Is It Really That Hard?

I've spent the last two weeks watching the Right's effort to deflect criticism of their use of violent rhetoric over the past two years.  The photo above is one of the least offensive examples of the vitriol.  "Jared Loughner was crazy". That is not in dispute. Of course he's crazy. How could someone wound and murder innocent people, and not be?  Among his nonsensical ramblings, there are statements I've heard from Tea Party members, Libertarians, even skinheads. Here's good example of speaking irresponsibly from thereisnospoon's diary, at the Daily Kos:
Another Ohio Democrat, Steve Driehaus, clashed repeatedly with (John) Boehner before losing his seat in the midterm elections. After Boehner suggested that by voting for Obamacare, Driehaus "may be a dead man" and "can't go home to the west side of Cincinnati" because "the Catholics will run him out of town," Driehaus began receiving death threats, and a right-wing website published directions to his house. Driehaus says he approached Boehner on the floor and confronted him.

"I didn't think it was funny at all," Driehaus says. "I've got three little kids and a wife. I said to him, 'John, this is bullshit, and way out of bounds. For you to say something like that is wildly irresponsible.'"

Driehaus is quick to point out that he doesn't think Boehner meant to urge anyone to violence. "But it's not about what he intended — it's about how the least rational person in my district takes it. We run into some crazy people in this line of work." (emphasis mine)

Driehaus says Boehner was "taken aback" when confronted on the floor, but never actually said he was sorry: "He said something along the lines of, 'You know that's not what I meant.' But he didn't apologize."
Confronted with the obviousness of that appeal, the John Boehners, Sarah Palins, Glen Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world don't apologize.  They just keep the steamroller of hate running right along through Crazytown until somebody inevitably gets hurt.

There are those who have said the the Left is guilty of the same thing, which is patently untrue.  That's not how we Liberal, tree-hugging, granola-crunching, intellectual elitists roll.  If anything, our beliefs are often misinterpreted as a sign of weakness by those on the Right. 

It's not like we didn't see this coming.  If you see someone doing something irresponsible, and you warn them that someone will get hurt if they continue, and your warnings are ignored, and then someone gets hurt, and then those you warned act surprised... Is anyone having trouble following the logic?

I have no doubt that, at some point during the past two years, someone in some boardroom somewhere said, "Won't some crazy person take what we've said as a call to do harm?"  That person probably wasn't employed long after that, because the response was probably, "So the mentally ill are our responsibility now?  It's not our fault if someone takes our hate speech opinions and misconstrues them."

This is not about what the shooter is or is not, from a purely political point of view.  He's a nutcase.  This is the Becking of America: the promotion of hate speech to provoke the irrational into violent conduct, while giving the promoter plausible deniability.  After all, that's not what they meant, right?

No comments: