Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Holiday Open Thread 2: Chewing over the News

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  • Paul Campbell,

    A couple of comments on slashdot::

    Sarah Palin just took down her USA Map with targets drawn over democratic leaders, one of them was for Gabrielle Giffords.

    Well, of course she did, she has to update it...

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I know I'm not supposed to laugh at that yet, but..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    It might be worth holding off making a causal connection between Jared Lee Loughner's actions and Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement until the guy's motives are better known.

    So far what's come to light about Loughner suggests mental illness.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Causal? Who said anything about causal? Her poster was bad taste, and now it's back-fired. Any ordinary human ought to feel a bit shit in the situation, regardless of the ultimate cause.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Good grief. Everyone who can ought be pointing out right now that, while it is true that this guy appears to be a nutter, as Bill Clinton put it

    [...] the words we use really do matter, because there's this vast echo chamber and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Or as Roger Ebert tweeted:

    Sarah Palin rummages online frantically erasing her rabble-rousing Tweets like a Stalinist trimming non-persons out of photos.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Roger Ebert is too generous. Any online rummaging will likely be done by those who placed the original tweets, acting at the behest of those folks for whom Palin serves as a useful idiot. Like Pauline Hanson, Sarah has never read a book in her life. And despite claims to the contrary, she certainly hasn't written one.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    if no-one is making a causal connection between Palin and Loughner how come the last few comments make a feature of linking the two?

    It is possible that there is no connection but whatever, I'm inlclined to wait and see just what this guys motives are. They may or may not suite my political prejudices.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    At best, La Palin's actions reek of unfortunate implications.

    Speaking of Arizona - which seems to have been becoming the new Mississippi - it's also worth noting that the Sensibles' idol, Sheriff Arpaio, is up to his neck in civil and criminal lawsuits - among those suing him are the freaking Feds.

    And somehow the Jared Loughners of this world seem to have been overlooked by Arpaio, in his cynical attempt to go Winston First on the Latin American hordes.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    It is possible that there is no connection but whatever, I’m [inclined] to wait and see just what this [guy's] motives are. They may or may not [suit] my political prejudices.

    There's a woman lying in a hospital bed with her brains blown out. She received death threats over her political views. Her opponent at the last election held a campaign event where supporters helped remove her from office via the good offices of the fully automatic M16. She was quite literally targeted for elimination by a woman who makes a political sport out of hunting, who calls upon her followers `not to retreat, but reload'.

    It doesn't matter if Palin pulled the trigger. What matters is that she legitimised a culture of violence where shooting your congresswoman seemed the responsible thing to do.

    That's why she's standing in the dock tonight, here and around the world.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    What matters is that she legitimised a culture of violence where shooting your congresswoman seemed the responsible thing to do.

    I agree with everything you say (and Neil nobody here has suggested a direct causal link) but to be fair shooting politicians you don't like is hardly a new thing in the land of the free.

    It's just not as common as it was twenty years back and before.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Sarah Palin is a fucking awful hunter (and fisher), and her bizarre climb to political fame in USA is mounted on crazies-

    how can any reasonable person who is a proud USA citizen reconcile Guantanamo/vicious treatment in USA prisons/death sentences there/extreme plutocracy/a warped health system (rich? YES! Poor? Fuck off) with living in 'the land of the free?"

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    It's just not as common as it was twenty years back and before.

    ever hear of the 60's?

    so, it's now "direct" causal link. silly me, I tought the statement "What matters is that she legitimised a culture of violence where shooting your congresswoman seemed the responsible thing to do." had some sort of causal implication. But clearly no "direct" causal link.

    So, why the link if it's not "direct"? Surely an indirect link is just an attempt at guilt by association.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Yes, Mr. Morrison, we have heard of the 1960s, when every left wing politician knew that every time they walked in public they put their lives in the hands of God. And we have also heard of the 1860s, when every decent politician knew that every time they walked in public they put their lives in the hands of God.

    It is precisely this American propensity to violence that makes Palin's words so shameful, that makes her so disgusting. She (and her followers, and her allies) have been toying with the rhetoric of death, and now someone has died they wish to deny their words and refuse their responsibilities.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    It might be worth holding off making a causal connection between Jared Lee Loughner's actions and Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement until the guy's motives are better known.

    Neil: If you're read my comments on the subject that way, I'm sorry. Of course I don't think Sarah Palin is some Antoinette Soprano, but I'd like to think nobody standing next year for the party I've supported for twenty years would even think about being associated with shit like this. I see Palin and her PAC have been busy trying (and failing) to sanitise the internet, but they don't get to wash their hands of the toxic political environment the Tea Baggers have carefully cultivated.

    I was also perfectly serious up-thread: I know good people who are firmly on the center-right but want nothing to do with the GOP. Now, I may be in the minority around here but I actually think a strong, reality-based conservative Republican Party is a good thing. The Tea Baggers don't, and that makes them even more dangerous while they merrily drive moderates into the sea.

