11 January 2011

More on Conservative Political Violence

I know that most of you don't tune in here for political stuff, so I'm going to indulge myself with one follow-up post on political violence and then I'll be back to medical stuff, I promise.

I can see from the comments from my last post that there is an unsurprising backlash from the right side of the spectrum regarding the linkage between the violent rhetoric of the right's politics and the assassination attempt on Rep Giffords. To a degree, that is understandable. This link implicitly inculpates all conservatives/Tea Partiers, and that isn't quite fair. What shocked me is the degree of tribalism in the debate -- the responses I got from self-identified or presumptive conservatives were all defensive to the point of being in extreme denial. Universally, the comments were along the lines of:

  • Liberals do it too
  • The shooter was a liberal

 On the second point, which I think we can agree is less relevant, whether the shooter is liberal or conservative is probably a meaningless question to ask. It's pretty clear that he's nuts, and not in possession of any coherent political philosophy.  The same probably applies to a number of the politically violent acts in the litany of recent political violence. They are all, almost by definition, nuts. Some are clearly political conservatives (like the Pittsburgh shooter worried Obama would take his guns), some are hard to define, like the guy who crashed into the IRS building, and some are probably nonpolitical nuts (the Hunstville shooter came up a few times, and that seemed quite bereft of political overtones). However, my response to this is that IT DOESN'T MATTER what a given nutcase thinks he is accomplishing when he or she take up arms. What matters is, "What were the factors that drove them to take up arms?" He may not have known how Rep Gifford voted on Cap and Trade, but he probably had seen ads like this, run by Giffords' opponent:

6a00d83451c45669e20148c76c8198970c-320wi

Or this, by Arizona Republican Pam Gorman:

gorman

Did these cause the shooter to pick up his gun and go the the supermarket? Of course not. Were they part of the environment that led him to think that shooting people was an option? Possibly. Is this a useful and valuable contribution to the political discourse?

Which brings us to the "Liberals do it too" point. It's incredibly frustrating to debate this, because the truth is that lots of liberals have behaved poorly and done nasty things, and when you get people posting in the comments half a dozen links to some rightwing blog it makes it appear that there might be an equivalence after all.  But there isn't. Trust me, I can use the google machine as well as any of you, and I followed all the links you posted, and there is still no equivalence. Sure, some democrats or liberal protests may have at times done or said things that are not defensible and I am not going to try to defend them. What is clear is that the conservative rejoinder of "You did it first!" is weak tea at best, and more honestly a product of self-delusion on the right.  The "liberals" cited as being "violent"  included luminaries such as Madonna, Alec Baldwin, Louis Farrakhan, Montel Williams, an anonymous Kos blogger and Alan Grayson. They range from the irrelevant to the "Who?" to the "Oh God, he's no liberal" end of the spectrum. Whereas the conservatives who fetishize guns and threaten insurrection are hugely popular LEADERS of the movement such as:

Sarah Palin

Glenn Beck fantasizes about shooting up federal agents coming to take away his gun

Glenn Beck, standing against violence, with a gun.

George Packer put it more eloquently than I could:

In fact, there is no balance—none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

It's the LEADERS of the conservative movement who use the threat/promise of violence to stoke their base and bring the voters to the polls. It was Wayne LaPierre of the NRA who said at CPAC "Our Founding Fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules," and Rep West, R-FL who said that "If ballots don't work, bullets will." It is 28% of Republicans who believe that "violent action against the government is justified," more than twice the rate of Dems or independents agreeing with that proposition.

This is a UNILATERAL phenomenon. If I say that I hope Dick Cheney suffers terribly before he goes to hell, well, that's a nasty and mean thing for me to say. It is completely unlike someone RUNNING FOR OFFICE as a Republican, saying publicly that "Our nation was founded on violence. The option is on the table. I don't think that we should ever remove anything from the table." (TX; Broden)

What I am advocating that the people saying these things knock it the fuck off. You're not helping. This map has enough "bullseyes" on it; we don't want any more.

crosshairsStrangerCover.jpg

39 comments:

  1. Susan the Neon Nurse1/11/2011 11:48 PM

    I am still trying to get my mind to put together some coherent words on all this. But I think one understandable and science-based point is that repetition changes the bell curve. Something might start out as shocking and repugnant, like shooting someone for their political views. But the more it gets repeated, the less shocking and repugnant it becomes. The less evil it seems, the more likely it is that someone will think it's morally acceptable to do. Or so it seems to me.

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  2. "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun" - Barack H. Obama.

    How about you send him an email telling him to "knock it the fuck off" too.

    Might also want to tell the Democratic Congressional Campaign the same thing for using bullseyes on a map similar to Palin's.

    And before you say "Well, bullseyes aren't the same as crosshairs", Bob Brady (who is pushing to criminalize threatening language against lawmakers) said: "You can't threaten the president with a bullseye or a crosshair."

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  3. Doctor,

    How about you sticking to your specialty--medicine--and themes for which you have some expertise -- like the politics of medical care?

    You might just consider that the shooter's mental state was observed for a very long time as abberant. Peers & colleagues even worred--and went on record--that he might engage in a school shooting.

    But...changes in laws to allow authorities to institutionalize a person that was clearly mentally unstable had long before been eliminated. Had those now obsolete policies & statutes been retained, this guy almost certainly would have been locked away in a suitable mental asylum long ago.

    Those laws were expunged by liberal/Left progressives, by the way.

    That effectively made it impossible for authorities (e.g. teacher, etc.) to take any action -- until AFTER the individual actually did something.

    Any comments on the 'do-gooder' policies that changed conditions that "tied their hands" & forced officials to be reactive rather than proactive when they observed a clearly mentally unstable, person, one they suspected of being prone to extreme violence long before he actually acted???

    THAT is the sort of thing you have discussed before (such as issues with health care laws, constraints on physicians being able to disucss fees while insurance firms can, etc.).

    There's over 300 million people in this country and only a very tiny number have acted out violently, and those have all been diagnosed with mental conditions (e.g. Hinckley, McVeigh) and now Loughner. Arguably, Loughner is the wackiest of that ilk, in this country, ever.

    People saw it coming. But the laws that let them act proactively were long ago eviserated.

    So, naturally, it MUST be because of those Repbulican's violent advertisements.

    As a doctor who's blogged, at some length, on legal nuances in health care, and one who has some understanding of psychology (even if well outside your speciality) you might want to explain how you can exclude

    - the eviseration of laws that would have, once did, allow this person to be institutionalized when identified as a threat BEFORE he acted;

    - and why, in this case, political advertising (that this nut probably never saw) was so influentional, and, why the attack on a politician is the defining varaiable given that the political advertising cited does NOT endorse indiscriminate attacks on the public--OR CHILDREN--and is made by a political party that upholds the sanctity of CHILDREN's LIFE from before birth -- given that this shooter attacked indiscriminately and attacked children. How in the blazes do you or anybody manage to ignore the totality of the facts & reframe the event relative to one person out of a group of victims???

    - why blatant mental health issues are NOT a factor, or at least subordinate to advertising.

    Its just a question -- linked to your relative expertise.

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  4. LiberalNephDoc1/12/2011 5:56 AM

    Here is an interesting discussion of violent rhetoric, from a rhetoritician, albeit a lefty one.

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/01/what-is-violent-rhetoric

    Central to the nature of rhetoric is the relationship with the audience - and therefore essential is the place of the firearm in the culture. Specifically, the totemic nature of the gun for many on the right - a practically religiosexual object of veneration - a power object in both literal and figurative terms.

    One aspect of the present milieu: we might not have more crazy people than before, but we certain have WAY more guns, and nobody is allowed to talk about regulating them.

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  5. LiberalNephDoc1/12/2011 5:58 AM

    And on the subject of guns, I have yet to hear from anyone on the right, or anyone defending the right to accumulate firearms, is an explanation of how precisely the phrase "A well regulated militia..." intersects their belief in an absolutely untrammeled right to have as many guns as they can acquire.

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  6. LiberalNephDoc:

    The US Supreme Court has ruled on the right to bear arms. Your reference to the militia, though interesting, is [at least until the Supreme Court rules otherwise] a totally irrelevant consideration, as is the right to bear one or more guns.

