Monday, February 28, 2011

The Ultra-Right Continues Its Violent Rhetoric

After Rep. Giffords was shot and several innocent citizens killed in Arizona, there was a lot of talk about the violent rhetoric that has become commonplace in this country's political discourse -- especially the right-wing politicians and pundits. I was one of those who blamed right-wing leaders for feeding into the dangerous mood of the country with their rhetoric, which seemed to give the impression that violence was a legitimate option for dealing with people who disagreed with right-wing political views.

Of course they were quick to deny this, and many on the right joined in the call for a more tempered political speech. It was the hope of many that perhaps we would see a bit more tolerance among political adversaries. Unfortunately, the toned-down rhetoric didn't last long.

Once again we are beginning to hear politicians ramp up the political speech again. The right-wingers are once again accusing their political opponents of being socialists, enemies, or trying to destroy the country. And in the last week we have seen a couple of right-wingers blow past the line of common decency and seem to condone violence again.

Last week Rep. Paul Broun (R-Georgia) was holding a town hall meeting in his home state. During that meeting a member of the audience asked Rep. Broun, "Who's going to shoot Obama?" When the question was asked many in the audience laughed.

Now the proper response for Rep. Broun (pictured above) to make would have been to tell the man his question was inappropriate and probably even illegal. But he did not do that. He joined the audience in laughter, and then mumbled something about needing to elect a conservative to the White House. He not only didn't say the question was wrong, he acted like it was an appropriate way to speak of the president of the United States.

It was only later, after being the brunt of a firestorm of protest over his callous action, that Rep. Broun began to say the question was inappropriate and he disagreed with it. But it was a hollow apology -- too little and too late. He had already shown his true colors.

In that same week a Deputy Attorney General for the state of Indiana -- a man appointed to uphold the law -- spoke as though violence is appropriate in our politics. As the people of Wisconsin were peaceably demonstrating -- something that have the constitutional right to do -- the Deputy Attorney General, Jeff Cox, tweeted that the police in Wisconsin should "use live ammunition" in controlling the demonstrators. He actually wanted the police to shoot citizens exercising their constitutional rights because he disagreed with the views of those citizens.

Cox even repeated his tweet when questioned by others over its appropriateness. Was he serious? It really doesn't matter. It was completely out-of-line for a state law enforcement official to make such a remark. Fortunately his bosses in the Attorney General's office saw the seriousness of his action and terminated his employment with the state.

Now I don't really think that either of these two men would actually shoot someone -- at least I hope they wouldn't. But there are a lot of nuts in this country that would, and this kind of talk gives them the impression that acting violently would be seen by right-wing leaders (who many of them admire) as justifiable.

I guess we should be thankful that both of these men were immediately criticized (even by some on the right) for their partaking in violent political rhetoric. But I doubt this is the end of this violent rhetoric by those on the right. Too many of them seem to think it is their right to say these kinds of things. And there is no doubt that some sickos like Scott Roeder or Timothy McVeigh will act on their words in a misguided attempt to carry out the wishes of those they admire.

It is time for those on the right to control themselves and their peers, and rein in the over-the-top hate speech. Failure to do so will just cost more lives -- and result in more denials from them.


  1. henry_finkel2/28/2011 10:27 AM

    "Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary."

    Who said this recently? Right-wing teabagger nutjob?

  2. can't say this enough...
    batshit crazy

  3. Henry,

    Point well taken. For those who don't recognize that quote, it was from Massachusetts Democrat Congressman Michael Capuano, inciting a group of union members in Boston a few days ago.

    (Here's a link to the video.)

    And Yellowdog Granny, I totally agree with you: this kind of violent rhetoric on the part of a Democrat congressman is "batsh*t crazy."

    As are pro-union signs like this (picturing Republican governor Scott Walker in the crosshairs) and this(calling for “Political DEATH TO TYRANTS” – be honest, did you even see the word “Political” the first time you saw this sign?)

    Like you, Yellowdog Granny, I can’t say this enough: union thugs and elected Democrats that engage in this kind of violent rhetoric are indeed “batsh*t crazy.”

  4. Nice attempt to deflect and misunderstand, CT. You know quite well that Yellowdog Granny wasn't referring to the congressman. And you also know the congressman wasn't telling people to commit violent acts -- he was telling them that sometimes they must get their OWN blood spilled to demonstrate for better conditions (and there are plenty on the right who would make them bloody).

  5. "You know quite well that Yellowdog Granny wasn't referring to the congressman."

    Half the time I don't know what Yellowdog Granny is referring to, but what I inferred this time is that she was rope-a-doped (quite adroitly, I might add) by henry_finkel.

    I can't speak for her (nor can you, Ted), but my educated guess is that YG would never knowingly speak ill of any Democrat, no matter how inciteful his or her rhetoric might be.

    Remember, this is the same person who posted the following comment about Michelle Bachman barely a month ago (on January 29, just days after the Tucson shootings):

    "why didn't that dude take a shot at her?...yeah, I know that's mean and ugly..but that's what these assholes do to me."

    So if conservatives use violent rhetoric, that's because they're inherently evil. But if someone on the Left happens to say something "mean and ugly," that's also the fault of conservatives; we made you say it!

    Granny, if you're out there, you can clear up this debate. Was your latest comment in response to the "get a little bloody" quote, believing it had been said by a "right-wing teabagger nutjob"?

    And while we're on the subject, Ted, maybe you can explain to me how Sarah Palin placing crosshairs on a map of congressional districts is "violent rhetoric," but when a pro-union demonstrator put crosshairs across a photo of Governor Walker with the word "RELOAD," somehow this is legitimate political discourse.

    And "DEATH TO TYRANTS" - with the word "Political" in smaller, lower case lettering, almost as an afterthought? There are plenty of other signs that are nearly as vitriolic - for example, portraying Walker with a Hitler moustache. When the Tea Partiers did the same thing to President Obama, I called it out for what it was - hateful and totally out of touch with reality.

    Now that the shoe is on the other foot, Ted - are you willing to denounce this kind of behavior on the Left?

  6. CT-
    I don't like it when people of any political stripe engage in this kind of rhetoric. However, the demonstrators are roughly equivalent to the teabagger demonstrators, and while violent talk from both is bad, neither rises to the level of party officials, media talking heads, or high-ranking public officials doing that kind of talking.

    It is simply worse when a congressman or dep. atty. general does it -- whatever their party or political persuasion.


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