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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), federal Judge John Roll, and others shot at campaign event (Page 3)

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Author Topic: Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), federal Judge John Roll, and others shot at campaign event
TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm sure there are lots of leftist websites with Sarah Palin in the crosshairs.
I would actually be surprised. As Geoff notes, there's a large population of people out there who don't think of guns with visceral distaste; the vast majority of these people are conservatives. A liberal would pick out an unflattering picture of Palin holding a gun to achieve the same end; to a conservative, making someone into a target is empowering in exactly the same way that, to a liberal, it is offensive.

(Note: I'm using the words "conservative" and "liberal" here in a way I usually wouldn't. Sorry.)

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Geoffrey Card:
Paul, I am serious, and you surprise me. I use a crosshair in the game I'm developing as a cursor for children to aim and interact with a cartoon character from an endangered species.

Am I advocating poaching? Or is a crosshair a versatile symbol that normal humans can interpret in non-violent ways?

You surprise *me,* Geoff. Because I can't get through three of your posts without you applying some of the most god-awfully fallacious arguments I've seen that day. You're a smart person. Maybe the problem is that you think we're all incredibly stupid- because lazy arguments like this one are what really seem to lead you astray.

To address this: a crosshair *is* a versatile symbol. In the context you provided, it is probably acceptable. In the context of the speech of a pro-gun ownership politician who constantly employs reference to violent opposition against the government (hint: this is what the name "tea-party" *IS*), and who herself has appeared *firing a gun* on national television in order to up her hunter-woman-of-the-people cred very recently, the use of a crosshairs is * unmistakably* linked to the image of a gun. The image is undeniably violent in that context. It's ridiculous to claim otherwise, and if the use of crosshairs was actually intended as a reference to surveroy's marks? Then we're dealing with some of the most disorganized and confused people I've ever seen in the public eye. I seek not to make the claim that the use of this symbol was an incitement to violence- much less an intentional one. But to claim that it was actually not a reference to weapons, and to the act of shooting something? Please do get serious.

In short, Geoff, this claim is utterly, confoundingly, ridiculous. You don't have to apologize for it, but I hope you are ashamed of it.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Maybe the problem is that you think we're all incredibly stupid- because lazy arguments like this one are what really seem to lead you astray.
Orincoro, do you really think Geoff thinks we're all incredibly stupid? Frankly, I doubt it. You're engaging in histrionics to make it seem like his position is somehow ridiculous or unacceptable, and he doesn't deserve that.

For the record: I think a "crosshairs" symbol can indeed be an obvious and harmless symbol, useful for indicating position. (The shape of the crosshairs can matter, certainly; a 'crosshair' that looks like a pointing finger is probably less semiotically fraught than one that looks like a telescopic sight.) I also think that, in these specific cases, various conservative campaigns deliberately chose crosshairs not to innocently indicate location but also to associate gun violence with their targets -- not to incite gun violence, necessarily, but to associate the possibility of gun violence against elected officials (and the 2nd Amendment callbacks thus produced) with the idea of immediate and visceral vengeance.

I consider this irresponsible, but neither do I think it's entirely to blame for this specific incident. I'm not even sure that we're dealing with a truly unusual level of anger among the uneducated electorate, historically-speaking.

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
Blayne,
That is an inappropriate social response. I know you are only doing it for attention, but you shouldn't be doing that either.

Dead Baby Comedy isn't attention seeking, accusing me of attention seeking for something that I rarely do except when most appropriate (or innappropriate as the case may be to qualify for DBC) is just, lol/www~ no.
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AchillesHeel
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Blayne... a troubled young man just killed a little kid. Your response to this turns my stomach worse than the news coverage and empty propaganda banner waiving.
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Samprimary
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Yeah, I'll be out thataway while this thread goes through the motions.
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Geoffrey Card
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Orincoro, I think you're completely misunderstanding me, and I can't tell whether or not it's deliberate. Of course the "surveyor's symbol" story is stupid. Of course the crosshairs are meant to represent gun sights. My point wasn't that the crosshairs were un-gun-related. Only that there are ways to use a crosshair that don't mean "please kill this person".

I chose the example I did because it was right in front of my face at the time, and I thought my audience would understand the point I was making without my example having to be completely dead on the money.

But let me state my position more precisely. It is perfectly common to use violent language and imagery to describe non-violent acts. Think of terms like "character assassination" or "I've got you in my sights" — both references to people being murdered, but also both clearly recognizable as non-violent statements in nearly every reasonable context.

Those crosshairs are clearly gun sights, and they're being pointed at political opponents. But the implication is also clearly the equivalent of the two statements above. "We have these people targeted; they're in our sights; they're going down — POLITICALLY." An aggressive stance, to be sure. But clearly, clearly only metaphorical, with a long list of precedents establishing it as such. The fact that the gun sight image was used doesn't magically turn this into a serious, legitimate, criminal threat.

Sarah Palin presents herself as a hunter and a gun enthusiast because that image makes her constituents think proudly of liberty and self-determination, and makes her look like "one of us" to the rural conservatives she appeals to. Using gun-related imagery everywhere in her campaign materials is clearly about that, and not about trying to present a threat of physical harm to her opponents.

If she says/said something that actually advocates violent action, right now, against her opponents, then of course, that's horrifying. But the use of a crosshair, especially in the context of her entire image-building effort, doesn't rise anywhere near that level.

I'm perfectly willing to criticize Sarah Palin for a lot of things, including the very charges you are leveling, if something can be shown to me that warrants them. But right now, I'm unimpressed, and I'm really unimpressed by the attempt to redirect this into a personal argument against me, rather than a discussion of the issue.

[ January 10, 2011, 03:59 AM: Message edited by: Geoffrey Card ]

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Sterling
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Whether Giffords' shooting was motivated by inflammatory conservative rhetoric or not, the shooting at a Unitarian Church in 2008 unquestionably was.

And I wish it would stop.

We're not supposed to say that it's sickening to call other Americans "enemies" and "traitors" for fear of being accused of playing politics? We're supposed to feel guilty for daring to say things have gone too far?

No. Sometimes, the "winning at any cost" mentality costs too damn much. And it has to stop.

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Geoffrey Card
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I agree that the rhetoric we've been discussing is stupid and shameful, and I'm as insulted and offended by it as anyone. I'm only taking this stance because I've spent all day arguing with people in various places about whether Palin, et al, should be brought up on charges, and I get upset when people start playing fast and loose with the Constitution and seizing on tragedies when it benefits their side. That kind of behavior doesn't solve the problem. It IS the problem.

We need to fix what is wrong with our political discourse, but breaking what is right about our basic liberties while exascerbating our cultural divisions isn't the way to do so. Capitalizing on a tragedy to score political points, even against obnoxious and harmful individuals, is not the way to do so.

(And I realize that most people here aren't actually making the arguments that incensed me the most when this topic first came up, so sorry if you caught some of my backlash.)

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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
Blayne,
That is an inappropriate social response. I know you are only doing it for attention, but you shouldn't be doing that either.

Dead Baby Comedy isn't attention seeking, accusing me of attention seeking for something that I rarely do except when most appropriate (or innappropriate as the case may be to qualify for DBC) is just, lol/www~ no.
If this thread were a poster lamenting the loss of a baby, dead baby humor would not be the order of the day to put it very lightly. There are certainly places where that sort of dark humor would be welcome, but this place at this time is not one of them. Show some restraint in this instance Blayne.

I didn't edit your post, because strictly speaking, while it was tasteless, it wasn't against the TOS. But I would appreciate it if you removed it. Thanks.

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kmbboots
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Geoff, I am trying to understand the mindset you are describing. What, besides shooting it, does one do with a target in the crosshairs? Is there something that results from getting a living thing in gun sights that isn't violent? What do people who have a different understanding of guns than I do imagine a non-violent end to targeting someone with a gun would be?
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TomDavidson
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It's a rhetorical gun. There are many people who aren't as horrified by that sort of metaphor, and who don't see it as a literal threat.
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kmbboots
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Right. I am curious as to what they think it means instead.
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Mucus
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They get shot with a tranquillizer dart that injects patriotism and freedom.
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Geoffrey Card
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Am I arguing with Amelia Bedelia here?

A gun is used to shoot an enemy, which defeats them, and removes them as a threat. A scope with a crosshair is used to add precision, and to single out a specific enemy, rather than firing indiscriminately into a crowd of them.

Putting a crosshair over someone in an image most likely means that you have singled them out for special treatment, and that you intend to defeat them, and remove them as a threat, by whatever means one normally uses against such a person (in this case, probably public vilification, followed by votes).

I assumed that everyone would find this meaning to be obvious, and an explanation this granular and specific to be insulting to their intelligence, or I would have provided one before.