    BUT, the comments you & others keep raising logically leads to & supports the following conclusion:



    Of course, that's absurd...which just highlights the absurdity of trying to claim that political rhetoric is what sent Loughner to violence. THAT premise is ONLY supported by a selective inclusion & excusion of relevant facts.

    Correlation does NOT mean a cause-effect relationship exists. A cause-effect relationship might exist, but that determination requires more data/facts than mere correlation.

    Unfortunately, this blogger, for all his education, and so many others, are stopping far short of assessing all the facts in proper context.

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  7. LiberalNephDoc:

    The US Supreme Court has ruled on the right to bear arms. Your reference to the militia, though interesting, is [at least until the Supreme Court rules otherwise] a totally irrelevant consideration, as is the right to bear one or more guns.

    BUT, the comments you & others keep raising logically leads to & supports the following conclusion:



    Of course, that's absurd...which just highlights the absurdity of trying to claim that political rhetoric is what sent Loughner to violence. THAT premise is ONLY supported by a selective inclusion & excusion of relevant facts.

    Correlation does NOT mean a cause-effect relationship exists. A cause-effect relationship might exist, but that determination requires more data/facts than mere correlation.

    Unfortunately, this blogger, for all his education, and so many others, are stopping far short of assessing all the facts in proper context.

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  8. Ken,

    Politics is not a lofty endeavor. Where on earth did you get the idea that it requires any CV? You are fundamentally confused.

    -SCRN

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  9. I wonder if this kind of thing comes and goes. I can't think of any currently active violent leftist groups, but if you go back to the 70s, you can find things like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_Underground_(organization)
    Furthermore, republicans haven't always used these kinds of violent rhetoric. Hopefully people will get tired of it, and we can go back to a saner level of political discourse (at least until it's the democrats turn again :)

    Grover

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  10. I take exception to statements such as this one:

    "It's the LEADERS of the conservative movement who use the threat/promise of violence to stoke their base and bring the voters to the polls."

    True, the mouth and the head are connected here. But don't for an instant think that just because the words aren't emanating from the mouths of the "LEADERS" that the sentiment isn't there--the followers of the left are just hearing it from different sources. I cite all previously-given examples of major figures in the media and entertainment industries as proof, and the deafening silence from the "LEADERS" as further evidence of complicity among the liberal leadership.

    If the "LEADERS" were so vehemently opposed to such rhetoric from the media and entertainment industries, they would be verbalizing their opposition to it instead of accepting in silence the resulting support of their followers.

    Both sides need to shut up and talk issues--supporters and leadership alike.

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  11. The disparity in your arguments that just doesn't make sense is that on the one hand, you keep saying he was pushed over the edge by right-wing foolishness. (For the record, I agree that political discourse is stupidly acrimonious-- and the "dig your heels in" attitude spans the aisle.)

    But at the same time, you keep mentioning that the kid isn't right upstairs. To me, this kicks the legs out from under your argument that he was motivated by politics. Note that he shot a federal judge who's appointment by Bush Sr. was supported by John McCain. If there was political motivation, it was curiously placed. You might as well blame video games and song lyrics.

    I think you should stick to blogging about medicine. There is a surplus of raging opinions on the shooting right now, and an unfortunate dearth of good writing about medicine.

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  12. Doctor,

    Here's what we know:

    Some mentally unstable person shot a bunch of people, young & old, one of whom was a politician.

    The politician was a democrat.

    Republicans & Democrats use rhetorical advertising that, in some cases, has violent sub-themes. The Republican's are worse in this regard--it is alleged.

    Therefore, we can conclude that this individual was motivated to shoot a bunch of people due to the Republican's advertising ONLY.

    This means that, without support or other basis, we/some have concluded that the Democrats lesser violent, but nevertheless violent, advertising did NOT contribute to the mentally unstable person's behavior.

    There's no foundation for that.

    There's no foundation for inferring the shooter's motive/motiviations.

    There's no foundation to even assume the shooter watched ANY political advertising of a violent nature -- how many such ads were broadcast in his viewing/listening area? So far, NONE have been cited.

