Just some thoughts on the recent shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, and the arguments on our political tone and if right-wing hate speech was behind the horrible event.
The real issue here isn’t left vs. right, it’s extremists vs. sanity. Just because this guy may not be a right-winger doesn’t mean he doesn’t resonate with the fear-, race-, and hatemongering being spewed by right-wing extremist personalities with such vitriol incessantly on faux news and talk radio.
Sarah Palin did not call this guy up and tell him to shoot somebody, but her pandering to extremists using threatening language against fellow citizens who just happen not to agree with her sets up an environment where people begin to think that violence, insults, and threats are how a democracy is run.
Palin and her ilk (I include most of the talking heads on faux news as well as Rush Limbaugh and the other rodeo clowns of reality on talk radio) don’t want their followers to kill other people, of course not. Nobody really wants to kill those they do not agree with. However, by their own words it is obvious that they do want to create a threatening atmosphere that stifles dissent.
The problem is that you cannot constantly threaten violence as intimidation to your foes (for example, there is no other reason than to intimidate others to bring a weapon to a political event) without creating an environment where violence is acceptable as a tool and intimidation is accepted as a policy.
We forget that our “opponents” are fellow citizens who hopefully love the country as well. We must reduce the level of hate and fear in our rhetoric and stop wedge-issue politics. But sadly I believe that will probably never happen.
I fervently believe in all of the 1st amendment. I only wish that our “leadership” would act like adults.
True, there has been incredible vitriol in our history. There has also been some terrible violence, against individuals as well as groups. I’d like to think we are more mature than that as a society by now.
There are people alive today who have attended lynchings, but we don’t lynch people anymore today. There are people today who use hate and fear and racism and greed as policy drivers, but that doesn’t mean we have to always act in that fashion.
Mature and intelligent behavior is not censorship.