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kmbboots
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Geoff, bear with me. I am trying to understand how people who think this way get from "targeting with a gun" to "defeating" without the violent shooting part in the middle. Do they just sort of skip over that part of the metaphor in their heads? Is it a question of just not thinking the metaphor through to the logical conclusion?
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Among Palin's supporters, guns aren't seen as a symbol of murder and assassination, but rather as a symbol of liberty, frontier spirit, and self-sufficiency. They represent a belief in individual freedom and laissez-faire government. The right to own a gun is linked, in their philosophy, to the right to be a self-determining individual.

Palin flogs the gun symbolism to appeal to people who feel this way, not to try and stir people up to violent action. Interpreting any mention of a gun as a reference to murder and savagery is something that happens on the left, but not on the right.

The problem I have with this argument is that it ignores the central argument I've been hearing from NRA for decades. The NRA doesn't simply argue "we won't be able to hunt or target shoot", it argues that citizens need guns to protect themselves from an oppressive government. While I'm confident that few gun rights advocates are planning an armed insurrection, I'm also certain that many of them do believe that gun ownership is their last bulwark against government tyranny. I've known more than a few gun owners who think its very likely that they may some day need to use their guns against the government. For many many gun rights advocates, this isn't metaphor or empty rhetoric, they think a future in which they will need their guns to defend themselves against the government is a real and likely possibility.

So when I hear people like Sarah Palin and Sharon Angle using gun metaphors and referencing "2nd amendment remedies", I know they are tapping into this meme. They are appealing to those who fear the government and see violence as their last bulwark against eminent oppression. While I don't think they are actually encouraging people start an armed insurrection, they are unquestionably playing to an audience that sees armed insurrection against the an oppressive government as heroic and noble rather than something to be feared.

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Geoffrey Card
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I feel like we might need to call in Steven Pinker to start explaining brain function as it relates to the use of language. We're getting into an area where, as a person with a working brain, there are certain processes that I find to be automatic, which I assume to be automatic for everyone else, and that I don't usually explore all that deeply.

If the context indicates that literal assassination is not the intended meaning, then yes, that interpretation is dismissed by the brain, out of hand, and only legitimate interpretations are considered. That's how it always works.

That's what makes Amelia Bedelia entertaining to children — her interpretations of language are surprising, despite the fact that the words leading to them are all there, because a normal human being dismisses literal interpretations so quickly when they are found to be inappropriate that we usually don't perceive that they were considered at all.

There is nothing scandalous about a comedian saying to another, "Go up there and kill 'em!" Even if you've never heard that saying before, you don't for a moment consider that he might be advocating a massacre of the audience, and there is no reason for him to fear that someone will take him literally and murder everyone. Figurative language is how we communicate; it's how everyone communicates. Children who don't know half the words in a sentence, and who misunderstand the other half, fill in the blanks with context.

If we can't expect at least that much from each other, then we have a deeper problem than overblown political rhetoric.

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Scott R
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Crosshairs have long been used to denote a precise level of focus.

They are not singularly used to imply violence any longer.

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Strider
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I've skipped around in this thread, but I have to agree with Geoff's last few posts. We use this sort of metaphorical/figurative language all the time, from sports to politics to our daily conversations, and they are universally understood to not be meant literally.

That said, anyone who thinks the overblown and extreme political rhetoric coming from the right over the last few years (yes, including Palin's cross hairs and Angle's second amendment remedies) isn't contributing to the dangerous mental and psychological states of people who believe it is fooling themselves, even Pinker would be able to tell you that. I'm not arguing that perfectly peace loving people are going to suddenly take up arms. But those individuals who may already be predisposed towards violence and anger are being fueled by politicians and the media everywhere they turn.

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Geoffrey Card
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Rabbit, the "second amendment remedies" thing is much more of an issue than the crosshair images. The crosshair images seem like such a red herring to me that I'm surprised to still find myself discussing them.

I haven't been engaged enough recently (too much work!!) to know how widespread the "second amendment remedies" idea has become, but a statement like that does strike me as an indicator of someone who should not be voted into political office or given any kind of power.

Yes, the second amendment is founded, at least in large part, on the idea that an armed populace is harder to subdue by force, and that Americans should have at least that degree of confidence in their continued liberty. Hence guns being a symbol of freedom and independence. "In America, I can have a gun, and that means I'll always be free from oppression."

But we are nowhere NEAR any of the scenarios that would warrant the use of those guns, and to suggest that we are represents an obnoxious and irresponsible ratcheting up of the heat of our political rhetoric. So in many ways, we're on the same page.

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kmbboots
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Geoff, guns are pretty specific. They just do the one thing.

Telling a comedian to "kill" or even "knock 'em dead" is different than telling one to "stab 'em to death" or "shoot 'em in the head". ANd a huge difference between saying that to one person and saying it to huge groups of people, some of whom are unbalanced enough that they might fail to perceive the nuance.

As Rabbit noted, the images and language used, while metaphorical, plays to a sense of violence.

What do you think is meant by "second amendment remedy"?

Edit to add: Sorry. I crossposted and missed that you had answered the second amendment question. It was not my intention to pile that on.

Scott, they are gun crosshairs. I believe you but find it baffling that people who actually do use guns to kill things would be less likely to have those echoes of violence contained in their gun metaphors than people who don't. If guns are so benign, why are they pretending now that it was supposed to be surveyor crosshairs?

[ January 10, 2011, 01:06 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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0Megabyte
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I like guns. I own a gun. I've been around guns since I was a little kid. I've found shooting guns to be a fun pastime. In fact, I intend to go to a shooting range again sometime soon.

I do get what Geoffrey is getting at. After all, he pointed out how he is using cross-hairs himself.

Furthermore, I don't think anyone here thinks Sarah Palin actually intended her metaphors and that simply awful gun-sight ad to be an incitement to actual violence.

But you know what? Even so, there comes a point, and I think this might be it, where language becomes scary, even when unintentional.

You know why people are reacting with horror now to the words? Because they're scary, and people are scared of it. There are better ways to get your words across.

Just like how Blayne's joke was utterly reprehensible, even if at another time, another place, it might, maybe, have been funny, this language may have a time and place. But it certainly isn't now, not anymore.

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SenojRetep
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John Sides has a piece up at The Monkey Cage about vitriol and violence in politics.

The gist is that evidence that vitriolic language increases violent behavior on average is lacking, but there is some evidence it might affect behavior among those already pre-disposed to violence.

He also points out how difficult it would be to draw a substantive line from birtherism or trutherism or your-own-favorite brand of vitriol-enhanced political dialogue to any specific event, which I think is a point well taken (and one I recognize that most people in the thread have repeatedly conceded, but I think is well-put by Sides in his post).

<edit>I also think looking at run-of-the-mill political vitriol, like the 'cross-hairs' question, is a red herring. While Michael Savage is (IMO) offensive, and talk of 'second-amendment remedies' is absurd, there's a whole 'nother level of crazy, violent rhetoric that just doesn't enter into polite political discourse, because it's too muddled and discomfiting. But if there is any link between rhetoric and Laughner's actions, I think this is where you'll find it, not in what are, I believe, the relatively benign forms of political anger that we're talking about in this thread. See, for example, this post by Dave Weigel on some similarities between Laughner's statements and those of :David-Wynn: Miller about grammer and politics.</edit>

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Raymond Arnold
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I think I mostly agree with Megabyte.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
If the context indicates that literal assassination is not the intended meaning, then yes, that interpretation is dismissed by the brain, out of hand, and only legitimate interpretations are considered.
Geoff, not to nitpick -- but what I know about brain function actually suggests the opposite: namely, that even if you intellectually know that the speaker is not intending literal assassination, that your brain reacts emotionally as if violence were threatened. Violent rhetoric is used precisely because it provokes a fight-or-flight response in people, even when they know they are in no danger.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Furthermore, I don't think anyone here thinks Sarah Palin actually intended her metaphors and that simply awful gun-sight ad to be an incitement to actual violence.

But you know what? Even so, there comes a point, and I think this might be it, where language becomes scary, even when unintentional.

Even though I'm confident Sarah Palin's "crosshairs" weren't intentionally encouraging armed insurrection, I'm also confident that they were intended as gun sights. This wasn't the only time or place that Sarah Palin used gun imagery. She was playing to an audience that romanticizes armed insurrection. Gun imagery communicated a message to this audience that campaigning against these people made you a freedom fighter and that was 100% intentional. If it hadn't been, she would have replaced the crosshairs with red dots the minute someone pointed out they might be misconstrued as encouraging violence (which was the roughly 1 minute after she put out the ad).
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The Rabbit
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quote:
But we are nowhere NEAR any of the scenarios that would warrant the use of those guns, and to suggest that we are represents an obnoxious and irresponsible ratcheting up of the heat of our political rhetoric.
While you and I and almost everyone agree that we aren't anywhere near a scenario that would warrant the use of guns, I at least am aware that the number of Americans who think we may be close to that point is not negligible. The number of Americans who believe at least one radical conspiracy theory is shockingly high and the number of people who are actively preparing (at one level or another) for violence is not negligible. I have friends in Montana who signed up on lists of people to be notified in the event that they and there guns might be needed. The problem is that people like McVeigh and Loughner aren't isolated nut cases. They are part of a continuum. A very volatile continuum.

I can't imagine that Sarah Palin doesn't know that. Her husband was part of the Alaskan Secession Party for gosh sakes. She has to know that there are lots of people who will take her gun metaphors literally. If she doesn't know how dangerous it is to fan that flame, she's a fool. If she does know and is doing it any way, then she deserves part of the blame when violent rhetoric inspires violent acts.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Rabbit, the "second amendment remedies" thing is much more of an issue than the crosshair images. The crosshair images seem like such a red herring to me that I'm surprised to still find myself discussing them.
I certainly agree, Geoff. For one thing, I don't know, 'second amendment remedies' just falls on my ear, personally, as a lot less like metaphor than does the crosshairs and the 'don't retreat, reload' business. I can't really put my finger on why, that's just how it sounds. I've thought about it for awhile. Possibly because it specifically references an armed populace and its roots in rising up in arms against the government.

As for the gunsights still being discussed, well, possibly it's still being discussed because rather than manning up and saying, "Yeah, that was stupid, unnecessary political pandering," some of the people involved in it are, as that aide did, flat-out lying about it. That's just the sort of thing that ensures the topic will stay by the water cooler, so to speak.

That particular style of reaction, instinctive denial instead of a measured, mature admission of error, certainly isn't limited to far-right conservatives. For the time being, though, it's major egg on their face.

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Juxtapose
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The conversation may have moved past this, but I wanted us to remind ourselves that we, as people, are explanation seekers. Sometimes, this inclination leads us to see causal links that aren't there. Sometimes, it makes us reject explanations that just don't seem big enough to account for a tragic event. I think that's what happened after 9/11. Three thousand people were murdered, and the explanation - nineteen men with box cutters - just didn't seem big enough. So we get the Truthers.

I see echoes of that in this debate, and speaking as a liberal, I think it's unfair to conservatives.

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Geraine
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Well then. Since we are still on the subject of the whole "crosshairs" and "target" thing, guess I should just link these....Mind you these are Democratic websites.

The Democratic Leadership Council:

http://www.dlc.org/ndol_ci.cfm?contentid=253055&kaid=127&subid=171

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

http://www.dccc.org/content/recovery


Both sites show a map of the USA with targets over the people they want to vote out of office. The first one uses the phrase "Behind enemy lines." That is just a tad more incendiary than Palin's map, which said "It's time to take a stand."

But damn it, it was all Palin's fault! It was HER map that caused this, not anyone elses!

Edit: Looks like the DCCC took down the map they had on their website. They even removed the blog post that contained it. No matter, I found it on another site:

http://www.verumserum.com/?p=13647

ETA: I think it is really sad that the media is focusing more on the political aspects of this than on the victims. I saw the same thing with the Columbine shooting, when everyone tried to blame video games. Innocent people were injured and some were killed. For the media and even politicians to bring in politics so soon after this happened is dispicable. It is almost as if they don't care that people died or were injured, they just see it as a way to score political points.

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kmbboots
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Geraine, no one is saying that it is all Mrs. Palin's fault. What people are saying is that incendiary rhetoric contribute to an atmosphere of violence in which this kind of tragedy is more likely to happen. Nor has anyone claimed that the Democrats are entirely innocent of using this kind of rhetoric.

Edit to add: I checked out the targets on your links. If a conservative is attacked by bow and arrow, you should complain.

[ January 10, 2011, 03:53 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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The Rabbit
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Geraine, Do you think a target has exactly the same connotation as a crosshair?

The reason I asked, is because just a few posts up, when I put "red dots", I'd originally said "target". At least in my mind, a crosshair seems much more like a threat than a target. Target is much more widely used as a metaphor for "goal" without any violent connotation. People say things like "We are on target to balance the budget" and "What's our target audience?" But I'm hard pressed to find the use of "crosshair" in a metaphor that do not imply riffle shot.

Despite the claims made by SarahPAC, I've yet see surveying metaphors used when talking about focusing on a goal.

Furthermore, context is important. Sarah Palin's and the Tea Party movement used gun imagery all over the place. It wasn't just one map. It's something they were criticized for long before this event.

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BlackBlade
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All joking aside, I'm perfectly OK with Democrats being chided when they use inappropriate metaphors when describing their opposition.

In this particular instance I don't blame Sarah Palin, though I do disapprove of her using guns quite frequently in describing how Americans need to act. In the wake of this terrible crime, it would be good for her to very publicly state that this act sickens her and decry it in the strongest possible terms, while reconsidering the use of guns for anything other than hunting.

