Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Immediately after the Giffords shooting, the media began a game of speculative one-upmanship. Pretty soon, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and even traditional Republicans were being condemned for contributing to the attacks.

There was, and remains, no evidence that the shooter was in any way influenced, or even aware of the now infamous "crosshairs map" or any Tea Party issues at all.

But rather than retreating, the media is ratcheting up the false association between conservative talking points and a pot-smoking, atheist, Karl Marx fan - and likely a schizophrenic one at that. This is wrong, people.

There's no connection at this point. Even if there was, when an insane person does insane things, you can't blame people for that. If so, you'd have to blame violent imagery in music and television for people committing violence. You'd have to blame the Beatles for the Sharon Tate murders. You'd have to blame the Son of Sam killings on his neighbor's labrador retriever.

You can't do it. At least in those cases, the perpetrators had heard those things, or at least thought they did.

Again, there was, and remains, no evidence that the shooter was in any way influenced, or even aware of the now infamous "crosshairs map" or any Tea Party issues at all.


Aaron Bushell said...

For the sake of argument, how much do you believe the vitriolic nature of current political discourse contributes to the downright violent outbursts we now see on a regular basis? When the healthcare bill was being debated, Fox News took it upon themselves to broadcast the town hall meetings where discussions were taking place and in some of these places violence broke out. Now we have an instance where a high profile commentator from that very network encouraged "locking and loading" to take these seats back and when they failed to do so, this is what happened. While I do not directly blame Sarah Palin for this, nor do I blame any individual contributor (short of the gunman himself), I do believe that the tone with which the cable news networks address political issues only serves to aggravate an already testy group of right wing extremists. There have been many times where friends of mine have gotten themselves all worked up about something they saw on Glenn Beck when the TRUTH is so far from what he preaches, it's not even in the same ballpark. Don't the cable news networks hold *some* blame, even if that amount is the way they get their audience all riled up?

Brad Raple said...

First, I don't think we see downright violent outbursts on a regular basis.

Second, the town hall meetings were televised by all networks, not just Fox News. And why wouldn't they be? It's news.

At this point, cable news networks hold NO blame for the shooting. Zero. Maybe it will come out down the road that the guy was a huge Glenn Beck fan. I doubt it.

Even if it does, you can't blame people's speech for the irrational actions of crazy people.

Even if Glenn Beck riles up right wing extremists, how does that have ANYTHING AT ALL to do with this, unless the guy is shown to 1) actually be a right wing extremist, and 2) actually have listened to the stuff these guys are saying.

Throughout history, people have blamed video games, rap music, rock music, jazz music, violent movies, comic books, literary classics, alcohol, dancing, Christianity, Islam, and so forth for the bad behavior of individuals.

I can just as easily blame the publisher of his copy of the Communist Manifesto.

I can just as easily blame Jay-Z for his violent music.

I can blame Al Gore for his environmental rhetoric.

I suppose you can blame me for my blog.

But doing those things would be ridiculous, because there's no evidence this guy listened to hip hop or Al Gore. Just like there's no evidence he listened to Palin, Beck or anyone else.

The media frenzy is pure speculation. Dangerous, irresponsible, shameful speculation.