Sunday, January 09, 2011

Words have consequences

News of the apparent attempted assassination of Democratic US Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona has spread rapidly through the blogosphere, including conflicting reports on her condition.

What is certain is this: Rep. Giffords was holding an event in Tucson, Arizona. A gunman ran up and opened fire, hitting Rep. Giffords in the head and wounding up to nine others. The gunman was tackled and taken into custody. All of that is known and certain. A couple hours before, she Tweeted from her verified account: “My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now. Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later.”

The gunman’s motive, however, is not yet been revealed. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots, however.

On March 26 of last year, I, like a lot of liberal/progressive bloggers, posted a graphic from Sarah Palin’s official site. That graphic, accompanying this post, featured gun sites over Demcoratic US Representatives that Palin was targeting for defeat. Her people wrote on her Facebook page for her, “We’ll aim for these races and many others. This is just the first salvo…”

Giffords is the fourth one down in the first column of that graphic. Only one other Demcorat on that hit list is still in Congress, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia. Giffords office was also vandalised after she voted for healthcare reform (the reason she and Rep. Rahall were on Palin's hit list).

About the same time, Palin posted on her Twitter account: "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead - 'RELOAD!'"..

The day before that post, I noted that a Virginia tea party activist* had posted what he thought was the home address of a Democratic US Representative (it was his brother’s house) and urged his fellow rightwing nutjobs to stop by and “express their thanks”. The man’s gas lines were cut by someone. The tea party leader thought his posting the wrong address was “collateral damage”.

Back then, I repeatedly warned of the consequences of violent rhetoric and images, saying at the end of the March 25 post:
Violence is wrong, violent intimidation is wrong, and violent rhetoric is wrong. If there are any rational, responsible people left in the right wing, they must speak up now, before it’s too late, before, with blood on their hands, they pretend they don’t understand how their rhetoric led to violence. They must do something to stop it now. [emphasis in original]
That didn’t happen, of course, and the violent rhetoric continued. Mainstream news media have already reported that Palin’s staff purged her website of the crosshairs pages and that Tweet with the violent rhetoric. Hey, Sarah: All great Neptune's ocean cannot wash this blood clean from your hands, or those of your fellow agitators.

*Update: Ben Smith at Politico reports that on January 10 (US time) the Virginia tea party activist I referred to in this post Tweeted: “Cutting that Gas line doesn't seem so bad now does it?...What?..... Too Soon?” They really, really don’t get it. At all.


Roger Owen Green said...

Her office had also gotten trashed in '09 for supporting the health care bill.

Roger Owen Green said...

news errors

You Tube video of alleged assailant. He has other weird crap too.

seawall said...

It's pretty shocking. And now I'd like to see more than ever discussion of blog ethics and responsibility to audience/potential culpability of writers. I think in this case, with a public figure like Sarah Palin, with great power and visibility came great responsibility, and she stuffed it, seriously.

Jason in DC said...

I think people need to start acting like adults instead of little children. What strikes me is, when you listen and read some of the comments that people make, they sound more like little kids on a tantrum then adults. I think its time for everyone to grow up.