For any sane person, to ask the question is to answer it. I’ll take inflamed rhetoric that is honest any day, over a pack of lies and smears — no matter how calm and restrained.
That was, of course, the point I was making earlier when I wrote a post that read, in its entirety:
As an observer of decorum and civility, I would just like to calmly ask you right-wingers to stop inciting mass murder with your hateful and violent rhetoric.
Conservatives who have watched liberals blame them for an awful shooting understand exactly what I mean when I say this: that issuing a brutally ugly and false accusation, while wearing a mask of smiles and civility, is not civil. It is ugly and partisan and disgusting — far more so than any inflamed rhetoric, as long as that rhetoric is honest — and free from actual threats of violence. (To illustrate the difference: “We need to target our political opponents!” is not an actual threat. “If I ever meet up with you, I swear to god I’ll fucking kill you!” is.)
At this moment, when conservatives are being taken to task for allegedly inflamed rhetoric, we must not allow the debate to be framed for us. We must explain that calmly and dishonestly linking Sarah Palin to a brutal murder by a deranged nutcase is far more reprehensible than engaging in honest and spirited rhetoric.
I have been saying this all weekend — and if you’re a weekday only reader, you owe it to yourself to scroll down and even hit the next page so that I don’t have to repeat myself.
But I say we need to target the liars; we need to attack and bury our opponents who try to link conservatives to this shooting; we need to stomp dishonesty into the ground and kick it in the ribs until it is left broken and bleeding.
I feel perfectly comfortable in my own skin saying that. I would rather scream such “inflamed rhetoric” from the rooftops than I would put on an oily and reptilian grin, fold my hands together, and calmly intone words that falsely try to smear my political opponents with the murder of a nine year-old child.
The former is an impassioned argument. The latter is cynical, nasty, and yes, evil.
By this point we know these people have no conscience, so there is no point in trying to shame them. Instead, we have to stop them. By killing them? Uh, no. By pointing out their lies. Each and every time they tell them.
It’s time to get angry. In that vein, let me now offer you this fantastic clip of Bill O’Reilly lashing out at the liars. It’s absolutely perfect — right up to the last 10-15 seconds, when he ruins the whole thing with a pathetic attempt at balancing everything out (oh, and also, right-wingers should not be hateful.). Do yourself a favor: watch it, luxuriate in his righteous anger — and then shut it off around 8:02 so the effect isn’t ruined.
All weekend, we have heard that we just don’t know what motivated Jared Loughner — but regardless of whether the evidence is there, recent events certainly raise the issue of whether he was motivated by extreme right-wing rhetoric.
Forgive me if it sounds like I am co-opting the “we don’t know, but let’s raise this partisan non-sequitur anyway” format, but I have some questions about our friend Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. And unlike the questions our lefty friends have been raising, these questions seem legitimate.
At this point, we just don’t know whether Sheriff Dupnik missed (or deliberately passed up) an opportunity to prosecute Jared Lee Loughner for criminal threats, possibly preventing a tragedy.
And we just don’t know whether that is the reason that Dupnik has been thrilling cynical lefties with his brazen partisan politicization of the Giffords shooting.
But regardless of whether the evidence is there, recent events certainly raise the issue of whether local law enforcement officials in this country spew partisan nonsense to divert people’s attention from their own failings.
As someone who works in law enforcement, I am well aware that it is all too easy for members of the public to play Monday morning quarterback and accuse law enforcement of having dropped the ball. That said, Dupnik has certainly acted more like a shrill lefty New York Times columnist than like a sheriff devoted to things like evidence. What’s more, a blog called The Cholla Jumps is making some direct accusations:
This is the report that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has been dreading since the tragic event on Saturday January 8.
The sheriff has been editorializing and politicizing the event since he took the podium to report on the incident. His blaming of radio personalities and bloggers is a pre-emptive strike because Mr. Dupnik knows this tragedy lays at his feet and his office. Six people died on his watch and he could have prevented it. He needs to step up and start apologizing to the families of the victims instead of spinning this event to serve his own political agenda.
. . . .
Jared Loughner has been making death threats by phone to many people in Pima County including staff of Pima Community College, radio personalities and local bloggers. When Pima County Sheriff’s Office was informed, his deputies assured the victims that he was being well managed by the mental health system. It was also suggested that further pressing of charges would be unnecessary and probably cause more problems than it solved as Jared Loughner has a family member that works for Pima County. Amy Loughner is a Natural Resource specialist for the Pima County Parks and Recreation. My sympathies and my heart goes out to her and the rest of Mr. Loughner’s family. This tragedy must be tearing them up inside wondering if they had done the right things in trying to manage Jared’s obvious mental instability.
Is there anything to this? Certainly the blogger is correct that Loughner had threatened people and acted bizarre, and that Pima law enforcement knew about this. Even absent this “The Cholla Jumps” post, we certainly know — because Dupnik has admitted it — that Loughner had been called to the attention of Pima law enforcement before, specifically in connection with death threats.
We know that the Arizona Daily Starreported on January 8 that:
The suspected shooter has made death threats before and been contacted by law-enforcement officers, but the threats weren’t against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Dupnik said. The suspect is unstable, Dupnik said, but the sheriff would not say he is “insane.”
“As we understand it, there have been law enforcement contacts with the individual where he made threats to kill,” Dupnik said during a press conference Saturday evening. But he wouldn’t say who those threats were aimed at.
We know that CBS News reported that Lougher’s community college professor had called 911:
“Class started and, five minutes later, he raised his hand. I guess he got the idea. He asked, ‘Could I go to the library and do the assignment and come back before class is over and turn it in for full credit?’ And I said, ‘No, that it would be half-credit, because it was due at the beginning.’ And again, he started his rant about the Constitution, pointing to the flag, pointing to the Constitution up at the front of the room, and at that point, he wouldn’t stop, so I asked the students to be calm and wait, and at that point I went to the next room, and alerted my lab staff that there was a situation, and I called 911.”
Hill asked, “Were you fearful for your safety or for the safety of your other students at that point? Did he seem that he was violent in any way?”
Scheidemantel answered, “He was not violent in any way, and he did not threaten anyone directly. But I did feel uneasy. I know the students were feeling uneasy. And so we called 911, and two officers came out. They removed him from the room and talked to him for awhile, and then one of the officers came to talk to me.”
Scheidemantel said the school and police backed her up appropriately.
“Pima, I have to commend them. Backed me up and was right there. One officer talked to him for about a half-hour outside the classroom, and I think they realized that he was not thinking rationally, and the other officer mentioned something about maybe special ed or whatever.
I’d like to hear that 911 tape.
I’d like to see those police reports.
I’m interested enough, in fact, that I am filing an open records law request for the documents. Do I expect the Dupster to comply? Well, willful violation of the law can lead to damages, so . . . we’ll have to see.
As for The Cholla Jumps, I am trying to get in touch with the author of the post, to ask: Who are you? What’s your evidence? Whom did Loughner threaten?
There are limited answers to some of those questions already.
His “About” page at his blog says Kelley is a Navy veteran who was “a Balkan area, Middle East North Africa, Southwest Asia, and Gulf Area analyst for the Naval Security Group and the National Security Agency.”
He has a Twitter account at @thechollajumps, where an intriguing message caught my eye: “Gunman Loughner threatened bloggers in past.”
Bloggers, eh? Like Mr. Kelley himself??
Well, as I say, I am working on contacting Mr. Kelley. I’ll let you know what I hear back.
Because, you know, there are questions that need to be answered.
UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link. If you like what you see here, bookmark the site and please do return!
On Saturday, Jared Loughner attempted to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). He killed a federal judge, a nine-year-old girl and four others, and injured many more. Their fates were still unknown when political ghouls leapt from their muck to blame Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and other assorted elements of the right. Doug Mataconis and Gabriel Malor identify some of the more prominent ghouls and respond to them, so I need not do so at length.
Notably, the most prominent ghouls reek with the stench of hypocrisy and disingenuity. For example:
Andrew Sullivan wrote: “When a congresswoman is shot in the head in the very act of democracy, we should all pause. This is fundamentally not a partisan issue and should not be.” He wrote this directly below the graphic of Sarah Palin’s 2010 target map (which included Giffords’s district), and followed up with an attack on Palin. That Democrats publish similar maps and that militaristic terms are endemic to political campaigns (just used one) and reporting went unsaid, because the shooting of a congresswoman in the head is very much a partisan issue to Andrew Sullivan. And that is before you get to his penchant for paranoid consipracy theories and Trig Trutherism. He apparently finds a riding a high horse necessary to be seen from his very deep gutter.
NYT columnist Paul Krugman blamed Palin and the Tea Party, although he has written that opposition to cap-and-tax schemes is a form of treason, and encourages and enables his fellow travelers to burn their political opponents in effigy. No extreme or violent rhetoric involved there, natch.
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
I think my favorite metaphor for the logical disconnect in the blame-the-right rhetoric over the Giffords/Roll shootings, is the Underpants Gnome theory. As you might recall, the Underpants Gnomes were featured in an episode of South Park where they learned that these creatures stole people’s underwear. The Gnomes were doing it, they explained, because it was part of their business plan, which looked like this:
(Of course mildly NSFW because of mild bad language and one of the characters dies. Spoiler alert: it’s Kenny.)
The joke was they had no idea what step two was, so they would just gloss it over.
So Pejman Yousefzadeh explains how this logic is being applied to the Gifford/Roll shootings:
As presented by port side demagogues . . .
Phase 1: Sarah Palin publishes a map.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Gunfire.
Really, at the end of the day, they have nothing more than this to make their case that Palin is responsible for the shootings.
And well, what could be a better illustration of this principle than the latest piece of crap editorial from the New York Times:
Jared Loughner, the man accused of shooting Ms. Giffords, killing a federal judge and five other people, and wounding 13 others, appears to be mentally ill. His paranoid Internet ravings about government mind control place him well beyond usual ideological categories.
But he is very much a part of a widespread squall of fear, anger and intolerance that has produced violent threats against scores of politicians and infected the political mainstream with violent imagery.
