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SHOOTING: Liberals can be excused for ‘knee-jerk’ reaction

Letter by Paul C. Blanchard, Tacoma on Jan. 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm with 38 Comments »
January 13, 2011 1:50 pm

Re: “Even in the midst of tragedy, a knee-jerk, liberal reaction” (George Will column, 1-11).

Knee-jerk? This is how the right is blowing off the left’s response to a targeted assassination attempt of a Democrat. So why does Will think our liberal knees are so jerky? Why are our reflexes so heightened?

Could it be the fact that representatives on the right are advocating violence against us, calling us traitors and fascists and murderers? Is anyone really surprised that we’re a little twitchy when we hear a tea party spokesperson scream at a rally, “If ballots don’t work, bullets will.”

Regardless of the actual motivations behind the shooter in Arizona, is it really that hard to draw a logical line from Sharon Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies” to bullets flying at a Democratic rally?

If it turns out, that this assassination attempt had nothing at all to do with politics, then, unlike Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the right has dodged a bullet. However, If this isn’t the defining moment, when conservatives realize that their hate speech can have consequences, what will that defining moment be?

Leave a comment Comments → 38
  1. BlaineCGarver says:

    Another funny letter. Since Liberals are the only ones that see violence in conservative opinions, perhaps the world would be safer to outlaw Liberals. Works for me.

  2. MarksonofDarwin says:

    This is just getting stupid.

    The lack of logic and thoughtfulness is astounding. By everyone.

    This seems to be the new tack:

    “Regardless of the actual motivations behind the shooter in Arizona, is it really that hard to draw a logical line from Sharon Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies” to bullets flying at a Democratic rally?”

    How can anyone with a rational mind, not see this for what it is? Seriously. My 13 year old could see that this is circular logic, and flawed reasoning.

    What seems to have escaped many who think like this, is the fact that the actual person who committed this heinous act has been deemed **irrelevant** to the discussion. How disgusting and callous.

    There are people who are recovering and a congresswoman fighting for her life. The dead have not yet even been buried, but this twisting of events continues?

    I think too many among us have immersed themselves in partisan politics for so long, that they don’t realize that they are living in a separate world from the majority in this country. All of the quotes, maps, radio/tv show pundits, partisan websites, and radical musings you are exposed to on a daily basis, do NOT in any way reflect the reality of politics in this country.

    Both sides are making a spectacle of themselves.

  3. Since Liberals are the only ones that see violence in conservative opinions,

    Really….you can’t see the violence in this campaign slogan “If ballots don’t work, bullets will”?

  4. MarksonofDarwin says:


    Just because someone gets sand in their panties over something that is said, isn’t a good enough reason to tell them to shut up.

    This tragic event did NOT happen because of that slogan. You can’t point to any act of violence that has been incited because of it either.

    I’m not going to get into the tedious “tit for tat” that is passing these days for thoughtful discourse. I’m hoping that you realize that both the left and the right use words that conjure images of violence….but are meant only as metaphors, not a call to arms.

    In fact, the mentally deranged individual who did the shooting didn’t watch TV, listen to talk radio, and acted alone.

    That a congresswoman was shot makes this a political subject. I understand that.
    That so many are using this event as a weapon against those they disagree with is very telling. Remember when President Bush and his followers used 9/11 against the left? I do. Have you forgotten so soon how this type of attack says more about those doing the attacking, rather than the targets of the attack?

  5. Maybe that “defining moment” will be when some nut job takes out Keith Olberman’s “worst person in the world.”

  6. BlaineCGarver says:

    bB, give up. You’re too smart to really believe all this political BS. You of all people on this blog.

  7. when some nut job takes out Keith Olberman’s “worst person in the world.”</I.

    Olbermann has discontinued it.

    MoD – I have repeatedly stated that there is no causation, no direct link. I do believe, however, that words uttered by public figures have effect. And there has been a lot of irresponsible verbiage being spewed. And – expressing one's disgust with that speech is not, in any way, equivalent to trying to suppress the right to free speech.

