January 24, 2011

On the Tucson Shooting: MSM vs. Palin's Map

In other news - indeed, sometimes the only news being discussed on TV - we've seen Sarah Palin getting blamed for the tragedy in Arizona, largely by obvious lefty partisans. The theory is being forced to people's attention by the MSM who are treating it like it's an idea worth musing on. She is seen as culpable for this shooting because of her "violent imagery" and "vitriolic rhetoric" and the like. In specific, she is thought to be responsible for the shooting because of a map that was posted on SarahPAC's website in 2010. They say it is so terrible because it uses the so-called "violent imagery" of cross-hairs to target Mrs. Giffords' district as one ready to be taken by Republicans in the then-upcoming midterm elections.

Here it is, and you can see it for yourself:

You can understand just by looking at the thing that it's not violent at all. I can't even get a little riled up looking at all that calming blue. Blue is the color they paint nurseries for crying out loud.

Plus, there's nothing inherently "violent" about cross-hairs. True, most people tend to think of guns, but really it has to do more with scopes than the actual gun. Many people have pointed out that cross-hairs are painted onto plenty of surveyor leveling instruments, so they aren't necessarily gun scopes. But for sake of argument, I'll assume that most normal people think of guns when they see the cross-hairs symbol.

Why do we assume that it was Sarah Palin's "targeting map" that set Loughner off? If "crosshairs" are all that's needed to set a psychopath on a killing rampage, maybe it was the creepily similar DNC map from 2004 that did it:

Wow, they even say "behind enemy lines"! Such violent rhetoric! Or maybe he was looking at the 2010 Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) map for "targeting" Republican congressmen:

My point is not that Democrats caused the tragedy. In fact, I think that the above two maps had nothing to do with Loughner's rampage. My point is that the so-called "violent imagery", which may/may not have supposedly pushed Loughner to violence, is not necessarily only Palin's doing. If targeting people (even metaphorically) is a cause for violence, then surely the DNC and DCCC are equally to blame.

I can agree that vitriolic rhetoric is not pleasant and doesn't have a place in modern, civilized political discourse. Yet, I might add that the use of targets and cross-hairs is nothing new or strange or extreme. Charles Krauthammer hit upon this in his column (actually, he wrote a lot of good things in that one; I recommend it). Political symbols and idioms have long included references to war and violence: we have primaries in 'battleground states', we take 'shellackings' in elections, we wage political 'campaigns', and our political spin doctors commit 'character assassinations' of opponents. Heck, President Obama himself even said of the political struggle between Democrats and Republicans that "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." Why can't this be the vitriolic rhetoric that set Loughner off? And why now and not two years ago?

The most damning part of this whole poor excuse for a theory is the fact that there is not a shred of evidence that Loughner saw any of these images. WTF? Are we supposed to believe that Loughner was driven to violence by things with which he was never in contact? He was no Sarah Palin fan, and we have records of a personal vendetta against Giffords since 2007, when no one outside of Alaska knew who Sarah Palin was. So would anyone care to explain how that works? And don't gimme anything about "contributing to a climate of hate." That's a cop-out, plain and simple. It's such a lame, vague excuse that it could apply to merely pointing with your hand like this:

This is akin to suggesting that violent video games like Doom were the primary cause for school shootings like Columbine, for you gamers out there. I'm sure you can relate. Except the situation is more like this: "the shooter may have previously viewed a screenshot from Doom and that caused him to be so enraged that he shot up a school". Or better yet: "the mere existence of the violent game Doom caused a teenager who had never played it before to shoot up a school."

Seriously, that is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. You may not like Sarah Palin, but there's no way you can wish your way into blaming her for the tragedy.

I'd like to part with this quote:

"In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber."

- Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

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