Sunday, January 09, 2011

Words have consequences

When I heard about the shootings in Arizona today, I thought that surely the vast majority of reasonable people would wake up and recognize that the climate of vitriol and violent rhetoric that has engulfed this country in the last two years contributed to this tragedy. I was wrong. Many of my conservative friends assert that this was just the work of a disturbed mind and that the anti-government rhetoric, the talk of "second amendment remedies," the use of violent imagery in our political discourse had nothing to do with it.

Since my son has schizophrenia, which it appears the shooter could possibly have, this tragedy has made me think a lot about what could ever push him to commit a crime like this. Fortunately Gabriel's delusions and paranoia usually involve the Russian mob and the Mafia, not the government. But I got to thinking...what if our political extremists were calling Obama and the Democrats mobsters instead of socialists? What if Obama were pictured as a Mafia boss on all those protest signs, instead of Hitler, Stalin, or Lenin? What if the right wingnuts were scaring the public about mob hits, instead of re-education camps? And what if talk of using "second amendment remedies" or "hello Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson" led him to go buy a gun? I have no doubt that if that rhetoric was bombarding him constantly, it could push him over the edge.

I whole heartedly agree with Sheriff Dupnik of Pima County AZ: " Let me just say one thing, because people tend to poo-poo this business about all the vitriole that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech. But it's not without consequences."


Thom said...

The events are sickening enough on their own. Then I saw Sarah Palin's map of politicians who must be "hit" with little targets over their jurisdiction. Aparrently she achieved a hit yesterday and is, of course, completely unapolgetic. She and those like her are nothing more than common thugs who are quite literally, getting away with murder.

No accountability, no consequences.

Galen said...

So many of us have warned over the last 2 years that the climate of hate and violent rhetoric would lead to something like this. And now that it has happened, is the right taking stock of itself and its responsibility? Hell, no! After reading the comments of conservative friends on FB and commentary around the web, I found that the right is writing it off as the work of a crazy man in a vacuum, and is already castigating the left for daring to suggest that the violent rhetoric created the climate for it to happen! I'm heartsick, Thom.