  8. MarksonofDarwin says:

    I didn’t think for one minute that you want to suppress speech. I really want to make that clear.

    When you say there is no direct link, but then say that words have an effect, what are you saying? It comes across as a contradiction. Either they ARE linked to the violence, or they are not.

    Expressing disgust in what someone has to say is one thing. To suggest (as some have) that certain things can’t be said at ALL because some nutjob might go off, is quite another….and it is a suppression of speech.

  9. This specific incident – there is no evidence of any direct link.

    But…..there have been other incidents.

  10. “Could it be the fact that representatives on the right are advocating violence against us”

    No dolt, but you keep drinking the koolaid and repeating the talking points…

    B, if you’re going to make assertions with quotes, I would expect YOU of all people to provide credit to the author… and don’t forget…
    “quoting edited sentences out of context contributes to the “fog of controversy” that has been created around this issue.” ; (beerBoy 03/17/2010 06:21:42 AM:)

  11. MarksonofDarwin says:


    Other incidents of what exactly.
    I have to be honest here….you’re not making much sense.

    That Olbermann decided to discontinue something from his show, or whatever you’re saying he removed, isn’t a cause for celebration. It is stupid.

    And this attitude can easily lead to those insane “speech codes” that chill speech, and infringe on the 1st amendment on university campuses. Those codes are shameful, and not something that should be encouraged in any way. They stifle and infect a free flow of ideas.

    The vast majority of us are adults, and have full control over our mental state.
    If you are saying we need to somehow sanitize or forbid certain types of speech, then you are just wrong. I am really trying to understand what you’re getting at here.

  12. Hilarious. Most of you have missed the writer’s point completely. He isn’t saying that conservatives are responsible for the shooting, he’s explaining why liberals were rightly justified in jumping to the conclusion that this was politically motivated. Come on, when you threaten to kill someone, and that person ends up dead, even if you didn’t do it, you’re a suspect. Any cop knows that.

  13. I give up – you are right – there is no reason to attempt to bring civility back into discourse. Exhorting followers to take up arms against the enemy is completely acceptable. So is slander. All is fair in love and war and politics and blogging. And if you don’t agree with me I hope you and your family die horrible painful deaths because you are all anti-America, baby-killing scum who contaminate the earth with any ideas that are counter to mine.

    You satisfied now MoD? Does this make sense to you?

  14. MoD – a partial list:

    * Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D-VA) brother’s address was erroneously posted online by a Tea Party blogger who invited activists to descend on the house. A gas line outside the brother’s house was cut.

    * Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) was the target of threatening faxes and phone calls, including death threats.

    * A brick was thrown through the window of the Democratic Party office in Rochester, New York.

    * Rep. Anthony Weiner’s office in Kew Gardens, New York, had to be evacuated after suspicious white powder was found in an envelope mailed to the office.

    * A thrown brick smashed a window at Rep. Louise Slaughter’s district office in Niagara Falls, New York.

    * Slaughter also received a message claiming that “snipers were being deployed to kill those members who voted yes for health care,” according to Politico.

    * The FBI arrested a California man for making threatening phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    * A tossed brick demolished a window at the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita, Kansas.

    * A devoted Glenn Beck fan left a serious of death threats (“Kill the f_cking Senator! “) on the voice mail at the office of Sen. Patty Murray


    You post I didn’t think for one minute that you want to suppress speech. I really want to make that clear. and then you follow up with If you are saying we need to somehow sanitize or forbid certain types of speech, Which is it – do you think I want to suppress speech or forbid speech?

    Again – there is a huge difference between criminalizing or forbidding speech and publicly rebuking irresponsible speech. The Jewish group that has collected signatures to petition FOX to get rid of Glenn Beck’s show is working to rebuke his speech, the attempts to convince advertisers to not support his show is working to rebuke his speech – this are appropriate actions by people who believe that his brand of speech is counter to the free flow of information in a civil society and I applaud them. BUT, if there was an attempt to criminalize his speech I would defend his right.

