Some lunatic seems to have decided to water the tree of liberty.
Gabrielle Giffords survived being in Sarah Palin’s metaphorical gunsight, but someone seems to have decided to employ what Palin’s friend Sharron Angle called “Second Amendment remedies.” Of course, those who think that gun control means a steady aim will be pleased that the quality of American marksmanship remains high.
I suppose it would be unreasonable to ask Palin to refudiate her extremist rhetoric. But would it be unreasonable to ask the media to pay attention to extremism as a national political problem? Â Note that Giffords’s office was one of the targets of the wave of right-wing vandalism that marked the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Author: Mark Kleiman
Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out.
Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken)
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist
Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993)
Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989)
View all posts by Mark Kleiman
45 thoughts on “Palin target shot”
As of a moment ago, Rep. Giffords was not dead but in surgery and in critical condition.
Which does not, I should add, mean your point is not well-taken; it is. It's just that the news isn't as bad as it could have been, perhaps.
This whole development is incredibly frightening to me, and I really hope she pulls through. I wonder if this the beginning of a new dark era of political violence in America, or the breaking of the Tea Party wave? Both of those things have seemed not far off for a while now.
I'm not so young that I don't remember the wave of assassinations and attempts in the '60s and '70s and early '80s.
Seems that every time somebody had a beef with a politician or famous person, they'd reach for the gun.
Don't let it start again.
Her father Spencer Giffords, 75, wept when asked if his 40-year-old daughter had any enemies.
"Yeah," he told The Post. "The whole tea party."
Federal Judge dead, Congresswoman shot in head as if in a war zone; I doubt when you sign on as a Judge or politician you agree to put yourself at risk of death by violence unless your in a tea party type fringe group. But now in the tea party age, born really not by design, but from the action of Karl Rove/Dick Cheney et al, by the acts of their puppet G.W. Bush, must a politician include that concern when deciding to run for office or serve in a appointed position? The wounds and scars on our nation as a result of the Bush years, run deeper, and are more infected then I would have ever thought. When will this nightmare end/
The assailant's YouTube feed is rather incoherent; I cannot recognize much Tea Party rhetoric, and he sounds more like the kind of guy who has a tin foil hat than a tricorner hat. Gotta stay tuned.
Years ago, I had a brief discussion on the topic of incitement and the toleration thereof with a Professor Mark A. R. Kleiman. That conversation didn't go well. I wonder what ever became of him.
Hmph. I guess it's probably best to get just a little more data before going off on these sorts of riffs…
Per Ed and Brett, the gunman appears not merry deranged but incoherently so: he doesn't seem to be a doctrinaire Tea Partier. That said, both of their comments rather miss the point: Sarah Palin is superimposing crosshairs on her opponents, Sharon Angle is invoking Second Amendment Remedies, and Glenn Beck spends hours every wake spinning wild conspiracy theories about how his ideological opponents are not only misguided but actually malevolently plotting the destruction of America. That's the context. Sure, none of these people would explicitly endorse violence and in fact probably they oppose it. Sure, the violent madmen will be beyond and outside even the recognizable fringes of their movement. Nonetheless, hese dangerous whackjobs are also receiving their messages, and carrying them to their logical conclusion. You don't get to pass out rhetorical pitchforks and torches and then act surprised when someone actually uses them.
Er, "merry" s/b "merely". Damn iOS.
"Per Ed and Brett, the gunman appears not [merely] deranged but incoherently so: he doesn’t seem to be a doctrinaire Tea Partier."
I must dispute this assessment. Everyone seems to be making an assumption that there is some coherent Tea Party doctrine that this guy does not adhere to. But the rest of the teabaggers are just as incoherent–just because a few of them got press representation that portrays them in favorable light does not make them political geniuses, or even a political movement.
Loughner's rants are actually quite typical of an average, run-of-the-mill teabagger. He drones on about immigration and literacy–two items that have been at the top of AZ militia's agenda for a generation now. Pretending that this guy is atypical is crazy talk, playing right into teabaggers hands. Loughner is exactly the type of nut they attract. And his actions are exactly of the type advocated by some teabag "leaders".
With all due respect, I linked to and quoted your comment on Facebook. I hope you don't mind. You really helped me find a way to speak clearly on this matter of incitement and the tolerance thereof.
Thomas writes: "despicable and disgusting are too kind". And so they are, Thomas, for filth like you. Had you any vestige of human decency, you'd lie low and keep silent for a few weeks. But of course you have no vestige of human decency; you are a conservative.
Thomas writes, "without any evidence". Well, Thomas, here's your teabagger comrade in his own words:
"You don't have to accept the federalist laws."
"No! I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver!"
"All purchases for an educational course in The United States as of now are unconstitutional in the United States of America because of Section 10 in the United States of America's Constitution."
Secessionist? Check. Fiat-currency fetishist? Check. Tenther? Check. Smells like a teabagger to me.
I expect that, since Laughner wants a currency backed by gold AND silver, Thomas will attempt to argue he's a Democrat.
Thomas, you really are a loathesome shite.
Since Thomas is busily throwing up smoke clouds for the Bachmanns and Palins of this world, I can only conclude he is trying to contribute, in his small and contemptible way, to the next teabagger political murder.
The sad thing about all of this is that while whack jobs like Mrs Tilton are busy spinning this senseless shooting into a political story, nobody on RBC has bothered to write about the news story released on Friday that 4 in 10 unborn babies in NYC are murdered by abortion. When will these senseless killings of the youngest and most innocent among us receive the attention they deserve? What an utter embarassment and shame on our society. The same who will call for tougher gun laws make no calls for tougher abortion laws.
Bux, when you call a lawful medical procedure "murder," you're inciting violence. Just thought I'd mention it.
Mark, I fail to see how calling abortion murder incites violence. There are plenty of non-violent responses to murder which have been demonstrated throughout history. A response need not be violent, and indeed should not be violent. But back to abortion, hmmmm, it seems to me that one has to be very careful about using the law to negate something as being defined as violent or murderous. "The law" can be wrong. The death penalty is a lawful procedure in many states, and yet many want to call it a violent act of murder. And of course there are historical examples to draw on of "lawful medical procedures" which are quite violent. So I call a duck a duck, and don't worry about what the law has to say about it. If the law was the ultimate arbiter of morality, then I'd be more careful. But it clearly is not.
I'd generally agree with Mark's point on "murder". And I think I see where Bux is coming from – saying "Meat is Murder" isn't really describing murder either. I think in both cases people are simply being stubborn and dishonest, albeit for political effect. The problem is in the usage of the term. Murder usually refers to the intentional killing of an innocent victim. Technically, abortions or beef can be viewed as such, but they are different in a crucial aspect: they are not intended as murder. You might say they are "10th degree murder". You could just as easily say that swatting a fly is murder. But it obviously isn't, right?
I think reasonable people choose their language. They recognize that there are different, and legitimate disagreements on these issues. They realize that it is then dishonest, a sort of sleight-of-hand, to place the force of a word like "murder" behind a meaning that isn't being clearly represented.
I think this sort of sloppy language, a common part of movement propaganda, contributes to a divisiveness and paranoia which can have real consequences to the extent that it dehumanizes and objectifies one's opponent. That guy putting ham on his sandwich is a murderer! He must be stopped! No, actually he is not a murderer. He's a really nice guy who happens to view pigs differently. Ditto for abortionists – they just happen to view fetuses differently. I think the reason you don't see the kind of whackos in the animal liberation movement as in the pro-life movement is complex and interesting (fundamentalism is a whole other weird, paranoid and reactionary beast).
But I think conservatives need to spend some time taking this element of their spectrum seriously. We may have had it on the left in the past, but we don't now. But you're coming off two decades now of really heated 2nd amendment, militia, paranoid stuff. So much of the rhetoric on the right has gotten so sloppy. And anger and revanchism is so much a part of it, that it's really hard not to see a pattern. I know the anger gets the ratings on FOX and AM radio, and conservatives like it that it boosts the message, but there's just so much lying, meanness, and kind of base hatred pouring out of those people. I think it's really bad for politics and bad for our country.
Sharron Angle asked for Second Amendment remedies, and she got them. Her words: if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around
I believe in civility. Moreover, as I understand them, the rules of this board mandate civility. But you're really pushing it. From what I've seen of this murderer's beliefs, your attempts to label this murderer as a left winger place you utterly beneath contempt. Your proclaimed inability to distinguish between the overheated rhetoric on the right and Obama having told his supporters to bring a metaphorical gun to a metaphorical fight doesn't even measure up to the standard of "utterly beneath contempt". I don't know whether you're lying to yourself, lying to us, or simply trying to entertain yourself – but with six people dead including a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge, and a Congresswoman somehow clinging to life, I'm not really disposed to put up with your act.
Incidentally, an accusation of incitement to violence, even were it not truthful, is not necessarily itself an incitement to violence. Indeed, the fact that you think it is an incitement to violence may be revealing about your state of mind.
I suppose we could have a debate about the merits of abortion and the rights of zygotes. This isn't that debate. Blood is seeping into the soil of Tucson, and your attempt to jump up and down waving an unrelated bloody shirt is either obtuse or disgusting. Certainly, according to your lights it is an extremely bloody shirt – but there's an entire laundromat of unrelated bloody shirts to choose from, some of them far bloodier by anyone's reckoning. If we really wanted to go down that road, we might never stop: how many people (indisputable people, people who've already been born) died yesterday in the third world from preventable diseases, for example? This is a discussion about how a culture that fetishizes firearms and denounces our elected representatives as being malign conspirators committed to the destruction of our society and removable only by violence has inspired one crazed lunatic to commit a terrible massacre. And apparently the Sheriff is asking whether the murderer had help. If you want a thread on abortion, either request it of the front-pagers or get your own blog.
Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle are not to blame for this tragedy. I wonder, however, what the reaction on the right would have been if the victim had been a Tea Party supporter, rather than a Tea Party target. (Double entendere intended)
The reaction among teabaggers to this shooting, however, is important. Now is the time to "refudiate" the glib talk of Second Amendment remedies, reloading and the kind of overheated rhetoric that has roused the rabble. None of the post-shooting comments attributed to Palin and her ilk, that I am aware of, has included recantation of the over-the-top stuff.
Hey, even George Wallace abandoned and renounced demagogy later in life. Let's see whether the Palin crowd now has that kind of integrity. (In the meantime, I ain't holdin' mah breath.)
Gosh this thread is getting uncharacterisically spit flecked for the RBC.
Someone back up the line here (sorry I can't recall who, it's been such a long thread) questioned this atrocity being portrayed as political. I fail to see how an armmed attack on a US congress woman at a political event by a guy who makes public political statements, can be seen in any other light, irrespective of the assasine's mental state.
As to Thomas' insistance that the alledged crazy person is a leftwingnut (thereby relieving all rightwingnut hate talkers from responsibility) it just doesn't pass the smell test. The last time I can recall a "politically" motivated nutjob trying to shoot a Republican was Sqeaky Fromme ham handedly trying to shoot Gerald Ford. On the otherhand it's been open season on liberals for at least half a century and the rightwing seems to think that's just fine.
Sorry but the 'Just because Sarah painted a bulls eye on her don't mean nuthin' argument is weak tea. That crosshair is the political equivilent of shouting fire in the proverbial crowded theatre and at best proves that Sarah of the Klondike is unqualified for any position of authority (as if that were not a long foregone conclussion). And Sarah is only the most colorful tip of the bloody iceberg that is the american right.
Say what you will to deflect the obvious truth but the GOP/Tea Party is a political mad house that uses raving lunatic rhetoric to hide thier utter bankrupcy of policy ideas asside from the not so thinly veiled agenda of the funders who pull the strings on the teabags.
(Mark Kleiman): "…when you call a lawful medical procedure 'murder', you’re inciting violence. Just thought I’d mention it."
What about equating skepticism over the AGW hypothesis to genocide, as your colleague Wimberley did?
Btw, the bullseye and target images are stock metaphors. Kos used it (see Patterico), as did the DNC.
The wingnut is a wingnut, apparently was not coherent enough of late to have a coherent political philosophy, though he seemingly was of the left a few years ago, before he became as deranged as today.
The point here is that a lot of folks on the left instantly leapt to the conclusion that the assassin had to be a conservative, ideally a tea party member, before they had any data to back this up. You didn't conclude it on the basis of evidence, you desperately WANTED it to be true. You WANT your political enemies to be murderous. Why?
I think, because you hate them, and would be happier if they were more hateful.
Sorry, that's "DLC", not "DNC". Still, the point remains. They're accessories before the fact to the Arizona assault, by Mark's "reasoning".
@Brett- The victim is a Democratic congresswoman who has been personally put on a metaphoric if not actual hit list by prominant GOP/Tea Party leaders (who not so incidentally extoll the virtues of packing heat and armed insurection). Where do you think we should start looking? Greenpeace?
As to the suspect being "of the left a few years ago" he's friggin 22 years old. A few years ago he wasn't considered capable of judging whether to drink vodka or not.
As to "a coherent political philosophy" we're talking about the "Keep yer Gubmint hands offen mah Medicare" Tea Party here. These folks are the not too sharp tools of the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch.
I understand the guys in Rightwingnutistan don't care what the real world consequences of their hot button rhetoric are but when the s**t happens at least have the integrety to accept the reality that it is a byproduct of the crap being generated in your camp. You know it is, I know it is, everybody knows! If you don't like what it all leads to, this could be a good time to consider generating an alternate message to promote your political philosophy.
Um, kids? The Tea Party isn't just for disaffected Republicans anymore. In any case, it should be obvious that this sick individual's actual politics, such as they are, are completely beside the point. The prevailing gun rhetoric was highly likely to have effects beyond club membership. Giffords herself made the point before she was shot.
Malcolm, are you really equivocating the bullseye, a metaphor for success, with the crosshairs, a metaphor for targeting/getting someone in your gun-sights? Because that boggles the mind.
So "left winger shoots liberal" is what the Right is going with? What next, "Keith Olbermann incited violence against Giffords"?
Thomas, how do you feel about reports linking Loughner to your organization, American Renaissance?
(Fred): "Sorry but the ‘Just because Sarah painted a bulls eye on her don’t mean nuthin’ argument is weak tea. That crosshair is the political equivilent of shouting fire in the proverbial crowded theatre and at best proves that Sarah of the Klondike is unqualified for any position of authority…"
(Fred): "…(as if that were not a long foregone conclussion). And Sarah is only the most colorful tip of the bloody iceberg that is the american right."
Which is why the murder rate is so much higher in rural Idaho than in Detroit, right?
(Fred): "As to “a coherent political philosophy” we’re talking about the “Keep yer Gubmint hands offen mah Medicare” Tea Party here. These folks are the not too sharp tools of the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch."
The Nobel committee which awarded the Nobel Memorial prizes to Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek would probably disagree with Fred, here.
Fred): "I understand the guys in Rightwingnutistan don’t care what the real world consequences of their hot button rhetoric…"
You mean, like "Rightwingnutistan"?
(Fred): "…are but when the s**t happens at least have the integrety to accept the reality that it is a byproduct of the crap…"
(Fred): "…being generated in your camp. You know it is, I know it is, everybody knows! If you don’t like what it all leads to, this could be a good time to consider generating an alternate message to promote your political philosophy."
I've been arguing this for a long time. On this site and elsewhere. The principle applies across the board.
After the 2004 election, PBS broadcast two panel discussions, one of which featured journalists who had covered the campaigns and one of which features pollsters and campaign strategists. The participants to the campaign panel worked in partisan politics but treated each other with professional courtesy. A NYT journalist said that she routinely receives angry letters complaining about biased coverage from all directions, but that the vituperation that year (2004) reached an unprecedented level. Someone else on the panel asked: "From the right or the left?", and she said: "Oh, from the left".
One of the pollsters related that he had analyzed survey results and written an article for a trade publication which predicted that the same-sex marriage issue would become the next equivalent to the abortion issue in generating deal-breaking, single-issue voters. He said that, following the publication of his article, he received a volume of hate-mail. One of the other panelists asked: "From the right or the left?" and he replied: "From the left".
