Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What is behind the blood libel accusations of the Democrats?

Charles Krauthammer puts his training as a psychiatrist to work on the Tuscon massacre to address the accusations that somehow Jard Loughner was motivated by the clich├ęd "climate of hate" that liberals have decided to pin on conservatives.
The charge: The Tucson massacre is a consequence of the "climate of hate" created by Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Obamacare opponents and sundry other liberal betes noires.

The verdict: Rarely in American political discourse has there been a charge so reckless, so scurrilous and so unsupported by evidence.

As killers go, Jared Loughner is not reticent. Yet among all his writings, postings, videos and other ravings - and in all the testimony from all the people who knew him - there is not a single reference to any of these supposed accessories to murder.

Not only is there no evidence that Loughner was impelled to violence by any of those upon whom Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann, the New York Times, the Tucson sheriff and other rabid partisans are fixated. There is no evidence that he was responding to anything, political or otherwise, outside of his own head.

A climate of hate? This man lived within his very own private climate. "His thoughts were unrelated to anything in our world," said the teacher of Loughner's philosophy class at Pima Community College. "He was very disconnected from reality," said classmate Lydian Ali. "You know how it is when you talk to someone who's mentally ill and they're just not there?" said neighbor Jason Johnson. "It was like he was in his own world."

His ravings, said one high school classmate, were interspersed with "unnerving, long stupors of silence" during which he would "stare fixedly at his buddies," reported the Wall Street Journal. His own writings are confused, incoherent, punctuated with private numerology and inscrutable taxonomy. He warns of government brainwashing and thought control through "grammar." He was obsessed with "conscious dreaming," a fairly good synonym for hallucinations.

This is not political behavior. These are the signs of a clinical thought disorder - ideas disconnected from each other, incoherent, delusional, detached from reality.
So we lack any sort of evidence that he was at all aware of Sarah Palin, the tea party, or any political rhetoric. That, of course, doesn't stop Democratic partisans from trying to take political advantage over the corpses of the dead in Tuscon.

But even if you believed this blood libel accusation, what would be the solution? What type of speech would you ban? What qualifications to the First Amendment would you make? We do know that Loughner had linked to a video of a flag burning. Would you make flag burning illegal? One Democratic representative, Bob Brady of Pennsylvania, has a bill proposal to ban military symbols and language that could foster violence. Really? Does he actually believe that such a bill would be constitutional? Jonah Goldberg follows this sort of thinking to its logical conclusion.
f the alleged shooter had been inspired by a movie or TV show -- as any number of murderers have been over the years -- would those blaming the tea parties join with social conservatives in blaming Hollywood? Would they celebrate new laws to "shut down" such fare?

Mark David Chapman, who murdered John Lennon, claimed to be in part inspired by "Catcher in the Rye." Should that be banned? Or if not banned, should we "dismiss" from public life anyone who doesn't denounce J.D. Salinger?

When the subject of censorship or the "chilling" of free expression comes up in other contexts, the very idea that books, movies or TV can be blamed for the actions of the criminal or the deranged is met with unbridled scorn. I actually disagree with that. If books can inspire us positively, surely they can inspire us negatively, too. But we understand that we don't blame books for the rare demons who feed on them.
Liberals who are so swift to blame the language of Sarah Palin or Sharron Angle would recoil from any suggestion that works of art share similar blame for other crimes.

Of course, deep down, these blood libel accusations are not about limiting speech through a law, Representative Bob Brady aside. They're instead aimed at a different target. (See how hard it is to get away from military metaphors?) The purpose is to deprive conservatives of legitimacy in public opinion. When liberals decry criticism of government as leading to the Oklahoma City bombing or the Tuscon shooting, their true goal is to neutralize conservative political points. This is of a piece with all the attempts to paint Republican candidates as extremists and paint all the Republican candidates in November's election as versions of Christine O'Donnell. Paint Republicans as some sort of monster on our body politic and then try to defang them through by trying to connect them in the public's mind with mindless murders that are wholly unrelated. The ultimate goal: make any criticism of how the government operates or plans to expand the power of government seem to be one step closer to mass murder.

Anyone who has observed high school debaters has seen this tactic in operation. They'll take a proposal of their opponents to reform education and then demonstrate how this is just a few steps away from thermonuclear war that will destroy all mankind. It's a silly jump in logic when debaters use it, but how different is that from saying that critics of government action are fundamentally responsible for the actions of murderous maniacs?

