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Scattered, disorganized thoughts about the Tuscon shooting
This isn't going to be a coherent essay, just a collection of thoughts without much order. Just FYI.

My first thought when I heard of the shooting was, "Great, I bet it's a teabagger, or a sympathizer." Of course, many people would say that was jumping to conclusions, and perhaps prejudicial. To which I would reply, "Have you not been paying attention?"

Based on his YouTube videos, Jared Loughner seems to have some aspects of his thinking that resemble paranoid schizophrenia. The problem with that being the answer people latch onto is that, most of the time, schizophrenics are not dangerous. Very few of them commit violence against others. They're far more likely to be victims than perpetrators. Also, schizophrenia alone does not explain why Loughner chose to attack a politician.

The right-wing media machine has a lot to answer for. They've been using outright eliminationist rhetoric for years, and the last two has seen it ramped up to frenzied heights. I am neither the first nor the most articulate to point this out, but when political and media leaders, people looked up to by a large chunk of the population, begin spouting violent and eliminationist talk, it has a disinhibiting effect on those people in society who are carrying resentments and grudges against those they deem inferior.

If leaders are saying "these others you dislike are scum, and vermin, and traitors, and should die", then some of those followers will take them up on the challenge.

Responsible leaders should know better than to try and unleash such forces; a violent political faction is hard to control once created, and can turn on its leaders. Our current crop of "Tea Party" reactionaries is anything but responsible, however, as they have done nothing but try to scrub the evidence of their culpability, deny and disclaim that there's a problem, and then in the same breath accuse "the Left" of being "just as bad". Usually, they cite as examples some random comments or posts on blogs by people nobody has ever heard of, or groups like the Weather Underground who have not been active for over 40 years and never actually killed anyone other than their own members accidentally, or isolated incidents that were immediately condemned by mainstream leaders (like the hanging of Palin in effigy, which got roundly denounced by Democratic leaders in California).

Michelle Malkin has gone so far as to list boycotts, peaceful protests, and angry letters to the editor as examples of "leftist hate speech". For some reason, I'm reminded of those MRAs who complain that a woman refusing to have sex with them is the same as them beating her up. Can't imagine why.

At any rate, what we have here is an incipient movement towards genuine fascism in this country, and so far no concerted effort by our government to stop it. I have little faith in Obama trying to crack down on violent right-wing groups, as Clinton did, because apparently Obama is too committed to being bipartisan to recognize a genuine threat to public order. Well, maybe. He might surprise me.

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Not disorganized at all.

Very well said.

Yes. Exactly!

Most schizophrenics, paranoid, delusional, or otherwise, are NOT violent.
However! They can become easily confused, and-- at times, they will take direction in a bad way, not understanding the difference between rhetoric, exaggeration, and truth.

So-- yeah, to me spouting "rhetoric" of a pro-violent nature towards your political (or religious) opponents is likely to lead to tragedy sometimes. And its therefore irresponsible.

"At any rate, what we have here is an incipient movement towards genuine fascism in this country, and so far no concerted effort by our government to stop it."


(Deleted comment)
I don't want to argue about this with you.

But, I will say that I left out the portion where I described my belief that Loughner's political beliefs were more "stupid" than any particular party allegiance.

Regardless, if you have a large number of leaders spouting eliminationist rhetoric, it's going to disinhibit people.

(Deleted comment)
No, it's qualitatively different from violent fiction, or songs, or things like that, which are presented as metaphor and fiction. Very much so.

The reason being, when musicians make violent songs, or moviemakers make violent movies, they are not actually calling for the actual deaths of actual people in real life. That's the difference.

Most people understand that. I know you do too.

There's a hell of a lot of difference between drawing pictures of violent acts in a fictional context, or writing a story in which the President is shot and the nation has to deal with it, and putting out a campaign map with crosshairs on it. Or referring to "Second Amendment solutions". Or any of the other things the far-right media have been doing.

It's also quite wrong to call this a bipartisan problem, since liberals have not, on the whole, been engaging in eliminationist rhetoric. Oh, sure, you can find some posts here and there on the web where a liberal or progressive said something that sounds violent and hostile, you can even find isolated incidents where something like hanging Palin in effigy happened, but those were A) isolated, B) immediately condemned by other liberals and progressives, and C) actions undertaken by random private citizens, not former candidates for the Vice Presidency.

Nor does freedom of speech or censorship enter into it; we're not talking about censoring, but calling for some responsibility. Also, I would note that incitement to violence has never been considered protected speech.

(Deleted comment)
Also to say that the right is engaged in a "eliminationist rhetoric", a term that should be reserved for outright political genocide is as pretty inflammatory rhetoric, as far as I'm concerned. Pissing and moaning about "them durn liberals is stealing yer wealth and yer guns," is a lot different than, "all liberals must me exterminated" as they are being actively lead to concentration camps.

Here's some quotes:

"[Anti-war Democrats] know that the American people support defending America, unlike them. Their real feelings are coming out as much as they can right now, which is that they're desperately dying to provide aid and support to al-Qaeda."
-- Ann Coulter on WOR radio, September 21, 2002

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."
-- Ann Coulter to George Gurley, New York Observer, August 21, 2002

Phil Donahue: "I just want to make sure we got this right. Liberals hate America. They hate all religions except Islam. Liberals love Islam, hate all other religions."
Ann Coulter: "Post 9/11."
Donahue: "Well, good for you."
--Donahue, MSNBC, July 19, 2002

"When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty.We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors."
-- Ann Coulter, CPAC convention, February 2002

''Every night I get down on my knees and pray that Dennis Kucinich will burst into flames.''
—Glenn Beck, in 2003

''I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. ... No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out. Is this wrong?''
—Glenn Beck, responding to the question 'What would people do for $50 million?', 'The Glenn Beck Program,' May 17, 2005

Those are not simple "them durn liberals is stealing yer wealth and yer guns" statements. Those are calls for the deaths of people they disagree with.

(Deleted comment)
Look, I get what you're saying, but I fundamentally disagree.

I don't disagree about the role of mental illness, but I don't think this shit happened in a vacuum.

Here, this is a more recent list: http://www.csgv.org/issues-and-campaigns/guns-democracy-and-freedom/insurrection-timeline

(Deleted comment)
I don't get the impression that the incidents listed are part of any sort of organized insurrection movement, but rather a collection of loosely linked incidents that "seem" like they promote violent insurrection?

Which is precisely the point I'm aiming at. This kind of incitement is not direct, "I order you to go out and kill person X" type of incitement. It's more a stochastic kind of thing, where they put out rhetoric that deliberately plays to the paranoid fantasies of violent extremists, and then sit back and wait for one of them to act on it. Then they can cry crocodile tears over how they really didn't mean it, or somesuch.

Stochastic terrorism is not new, either: "will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?!" is famous for a reason.

But as long as we agree that violent assaults are not appropriate for political debate, I think we can stop here.

The most basic thing is what everyone's avoiding. I can't help it. I have to point this out. Who's the victim? Then look for somebody who opposes them as the shooter. Unless it's a personal cause, then it's something else. if it's something else, it's somebody who's diametrically opposed to the victim. people don't get this and it's pretty basic.

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