing these fiery packages in the mail. There was nationwide activity around the OKC bombings too.

        • petetalbot

          I remember well the Freeman movement. We in Montana were very fortunate that no one lost their lives in that episode. Karl Ohs, the Republican legislator from Harrison, was instrumental in the peaceful resolution.

          Glad you brought up the recent letter bombs — very apropos.

          • Ingemar Johansson

            One or possibly two federal agents overturned their SUV on the hi-way near the ranch killing one(or two).

  3. Ingemar Johansson

    Here’s is a list of his favorite books(UTube profile).

    I had favorite books: Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver’s Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno.

    Full disclosure one’s by Rand, the rest could be in Liz’s library.

    • JC

      Why couldn’t liz have Rand in his library? I have a bunch of right wing lit in mine, including Atlas Shrugged. Good to know one’s enemy and all that…

      Your attempts to define a person through this book listing on FaceBook is really hollow BS. MOst on that list are classics that many of us have read. There’s only two on that list I haven’t. Wanna draw a conclusion from that? And taking a stab at liz is a cheap shot. Might call that some weak pathetic trolling if we didn’t know that your sense of humor is really warped.

      • Ingemar Johansson

        Yeah you’re, right drawing incomplete conclusions is one of my weaknesses.

        I should’ve said “the rest could be in Liz’s and JC’s library”.

      • lizard19

        i do have a bunch of those titles on my shelf, phenomenal insight swede.

        i also have a Bill O’Reily book, go figure.

  4. lizard19

    i agree that the use of the word “extremist” is dangerous, and there will be a political price to pay.

    and the argument that there are no alternatives so just suck it up and take it is like an abused spouse making excuses for the abuser.

    • The Polish Wolf

      Yes, the use of the word ‘extremist’ is dangerous, much more dangerous than calling your opponents freaks, slime devils, xenophobes, whores, automatons, dittoeheads, or lunatics. Of course, no one here would use all of those terms – that’s a bit of a JC/problembear/Lizard medley, all from the month or so.

      Lizard, you who are particularly prone to bile when provoked may want to be careful about criticizing others’ use of language.

      Am I saying you all contribute to a less compromising, potentially more violent atmosphere? A little, but not really. I just don’t like to see the double standard.

      • pw- better to be an extremist than an apologist, in my never humble opinion.

        and for the record. slime devils perfectly describes those who flack for the payday lending industry….i can’t help it if it offends those who support draining poor people of their last pint of blood.

        • The Polish Wolf

          Do you maybe see how that could be interpreted as inciting violence? Maybe even more than calling someone an extremist? I don’t think Lizard and JC are justified in condemning Tester’s remark when they tolerate and participate in far more vile speech in this site.

          • i see exactly the opposite pw. i see jon tester using purposely inciteful language for calculated political reasons.

            jc and others are merely expessing themselves honestly.

            try it sometime.

            • The Polish Wolf

              Harsh, problembear. I feel I express myself plenty honestly. Besides, you and I admit to being extremists in some regards. Tester was arguing that those opposed to his bill are not in the main stream. No one has yet provided any evidence to the contrary, though it may indeed be a falsehood.

          • JC

            I don’t ever say anything that will incite someone to kill. I’m just a small time, minimally read anonymous blogger.

            I believe we need to hold politicians accountable for their words. Particularly dangerous ones (words, and hopefully not the politician).

            I find it amusing how quickly you want to turn the argument around and shoot the messenger.

            What you are doing is clearly ad hominem. You attack me for what I said, in order to discredit my argument, and invalidate it (“I don’t think Lizard and JC are justified in condemning Tester’s remark when they tolerate and participate in far more vile speech in this site”).

            I don’t respond to ad hominem (other than to point it out). SO you would be best to just attack my point that words matter. If you don’t believe so, or if you don’t believe that a politician labeling his opposition as “extremists” can be dangerous, just say so.

      • lizard19

        i’m not a public official elected to represent a broad swath of people. but i take your point. there have been a few moments in our back and forth where i’ve been pretty harsh. for that, i apologize.

        • The Polish Wolf

          You’re hardly alone, and I firmly believe that the level of passion and intensity (and with them, harshness) warranted are proportional to the significance of the issue being discussed, and we discussed rather weighty issues. Apology accepted and no hard feelings. Also, point taken regarding you not being an elected official and Tester being so.

  5. the question that mr tester and his staff should ask themselves is this:

    will jon gain enough conservative votes to counter balance the votes jon loses by insulting past supporters. i think not given the republicans tendency to stick together.

    it is quite a gamble alright. playing chicken with your own supporters seems to have worked for max baucus so we will see in 2012.

    i think these are different times and jon is making a big mistake with people who are losing patience with being played by politicians.

  6. Pogo Possum

    I watched the videos the suspected shooter posted, read his half baked dillusional syllogistic reasoning on “new currency”, the majority’s lack of grammer skills and “conscience dreaming” and observed how quickly the media and many bloggers have been working to interrpret and missinterpret his rants to point the finger, blame others and put him into a specific political group.

    While a lot of light will be shed in the coming weeks, at first view this fellow appears to be deeply disturbed and listening more to the demons in his head than to any specific group or political message.

    For what it is worth, here are some of the Tweets from about him from people who claim to be his former classmates.

    can’t manage all these media requests & @ replies. Too much too fast, can’t keep up.
    less than 5 seconds ago via Twitter for iPhone .

    This is a circus. Good Morning America just called me.
    about 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone

    .@antderosa it’s loughner just checked my year book.
    about 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa
    .@lakarune I haven’t seen him since ’07. Then, he was left wing.
    about 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to lakarune

    .@noboa more left. I haven’t seen him since ’07 though. He became very reclusive.
    about 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to noboa

    .@antderosa he had a lot of friends until he got alcohol poisoning in ’06, & dropped out of school. Mainly loner very philosophical.
    about 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa

    .@antderosa As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.
    about 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa

    .@antderosa he was a pot head & into rock like Hendrix,The Doors, Anti-Flag. I haven’t seen him in person since ’07 in a sign language class
    about 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa

    .@antderosa He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in ’07, asked her a question & he told me she was “stupid & unintelligent”
    about 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa

    .@antderosa I can. That is him.
    about 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa

    .@antderosa I went to high school, college, & was in a band with the gunman. This tragedy has just turned to horrific.
    about 3 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to antderosa

    .Official I went to high school & college, & was in a band w/ the gunman. I can’t even fathom this right now.

  7. There is a line in extremism where political ideals are no longer of consequence. This is an example of that. Left? Right? Who cares? People are dead and their families could give a shit who this guy voted for.

    And it wasn’t Palin’s dumbass “Target List.” Nor was it because of him smoking pot. It’s that he was crazy. Crazy people occasionally do things that break our hearts, and leave us scared and confused.

    I fear that this will only be the first of these types of events as our country becomes more and more divided. Tragic.

    • JC

      It may well not have been Palin’s list. But look at the video of Rep. Giffords talking about Sarah Palin and about “extremists.” I just updated the post above with it.

      I find her words most instructive and illuminating right now.

    • The Polish Wolf

      This guy may have been a crazy, but that’s a quick conclusion to come to. Totally sane people can buy in to totally outrageous philosophies or beliefs, and under the influence of those beliefs do absolutely atrocious things. I don’t think the mainstream Tea Party (that sounds weird, but you know what I mean) is contributing to this environment, because they put an unusual faith in the system and have no reason to go around it.

      It’s when people lose faith in Democracy, when they are so arrogant or misanthropic as to believe that their fellow humans will never come around to an acceptable way of thinking, that they act violently to bring about change. This happens on left and right and like Duganz said, it doesn’t much matter which side a person starts on, once they get to that point it doesn’t make any difference what side they think they are on. Their views are so far removed from the mainstream that their selection of targets might as well be random because whoever they hurt will in their minds deserve it for being in some way part of the system.

  8. I was reading about the shooter – he’s a nut.

    Yes, words matter – in this case NUT is applicable.

  9. lizard19

    Duganz makes a good point, the families of the victims don’t give a shit right now what this kid listened to, whether he smoked pot, or if right wing lunacy or the 2012 prophecy played some part in this horrendous rampage. their lives have been rocked by this tragedy, and they will now have to grieve as this issue gets 24 hour news-cycle coverage while pundits and bloggers use it for political grist.

    • JC

      So because someone else use a bullseye it makes it ok for Palin to target Giffords in the way she did? NOw that I see what Kos did, I’d hope that he’d get some flak for that, too. The left doesn’t need to put “bullseyes” on dem or any candidate’s campaign. There’s ways to talk about this stuff without giving a crazy an idea for something to do.

      And I just love the way you guys try and make it all ok. This isn’t really about party. The dems can be as guilty for using destructive language as the reps (tester’s “extremist” comment, i.e.).

      And a whacko doesn’t have to have any party ID or ideological bent to take something inciteful that a prominent politician or public figure says and go and shoot someone.

      • mr benson

        Nobody’s “making it all okay”. I’m telling you that your rush to politicize this is as egregious as Palin’s action, and that both ends of the extreme use the “foot on the throat” and “bulls-eye” and you’ve seen the examples. That doesn’t make one side’s use okay and one side’s use not okay.

        But it does make the shrill and constant chanting, “FoxNews, Palin, Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, Bachmann, Steve King and other hatemongers caused this tragedy” like this direct quote, a hypocritical opportunistic political use of a tragedy.

        I doubt many of you have dealt with the skinhead/constitutionalist/freeman groups and people directly. I have. These people aren’t influenced by Sarah Palin. They don’t think women should vote, much less be President. They’ve been threatening violence and planning violence against elected officials since before Sarah Palin was a point guard. They listen to internet or short wave radio, not Fox News.

        I think this is an Oklahoma City type incident, where marginally sane on the farthest fringe get violent.

        • JC

          My post is not intended to be about any one incident. We have two incidents linked: Tester’s use of “extremist” to paint those who don’t support his legislation as immaterial to the political process of his, and Giffords shooting, whose motive we have yet to discern.

          Just because we haven’t yet come to understand Giffords’ shooter’s motive doesn’t mean we can’t discuss the use of dangerous rhetoric by politicians. I find it eerie that Giffords video surfaced yesterday going right to the point I was trying to make.

          So in lieue of making this diary about what I have to say about this, I’d rather that folks respond to the woman who was targeted. She asked the question:

          What should the consequences of dangerous rhetoric of politicians be? Simple question, really.

          • The Polish Wolf

            “We have two incidents linked: Tester’s use of “extremist” to paint those who don’t support his legislation as immaterial to the political process of his, and Giffords shooting, whose motive we have yet to discern.”

            They are linked only in your mind, JC.

            I add another closely related question, JC – should Bernie Sanders be held accountable for calling Republicans ‘extreme’ on his website and their philosophy ‘extremism’ in his victory speech in 2006?

            Now, are you going to call out Bernie Sanders for his ‘bad behavior’? Or will you stand with him because you support him?

            I like Bernie – he seems reasonable and he is a good force in politics. And guess what? I think his characterization of the republicans in this country as extreme is accurate, probably more accurate that Tester’s use of the word. But if you let Bernie (and it’s not just him; I just figured he’s maybe the only elected official you might respect) get away with it while criticizing Tester, you’re saying words don’t matter, political positions do. Which happens to be my opinion as well.

            It’s human nature to get mad when you are called an extremist (though as pbear points out,there’s worse things to be), and it’s definitely understandable to feel betrayed after you voted for the guy. But just be honest – you are upset that Tester isn’t the man you thought he was, and you think is forest bill is wrong and he is wrong, that mainstream people would disagree with it if they knew what was in it. That’s an honest position and if the forest bill was something I knew more about I may well agree with you. Trying to make this about him somehow promoting violence by using words that everyone uses merely muddles your real point.

            • JC

              I just find it amazing at how many different ways people want to find to make it “OK” that Tester has labeled his constituents “extremists.”

              I think the discussion about how our political leaders use violent and marginalizing rhetoric needs to be elevated to a national discussion.

              And it seems to have begun all over the place. And it will continue.

              I”m not the one who is going to carry the banner for the political rhetoric PC police. I have just brought up two incidents. And yes I linked them in my own mind–so what? Blogger’s prerogative.

              I believe Palin’s words to be dangerous. LIkewise Tester’s. Gabrielle Giffords had an eerie video surface speaking directly to the issue. Watch it and think about her condition and words and then come back and comment.

              Words matter. And for political leaders, there should be consequences.

              • The Polish Wolf

                I don’t disagree that we need to reign in rhetoric. I do disagree, however, with the idea that somehow ‘extremist’ is one of those words, considering it is used by everyone no matter how nonviolent their intentions, including Giffords herself.