  15. A more direct example:

    Byron Williams, in a jailhouse interview, told reporter John Hamilton that he was heavily influenced by Glenn Beck’s conspiratorial rants at the time when Williams plotted to assassinate leaders at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU.

  16. bBoy, you do seem to be trying to live in two worlds here. On another thread you actually said, and I could hardly believe it, that

    “Perhaps some have tried to make a causative connection but I haven’t seen it.”

    You haven’t seen all the commentary attempting to establish a cause/effect relationship between right-wing rhetoric and the Tuscon shootings…really?

    And though you keep insisting that YOU are not opining that there’s a direct link, you keep hammering away about examples of a link.

    There’s been enough combat metaphor and homicidal innuendo coming from both sides in the last 10 years to fill a coffee table book. There is no historical evidence suggesting that this kind of talk provokes violence.

    Let me ask you a question. What do you think provoked John Lennon’s murderer? How about the attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life.

    With each of these shooters, you have what might be called “the perfect storm” — very particular variables, including mental instability at the base of it all — all mixed together like toxic chemicals in a lab until, eventually, everything explodes and mayhem occurs.

    This whole debate/discussion has only shown one thing IMO — that people are ill equipped to critically think and evaluate anything that is even slightly tinged with a political hue.

    I’m embarrassed, really.

  17. Roncella says:

    I guess only you and other liberals can express your opinions freely and openly.

    I guess only you and other liberals can determine what can be said and what
    cannot be said.

    I guess only you and other liberals will determine what free speech actually is, Right ?

  18. ron – you are free to express your opinions. I am free to ridicule those opinions.

  19. MarksonofDarwin says:


    Yes, you’re correct. The writer is trying to justify all of the un-founded accusations. Most thinking people see it for exactly what it is….a short backtrack, followed by even more bizarre assertions.

    As this hypothetical cop, what would jump out at you as a death threat while policing people’s thoughts. Here are two examples:

    1) A map with crosshairs over a candidates district right before an election.
    2) Someone who says the candidate is “dead to me” right before an election.

    Personally, I don’t think either one is very persuasive as far as who to VOTE for, but both are intended to sway VOTING behavior.

    It’s horrible that Gabrielle Giffords was targeted and shot.
    The truth is, we may never know WHY she was targeted. The guy who shot her is incoherent and all over the map politically. He’s certifiably insane. He is the only person responsible for this crime. It’s clear that this explanation isn’t very satisfying to some….but there it is.

  20. MarksonofDarwin says:


    You can’t give up now!
    Unless you’re talking about giving up the idea that there are only devils and angels, and I’m on the side of the angels. I’m flattered, but really…I can’t always be right!

    I’m not sure what all those examples are supposed to prove….and what is it you want to DO about it?

    Maybe that’s where the confusion is. You keep citing all of these very one-sided examples of violence. What are you attributing them to? Glenn Beck? I think some of the frustration you’re having with me is the fact that I don’t really know what you’re talking about. Some jail bird “confesses” that the devil made him do it? (in this case the “devil” being Beck) How is that unique? Criminals do that all the time….why are we suddenly believing them? Don’t you know that *everyone* in prison is innocent?!

    There have been muckrakers for, oh, I don’t know….EVER!
    This is not unique, nor has the language changed much.
    The only thing that seems to have changed, is the willingness for some to self-censor for the sake of “looking” and “sounding” good….and correct.
    We don’t need to homogenize our political discourse in order to pound it into that perfect shape. We NEED muckrakers and dissent….and it’s not often pretty. That’s all I’m trying to say.

  21. Roncella says:

    beerBoy, and you usually do a good job of ridiculing many who post here, and thats fine, its called expressing your free speech rights.

  22. MarksonofDarwin says:

    My idea of “bringing back civility” would consist of more honesty and reason to our discourse.

    My moment of “giving up” was back when President Bush along with Pelosi and Reid bailed out the banks.
    I remember getting on this very website, trying very hard not to cuss, when this hit the news.
    There was a collective shrug. Maybe a couple half-hearted attempts at explaining why there was no other choice.