    DOCTOR - review your blog entry some time back where you noted how doctors sometimes visited the ER for very serious life-threatening conditions that turned out to be nothing. You noted this in regard to the new health care legislation & how it mandates that insurers not pay for such erroneous visits.

    Consider: if doctors--medical experts--can misdiagnose a complete set of medical symptoms so often...how in the blazes can you or anyone link a severly mentally unstable person's violent behavior (predicted to occur by others long before it happened) in the absence of all the facts?

    THAT IS INSANE. You really do know better.

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  13. TO Anonymous said:

    RE: "Politics is not a lofty endeavor. Where on earth did you get the idea that it requires any CV? You are fundamentally confused."

    Yep. Confused. The above makes no sense to anything I wrote. It appears to make an inference & draw a conclusion (that politics requires any CV [whatever "CV" is, curriculum vitae?]) that is disconnected to anything I wrote or conveyed.

    Maybe you meant that for someone else?

    If not, your communication skills failed you this time.

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  14. AGH
    WHY is it that any attempt to discuss a general environment in political discourse is met with a reaction as though those calling for discussion are saying "y'all killed these people"?

    Elsejournal, I commented the below:

    [blockquote]Honestly, a national conversation on WTF are you all thinking, calling for heads from the national stage is LONG overdue, and certainly should have happened back in March, when there were a bunch of death threats after the health care vote, several congressional offices were vandalized/otherwise attacked, and someone most definitely tried to harm a VA congressman after a quite thinly veiled suggestion.

    That nobody actually /did/ get hurt doesn't make any of it more acceptable or less scary. It's because of that constant rhetoric that my first thought on hearing that Giffords had been shot was it was only a matter of time.

    And that this time the gunman seems to have had his own stalking sh*t going on doesn't mean that the whole "hey, maybe we should try actually having debate instead of demonization" conversation is suddenly immaterial.

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  15. Sorry, friend, but the implicit threat of violence if the government oversteps its authority too far is the only thing that keeps the government in check. This is what the founding fathers understood when they insured that the right to bear arms not be abridged. This is what Thomas Jefferson explicitly said and the continental congress agreed to when he declared that "...when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

    Governments have never abdicated despotism peacefully. Jefferson also taught us "When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."

    Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, Mao, Chavez, Castro all understood this, and the first thing they did upon seizing power was confiscate private firearms.

    When Kennedy was shot by a communist, the first thing the news said was "No doubt a right wing extremist". No such words about left wing extremists when Reagan was shot or when there was an attempt on Ford's life. You liberals think that just because conservatives understand and value the means that secure our liberty that it somehow makes us a menace to society.

    Your point that heated political rhetoric drives nutcases to take up arms seems to me to be an unsubstantiated conclusion. The question I think is more pertinent, is that - as I understand it - the Pima county sheriff was present at this event where the massacre happened. Why is the shooter still alive?

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  16. Is no one else bother that the general response seems to be that we need to be careful what we say because some mentally unbalanced person might use that as an excuse to kill someone?

    Should this standard be expanded beyond politics? How about movies? Anyone seen Saw? Music? Violent lyrics abound. Video games? Books?

    Where do we draw the line

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  17. Yep...its only the the conservatives that really provide the graphic political imagery & instigations:

    http://www.aei.org/article/27371

    http://michellemalkin.com/2006/08/31/assassination-chic/

    http://michellemalkin.com/2008/01/17/the-statistical-proof-of-liberal-intolerance/

    AND, here's a famous elected liberal's power of analysis:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNZczIgVXjg

    Of course, the end justifies the means--even in a republic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ-6ebku3_E

    And don't forget the now-infamous Left Wing video, 'No Pressure' about taking action on global warming by reducing one's carbon footprint -- it only showed, in gratuitous detail, two elementary school children in class exploding messily on everyone around, an athelete explode messily on all around, a couple of office workers exploding messily on their peers in the building lobby, and Jillian Anderson (X-Files actress) exploding messily in the sound book after narrating this thing. Discussed at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Pressure_(film) If you want to see it you can find it....

    Of course, all that pales relative to the Republican imagery used....crosshairs & so forth...

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  18. Ken,

    You wrote, "How about you sticking to your specialty--medicine--and themes for which you have some expertise -- like the politics of medical care?"

    My post is valid. You stand corrected.

    -SCRN

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  19. I believe some of the folks commenting about this post are missing the salient points:

    "He may not have known how Rep Gifford voted on Cap and Trade, but he probably had seen ads like this…...Did these cause the shooter to pick up his gun and go the supermarket? Of course not. Were they part of the environment that led him to think that shooting people was an option? Possibly."

    and ignoring the only real question:

    "Is this a useful and valuable contribution to the political discourse?"

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  20. I believe some of the folks commenting about this post are missing the salient points:

    "He may not have known how Rep Gifford voted on Cap and Trade, but he probably had seen ads like this…...Did these cause the shooter to pick up his gun and go the the supermarket? Of course not. Were they part of the environment that led him to think that shooting people was an option? Possibly."

    and ignoring the only real question:

    "Is this a useful and valuable contribution to the political discourse?"

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  21. Universally, the comments were along the lines of: Liberals do it too ... The shooter was a liberal.

    Nice straw man ya got there ... Oops. Did I just incite violence? Here's an actual point you have made no attempt to seriously address:

    It has been more than 100 hours since this shooting occurred and no one has produced a scrap of evidence that political rhetoric or pictures of ex-governors holding firearms had anything to do with the event.

    Yet you continue to exploit this thing to gratify your moral vanity.

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  22. The lack of logic in your argument is astounding. It isn't relevant whatsoever that the shooter was a liberal.....? Contortionist thinking on your part.

    You'll be happy to note that Palin is now getting tons of death threats...and I'm pretty sure they aren't coming from the right. How is it that lefties are now threatening conservatives? Since they're so non-violent and all....

    I am removing your blog from my feed. You apparently only want liberal followers. Good luck to you and your family.

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  23. Does anyone remember years ago when several hurricanes hit Florida, causing all sorts of damage and destruction? Does anyone remember how some people actually claimed that somehow President Bush was to blame for these hurricanes? Remember that? It was actually somehow George W. Bush's fault for a hurricane. That craziness still tops this, but claiming anything other than mental illness and the mind of a crazy person is responsible for what happened with this 22-year old is not far behind. Step back just a bit. Better yet, take a closer look at the actual information that has now come out and somehow try to relate a cause and effect. For sure, all sorts of people of all sorts of political persuasions say and write all sorts of things. Let’s just agree that all sorts of really bad things are being said and printed. To claim any of those things caused this shooting is, well, just about as crazy as George Bush causing a hurricane – or at least as crazy as this shooting is. In fact, why don’t we just blame Bush himself for this shooting? Oh that’s right, we blame Palin for these things now.

    I mean, really, you are making yourself look nuts. All politics aside, nothing and everything caused this shooting. I had so much more respect for you than this. Perhaps we can blame all of the added stress you have undoubtedly been under over the past weeks/months. Hopefully you'll return to normal again soon.

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  24. This post as a response to the comments on your previous post is more than aggravating. You asked for information and you were provided it. I don't believe it was all good or pertinent information but you use this post to downplay all of the comments. For instance, your condescending list of the examples you were giving deliberately leaves out Obama's statements that are fully applicable to what you are trying to address. Why? Because mentioning that would be contrary to your goal.

    The previous post was an excellent example of the attacks that are made on both sides without any recognition of fallibility. Today, you have very well represented the other tone that I think represents our lack of civil discourse and that is being dismissive of the other side's argument. You have effectively taken all of the input you received and told all of those people that their opinions don't matter and their arguments are garbage.

    This type of attitude leads to an escalation of arguments, rhetoric, and vitriol because the dismissed party feels the only way their views will be heard is if they scream louder. I suspect that the Arizona shooter's ideas being dismissed (rightly, in his case) is more likely to have driven him over the edge than the words or pictures he may have heard or seen from any politician. He was nuts, but instead of people listening to him and addressing him as a person, he was dismissed. So he got loud. (This is speculation but seems to fit.)

    If you would really like to see a change to the discourse in this country, you must model it. This means recognizing the arguments of both sides, no matter what the topic, presenting a rational argument without accusation, and accepting that you won't convince everyone. I have tried to do that with this comment. I doubt I have convinced you of anything but that's life.