                And I also disagree that using even the most inflammatory words is any more dangerous than the general sentiment that Democracy has failed, that we need open rebellion and revolution to make things right.

      • mr benson

        Oh, and JC, feel free to drag a few more red herrings across the conversation. I’ll call them out, and you’ll continue to look disingenuous and insincere.

        Want to tone down the rhetoric? Fine, start right now, right here.

        • JC

          Your desire to silence me is a thinly veiled attempt to assuage your own guilt. You support the radical, violent political speech of those whom with you identify.

          Otherwise you would call it out. Silence is complicity in this instance.

          As to red herrings? What red herring? I defined the topic of this post, and I am sticking to it. If you want to make this post about something else (the political motive of a shooter, i.e.) and then accuse me of red herrings, so be it. But it just makes you look petty.

          • mr benson

            There you are with another red herring, “what I support”. Set up the straw man, and knock it down.Your typical nonsense.

            Speaking out against extremism and intolerance could be defined as extremism and intolerance, but that’s really just mental masturbation. I’m intolerant of intolerance. I admit that.

          • JC

            No, that is not a red herring. But I did set up a strawman and knocked it down.

            Because I’m calling you out plain and simple:

            Does Sarah Palin deserve some consequences for her (in my and Giffords’ words) dangerous political speech.

            Either answer the question straight up, or I’ll assume that the answer is no.

            Call that a red herring/strawman/ knockdown, what have you. But this is exactly the point I’m trying to get across.

            People are afraid to call out the politicians they support for their bad behavior.

            And I think that is wrong.

            • Craig Moore

              Calling anyone out without the facts is politics at its worst.

              We don’t know much about the shooter. Might as well blame the Kos diary “Dead to me” or Kos himself for putting her on his target list: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/25/1204/74882/511/541568

              • JC

                The facts about what many politicians have said and done is well known, Craig. I have no problem calling them out for that, and that is what I am doing here.

                And I have said elsewhere that Kos deserves flak for his words too. His site, though, unlike Palin, is apologizing for the tone of their rhetoric and use of specific words, instead of defending it.

            • mr benson

              And I will call you out, extremist. With this thread and earlier threads you do exactly what Palin did, and since you refuse to apply your own rhetoric to the standard to which you hold Palin, you’re just another extreme hypocrite who has gone after President Obama and Jon Tester using the same extremism that Palin used.

              So there is your answer, neither you nor Palin get a pass. As for what your consequences should be, well, the rest of us should consider your decision to isolate yourself from thinking, caring people, and no longer pay attention to a damn thing you have to say.

              • JC

                I’m not a politician. But I am an extremist. Jon Tester says so.

                You can attempt to marginalize my argument here all you want. But this is the topic that is sweeping the land right now.

                Either we begin to condemn violent, dangerous political rhetoric from our political leaders, or things are going to get a lot worse.

                Think what you want about me. It matters not.

                FWIW, I do not isolate myself from “thinking, caring people.” I surround myself with them. Unfortunately, to you, they probably would be “extremists”, too.

  10. mr benson



    Not saying the first is correct, but it should make you think. The second will be “the meme of the day”. Trying to score whatever points we can, grind whatever grist we can, off of a tragedy. Today’s meme, “more government spending for the mentally ill”. Secondary meme, “pot and alcohol made him do it”. All the Carrie Nations of the world, untie! (slightly dyslexically) Soon, we will discover the internet did it.

    Some of us might say, sometimes bad things happen, sometimes evil exists, sometimes individuals are bad, grieve for the lost, honor their service and lives, and move on.

  11. lizard19

    wow, i just read all the junk over at Left in the West on Rob’s thread about the Tucson shooting, and it’s pretty bad. the back and forth between Larry and Dave is particularly nasty.

    that’s the context of this plea, by Rob:

    Discussions about ‘chickenhawks’ do no good. Arguments about Lefty violence or Righty violence aren’t really better at this point. We don’t know enough yet, and I’m asking you, as one of the adults in the group, to back the fuck off for right now. Is there a reason you shouldn’t? Is that really so hard to do?
    More is going to be said about this. You know that. But we aren’t even a day away from the event. Please leave the blame alone for now. That’s just a request.

    it’s good to see Rob has become an adult in the last 48 hours.

