I wasn’t planning to comment on the shootings in Arizona, but the rush to exploit the tragedy for political gain shouldn’t pass unremarked. The first thing that caught my eye was this smug and nasty sermon from the Guardian’s Michael Tomasky, who tells us “rage is encoded in conservative DNA.”
Guns are simply too central to the mythology of the American right, as is the idea of liberty being wrested from tyrants only at gunpoint. For the American right to stop talking about armed insurrection would be like American liberals dropping the subjects of race and gender.
Glenn Reynolds, a man whose “conservative rage” is difficult to detect, offered this:
To be clear, if you’re using this event to criticize the “rhetoric” of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you’re either: (a) asserting a connection between the “rhetoric” and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you’re not, in which case you’re just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible… Those who purport to care about the health of our political community demonstrate precious little actual concern for America’s political well-being when they seize on any pretext, however flimsy, to call their political opponents accomplices to murder.
At Harry’s Place, Gordon MacMillan is troubled by “violent metaphors,” albeit only those used by some Republicans:
If you do use such explicit language like “reload” and “bullseye,” and “cross hair” imagery then to many the message is clear. You’re gunning for people even if it is metaphorically.
Even more troubled – to the point of authoritarian incoherence – is Pennsylvania Democrat Robert Brady. Mr Brady hopes to outlaw the “use of language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.” As an example of impermissible symbology, Brady pointed to a map used by Sarah Palin to indicate “targeted” congressional seats, saying: “You can’t put bull’s-eyes or crosshairs on a United States congressman or a federal official.” That the map in question does no such thing doesn’t appear to hinder Mr Brady. Apparently his perception is enough.
As Jeff Goldstein notes,
Neither Sarah Palin nor that Kos jaggoff targeted Congresswoman Giffords. What they targeted was her Congressional seat. Nobody literally put a bullseye or a target on her. And anyone pretending that they did - in order either to win political points or because they actually believe such nonsense - is either craven and opportunistic, or else too moronic to be taken seriously, save for the dangers they pose to our liberties by advocating for a legally-binding crackdown of fucking symbolism… One person’s dog barking is another person’s words from the Devil instructing them to kill. The answer to which is to get the person hearing voices some help, not to outlaw dogs.
Update, via the comments: