Patterico's Pontifications


Dreadful Irony: Lawmaker Seeks to Pass Ban Outlawing Target Images on Maps

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:33 pm

It’s been a long, hard slog, my friends, but we have finally reached it: the absolute pinnacle of cynical exploitation of the Giffords shooting:

Representative Bob Brady of Pennsylvania told The Caucus he plans to introduce a bill that would ban symbols like that now-infamous campaign crosshair map.

“You can’t threaten the president with a bullseye or a crosshair,” Mr. Brady, a Democrat, said, and his measure would make it a crime to do so to a member of Congress or federal employee, as well.

Asked if he believed the map incited the gunman in Tucson, he replied, “I don’t know what’s in that nut’s head. I would rather be safe than sorry.”

He continued, “This is not a wakeup call. This is a major alarm going off. We need to be more civil with each other. We need to tone down this rhetoric.”

There is, of course, a constitutional problem with this — and here is where the dreadful irony comes in. Because the constitutional problem is aptly summed up by the language of the First Amendment — which is read in this video by . . . Gabrielle Giffords:

This is as good a time as any to link Jack Shafer’s excellent defense of inflamed rhetoric:

Embedded in Sheriff Dupnik’s ad hoc wisdom were several assumptions. First, that strident, anti-government political views can be easily categorized as vitriolic, bigoted, and prejudicial. Second, that those voicing strident political views are guilty of issuing Manchurian Candidate-style instructions to commit murder and mayhem to the “unbalanced.” Third, that the Tucson shooter was inspired to kill by political debate or by Sarah Palin’s “target” map or other inflammatory outbursts. Fourth, that we should calibrate our political speech in such a manner that we do not awaken the Manchurian candidates among us.

And, fifth, that it’s a cop’s role to set the proper dimensions of our political debate. Hey, Dupnik, if you’ve got spare time on your hands, go write somebody a ticket.

Sheriff Dupnik’s political sermon came before any conclusive or even circumstantial proof had been offered that the shooter had been incited by anything except the gas music from Jupiter playing inside his head.

For as long as I’ve been alive, crosshairs and bull’s-eyes have been an accepted part of the graphical lexicon when it comes to political debates. Such “inflammatory” words as targeting, attacking, destroying, blasting, crushing, burying, knee-capping, and others have similarly guided political thought and action. Not once have the use of these images or words tempted me or anybody else I know to kill. I’ve listened to, read—and even written!—vicious attacks on government without reaching for my gun. I’ve even gotten angry, for goodness’ sake, without coming close to assassinating a politician or a judge.

From what I can tell, I’m not an outlier. Only the tiniest handful of people—most of whom are already behind bars, in psychiatric institutions, or on psycho-meds—can be driven to kill by political whispers or shouts. Asking us to forever hold our tongues lest we awake their deeper demons infantilizes and neuters us and makes politicians no safer.

Beautifully said.

If we allow a group of cynical posturers to constrain our speech, we are tossing overboard the ideals of the First Amendment — the very provision that Rep. Giffords was so proud to read on the floor of the House. It is times like these when it is especially important to stand up and say: criminals are responsible for their own actions, and we plan to continue using strong political rhetoric where it is warranted, thank you very much.

And we’re not going to allow you to pretend that the one is responsible for the other.

41 Responses to “Dreadful Irony: Lawmaker Seeks to Pass Ban Outlawing Target Images on Maps”

  1. I’m generally displeased with inflamed rhetoric because I think it encourages people to respond viscerally and emotionally rather than thoughtfully …

    and this bill is a clear and flagrant violation of the first amendment which deserves to be defeated.

    aphrael (fe2ce4)

  2. Lots of commenters here have expressed concerns and qualms and quibbles about inflamed rhetoric in the past but me I like it fine.

    Mr. Brady is a very silly man.

    happyfeet (aa4bab)

  3. Here is a question for all you legal eagles:

    I find it striking that Sheriff Dupnik is constantly taking to the podium or giving interviews as if he is the cheif ass in a four mule team.

    Did the shooting not take place in Tucson proper? If so, why is that media whore, Dupnik acting like he is in charge? Tucson has a police department with a cheif named Villasenor. It seems to me the pecking order would be Tucson P.D., Arizona State Police and then the Feds. I don’t see why Pima County would have anything to do with the investigation in any way and that Pima County Sheriff’s Department would only have jurisdiction in the unincorporated areas of Pima County.


    retire05 (e0b7e7)

  4. Retire05: my understanding is that the shopping center was actual outside Tucson proper.

    The complaint was filed in US District Court. Since Judge Roll was a judge in that court, I’ve been wonderinf if there’s a conflict of interest problem which would force the other judges to recuse themselves.

    aphrael (fe2ce4)

  5. First off – this is ridiculous. The political opportunism here is despicable. Sarah Palin, TEA Parties, none of that stuff drove this crazy dude to shoot people. Full stop.

    But … Personally, having heard a bit of Glenn Beck, having seen that Drudge is now linking to the execrable Alex Jones (, and having seen Mr. Jones interviewed on Fox News, I have to wonder. When will this fostering of paranoia result in actual harm to someone? I remember that Bill Clinton blamed Rush Limbaugh for the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, and that was ridiculous. But, as some of this crazy stuff mainstreams, isn’t it likely that we will someday seem violence that is related to this? A 9/11 truther shot up the holocaust museum; how long before an Obama “birther” does something similarly tragic?

    My musings above do not absolve the liberal opportunists who have decided to capitalize on the Palin “target” meme. They are scumbags and deserve to be mocked. Just curious if anyone shares my view on the paranoia thing. I have a crazy uncle who emails me a lot of this stuff, and it’s getting pretty intense.

    carlitos (a3d259)

  6. It wouldn’t be much of an improvement;

    narciso (6075d0)

  7. Obama will probably appoint an independent/bipartisan Tsar to review campaign literature and rhetoric to prevent future problems. He doesn’t seem to care about the Constitution, so it’s all good.

    daleyrocks (e7bc4f)

  8. daleyrocks,

    True. They say the best jokes have an element of truth but this is a little too true.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  9. #4, it is my understand that another judge, not of that district, will sit the bench due to the murder of Judge Roll. Perhaps there will be a change of venue, for that exact reason.

    If you will notice in the Fed’s filing, they only list the deaths of two of Gifford’s people, the shooting of Gifford, and the federal judge but not for the murder of the 9 year old little girl. (Legal Insurrection has it posted)

    The little girl’s murder, as I understand it, will be a state issue.

    Never the less, I have not heard anyone say the Safeway was outside the city limits of Tucson.

    retire05 (e0b7e7)

  10. ‘“You can’t threaten the president with a bullseye or a crosshair,” Mr. Brady, a Democrat, said, and his measure would make it a crime to do so to a member of Congress or federal employee, as well.’

    Why bother? It’s already against the law to advocate the desirability of assassinating government officials. You could use the Smith Act against people who do that any old time.

    it’s already the law…1A or no 1A.

    Dave Surls (ae4fca)

  11. Retire05: the murder of the girl is properly a state issue – the feds only get jurisdiction over the other ones because it’s the murder of federal officials.

    I recall someone on KGUN saying it was outside the limits while I was listening yesterday, but of course I can’t link to that.

    aphrael (fe2ce4)

  12. A relative of mine worked for Tucson PD … you don’t want to hear my opinion of the idea of having to watch Tucson’s chief versus Dupnik. Both make me nauseous.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  13. To date no one has shown that this lunatic accessed or was expsoed to the supposed provocation on Palin’s website or anything else.

    As a New Yorker, I am exposed each election cycle to Dem pols who scream they will “fight” for me. Who are they fighting exactly? If you took that verb away from Chuck Schumer or Anthony Weiner, they would have nothing to say at all.

    The totally uncovered story is that this loon was drenched in the nonjudgmental culture of habitual drug use. Even if you lean to the libertarian side of things (as I do) drug advocates of all stripes have for too long failed to acknowledge that such danegrous behaviors can have consequences not just to the user(which is often tragic enough) but to others.

    Bugg (996c34)

  14. #11, thanks, aphrael

    #12, my best friend was Tucson FD. He stayed there only two years before he joined a FD in Texas. He said it was pretty political, even worse than the one he is in now. Considering he is a hard core conservative (and former military) it must be a pretty liberal town.

    retire05 (e0b7e7)

  15. Checked on it. The shooting happened in Casa Adobe, which is part of the Tucson metro area. That is why the lame brained sheriff can play top ass of the four mule team.

    retire05 (e0b7e7)

  16. So in less than 48 hours we’ve gone full circle, first as tragedy then as farce. I seem to recall this process as taking much longer in the past – say, decades. But the Dems have sure speeded up that cycle into hyperdrive – those that have no shame have no need to question their own actions.