I'm fine with not blaming Republicans for this heinous act, just as I didn't blame them for The Oklahoma City bomber and his crazy anti- big government crusade. But I do hold them respondible for making sure in no uncertain terms that violence is abhorent, and must not be employed when dealing with those you disagree with.

If the liberal media won't accept that, that's their problem, and is a separate issue. It should not dictate whether conservatives do the right thing and get their base to calm down.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Geraine, no one is saying that it is all Mrs. Palin's fault. What people are saying is that incendiary rhetoric contribute to an atmosphere of violence in which this kind of tragedy is more likely to happen. Nor has anyone claimed that the Democrats are entirely innocent of using this kind of rhetoric.

Edit to add: I checked out the targets on your link. If a conservative is attacked by bow and arrow, you should complain.

You are funny. Bow and arrow, eh? Really?

Crosshairs are something you look into to aquire your target. A target (like which is shown) is something you actually shoot at, with a gun, a knife, an arrow, a dart, BB, nerf gun, etc. Or to just go after. Your call.

I'd love to know how you interpret what the target is for from the first link. Do you really think bow and arrow? I thought rifle, as those are the same targets we used when I was a Boy Scout.

The tool is unimportant. You thought of a violent act with a bow and arrow, did you not?

I ask you this. Are GUNS what you are against, or violence in general? If it is violence in general, then Democrats are just as guilty. If it is guns that you are against, then I would say you are just trying to push a political agenda.

ETA: Rabbit, the word "target" can be represented in different ways. In the first map I linked to, it was an obvious sporting target, used for weapons. The second one was a generic symbol and I would be with you on that one.

I do think that Palin has gone overboard on the whole gun rights thing. That doesn't mean she is to blame. I don't blame Al Gore for the hostage situation at the Discovery Channel building. Or Hugh Hefner for the streaker at the high school football game I went to on Friday :shudder:

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
You are funny. Bow and arrow, eh? Really?


Really. Right out of the Errol Flynn Robin Hood. Bow and arrow used in a sporting contest.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Rabbit, the word "target" can be represented in different ways. In the first map I linked to, it was an obvious sporting target, used for weapons. The second one was a generic symbol and I would be with you on that one.
I looked at both of them they both looked like pretty generic targets to me. One looks almost like the logo for Target stores, the other is multi-colored. I just browsed through a catalog of riffle and handgun targets and couldn't find on that looked like either one.
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capaxinfiniti
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
What people are saying is that incendiary rhetoric contribute to an atmosphere of violence in which this kind of tragedy is more likely to happen.

but which rhetoric would be contributing and why? also, how much less likely would this tragedy have been if, for example, palin hadnt said 'crosshairs'? one percent less likely? a lot more? can you even put a number on that or accurately guess as to such influences? much of the rhetoric labeled incendiary is, at worst, partisan, metaphoric, or exaggeratory. and again, as many have argued, myself included, its stretching logic to claim words such incite violence of the sort we saw in arizona.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
I ask you this. Are GUNS what you are against, or violence in general? If it is violence in general, then Democrats are just as guilty. If it is guns that you are against, then I would say you are just trying to push a political agenda.
It's violence I'm against, not guns. The democrats and other liberals are not innocent on this grounds, but if you think they are just as guilty as conservatives (particularly the Tea Party), then you've got your head stuck in the sand. Long before this incident, people have been complaining about the violent rhetoric coming from the right wing. It's way past time to tone it down.
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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
I ask you this. Are GUNS what you are against, or violence in general? If it is violence in general, then Democrats are just as guilty. If it is guns that you are against, then I would say you are just trying to push a political agenda.
It's violence I'm against, not guns. The democrats and other liberals are not innocent on this grounds, but if you think they are just as guilty as conservatives (particularly the Tea Party), then you've got your head stuck in the sand. Long before this incident, people have been complaining about the violent rhetoric coming from the right wing. It's way past time to tone it down.
Hold on now. You mean rhetoric like this?

"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

I'm just wondering if this is the type of thing you are referring to. A yes/no would suffice.

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kmbboots
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I would say that (while not as bad) it is also rhetoric that should be abandoned regardless of whether President Obama said it.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Juxtapose:
The conversation may have moved past this, but I wanted us to remind ourselves that we, as people, are explanation seekers. Sometimes, this inclination leads us to see causal links that aren't there. Sometimes, it makes us reject explanations that just don't seem big enough to account for a tragic event. I think that's what happened after 9/11. Three thousand people were murdered, and the explanation - nineteen men with box cutters - just didn't seem big enough. So we get the Truthers.

I see echoes of that in this debate, and speaking as a liberal, I think it's unfair to conservatives.

I think this analogy is flawed for two important reasons. First, the argument that the violent imagery being used by people like Palin was dangerous, was made long before this latest event. The real irony is that Giffords herself made the argument last March when she said

quote:
"The thing is, the way that she has it depicted -- the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district -- when people do that, they've got to realize that there's consequences for that action,"
This isn't an after the fact conspiracy theory like the truthers, it much more like "I told you so."

Second, No one is pointing to a conspiracy. (OK, I'm sure you can find some fringe site making that claim so probably not no one, but certainly no one in the mainstream or on this forum). No one is saying that Sarah Palin was trying to incite violence or that members of the Tea Party conspired to kill Giffords. We are just saying that it's past time for people to recognize that violent rhetoric can inspire violent action. Its time for an apology for fanning the flames. Its time to tone down the kind of rhetoric that inspires this kind of action.

If you want a better analogy, I think its completely reasonable to compare what's being said about conservative rhetoric in the wake of this shooting to what has been said about Islam in the wake of 911. Islam is a religion followed by over a billion people, most of whom aren't violent, don't condone violence and were as outraged by the 911 attacks as we were. Its certainly unfair to condemn all muslims for the acts of a few of on the violent lunatic fringe just likes its wrong to condemn all conservatives for this tragedy. But I do think its reasonable to criticize the more extreme muslim leaders who use violent rhetoric and even those who remain silent when others promote violence. If it is at all fair to criticize Muslim leaders for failing to take a stronger stand against acts of terror, isn't it also fair to criticize our own politicians who fan the flames of hatred with violent rhetoric?

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Hold on now. You mean rhetoric like this?

"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

I'm just wondering if this is the type of thing you are referring to. A yes/no would suffice.

Yes. Its the kind of thing I'd like to see eliminated from the political arena. But I'm really unclear about your point here. I've already said I didn't think the Democrats were innocent.

But if you think Conservatives are justified for spewing hatred, because Democrats sometimes do it too, you're just plain wrong. If you think Democrats do it as much as Republicans, you have your head in the sand.

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Ron Lambert
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The whole discussion of politics is irrelevant, and frankly, reprehensible--because of being clearly exploitative of a tragic event. Rep. Giffords is a nice lady and NO ONE WHO COUNTS disliked her. Both Republicans and Democrats liked her. The Tea Party may have "targeted" her seat (and they came within 4,000 votes of unseating her), but I am sure they are still glad to have her in that office rather than some extreme liberal deaf-to-the-public superpartisan like Nancy Pilosi. Giffords used to be a Republican, and still holds some conservative positions.

Fox News had a psychiatrist on yesterday (Sunday) who stated unequivocally that Jered Loughner exhibits the classics symptoms of a schizophrenic, who has made a complete break with reality. That does not mean he will get off with an insanity defense, the shrink said (he is also a lawyer). These days you cannot get a "not guilty by reason of insanity" verdict. You can only get a "guilty but insane" verdict, which means you will be committed to a ward for the criminally insane, and then if you are judged cured, you will go to prison--not be released onto the street. At least, that's what he said. I hope it's true, because it sounds reasonable.

News reports today are quoting one neighbor of Loughner's parents as saying that Loughner's dad is known in the neighborhood for his temper, coming out and shouting something about his trash, for instance. I suspect we are going to hear more about Loughner Sr. in the future. You have to wonder what may have led to Jared's schizoid break, or at least set him up for it.

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Rakeesh
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quote:

I ask you this. Are GUNS what you are against, or violence in general? If it is violence in general, then Democrats are just as guilty. If it is guns that you are against, then I would say you are just trying to push a political agenda.

Lately, Geraine? There's a party whose got a core constituency that is more well-known and has gained more support using violent, aggressive-sounding rhetoric right now, and it ain't the Democrats. Please note I'm not saying, I'm not saying, that Democrats don't use angry-sounding, violence-overtoned rhetoric. I'm just talking about the present right now is all.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Rep. Giffords is a nice lady and NO ONE WHO COUNTS disliked her. Both Republicans and Democrats liked her.
How about you get that in writing from her opponent, and I'll concede the possibility. [Smile]

quote:
You have to wonder what may have led to Jared's schizoid break, or at least set him up for it.
Yeah, we have to wonder. Because it certainly couldn't be the fraught rhetoric of a certain political faction. *grin*
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BlackBlade
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Pretty good column in The Washington Post.