(Ack ack ack): "Malcolm, are you really equivocating the bullseye, a metaphor for success, with the crosshairs, a metaphor for targeting/getting someone in your gun-sights? Because that boggles the mind."
Both the bullseye and crosshairs allude to accuracy (success) with killing weapons, seems to me. If TV supplies your experience with firearms, you see more of the "killing" part. If you shoot regularly, you see the "accuracy" part. Hunters shoot more targets than animals, and more animals than people.
Pretty amazing. Saying the culture of fear and hatred for JFK in Dallas in 1963 might have been relevant to his murder is, says Thomas, somehow illegitimate. Someone tell William Manchester.
<> Both the bullseye and crosshairs allude to accuracy (success) with killing weapons, seems to me. If TV supplies your experience with firearms, you see more of the “killing” part. If you shoot regularly, you see the “accuracy” part. Hunters shoot more targets than animals, and more animals than people.
Seems to you? Hah! Crosshairs alluding to targeting. Bullseyes measure success.
I grew up in a hunting family – it's obvious you did not.
Actually, cross-hairs don't "allude" to targeting – they directly refer to targeting. And just because you use a crosshairs doesn't mean you'll hit the target whatsoever. Your point is non-existent.
And I guess you can say darts are killing weapons – poison-tipped darts.
(ack ack ack): "I grew up in a hunting family – it’s obvious you did not."
Dunno. It's a matter of interpretation, I suppose. My father hunted, as a lad back in Iowa. I own firearms, but spent more time spear-fishing than hunting in my youth, in Hawaii. I'll still take a spear if I swim outside the reef, in case lunch swims by or something that thinks I'm lunch swims by, but Oahu is fished out close to shore and I can't make the depth I could forty years ago. A hunting license and a rifle give you access to public land which unarmed hikers may not legally hike. The last animal I killed was a pig.
Malcolm, are you now saying the difference between a bullseye and a crosshairs is a matter of interpretation? Because, lofl.
(ack ack ack): “I grew up in a hunting family – it’s obvious you did not.”
(Malcolm): "Dunno. It’s a matter of interpretation, I suppose."
(ack ack ack): "Malcolm, are you now saying the difference between a bullseye and a crosshairs is a matter of interpretation? Because, lofl."
"Grew up in a hunting family" is a matter of interpretation. My father hunted as a lad. He and I shot targets at the Koko Crater target range and walked around the Pohakuloa hunting area with rifles once or twice, without shooting anything. Between age 15 and 25 I spent a lot of time face-down in the water, with a mask and spear. Today, a hunting license and rifle are camoflage for hiking in hunting areas. Shucks, I forgot ammo.
The point here is that a lot of folks on the left instantly leapt to the conclusion that the assassin had to be a conservative, ideally a tea party member, before they had any data to back this up. You didn’t conclude it on the basis of evidence, you desperately WANTED it to be true.
Wrong. See what he himself posted. He is a "states' rights" secessionist, a gold-bug and a tenther. Classical teabagger. He's also bugshit crazy, yes. What of it? That's also classical teabagger.
Really not sure why you're defending this guy. Your political views are mostly wrong, but you're very far removed from vermin like Thomas and Bux, who admire what Loughner did even if they'd never have the stones to do it themselves.
You WANT your political enemies to be murderous. Why?
Umm, no. We want them to be rational. But we'd settle for non-violent. Apparently we get neither.
I think, because you hate them, and would be happier if they were more hateful.
Right on the first count. Wrong on the second; see above. I'd be happier (and hate them less) if they were less hateful.
Malcolm, I don't care about your biography, fiction or not. I'd rather see you walk back your disingenuous equivalence.
(ack ack ack): "Malcolm, I don’t care about your biography, fiction or not."
You started it:…
(ack ack ack): "I grew up in a hunting family – it’s obvious you did not.”
(ack ack ack): "I’d rather see you walk back your disingenuous equivalence."
a) which equivalence?
b) "Disingenuous" is the gone-to-college way to call someone "liar". Incivility contributes to violence, doncha know?
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