    Dmac (498ece)

  17. To date no one has shown that this lunatic accessed or was expsoed to the supposed provocation on Palin’s website or anything else.

    I’ve not seen anything that has shown that. But seriously, and unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter. The fix is in.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  18. Tucson is a great town but the political environment is pretty bad. It’s about like Austin Texas. The sheriff looked like a fool but that is pretty common in these days. The former Orange County sheriff is on his way to prison.

    Mike K (568408)

  19. On the bright side, some of the hair sprayed reporter types might discover the simple beauty of Tuscon-style carne seca (machaca).

    Sorry, too soon?

    carlitos (a3d259)

  20. What gets me is how Sheriff Dupnik wants to go back to the time when “politicans worked together” like when he was younger. I wonder if that includes the days when JFK, RFK, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and MalcolmX were assassinated and the Weatherman Underground and SDS were blowing shit up and killing fellow Americans.

    If anyone thinks the “rhetoric” is worse than it has ever been, you didn’t live through the 60’s.

    Burr/Hamilton history, anyone?

    retire05 (e0b7e7)

  21. So, the OC, wasn’t entirely fictional, Mike K.

    narciso (6075d0)

  22. I think you need to assert your second amendment right and bring guns to where ever Obama speaks as well. That should make you feel manly.

    TGF (c00d8e)

  23. Time to look at a positive in this situation. Sounds like the “Heros of Tuscon” behaved like Tea Party Patriots. My bet, the Tea Party folk at the Safeway saved many lives. Who would you rather have as your buddy in a fight? Sarah Palin or Keith Olbermann?

    CleanItUpJackass (d4485e)

  24. TGF – Giffords was a big gun rights supporter, but you already knew that, right.

    daleyrocks (e7bc4f)

  25. Daley – TGF is one of those jack wagon drive-bys.

    JD (d4bbf1)

  26. How that “2nd Amendment remedies” thing workin’ out for ya teabaggers?

    TGF (c00d8e)

  27. How do my balls taste, William?

    JD (d4bbf1)

  28. To be clear, if you’re using this event to criticize the “rhetoric” of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you’re either: (a) asserting a connection between the “rhetoric” and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you’re not, in which case you’re just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?

    Mr Insty asked you a question, Yelverton. Which is it?

    JD (d4bbf1)

  29. Hey Hey Ho Ho … Target stores have got to go !!

    Chant with me now …

    LukeHandCool (765277)

  30. Perhaps we should ban 5,000 year old dogs named Sam.

    Bill G. (b45fa3)

  31. What’s hilarious, JD, is that Glenn should be the kind of person Yelverton admires. But Glenn has no use for the kind of lies Yelverton trucks in either.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  32. Which side was Sirhan Sirhan on?

    P. Aaron (e3c168)

  33. P.Aaron, Sirhan Sirhan was a Jordanian Palestinian. he was upset at Robert Kennedy’s refusal to see the Middle East conflict from the POV of the Palestinians.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  34. Weird how the lefty response is to try and outlaw something they don’t like as opposed to something actually related to the crime; like maybe a law requiring drug-testing before gun sales, or requiring colleges to report students who are expelled for bad behavior to gun shops.

    Not that either of those is necessarily a good idea, but at least they’re directly related to the incident in question.

    Gregory of Yardale (db9fb3)

  35. Is there a liberal commenter on this thread that will denounce this concrete, inarguable attempt by the language police in our government to suppress speech?

    Birdbath (8501d4)

  36. Any excuse to enact censorship (read: handicap one’s political opposition) brings out the supposedly ‘liberal-minded’ in droves.

    Icy Texan (d3f791)

  37. That should make you feel manly.

    Not as much as your purely projection – based reality. Do a quick check down your pants before you post again – it’s quite pathetic.

    Dmac (498ece)

  38. Interesting that they never thought to have a bill like this when Bush was president. Oh, that’s right the left never do things like that!

    Rich (88e11d)

  39. The left – at least its neo-wing faction – will always swing for the fence. For every Bob Brady bill, there’s a potential Don Imus victory. Control the language, control through intimidation.

    Vermont Neighbor (936f21)

  40. That mannequin hanged in effigy doesn’t look anything like Palin. It looks a lot smarter.

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

  41. wrong thread 🙁

    Chris Hooten (2b9678)

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