I think that Americans are too smart to buy into this obvious tactic. It's a lot more difficult now with the multiple sources of information that we have now.


mark said...

I promise not to clutter this thread with my "liberal rants", but two points:

1. If there is no connection between the killing and the "climate of hate", why are conservatives (and liberals) advocating "toning it down"? Why did Palin pull the infamous map from her site? If the lack of a connection is so certain, these actions are unnecessary and caving to the media. (Sorry, Rick, but pointing out that Daily Kos is cleaning it's site does not answer the question).

2. Palin or Krauthammer (or anybody) whining about blood libel is absurd given Palin's use of the term "Death Panels." I know there are people here who, while adamantly against Obamacare, know there was/is no such thing as "death panels". We are all guilty of "selective outrage". This is one such example. Maybe next time Palin or someone here mentions death panels, some conservative will have the courage to tell him/her to stop blood libeling our president.

Rick Caird said...

While I see Mark is still uninterested in what the lefty bloggers are doing, it is patently absurd to request an answer to why Palin is doing the same thing Kos is doing without having any interest in what Kos is doing. However, if you have a question for Palin, I suggest you ask her and not us.

Second, I am not seeing any great movement to "tone things down". I do see moves, from the left to get their opposition to tone things down, but I see little effort by those advocating someone else "tone things down" to tone down their rhetoric.

Finally, death panels are inevitable when government controls access. That is exactly where we are going as we can see from NICE in England and the rationing by waiting in Canada. We are also seeing an early approach with the withdrawal of approval for Avastin for terminal breast cancer patients. In fact, we already have a death panel in the FDA which denies, by delay, treatment while it waits to decide whether or not to approve a drug. The FDA should have a default position of approval. There is no value add for the FDA and it should be abolished.

Skay said...

"Second, I am not seeing any great movement to "tone things down". I do see moves, from the left to get their opposition to tone things down, but I see little effort by those advocating someone else "tone things down" to tone down their rhetoric"

Death threats against Sarah Palin are at unprecedented levels and the Tuscon Tea Party head has had threats.
GEE--Wonder why that happened?
The MSM and the left are such hypocrites.

slickvguy said...


Why do you bother? You aren't interested in learning or changing your mind. So what's the point? Needy of attention?

I'll tell you why Palin removed the graphic, but you will dismiss it. I've read this countless times on liberal blogs/websites as some kind of "proof" that Palin knew it was bad or wrong.

Here's the simple reason: given what happened in Tucson, it was out of respect to the dead/injured and a general sensitivity that it was removed. I would have advised her to do the same. Even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, i.e. any normal, rational adult knows that Palin was not inciting anyone to violence, and that she was targeting those districts politically. It's sad that I would even have to explain that to you.

When members of Lynyrd Skynyrd died in a plane crash, the record company changed the "Street Survivors" jacket, removing the flames from it. Did the graphic artist contribute to the plane crash? No, it just made sense after the fact, so as not to be in bad taste.

You know, if Palin had put up a picture of Giffords or other members with gun sights on them, I would never be defending her on this one. That would certainly be incitement. I'm only aware of that happening from politicians on the left. Oddly, no comments from the left about that. It's too bad you can't see the difference. Hopefully, you can, but you're just trying to score political points. The alternative speaks very poorly of you. The symbols and terminology on the map that Palin used have been used many times by politicians on the left and right.

There was nothing wrong with Palin's map, nor was there anything wrong with her saying "Don't retreat - reload!". Perfectly acceptable. They are not said out of anger. They are not inciteful words. Just typical metaphors.

OTOH, I do agree that Angle's "If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking towards those Second Amendment remedies.” is the kind of rhetoric that you and so many others are accusing Palin of. You chose the wrong target (oops). But Palin is a much more desirable target because it keeps the attacker in the limelight. Where's the fun in criticizing Angle when you can go after Mama Grizzly?

I don't like Angle's comment at all. I do think it's dangerous. And I don't like Beck either - he appeals to the paranoids. But the left lumps far too many together undeservedly. e.g. Bill O'Reilly. I admit I don't watch or listen to that much right-wing media, but I have sampled it enough to form an opinion, and I've never heard Palin or O'Reilly ever say anything that was "eliminationist" (the buzzword du jour).