Hypocrisy on Steroids

A televised town hall meeting in Tucson, moderated by ABC News Anchor Christiane Amanpour, has given righties their Grievance du Jour. One of the people in attendance was J. Eric Fuller, who was shot in the knee last Saturday. According to local news

When Tucson Tea Party founder Trent Humphries rose to suggest that any conversation about gun control should be put off until after the funerals for all the victims, witnesses say Fuller became agitated. Two told KGUN9 News that finally, Fuller took a picture of Humphries, and said, “You’re dead.”

When State Rep. Terri Proud (R-Tucson) rose to explain and clarify current and proposed gun legislation in the state, several people groaned or booed her. One of those booing, according to several witnesses, was Fuller. Witnesses sitting near Fuller told KGUN9 News that Fuller was making them feel very uncomfortable.

The event wrapped up a short time later. Deputies then escorted Fuller from the room. As he was being led off, Fuller shouted loudly to the room at large. Several witnesses said that what they thought they heard him shout was, “You’re all whores!”

Now, Fuller’s anger may be understandable, but this behavior is the last thing anybody needs. It’s been reported that Fuller has been arrested for making death threats, and I think more people who make threats ought to be charged with something. I really dislike intimidation from anybody.

[Update: CNN says Fuller was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. I hope someone on the staff can talk some sense into him.]

And naturally, the entire Right Blogosphere, Lulu on down, is going ballistic over this. The ever brilliant Jim Hoft has asked people to pray for the safety of Trent Humphries. These are the same people who have been screaming all week that there is no connection between hate speech and violence; and these are the same people who have equated requests that they tone down their rhetoric with “silencing” their opinions. George Will actually called such requests to tone it down “McCarthyism of the Left.”

So, by their own logic, Fuller was just exercising free speech, and Trent Humphries doesn’t have a thing to worry about. Funny how threats and hate look different when they’re aimed at you, huh, righties?

That said, I don’t want anyone hurt. And if your opinions can’t be properly expressed without threatening to kill someone, I’d say you have a problem. And that’s true no matter where you fall on the opinion spectrum.

To the Conservatively Correct, Asking People to Tone Down Their Rhetoric Is Slanderous Hate Speech

They really are going overboard to silence any discussion of the role rhetoric plays in mass violence. This is at Daily Caller

ABC News host George Stephanopoulos refuses to admit fault or issue a correction for implying politics had something to do with accused Tucson tragedy shooter Jared Lee Loughner’s motives.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic White House press secretary, asked Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat: “The rhetoric definitely got ratcheted up all thousand the course of the campaign. Going forward, what do you think you, other members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans and the like can do to help bring the temperature down?”

When The Daily Caller asked Stephanopoulos if he would air a correction for the error, he asked, “What’s false in that question?”

“I explicitly said at the top of that broadcast that we didn’t know the killer’s motivation, whether this was more akin to Columbine or Oklahoma City,” Stephanopoulos said in an e-mail to TheDC. “A point endorsed and reinforced by George Will later in the program. Asking the chair of the Democratic Campaign what responsibility he’s going to take to ratchet down the political rhetoric in no way repeats or endorses a ‘baseless accusation.’”

The DC also asked the Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN if they were going to run corrections for the mistakes their reporters, anchors and columnists made.

Wow, talk about trying to silence your opposition! I say again, if today’s Right ever gets unfettered control of the government, they’ll turn America into a totalitarian state the likes of which Orwell could not have imagined. They complain about “political correctness,” but no one dares not be “conservatively correct” in America.

Just wait — if it hasn’t happened already — somewhere, some wingnut mouthpiece will declare open season on anyone who thinks hate speech played a part in the shooting in Tuscon. Countdown to the progroms …

If you missed this links I put up this morning, here they are again — these are must reads —

Will We Remember Tucson? Was It Enough? Is Anything?

The Voices in Jared Loughner’s Head Shall Not Be Respected.”

How many more are going to die?


Ex-Weatherman Mark Rudd writes,

My willingness to endorse and engage in violence had something to do with an exaggerated sense of my own importance. I wanted to prove myself as a man – a motive exploited by all armies and terrorist groups. I wanted to be a true revolutionary like my guerrilla hero, Ernesto “Che” Guevara. I wanted the chant we used at demonstrations defending the Black Panthers to be more than just words: “The revolution has come/Time to pick up the gun!”

As the Weather Underground believed in the absolute necessity of bombs to address actual moral grievances such as the Vietnam War and racism, Loughner might have believed in the absolute necessity of a Glock to answer his imagined moral grievances. Violent actors in this country – whether James Earl Ray, Timothy McVeigh or Scott Roeder, who in 2009 killed a Kansas abortion provider – are always armed not just with weapons, but with the conviction that their grievances demand satisfaction and their violence is righteous.

He could have put Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 terrorists on that list also. Most of the mass atrocities of recent history have been carried out by people who believed they were justified in what they were doing; that their violence was righteous.

Another reason the conflation of right-wing politics and conservative religion is so dangerous.

The Real Reason the Founding Fathers Aren’t Like the Teabaggers

Bill Maher has a point —

Maher is going for laughs, but I think a serious case could be made that the teabaggers represent the kind of mob factionalism the Founding Fathers most dreaded. See, for example, James Madison from Federalist #10

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.

Madison goes on to say that “The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation.” However, he also believed factions would not be a threat to the nation as a whole because it was too big to be taken over by any one group —

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.

However, modern technology has changed that, especially communication technology. Now “a general conflagration” can spread everywhere in an instant.

Maher is right that the Founding Guys were the elites — aristocrats, for the most part — of their time, and part of the objection some expressed to creating a strong central government was the possibility that it could be taken over by a mob of common, ignorant men.

Insanity in the News

First off, do not miss “Will We Remember Tucson? Was It Enough? Is Anything?” at Esquire (via Balloon Juice).

[Update: Must read — “The Voices in Jared Loughner’s Head Shall Not Be Respected.”]

The Los Angeles Times has posted a video made by Jared Loughner that got him expelled from community college. I understand this is pretty standard schizophrenic “word salad” talk, although I don’t have a lot of direct experience with schizophrenics. Actually, some of it could pass for beat poetry.

My concern is that Loughner is being turned into a sideshow freak. Schizophrenia is not a character flaw; it’s a disease.

Elsewhere — Ron Reagan, Jr., has published a book that says signs of his dad’s Alzheimer’s surfaced during his first term as president. Apparently there are some discrepancies between what Ron Reagan remembers and what this historical record says, so Ron Jr.’s memory may be off.

It’s the sort of thing that can’t be proved, because Alzheimer’s develops very slowly, and the early signs may not be apparent even to doctors. It’s only after the diagnosis that people look back at this or that odd little episode and think maybe they were signs of Alzheimer’s. But there’s no way to know for sure. We all have our less than lucid moments.

However, it’s also my understanding that by the time Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, probably it’s been there in very early form for a long time, maybe years.

What bothers me about this story at U.S. News are the comments attached to it. Hundreds of people hurled hateful invectives at Ron Reagan Jr. for insulting his father. And while I am bothered by the tone of the comments, what really bothers me is the attitude that saying someone has Alzheimer’s is some kind of insult. It’s not a character flaw; it’s a disease.

It would be a really good thing if people could get their heads out of the Middle Ages regarding psychiatric disease or dementia.