    Finally, as someone who is living with mental illness myself, I'd also suggest Jared Loughner should have his psych assessment performed by someone qualified, and in a position, to do so.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Couple of relevant articles about the Arizona tragedy:

    James Fallows in the Atlantic on the Cloudy Logic of 'Political' Shootings

    So the train of logic is:
    1) anything that can be called an "assassination" is inherently political;
    2) very often the "politics" are obscure, personal, or reflecting mental disorders rather than "normal" political disagreements. But now a further step,
    3) the political tone of an era can have some bearing on violent events. The Jonestown/Ryan and Fromme/Ford shootings had no detectable source in deeper political disagreements of that era. But the anti-JFK hate-rhetoric in Dallas before his visit was so intense that for decades people debated whether the city was somehow "responsible" for the killing. (Even given that Lee Harvey Oswald was an outlier in all ways.)

    That's the further political ramification here. We don't know why the Tucson killer did what he did. If he is like Sirhan, we'll never "understand." But we know that it has been a time of extreme, implicitly violent political rhetoric and imagery, including SarahPac's famous bulls-eye map of 20 Congressional targets to be removed -- including Rep. Giffords. It is legitimate to discuss whether there is a connection between that tone and actual outbursts of violence, whatever the motivations of this killer turn out to be. At a minimum, it will be harder for anyone to talk -- on rallies, on cable TV, in ads -- about "eliminating" opponents, or to bring rifles to political meetings, or to say "don't retreat, reload."

    and Vaughan Bell on Slate about Mental illness as an explanation for violence

    Shortly after Jared Lee Loughner had been identified as the alleged shooter of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, online sleuths turned up pages of rambling text and videos he had created. A wave of amateur diagnoses soon followed, most of which concluded that Loughner was not so much a political extremist as a man suffering from "paranoid schizophrenia."

    For many, the investigation will stop there. No need to explore personal motives, out-of-control grievances or distorted political anger. The mere mention of mental illness is explanation enough. This presumed link between psychiatric disorders and violence has become so entrenched in the public consciousness that the entire weight of the medical evidence is unable to shift it. Severe mental illness, on its own, is not an explanation for violence, but don't expect to hear that from the media in the coming weeks.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Oh, and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting a couple of months back examined some of Faux News' hateful efforts to stir up their base.

    Bill O'Reilly's recent "joke" about decapitating Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank was only the latest example of a demented Fox News culture that permits on-air personalities to fantasize about assassination and other forms of violence against those deemed enemies of the station, its personalities or their worldview.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    Severe mental illness, on its own, is not an explanation for violence,

    No it isn't -- the only violence I ever did while severely mentally ill was to myself. Still, it's a nice distraction tactic. As someone acidly observed in my Twitter feed today, isn't funny how mass murder/terrorism committed by white people is the work of a "lone nutter". When it's the work of Muslims, over a billion other human beings are guilty by association?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    ever hear of the 60's?

    Yes, Neil. Ever thought about reading a link before posting a response?

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    : If you're read my comments on the subject that way, I'm sorry.

    no, I didn't take that from your comments Craig. I definitely would have assumed your position to be much more nuanced.

    Palin is worthy of criticism in her own right. What has happend in this tragic event I think does not make what she has said worse or better. It was wrong but I'm inclined to believe on what evidnce we have that Loughner might well have done what he has without the Tea Party.

    Appearently the most bitter dispute between the left and right in Arizona was illegal immigration and Loughner made no mention of that in his rantings.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Still, it's a nice distraction tactic

    Reducing it to the actions of a deranged loner avoids the bigger picture all too nicely - but no one acts in a vacuum.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I'd like to think nobody standing next year for the party I've supported for twenty years would even think about being associated with shit like this.

    Or this, now redacted, in the the current speak. It's what Ebert was directly referring to in the tweet I think.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Ever thought about reading a link before posting a response?

    apologies, I got that wrong.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Sacha,

    Reducing it to the actions of a deranged loner avoids the bigger picture all too nicely - but no one acts in a vacuum

    They were looking for a second person a couple of hours back. That still be seems to be active as the police have just released a picture.

    Just to end the day on a low six more people have just been shot in a Baltimore night club.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Appearently the most bitter dispute between the left and right in Arizona was illegal immigration and Loughner made no mention of that in his rantings.

    If we're gonna play it that way; he does apear to have mentioned other major Tea Party/Glenn Beck talking points, like bringing back gold and silver as legal tender and/or backing for the dollar.

    I really don't think it's necessary for him to have specifically listed the top five wingnut talking points to say that the far right in America have supported a tone of political discourse where it is not just acceptable but encouraged to fantasise about killing their opponents. And that if three hundred million people are repeatedly exposed to that idea, it's not awfully surprising that one of them might decide to put it into action.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

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