[Let me make perfectly clear, at the outset, that I’m not laying specific blame for Jared Lee Loughren’s actions at the feet of Sarah Palin, or Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck, or…. Not that I expect this disclaimer to matter much. As I’ve been reading blogs and comments sections over the last few days, it’s pretty much impossible even to mention one of the right-wing heros without drawing immediate defensive responses that have little or nothing to do with what actually got said. But hey, it’s worth a try.]
An extended version of a discussion that just started on my Facebook page when I posted a link to Sarah Palin’s statement re: the Giffords’ shooting.
Apparently, in Palin’s world, exercises in vicious rhetoric are “healthy debate” and “democracy” when Republicans do them. Witness–
Some signs from Tea Party rallies (there are zillions more of these, of course, but I’m trying to make the point quickly)
When Rush Limbaugh says, “What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country. He’s sitting there in jail. He knows what’s going on, he knows that…the Democrat party is attempting to find anybody but him to blame. He knows if he plays his cards right, he’s just a victim. He’s the latest in a never-ending parade of victims brought about by the unfairness of America…this guy clearly understands he’s getting all the attention and he understands he’s got a political party doing everything it can, plus a local sheriff doing everything that they can to make sure he’s not convicted of murder – but something lesser.”
When Sarah Palin herself posts an advertisement with crosshairs over the districts of Democratic incumbents whose politics she doesn’t like.
When Joe Wilson yells “You lie!” at the President of the United States during a speech in front of the entire Congress and nation.
When Sarah accuses then-candidate Obama of “pallin’ around with terrorists” (Former Weatherman Bill Ayers)
When Sarah adopts the riff of “real Americans” as a central campaign theme in 2008, as if to suggest that anybody who’d vote for Obama isn’t a real American.
Endless criticisms of mainstream media for “gay-friendly” depictions of relationships, leading to the degradation of marriage, the evils of children everywhere, wars (oh, hi, Westboro Baptist freaks!), and so on.
Referring to the Affordable Healthcare Act as “socialist” and claiming that it will install “death panels”
The orchestration (largely organized by Freedom Works, although many Tea Partiers may not know that) of disruptions all over the nation at health care Town Hall meetings
This list could go on and on and on and on and on.
You could (I won’t, but it’s possible to) make an argument that, in fact, these are healthy exercises in democratic process. As Palin herself puts it, democracy requires vigorous debate and exchanges of ideas; if you don’t like what somebody does/says, vote ’em out! And that’s true.
The problem with Palin’s statement is the double-standard it applies. That is, it’s fine for Republicans/conservatives to depict Obama as Hitler; to blame entertainment and news media for the collapse of “family values”; to disrupt Presidential speeches by accusing the President of terrible things; and so on. But it’s “irresponsible” (gasp), unconscionable for anybody to explore the possibility that the extremely vitriolic, vicious, violent language that she and her ilk (Beck, O’Reilly, Limbaugh and the gang) deploy at just about every opportunity, might have had even the least bit to do with what happened on Tucson on Saturday.
So when you and your friends say it, it’s democracy. When my friends and I say it, it’s “irresponsible,” or as you and Rush often like to put it, tyrannical.
As I concluded the Facebook post this morning (this is about as concisely as I can say it, which is why I’m just using it again)–
Be quiet, Sarah. Unfortunately, the same arrogance that makes you think we care what you say keeps you from understanding when you need not to talk.