Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mainstream Media Diary: AZ Shooting Provides Our Chance To Demonize Tea Party, Conservatives As The Guilty Instigators (How About Sarah Palin Too?)

Some prominent liberal bloggers wasted little time before politicizing the horrific and tragic shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona on Saturday.

Almost immediately after the nation learned of the shooting of Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others (including a federal judge), a few prominent liberal web writers sought to blame Sarah Palin and other conservatives for the action.

Linking to a map of U.S. House districts that Sarah Palin's pac wanted to "target" during the 2010 mid-term elections -- which sadly included crosshairs over Rep. Giffords' district (among others) -- DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas Tweeted, "Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin."

The liberal blog Firedog Lake also went there.

Palin has deleted the image from her website, and issued a short statement on the shooting, writing on her Facebook page: "My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."

Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias Tweeted out several other examples of "violent rhetoric," including Rep. Michele Bachman saying, "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous" to block climate change legislation.

Tea party activists are reportedly already fearing they too will be blamed for this event.

A few personal observations...

First, it is sad to see folks immediately politicize such a tragedy. If your first response to such an event is to think of Sarah Palin, something is wrong.

Like it or not, the sort of rhetoric and imagery employed by Palin's PAC is not terribly unusual. Politicians constantly talk about "targeting" voters -- does anyone think they want to shoot them? Political consultants tell politicians to "hunt where the ducks are, " but they certainly don't mean to shoot voters. Ironically, Moulitsas has also previously urged his readers to "target" Giffords and put a "bulls eye" on her district because she "sold out the Constitution..."

To be sure, it is possible for a politician to use words to incite violence, but putting a target on a congressional district is clearly not an example of that.

Our culture is full of rhetoric that uses violent analogies for everyday events. Here is a headline I just pulled up: "Aaron Rodgers in the Eagles' Crosshairs...Literally." (Here's another: Lindsay Lohan in Sheriff's Crosshairs, Calif. Investigators Ask ..." (Clearly, we had better hope nothing happens to the Aaron Rodgers or Lindsay Lohan in the near future).

It's also worth noting that the majority of the most egregious comments were made on Twitter, an outlet that allows folks to Tweet before thinking. (source)

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