    And why was that?
    Because it was BI-partisan. That’s why.

    You want civility? I do too.
    We will never achieve it unless we ALL put aside this charade, and start paying attention to what is REALLY affecting us as a nation.

    Bitter words and violent rhetoric are a by-product of people believing they occupy some higher ground on truth and enlightenment. They don’t. Nobody does….and it doesn’t matter. None of these pundits matter. They are not our leaders. They only represent a small portion of the debate. They are best left ignored. Let’s pay attention to what our *actual* representatives are doing.

  23. Ron and bB; you are both free to speak in defense of your views but neither of you are free to use force and violence to support or enforce your views.

  24. MarksonofDarwin says:


    That’s absolutely correct.
    They can’t **use** violence. But they ARE free to use violent rhetoric. It would make them look like a kook, but there is no law against it.

  25. The question is: when does heated political rhetoric that utilizes violent metaphor become the equivalent to yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater? When does incitement to political action become incitement to violence?

  26. Roncella says:

    Xring, I wish to appoint you has the speech Czar of all posts done on this site from this point on.

    Only you xring will have the authority to decide what posts may contain force or violence.

  27. The question IS,
    Why is there a double standard when incitement to political action becomes incitement to violence?

  28. examples?

  29. Oh… I provided examples of actual incitement to violence… sorry.

  30. “The United States of America are on the brink of a major revolution. I am not talking about some fuzzy “internet revolution” or similar hogwash but the real McCoy.
    I mean armed uprising, riots, civil war. The full Monty.
    …This election, and the way an Obama administration is going to perform, is the crossroads for the American Nation. Either reform or revolution. The powers to be are not going to cede their powers voluntarily. They never do. If Obama fails, there will be someone else and there is no guarantee that this is not going to be someone like Lenin, or worse, Hitler.”

    Daily Kos diarist, Sebastian likes to rattle cages,

  31. Here’s a “humor bit” from the Randi Rhodes show (wasn’t he on the partially publicly funded Air America?)

    “A spoiled child (Bush) is telling us our Social Security isn’t safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here’s your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little b*stard. [audio of gun being cocked].”

  32. ItalianSpring says:
  33. So……..it’s a no on the Olbermann examples huh?

  34. Passe B.

    Tell ya what. I’ll agree to agree. Let’s move to some of the “examples” you asked for.

  35. Do you examples from the Left where people actually acted upon the statements made? There are some examples from the Right.

  36. insert “have” after “you” and before “examples”

  37. I think we can all agree that people can be incited to violence. Face it, we wouldn’t be a country if we hadn’t been convinced to take up arms. To categorize the concern around the event in Arizona as simply hype does a disservice to us all. Even if the event in Arizona wasn’t the least bit provoked, we can point to cases where words have incited murder, like the Dr. Tiller case. The question is “What can we do to prevent another event like this from happening.” Toning down the rhetoric just ain’t gonna cut it.

    Two places to start:

    1.) Gun control. If you’ve ever been to a gun show, you know there’s a ton of weaponry that is simply superfluous. Granted, even if the Second Amendment is defined as every citizens right to bear arms, it doesn’t say what arm. We as citizens have to define that. And there’s nothing about ammunition. I doubt our forefathers foresaw Glocks that could carry 30 rounds of hollow-point bullets.
    Are pistols even necessary? They’re only designed to do one thing; kill people at close range. At least a rifle is multipurpose. And highly visible. Besides, if I had to overthrow a tyrannical government, I wouldn’t go into battle armed with a pistol. And any kid who plays Call of Duty knows that.

    2.) Our mental healthcare system. Coverage for mental health needs is practically non-existent in our society. People around the killer knew he was unbalanced, but there wa really no effective system in place to help or deal with him. If the Republicans are serious about amending the current healthcare system, they can start here.

  38. beerBoy says:
    January 17, 2011 at 6:12 am
    Do you examples from the Left where people actually acted upon the statements made? There are some examples from the Right.


    But you haven’t provided any.

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