Required Reading

Wouldn’t it be nice if national tragedies inspired everyone to band together to take an unflinching look at the causes and to determine what each of us can contribute to keep them from happening again? Yes, DrugMonkey, I am a dreamer. Still, it is important to recognize that how we react determines where we go from here, and a number of people are finding the public reactions to the Tucson shooting sadly wanting.

PZ Myers has tackled the idea that the call for accountability and responsibility in public discourse is somehow politicizing the shooting.


What we have here is an attempted assassination of a politician by an insane crank at a political event, in a state where the political discourse has been an unrelenting howl of eliminationist rhetoric and characterization of anyone to the left of Genghis Khan as a traitor and enemy of the state…and now, when six (including a nine year old girl) lie dead and another fourteen are wounded, now suddenly we’re concerned that it is rude and politicizing a tragedy to point out that the right wing has produced a toxic atmosphere that pollutes our politics with hatred and the rhetoric of violence?

James Ford rejects the simplistic notion that the solution is simply settling down and being nice (via Kevin at Wee Beasties).

This is the way of love, not a simpering, maudlin love, but a dynamic and challenging love. A love that calls us to know we are all in this together. I need to proclaim, to speak. I will speak for individuals. I will speak for families. I will speak for this lovely country. I will speak for our precious planet.

And I will not be shut up.
Mike the Mad Biologist reminds us that there is something even more basic to a functioning civilization than the social lubrication we call civility, and we just don’t have it.

We’re now seeing all of the civility trolls coming out of the woodwork. If by civility, one means “not engaging in violent eliminationist rhetoric”, well, then I’m all for it. But what I’m concerned about is that honest criticism will be silenced. While I’m not as sanguine about political rhetoric as, let’s say, Jack Shafer, the fact is a lot of people in political life are habitually…counterfactual. That is, they’re liars. Others are ideologically blinkered, while yet others, sadly, are either just kinda dim or else stone-cold ignorant.

At Vanity Fair, Mark Ames discusses where this shooting fits in among other modern political shootings, where it doesn’t, and what this has to say about the times in which we live.

This may seem like a semantic quibble, but what occurred in that Safeway supermarket appears to be an entirely new type of American murder: a hybrid of political assassination, of the sort that plagued America in the 1960s and 70s, and a “going postal” rampage massacre, of the kind that first appeared in the mid- to late-1980s, with the rise of Reaganomics inequalities and the deterioration of workplace culture.

And finally, Melissa McEwan demolishes in detail the ridiculous notion of any kind of parity between the left and the right in the acceptance and promotion of violent rhetoric.

There is no leftist equivalent to Glenn Beck, host of a long-running nationally syndicated radio show, former host of a show on CNN and current host of a show on Fox, best-selling author, DC rally organizer, and longtime user of eliminationist rhetoric, including equating universal healthcare to rape, joking about victims of forest fires being America-hating liberals, comparing Al Gore to Hitler, condoning the murder of Michael Moore, accusing Holocaust survivor George Soros of being a Nazi collaborator, joking about poisoning Nancy Pelosi, equating immigration reform with burning US citizens alive, publicly endorsing violent revolution, and winkingly telling his viewers not to get violent, all of which amounts to a speck on the tip of a very big iceberg.

So, what else is out there that people should be reading and thinking about?

Required Reading

2 thoughts on “Required Reading

  1. 1

    So, what else is out there that people should be reading and thinking about?Consider that the names mentioned (Beck, Limbaugh, etc.) are far from being on the fringe. Neither are any we're likely to encounter even if we go looking, because the real fringe is too close a community to be readily accessible to outsiders.However, for a taste of what passes for mainstream in one of the USA's more populous States [1], drop in on the comment section of — the largest newspaper in the State, by far. Pay particular attention to what kind of comment gets thumbed up and what gets thumbed down.[1] Yes, really. Compare the population of Arizona to that of Massachusetts, for instance.

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