Saturday, January 22, 2011

Political rhetoric and the Tuscon shooting

My article on political rhetoric and the Tuscon shooting is up on the Orlando Sentinel website here.  I will probably be contributing frequently to that blog over the next year.  The text of my article is below:
Colorful rhetoric has been part of politics since the dawn of civilization. The term “campaign” itself is of military origin. Military metaphors are common not only in politics, but in business, sports, medicine, science, and every-day life. In 2009, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee published on their website a map of the country with bulls-eyes over the districts of “targeted Republicans”. Nobody complained, because the word “target” and associated symbolism have long been accepted in the non-violent American lexicon. We do not presume advertisers intend to actually kill their “target audience”. We all know that Target superstores do not sell guns and ammo. On October 23, 2010, Democratic Congressman Paul Kanjorski said of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, “they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him.” Inappropriate? Yes. An actual call to violence? Of course not. Yet when Sarah Palin published her own now-famous “target map”, Democrats accused her of inciting violence. At the time, conservatives laughed off these accusations as being childish, disingenuous, and hypocritical. With the eruption of new accusations against conservatives after the tragedy in Tuscon, we must address this issue head-on.

Political rhetoric becomes heated because people are passionate about politics – and rightly so. When our government is squandering our national wealth, committing generational theft, and destroying an opportunity for prosperity built by generations of Americans, anger is an appropriate response. For Liberals, anger was an appropriate response to “war for oil”, at least while a Republican was President. What we have in American politics is not a climate of hate; it is a climate of passion. We cannot not allow the tragic violence of a lone madman to quell our passions, or use it to lay false accusations of hatred on our fellow Americans.

But that’s exactly what Democrats did after the Tuscon massacre. Within literally minutes of the shooting, the leftist blogosphere and media organizations were saturated with articles and commentary accusing Republicans and the Tea Party of inciting the shooter to violence. In an epiphany, the Left came to believe that, despite non-stop exposure to guns and violence in movies, TV, and video games, it is non-violent military metaphors on conservative websites and radio talk shows that incite lunatics to kill and turn ordinary men into murderers. When the Tuscon shooter turned out to be an anti-Christian, anti-Semetic, God-hating, anti-Constitution, Flag-burning, Marxist, George W. Bush hating, pothead 9-11 Truther, intellectually honest Democrats should have then argued he was incited by their own “violent rhetoric”. Instead, the charlatans on the Left continued to promote the idea of a conservative “climate of hate”, and are using the Tuscon tragedy to push for new restrictions on free speech, including a modern-day Sedition Act. The truth is Jared Loughner never listened to talk radio. He was not motivated by any political ideology or rhetoric, and the only real climate of hate was the one in Loughner’s own deranged mind.

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