After the deadly shooting in Tucson, AZ it didn’t take long for the finger-pointing to begin. It quickly became apparent that lately the Conservatives have been talking some serious shit about the Liberals and Democrats. I’m not posting this to lay blame on anyone other than the shooter for his actions, you can easily find examples of violent rhetoric from the Liberals and Democrats. What I’m talking about is how we need to start being careful about the things we say about others. These words can be taken in an entirely wrong way and can lead unstable people to do drastic things.
At the end of the day they’re just words, but words are incredibly powerful motivators and while we can’t necessarily hold the speakers accountable, they do need to realize the side effects of what they say. Regardless of how they intend their words to be interpreted, they need to keep in mind that when you say things like this, that there are going to be those that interpret it in a way that makes them think they’re being called upon to take action, possibly even violent action.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, someone has located a clip from Glenn Beck‘s Fox show from June 10, 2010. In this particular clip he says, “Shoot them in the head, but warning: they may shoot you!” Early on the clip we find out who he is speaking of, “radicals that you in Washington have co-opted and brought in sheep’s clothing…that believe in Communism and believe in a call for a Revolution.” If you’re interested in actually hearing him say it, you can watch it here.
Now, it’s quite obvious that he wasn’t actually advocating violence, but instead speaking in metaphors about voting people out of office. However, with crap spewing from his lips like this, is it any wonder he’s being blamed for the recent violence in Tucson? There are those out there that take everything they hear on TV literally, and it’s possible that they could take Glenn’s words as a call to action. Like I’ve been saying, Glenn really shouldn’t be held accountable for what he said, especially when he was speaking metaphorically.
Sarah Palin has also received partial blame for the shooter’s actions. On the SarahPAC website she had a map of the United States with the locations of Democratic Representatives that voted for the health care bill, marked with crosshairs and in large letters at the top, “IT’S TIME TO TAKE A STAND.” She later referred to the crosshairs on the map as “bulls-eyes.”
At another time, on Sarah Palin’s Twitter feed, she posted the following, “…Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!” As it was with Glenn Beck these were probably all meant as metaphors and not to be taken as suggestions to shoot or kill anyone.
One of the SarahPAC staff members defended Sarah by saying, once the finger-pointing started, “it never occurred that anybody would consider it (the map and the Reload statement) as violent.” The parallels that the accusers have drawn with the above examples are, to say the least, a little loose.
The following examples, however, aren’t necessarily as easy to dismiss as metaphor and are instead just hateful words. Rep. Michele Bachmann said, “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing.” Sharron Angle, 2010 Nevada Senate nominee, said, “…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.” Rush Limbaugh said, “I tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus – living fossils – so we will never forget what these people stood for.” Ann Coulter said, “We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too.” and another time, “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building” Joyce Kaufman, Former Chief of Staff for Rep. Allen West said, “I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendments rights was they gave me a Second Amendment. And if ballots don’t work, bullets will.” These examples are at best examples of an extremely poor choice in words and at worst honest condoning of violent actions towards others. The sane people amongst us simply hear these things as people shooting their mouths off, the less sane however, could easily hear something entirely different.
Despite all of these examples, there is no one to blame but the shooter. But I just have to ask, how is someone who may be less than mentally stable or who we might refer to as an extremist hardcore conservative, supposed to read/hear/watch all the things these people (that he/she may look up to) say and not begin to think that he/she is being asked to start something. The chances of the same happening due to an extremist hardcore liberalist are equally as high as Liberals are Democrats are guilty of violent rhetoric as well.
This is precisely why we all need to take a step back and think before we open our mouths and allow these types of words to escape. I have a feeling that the recent events may cause everyone to be much more careful about their chosen words. I say, about time, I’m sick and tired of hearing and reading hateful and sometimes violent rhetoric from various public figures (on both sides). What this country needs, now more than anything, is unity. (its in our country’s name for crying out loud) Not bi-partisan bickering and blame, not media windbags spouting random spiteful words, that’s not how this country’s going to get back on track. I know I may sound naive saying this but, perhaps these recent events will remind us that we’re all in this together and we need to work as a team to get up this hill, fighting, in action or in words, is only going to keep us stuck at the bottom.
- It’s come to this: CNN apologizes … after guest uses “crosshairs” metaphor (hotair.com)
- The Spooky Silence Of Sarah Palin — Why, For Four Long Days After The Giffords Shooting, She STFU (3quarksdaily.com)
- New Study: Tea Partiers Three Times More Likely to Say Violence Is Warranted. Exhibit A: Glenn Beck (alternet.org)