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  25. Well, I have to agree with you. Thank you for taking the time out of a busy life to write such a thoughtful post.

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  26. The tea party message has been repeatedly, if you don't like your government change it with violent overthrow. and the republican party has welcomed the tea party into their party. Sarah Palin is the darling of the tea party and she was the republican VP candidate last go round.

    The message has been if we don't like the results of elections, use guns.

    That message is coming from tea party candidates who have been welcomed with open arms into the republican party.

    Its been accepted as a mainstream political message. This Loughner fellow was doing what Sharon Angle told said was OK. Whether he did it because she said it was ok or not is another question. But she said it would be ok to do it.

    Did she not?

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  27. Movin Meat
    You nailed it. Thank you.

    Of course this tragedy happened because this guy was not stable.
    Of course he did not do this because of the Republican leaders indirectly told him to.
    BUT he was awash as we all are with this thick hysterical US vs THEM mentality that certainly did NOT help him or his mental health state.

    I am involved in a primary care
    mental health integration project to help people get from my office to psychiatry easier without hassles and insurance roadblocks and obviously he needed some serious anti psychotics.

    How ironic that this troubled man likely would have benefited from the new health care law that is being demonized as a 'government takeover'.

    Newsflash :Medicare and Medicaid have been taking care of the elderly the poor for a generation or two and this is not demonized as SOCIALISM or a government takeover!


    My best thoughts to the survivors friends and family of the victims and a big thank you to the nurses and neurosurgeons who stabilized Congresswoman Giffords and the other survivors of the slaughter.

    Tom from Maine

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  28. Looking from outside the USA, why is it that most people in the USA are extreme in their politics to the point where no one wants co-operation between the two? No wonder the USA's economy is in the dumpster and the country itself is circling the drain. All I can do is listen and feel pity and appreciate that I live in a country that hasn't reached that point of violence.

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  29. The other day, one of my favorite local schizophrenics accused me of being part of "The Jewish Conspiracy". I asked him what that was, and he rambled on about Jews trying to control us with television and sending messages to other Jews via television that will be used in some ill-defined plot to otherthrow something-or-other. This rant went on like 10 minutes.

    I then wrote to The History Channel and told them to stop putting so many of those damned holocaust programs on because it might cause this man to want to gas Jewish people. I mean, he wasn't really into the whole Jewish thing.

    I also wrote the FCC and FBI and Secret Service to suggest that all television viewing should go through a focus-group of schizophrenics who are off their meds or new-onset and not-yet-medicated and should be filtered in such a way that none of them can misinterpret anything.

    Finally, I wrote a really nice diary on the DailyKos and got 1.5 million people in the Pacific Northwest to support my opinion and co-sign a petition to eliminated holocaust programs from the History Channel and replace them with more shows like American Pickers where people dig through garbage...the homeless schizophrenic population will certainly be more into that.

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  30. It does amaze me that so many of my conservative friends try to make the 'equivalence' argument. They cite Olbermann and Maddow, etc. Well, as you point out, they are not leaders or political figures. ... and if you examine their rhetoric, it is scathing and condescending, but it is NOT filled with violent imagery.

    It seems to me that my conservative friends are burying their heads in the sand with regard to how one-sided this behavior really is.

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  31. "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun" - Barack H. Obama.

    ... That's a metaphor ... Folks should recognize the difference.

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  32. RR,

    All I ask for is consistency of argument. Why is it that you think Beck, Rush, etc are Conservative leaders but Olberman, Maddow, Stewart, etc are not Liberal leaders? They hold very similar positions.

    Why is it okay for Obama to use a "violent" metaphor but not Palin? When she tweeted "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" do you believe she was literally trying to stop people from running away and trying to get them to reload their guns. No. This is a metaphor almost identical in intent to Obama's "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." They were both trying to rally supporters who were seeing challenges come their way.

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  33. Jane E. Smith1/14/2011 11:42 PM

    I have to say this. As the mother of a 25 year old mentally ill son I am almost outraged that the focus has been torn away from the victims of this sick young man. All day the concern was for Mrs. Giffords and barely any mention of the other dead or injured. Everyone, including the sheriff, looked for places to blame and targeted political conservatives. Who the hell cares? I spent most of my son's adolescence and young adulthood intervening, trying to keep him from killing a sibling or someone else. I've seen him turn like Jekyll to Hyde in a minute. I begged doctors and schools and insurance companies and employee crisis managers for help. We saw multiple psychiatrists who misdiagnosed and misprescribed drugs which worsened his behavior, made him gain over 60 pounds or drugged him completely. He's now properly medicated and living successfully on his own, but we'll always have to keep one eye open. Loughner was visibly disturbed from all accounts. Where was his intervention? His father sounds as though he tried to get help, too. Spend less time worrying about political wordplay and look at the real problem and the real victims.

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  34. Nurse K, apparently you haven't been watching to History Channel documentaries or maybe you don't understand what happened to the Jews in WWII.

    Did you know that there really wasn't an international Jewish conspiracy? If you watched those shows you would learn that.

    You learn about an international Jewish conspiracy from extreme right wing web sites and Pat Buchanan, not the History Channel.

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  35. Thanks, Shadowfax for the two very thoughtful posts on this topic.

    I agree that the shooter's unfortunate actions were probably not so much motivated by political issues, as they perhaps were--at least partially--cultivated by the strikingly disturbing rhetoric that permeates TV, radio, the internet, etc. And yes, most of this rhetoric is manifested by the right.

    For someone who likley was living in very socially isolated circumstances, and lacked an ability to accurately test boundaries,this rhetoric can have a very damaging effect.

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  36. Have you noticed that the shooter is now recognized as a "Bush Hater" just like you? So it doesn't seem like any of the liberal commentators had anything to do with it huh? The ones screaming the "Hate Bush" rhetoric?

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  37. As I saw the picture surface of the shooter it was evident from his eyes and facial expression that he clearly needs psychiatric help. I am guessing this did not occur merely that day so one wonders how he should have access to guns..unless they were illegal guns. I own guns and theya re locked away. If I had a child with a psych disorder I would clearly protect him and others by making sure he does not have access to these weapons.
    As for the political rhetoric..yes it needs to be toned down on both sides since it is ineffective and apparently now destructive. However, those adds..although they do not appeal to me, should not invoke a ridiculous action such as shooting someone but here we are not talking about a rational person. When poeple make ads they don't try to figure out how the crazy person will react to it..nor should they. We might as well not have any media or entertainment if that is the case.
    I think when people are referring to forefathers and the willingness to pick up a gun they are trying to communicate their real fear of tyranny or the gov't overstepping it's boundaries. However..they communicate it badly and sensationally and probably little understanding of the American Revolution.
    Are there reasons to bear arms againt tyranny..yes..are we presented with that tyranny now...no!
    Being seen with a typical handgun or rifle in many of our "red states" is not unusual or shocking. Having lived in Alaska it is probably safe to say most people there own one. (The machine gun is dumb unless one is touring a military facility.) In the Pacific Northwest and in most urban-mid to high level socioeconomic families and cultural centers it is probably very shocking..but I bet those ads weren't produced for those areas.

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  38. You might want to read the latest edition of Newsweek, which seems to have a pretty balanced review--AFTER they had a chance to find & assess the relevant facts. Here's a couple of key facts:

    1. In 2007 the shooter was rebuffed by the politician during a question and answer session. From that point forward he held a grudge that he nursed continuously.

    2. The shooter didn't watch much TV/political ads -- so those don't have any real relevance at all. See: Friend says shooter didn’t watch the news or listen to talk radio & was a-political: http://freedomslighthouse.net/2011/01/12/friend-of-alleged-tucson-shooter-says-loughner-did-not-listen-to-news-or-talk-radio-video-11211/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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  39. Haven't read much of the comments here, but what are you thoughts about the infamous President Bush assassination movie?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/01/AR2006090100858.html

    Or the "BusHitler" posters, photos, etc.

    Violent rhetoric is pretty standard fare for both sides of the aisle. If a Republican is running the show, the Dems says he's the worst thing since Hitler. If a Democrat is in office, the Reps say he's the worst thing since Stalin.

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