Of course if we were to characterize him, given that he is a Truther and admirer of Marx, I don’t think we can call it right wing, now can we. And as far as fear, anger and intolerance, well, what could be a better example of all three than jumping to the conclusion that those you disagree with are inciting murder? The New York Times is positively contributing to the “squall” they purport to denounce.
Oh, and you knew this was coming, didn’t you?
With easy and legal access to semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the parking lot, those already teetering on the edge of sanity can turn a threat into a nightmare.
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
Clarence W. Dupnik, the Pima County sheriff, shot his mouth off over the weekend over the Giffords’ shooting, saying:
“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” he said. “And unfortunately, Arizona…[has] become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
So for a little morning Rule 5 fun, we get Megyn Kelly interviewing Sherriff Dupnik. It’s not the fiery kinds of interviews you are used to seeing from her, but that would be inappropriate. Lawyers know this, and know how to quietly destroy a person’s credibility when it makes sense. And boy did she, here:
And no, by invoking Rule 5, I am not saying Ms. Kelly is just a pretty face. But its nice when an impressive mind is framed so well.
And this is another reason why I believe this blood libel will backfire. We have at least one news network that will tell the truth.
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
As part of our continuing coverage of all the ways that Jared Loughner is not exactly a right winger, we get this tidbit from an AP story:
Mistrust of government was Loughner’s defining conviction, the friends said. He believed the U.S. government was behind 9/11, and worried that governments were maneuvering to create a unified monetary system (“a New World Order currency” one friend said) so that social elites and bureaucrats could control the rest of the world.
By the way, it’s funny how that question didn’t make it into that study asserting that Fox Viewers were Stoopid. You would tend to think that 35-42% of Democrats believing our government intentionally murdered around 3,000 of its civilians would be a far more serious concern than people “mistakenly” believing that the stimulus was a waste of money (note: they are not mistaken).
Returning to the subject of 9-11 truth and this killer, let’s not pretend that the overheated rhetoric on the left had nothing to do with the rise of Trutherism. From the start of the Iraq war, Democrats have peddled the falsehood that Bush lied to get us into that war. Never mind that Bush was told by his sources that it was a “slam dunk” that the WMDs were there, never mind that congressional Democrats saw the same evidence and drew exactly the same conclusion. No, despite all that evidence to the contrary, this blood libel has been pushed for years, including by John Kerry during the 2004 campaign. When you convince people that the government would lie to get us into a war and thus “needlessly” kill our soldiers, just how hard is it to believe that the same people murdered civilians on September 11?
And it’s not a huge leap to say that. Consider, for instance, this video:
That would be 9-11 Truthers, confronting Giffords’ staff. And the first question out of these Truthers’ mouths is to talk about Iraq and WMD.
Less on topic is Giffords herself reacting to a Truther:
(By the way, yes, she does appear to be humoring him. Ideally, she should have said, “What, are you nuts?!” But I consider it quite plausible that she just wanted to get out of the encounter without anyone flying off the handle and going crazy, like you might when a homeless man starts ranting at you. And it’s hard to blame her since a Truther just shot her in the head.)
And it’s worth noting that this might interact with other beliefs, such as that the man was linked to an anti-Semitic group and considered Mein Kampf one of his favorite books (Giffords herself is Jewish). One of the popular theories of 9-11 “truth” is that Israel was involved or knew of the attacks beforehand. And if you want to see an example of an anti-Semite who is also a Truther, you can look no further than lefty hero Cindy Sheehan. First, here is her telling us she is a Truther:
And of course Sheehan accused Israel of being behind the Iraq war. (Incidentally, so did Giffords’ fellow congressperson, Jim Moran.) And that makes a certain amount of sense from a lunatic’s perspective. If you are going to claim a conspiracy to start the Iraq war, and to murder thousands of American citizens, you are going to need a shadowy evil hand behind it, and the Jooooooos are as good a choice as any, I suppose, if you are into that kind of insanity.
Now like Patterico, I don’t believe we should be trying to pin the blame for this on any particular party or movement. But really, liberals, if there is any soul-searching to be done about the tolerance of crazy, overheated rhetoric, you might try getting that plank out of your eye first. There is nothing more inflammatory than saying our government murdered its own citizens on 9-11, or its soldiers in the Iraq war, and the left owns those theories.
But how about this instead? How about you have some decency and for once in your life not treat the murder of a Federal Judge and a little girl as a chance to score political points?
Or, on second thought, please continue doing so. I have no doubt this will backfire and hurt the causes you support.
Update: I should add, in case I was not sufficiently clear, that we don’t know that 9-11 Trutherism led to this murder, or his anti-Semitism. It is speculation to say it might, although I think Trutherism is much more likely to lead to violence than mere opposition to taxes or Health Care Reform. Anyway, the police reportedly found materials that purport to explain why the killer did it, so we might not have to speculate for much longer.
Update (II): In the original version of this post, I used the mocking term “Twoofers” to refer to the Truthers. But at least one reader pointed out that this was confusing because it looked alot like “two-fer,” which is a different thing entirely. So I changed that for clarity’s sake. But exit question: if you throw a rock and hit two twoofers, is that a two-fer?
Oh no, there I go again with the violent rhetoric!
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