Sunday, January 9, 2011


It is difficult for many of us to write about the assault on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her colleagues at a meet-the-Congress-member event in Arizona. If this is the first you're learning of the tragedy, which Rep. Giffords barely survived and five people did not, the link takes you to a slideshow of the essentials of the event.

First, let me offer my prayers and support to Rep. Giffords herself and to the families of all of those wounded and killed; one of the dead was only nine years old. The senselessness of it all is overwhelming. Any temptation to write about it as if it were primarily a political event is squelched by the sheer horror induced by the event itself: people died; others were critically injured.

So please believe me (if you are capable of it) that I am not indulging in politics when I speak of the events in which Rep. Giffords's opponent in the last election held a "Fire an M-16 with Jesse Kelly" event in his quest to "remove Gabrielle Giffords from office." Nor am I indulging in partisan politics when I point out that Sarah Palin placed a gunsight-style target on Rep. Giffords's district in campaign literature. And I am especially not being political when I point out that the Tea Party leadership is rejecting any notion of backing off of their undeniably violent pre-election rhetoric, claiming a First Amendment right to say any damned thing. I am not being partisan because these are not legitimate political acts in America: I would condemn them if Democrats or any other political groups engaged in them.

Free speech as protected by the First Amendment does not include overt threats of murder. You may not issue credible death threats and then claim First Amendment protection for them... and I state that, even though I am inclined to the broadest reasonable interpretation of the First Amendment. Someone has no First Amendment right to say, in all seriousness, in a public forum, around people inclined to violent action, "so-and-so ought to be killed."

And that is precisely what Jesse Kelly, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party leadership have done. These individuals need to understand that their own freedoms depend on their willingness to restrain overt threats against people who disagree with them. Today provides evidence of one of many reasons why these threats, whether seriously meant or not, cannot be tolerated: there is, often enough, some nut with a gun who will take the threats seriously and attempt to assassinate opponents. The fact that Sarah Palin is too busy killing moose and turkeys to shoot at her political opponents is irrelevant: if she indulges in rhetoric that causes some of her listeners to shoot people, she is, undeniably, to blame, as are Giffords's M-16-wielding political opponent and the Tea Party leadership. This must end... and only they have the ability to put a stop to it right now.

Again, my condolences to those who lost family members in today's massacre.

AFTERTHOUGHT:  The link above is to a slideshow, not a very good summary of events but rather a retrospective of Rep. Giffords's career. The only thing I can suggest to cover all the articles provided by TPM is to go to their home page, or if it's not still 1/9/2011, read this, this, this, this, this, this and this. Please skip President Obama's statement; never has his dependency on the TelePrompTer been more blatantly evident than here.

UPDATE Sunday morning:  while law enforcement officials seek the second suspect, Sarah Palin disclaims all responsibility, saying the markings on her campaign map were not crosshairs like those in a gunsight but "simply cross-hairs like you'd see on maps." Sarah... give. me. a. fucking. BREAK!


  1. it is indeed a sad day for this country. Are we to see a return to 1968? Will this unleash the monsters lurking in the shadows of our nation who are just looking for an excuse to act?

    What a truly horrible event. May we be able to heal from this...

  2. Frankly, I want the heads of those who incited the killer on a plate. I have feared that this would happen since last summer when my former (replaced by a Teabagger) Congressman and his family and staff received death threats if he voted for the health care

    These people are evil and will stop at nothing to advance their agenda of hate. The worst part is that the call themselves Christians.

  3. Life and death are political. Every American must take this personally.

  4. An appalling act. Would he have done this without the drumbeat of hatred from mainstream sources? We will never know

  5. As a point of information having some familiarity with things cartographic - the closest thing you will find to the the cross-hairs and reticle symbol that Ms Palin used is a circled "X". Of course, my experience only covers US, UN, NATO, and the former Soviet bloc maps.

    The second person is actually "a person of interest", probably a "material witness", rather than a suspect. He is wanted by Arizona authorities, not the Feds, at this time.

    Every right carries with it the responsibility for the exercise of that right.

  6. Aren't crosshairs in a map sense used in astronomy? As in telescope type sights?

    They all lie. It's so sick.



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