Monday, January 10, 2011

End the Hate Speech

The Democratic-Media Complex in this country may now have the burning-of-the-Reichstag moment it's spent months hoping for.

Clearly, a shooter known to be a "left-wing pot head" could be instigated to violence by overheated hate speech directed at Congresswoman Giffords, like this:

Not to mention hanging an elected official in effigy, like this.

Or death threats against the President of the United States himself, like these:

Or rhetoric employing metaphors of violence, like this (thanks to the BlogProf, via InstaPundit):

"I think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. In this case the hostage is the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed," Obama on keeping taxes from increasing, December 6, 2010

"A Republican majority in Congress would mean "hand-to-hand combat" on Capitol Hill for the next two years, threatening policies Democrats have enacted to stabilize the economy," Obama, October 6, 2010

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama in July 2008

"Here's the problem: It's almost like they've got -- they've got a bomb strapped to them and they've got their hand on the trigger. You don't want them to blow up. But you've got to kind of talk them, ease that finger off the trigger." Obama on banks, March 2009

"I want you to argue with them and get in their face!" Barack Obama, September 2008

“We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.” Obama, October 2010

“I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!” Obama on ACORN Mobs, March 2010

“We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.“ Obama on the private sector, June 2010

Our take is that the Left's brazen and dishonest smearing of its opponents as accomplices to murder will only intensify political polarization in this country.

Nothing could more infuriate the millions of people whose only "crime" has been to question the policy agenda of the Left, than for the Democratic-Media Complex to declare such criticism as the cause of Saturday's violence in Tucson.   Great article on this point in today's Wall Street Journal.


Dave Garretson said...

Can we agree on this? Words and images which hint at violence are WRONG. It is wrong from individual supporters and it is doubly wrong from leaders and media figures.

Those who use such rhetoric should re-think their approach. We can score our political points and rally our supporters without hinting that violence is okay.

When we see it, we should call it out -- especially when it comes from our own side of the fence.

Rottenchester said...

I think you undermine your main point just a wee bit when you begin by comparing your political opponents to the Nazi party, but other than that, this seems very reasonable. I recommend that you take solace in the clear, relevant and timely equivalencies that you've demonstrated, since we all know that it can't be wrong if everyone does it. I disagree with Mr Garretson - your side of the fence is doing just fine. Keep listening to Glenn Reynolds and stay the course!

Philbrick said...

No, Dave. We can't agree on that.

Each day, we all use words if not images that might be associated with war or violence, but which used in the intended context mean no such thing.

"You're killing me," we say to someone who's causing us to laugh uproariously.

You, for instance, ran for Assembly, and at least once had to have referred to your effort as a "campaign."

Yet "campaign" is a term derived directly from warfare. Did that mean you were planning a physical assault against your opponent with the intention of killing him?

Of course not.

So when people in politics talk of "targeting" an opponent or a district, it is a metaphor. Nothing more.

As Howard Kurtz points out in the Daily Beast, military terminology has been used to describe politics since time immemorial.

When Pepsi "targets" Coke in a marketing area, they have no intention of killing the Coca-Cola distributor. If a Coke employee were assaulted or killed, no rational person would say that it was because Pepsi, by using the word "targeting," incited anyone to violence.

What the Left has done in this regard in the aftermath of the Tucson violence is contemptible. And it totally ignores the use by people on the left of precisely the same metaphors -- including Daily Kos showing a map with a "target" image, for Congresswoman Giffords' district, no less, for being insufficiently "progressive." Not to mention the "kill Bush" images we've shown -- that no one on the Left criticized at the time, or even now.

Of course we agree that no one should say or hint that violence is OK. But what we've seen in the past 48 hours or so is an attempt by the Left, once again, to silence critics of its policies. Plain and simple.

And it's that ability to speak freely to criticize policies with which people disagree that's one of the main sources of American- and European style political stability, in which people know they can argue and persuade their way to their political goals, not shoot their way toward them.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should take a chill pill. The guy in Tuscon was a nut case pure and simple. He didn't go on his rampage because of inflammatory language in a campaign ad or because he listened to Rush Limbaugh once too often. He isn't a liberal or a conservative. He is a psychotic who shouldn't have had a gun. If his family had any common sense they would have known that and made sure he didn't. Once again what is really a family and personal breakdown issue turns into some huge "society has a problem and we need another law to solve it" issue.

Dave Garretson said...

Hey Philbrick,

Obviously, fighting and war metaphors are widely used in business, politics, sports... I am not suggesting we stop we using words such as "campaign," etc.

When we go a step further say things such as "lock & load" or host a "Target Victory" event with M-16's (2 examples from the 2010 campaign against Rep Giffords), that is too far for my taste.

I do not let my own side off the hook. This week is a good time to reflect on the words and images we choose to make our points.

When we hint that violence is okay, even if we don't mean to incite violent action, something unfortunate may follow.

I, for one, can score my points without using violent rhetoric and I pledge to do exactly that. If I stray, please call me out on it. I will do the same for you.