Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Culture of Violence

Here is Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords giving an interview last spring, after her office was vandalized, apparently in response to her vote in favor of health care reform, in which she warned that there are consequences to violent rhetoric:
"They really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up, and, you know, even things for example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. When people do that, you gotta realize there's consequences to that action."

It is easy to denounce horrific acts of violence after they have occurred. What is needed is to tone down all the incitement before it encourages more violence.


  1. From the NY Times Web site moments ago: "During the fall campaign, Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, posted a controversial map on her Facebook page depicting spots where Democrats were running for re-election; those Democrats were noted by crosshairs symbols like those seen through the scope of a gun. Ms. Giffords was among those on Ms. Palin’s map."

  2. A group of us are launching a new website in support of Health Care. There is now a post at the site where you can show your support for any or all of these subjects:

    1. Congresswoman Gifford
    2. Health Care
    3. Rational Discussion

    I invite you to visit the site, submit your comments, and share the URL with everyone you know.

  3. God bless Gabby Giffords. I hope and pray that she is about to beat astronomical odds. We desperately need more human beings like Gabrielle.

  4. This is not a political issue. It is a series of human tragedies.

  5. At this point don't you think it might be premature to conclude that these killings were not political? Especially since the police are searching for a second suspect--if there is any kind of conspiracy, that would almost certainly make this a political act.

    On the other hand, maybe I am rushing to judgment by making the connection between incendiary comments by politicians and some members of the media, and a violent act by what looks like a disturbed young man. In my defense, I would say that a lot of people are making that same connection. I would also say that I would take advantage of almost any opportunity to suggest that we should tone down the violent rhetoric because there is always the chance that violent rhetoric will lead to violent actions. It's pretty interesting--and scary--that in the video clip above, the victim herself made the same connection.

  6. I think hours after a shooting it is premature to make the connection of this very sick young man's action to political rhetoric. He first met Gabby in 2007. He just as easily could have shot up Pima College as that gathering outside Safeway. And if he lived in another state another he may have unloaded there at a college or another gathering (like the Virginia Tech shooting or Columbine). Until we have evidence otherwise pointing fingers is not helpful and might even add to additional rhetoric that you and I both dislike so much. Things will become clear in time.

    If it turns out to be a political act we should still be careful how we react to an insane act. Crazy people do crazy things. They always have. It is not worse now then it was in the past. In '54 Puerto Rican radicals shot up congress. In '63 JFK was shot to death. Right afterward Oswald was killed. In '68 MLK was killed. Later that year RFK was killed. In the 70s Ford survived two attempts on his life. In '72 George Wallace was shot. Reagan survived an attack. Presidents have been assassinated.

    What is remarkable is that in our open society this doesn't happen more often. We are good people.

  7. “I’m itching for a fight.”
    “Punish your enemies.”
    “It’s time to Fight for it.”
    Republican victory would mean “hand to hand combat”
    “We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.“
    “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
    “They Bring a Knife…We Bring a Gun”
    - Barack Obama

    I agree... tone down the violent language!

  8. The second suspect appears to be an innocent taxi driver. Plenty of time for authorites to clear this up.

  9. Joe, do you have an opinion as to why there has not more comment from the left about Eric Fuller's views; which I will not repeat.