    • And it’s good to see that you can’t read worth a shit. You don’t deal with the post at all, and only comment on a clearly stupid misrepresentation of the comments.

  12. lizard19

    here’s a little reminder how jumping to conclusions about breaking news is dangerously amplifying the divides that exist, which the media, old and new, us and them, use to fuel the culture wars.

    remember September, 2009, when a census worker was found hung? there was this post here posted by j-girl, and when subsequent information came out, she had the integrity to take accountability for jumping the gun. i think it was me and goof that cautioned temperance as the national climate took the death and ran wild–much respect to j-girl for doing that.

  13. The Polish Wolf

    It’s a good point, Lizard. Everyone wants to be one of the first to draw a conclusion from an event, and the media pushes this instinct as much as anyone. But an observation is just as good made a week after the fact, when things are better understood, as if it is made immediately and potentially prematurely.

  14. Craig Moore

    JC you asked:

    So this now begs the question: what sort of consequences should be handed out to people like Sarah Palin? And Jon Tester?

    In President Obama’s speech he said:

    If, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy–it did not–but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.

    He is right on two accounts: causation of this tragedy and the way forward to face our challenges. Words matter not to lay false blame but to be used as tools to unite people to face those challenges. I hope this will be the start to ending the divisive class warfare, racial, gender, and persuasion, etc. rhetoric so in vogue by ideologues and political opportunists. That, in itself, would be a fitting memorial to the fallen and a true presidential legacy.

    • JC

      I was paraphrasing Giffords’ question. I think that politicians like Palin will pay for their incivility at the ballot box.

      I have never blamed her for causing this tragedy. I was careful not to. SO don’t accuse me of laying false blame–that is your strawman caricature of me.

      I will blame politicians like Sarah Palin and JOn Tester for allowing their incivility to influence what Rob has been talking about, which is the culture of violence that pervades our country.

      Why you want to bring class warfare into this discussion is beyond me, but if you want to “start ending the divisive… rhetoric”, I’d suggest you take a look at your own rhetoric and discourse. If you want to do right by Giffords, and the other injured and 6 slain in Tucson I’d suggest you watch her video again, and then think about it. I have. Several times.

      • Craig Moore

        Sorry, Giffored did not question who to blame for shooting her. That’s your rhetorical finger pointing question, own it. Lizard gets it right: https://4and20blackbirds.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/words-matter/#comment-67808

        • JC

          The blame word is your own as to causality for the Tucson murders.

          And yes, I will blame politicians who fan the flames of incivility and violence in this country.

          After, all, it’s my first amendment right to do so, even though I know my of your rhetoric aimed at me is with the intent of silencing a strong voice.

          There is much difference between what I say and what Sarah Palin says. And she stands on a national soapbox of celebrity and fame, and failed political ambition If I were to have the same stature, people would look at my words as timid in respect. If she were in mine, she would be considered a looney, and watched by the police.

  15. Craig Moore

    It looks like the NYT recognizes that words do indeed matter. They acknowledge jumping the shark and getting the story quite wrong. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/opinion/16pubed.html

    The Tucson shootings afforded another, quite different illustration of the pressure of time in news coverage — not pressure measured in seconds and minutes, but pressure that news organizations feel to define the context of a story, to set up a frame for it, sometimes before the facts can be fully understood.

    The Times’s day-one coverage in some of its Sunday print editions included a strong focus on the political climate in Arizona and the nation. For some readers — and I share this view to an extent — placing the violence in the broader political context was problematic…

    The Times had a lot of company, as news organizations, commentators and political figures shouldered into an unruly scrum battling over whether the political environment was to blame. Meanwhile, opportunities were missed to pick up on evidence — quite apparent as early as that first day — that Jared Lee Loughner, who is charged with the shootings, had a mental disorder and might not have been motivated by politics at all…

    Still, I think the intense focus on political conflict — not just by The Times — detracted from what has emerged as the salient story line, that of a mentally ill individual with lawful access to a gun.

    Whether covering the basic facts of a breaking story or identifying more complex themes, the takeaway is that time is often the enemy. Sometimes the best weapon against it is to ignore it, and use a moment to consider the alternatives.

  1. 1 Wilderness: the Third Rail of Montana Politics « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] and join in the right-wing hippy bashing culture war now, in its pursuit of ostracizing far-left “extremists.” And they’re going to take down a single-issue nonprofit organization as an […]

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