I don't agree with his conclusions, but I do appreciate the context/comparisons.

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Vadon
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I've been waffling on whether or not I wanted to get into this subject, but I think I will. (Later this will be seen as my first mistake.) In my experience working on political campaigns, I've had calls for violence made against my candidates at the doors, on the phones, and at rallies. I've even had them directed at me, which is not something you take easily. I've been told that I'm ruining America and that I--and the whole lot of democrats-- need to be taken out back and shot. Considering I'm just a college student struggling to make ends meet and have never made a policy decision in my life, I decided to view the issue as one wherein the guy just didn't know me. I chalked up the voter's violent statements to emotional distress and not an actual intent to harm me or anyone else. Why? Because I heard stuff like this fairly often and was never physically attacked.

But that doesn't mean the words don't scare me.

We have a society that glorifies violence. Movies, television, comics, games, jokes, political discourse, etc. People produce products that promote violence as a pragmatic solution to their problems, and we consume it. I include myself in this. I watch violent movies and television, I grew up playing Doom and Wolfenstein, I enjoy super hero comics, and I'll crack the occasional violent joke. ("Michael Bay is making another Transformers movie? Just shoot me now.") But in real life, I abhor violence. I'm non-confrontational. I don't think violence solves any conflict--it can only end them. So long as I keep what is acceptable in real-life in check, I don't mind consuming products that glorify violence.

The problem isn't that we have violent imagery in our discourse. The problem is that we don't qualify our discourse by saying that true violence is unacceptable. We have no control on who consumes the violence we produce. The grand majority of people are rational and will recognize that you're not really saying that you should "knock 'em dead" at a comedy show. Just as I believe a grand majority of people won't read into Sarah Palin's target-map that she was advocating killing people.

But the longer we allow violent rhetoric to go without being contested, the more acceptable violence becomes in the mainstream. Remember the good ol' days when the Simpsons was considered edgy due to the violent relationship between Bart and Homer? Now days, it's perfectly acceptable media, if not utterly tame. As violence becomes more acceptable, the rationality against it becomes less stringent. You'll always have irrational nutcases who commit crimes. But I solemnly believe that a society that consumes violence to a degree that makes it mainstream will have more violent crimes than others. Violence brutalizes a society, and we pay the price for not keeping it in check.

I believe in personal accountability. I don't think that Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, or any individual other than the kid (or possible accomplices) should be blamed for this tragedy. I also don't much care from whom the violent rhetoric is coming. Regardless of the sources of the language, we have folks and organizations who are actively contributing to a violent atmosphere, and that's something I think folks should take responsibility for. Calling the crosshairs "Surveyor's Marks" was stupid and petty.

We should fess up to our language and take responsibility for it. Let's stop with the "Well, Republicans use it more, so this is their fault!" talk. Can't we all accept that this is a tragedy by a deeply disturbed individual and we all strive to make our society less violent?

Rahm Emanuel gets quite a bit of flack for saying "never let a good crisis go to waste." And within the context, it was pretty tacky to say. But I think there is an underlying truth to the statement. We shouldn't be using the blood of the Arizonan victims to gain political points, it's an insult to their memory and we should be ashamed. But we shouldn't let this tragedy go without taking pause to consider the environment in which this tragedy occurred. We're a violent people, folks. Shouldn't we admit it and try to fix it?

ETA: Yup, and after reading the article from BB, I do feel embarrassed for going all sociological in my post. [Blushing]

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Ron Lambert
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One of the identifying characteristics of conservatives is their confidence in themselves, which means they favor individualism, freedom of choice, religious liberty, freedom from excessive taxation that punishes the productive and rewards the non-productive. Naturally they will gravitate to images involving personal strength, such as gun ownership, and use of gun-related metaphors. Liberals, by contrast, seem to be seduced by the siren song of socialism and the delusive appeal of the "nanny state." They would be glad to let someone else take care of them, let government take sole responsibility for the use of force, while the populace is all disarmed and padded with styrofoam and bubblewrap--provided at government expense (meaning at the expense of the productive).
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Juxtapose
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Rabbit,
I don't think I explained well. If you want to say "I told you so," then you need to provide some kind evidence showing the link between the rhetoric and the action. At this point, I do not believe there is anything approaching conclusive evidence to that would justify making that claim. The analogy I drew with 9/11 was that then, as now, many people found the explanation that best fit the facts to be unsatisfying (I suspect for emotional and instinctual reasons), so there's a search for who else to blame.

There are many differences between the two cases, but both speak to, in this respect, to a cognitive bias commonly exhibited after tragedies.

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