Freedom In the Crosshairs

It’s bad enough when someone is shot.

Make the victim a political figure, and the chatterati and the self-righteous get bent completely out of shape, and start to consider how depriving some people of their rights is a good thing.

I think it is horrible that a pathetic loser nutjob decided to reach out and touch fame by going to a Tuscon Safeway where Representative Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords was meeting with constituents.

I think it is reprehensible that a partisan eagerness to assign blame started before she entered surgery.

The Palin-Derangment Syndrome sufferers couldn’t wait to lay this at her doorstep, recalling her Facebook page on which she had “picked her targets” in the last campaign, of which Representative Giffords was one.  The denouncements rang out loud and numerous, connecting the two.  And then reminders that Sarah Palin, a Republican wasn’t the only one to use such a practice, but then, some reminders that the Democratic Leadership Committee had used the practice in 2004, and that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, under the leadership of Chris Van Holland had posted a similar map earlier in the same year as Palin’s map.  And the denunciatory tweets slowed.

Then, we found out about the shooter’s channel on youtube, on which he posted rambling, incoherent texts about “conscious dreaming” general hatred of the government, and lists among his favorite books Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto.  Now the usual suspects started to get quiet.  Maybe it was because it was hard to denounce the eeeeevvvvviillll Reich Wingers for their hate-filled vitriolic speech when you’re busy scrubbing your website and pushing things down the memory hole that are so obviously hypocritical that even your regular readers would have a hard time not seeing how foolish you look.  And the wave of snarky tweets slowed, and the raised hands pointing fingers were slowly and quietly lowered.

But the slow rumble continued.  Discussion of “motives” and “filters” and “vitriolic speech” continued.

And when Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik finally held his presser later in the day, it was a public relations consultant’s nightmare.  He was rambling, repetitive, and dismissive of those who shared the podium with him, but despite it being an ongoing investigation, one in which he claims the shooter did not act alone, the Sheriff chose not to miss an opportunity to wave the bloody shirt, and vilify those who say things he doesn’t like:

In case you missed it, here is the money shot:

“But again I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain people’s mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I believe has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Never let a friend’s tragedy go to waste.  Politicize everything.

Not surprisingly, the Sheriff is…wait for it…a Democrat.   And not just any Democrat, he is one who announced that he would not enforce a law duly passed by his state’s legislature.  When those charged with enforcing the law announce that they will not, the result is lawlessness.  I’m not surprised he’s upset about anger toward the government.  His determination that his judgement superseded that of the legislature is exactly the kind of usurpation that many Americans are fed up with.  But his tactless and ill-timed rant only joins a larger chorus repeated by the chatterati and the sanctimonious hand-wringing self-appointed cognoscenti about how speech that opposes certain government policies and those who advance them is “hate speech“, and the speakers must be held accountable for what those who hear them might do.

The problem is that these people don’t stop in illustrating what they don’t like.  They frequently skip past a meaningful analysis, and happily skip into the fields of their ownhate, which they frequently turn around and heap in great piles at the feet of the objects of their own scorn and derision.  And in succumbing to their impulses to point fingers and delude themselves about their own innate goodness, they forget very important things.

Speech is an expression of thought.  It can be saintly and inspiring.  It can be venomous and painful.  It can comfort.  It can edify.  It can cause laughter.  It can educate.  It can repulse.  But unfortunately, our society continues to grow in the belief that among our many blessed freedoms is a freedom not to be offended, and like most pernicious lies that make some of us feel better, we not only believe in this freedom not to be offended, we believe that it trumps other freedoms.

This freedom to not be offended has been the starting point for state-sanctioned discrimination against those who exercise their freedom to perform actions consistent with their Christian faith.   But the progressives, who want to believe that they really can make everyone else conform to what they believe is “better behavior” have not been happy with this application of a non-existent right.  And that’s why attacking speech they don’t like is so important.  They have to paint it as “hate speech”, usually in hateful terms of their own.  They have to portray it as pejoratively as possible, and do their own fear mongering about the potential ill-effects, creating the mental image of grisly murders of government officials at the hands of stooge-like listeners to talk radio and viewers of FOX news, because if some weak-willed person was programmed by these “hate merchants” and did just that, then it would only highlight the need step forward, and shut down these voices of dissent, if only for the preservation of the republic.  This is of course, antithetical to the very concept of personal responsibility, another concept that they dislike, and attack on many fronts with specious arguments, and meddling certainty and entitlement.  But in working so hard to create at “nightmare scenario” that hasn’t yet happened, they overlook something very fundamental:

We were intended to have the right to criticize government.  We were intended to have the right express discontent, anger, and yes, even rage at those who ran afoul of us while serving in our names.  This right is fundamental to a free society, because a society that would criminalize speech would criminalize thought in the same act.  And criminalizing thought that opposes the current government, its officials, or its policy is to kill the genius of America, because all freedoms would be forfeit to whomever was strong enough, or powerful enough to determine what thoughts and what words are criminal.  Progressives cannot make better men through the enacting of laws that determine what speech, and by inevitable extension, what thoughts are correct, no more than such laws will make people more “civil”.  You might force these things to be the only expression allowed, but to do so will be to foment resentment, and only lead to a boiling ugliness seeking an outlet.

People’s thoughts are the only things that they will ever be able to truly call their own.  You may not like them when they are expressed in words, but they aren’t yours to restrain, chain, squelch, or suppress.  If they have merit, then they will find an audience that values them.  If they do not, then their value to society will be low, and they will be treated accordingly.

Tragedies often move people to action.  Remember that you are dealing with people who never let a crisis go to waste and who are sensitive to all hate but their own.  There is no reason to surrender freedom for security when it comes to speech, especially since one will not lead to the other.  There are valid reasons why people are “anti-government’, or more accurately “anti-the-current-government” these days, and your birthright and the sanctity of your thoughts are not subject to their tender sensitivities.

 

 UPDATE:  Another voice of reason from an unexpected quarter…if they keep this up, then there might be hope for the American Left yet…Richard Roper helps with some sorely needed perspective:

http://www.suntimes.com/3229156-417/palin-christina-hope-responsible-rhetoric.html

UPDATE the SECOND:  Congress Critter Proposes Law Curtailing Freedom of Speech He Doesn’t Like:

http://threesurethingsoflife.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/and-so-it-begins/

Previously:

The Tucson Shooting and The Political Aftermath

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21 Responses to “Freedom In the Crosshairs”

  1. geoff Says:

    I see in the sidebar that Rutherford is up to his usual logic-free rambling. What a tool.

    Like

  2. Blackiswhite, Imperial Consigliere Says:

    I’ve discovered lately that it is easier for him to do since he ignores the facts he doesn’t like, Geoff.

    Like

  3. nicedeb Says:

    For the sad but true files:

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=385×541660

    Right-Wing Killers Must Be Stopped — Imprison the TEA Party for Treason

    Read the comments at YouTube.

    These people vote.

    Like

  4. alwaysfiredup Says:

    Deb, I do pray they are of the “oh yeah I meant to vote but…” crowd, which describes most of the liberals I know.

    Like

  5. munseym Says:

    Nicedeb, here are the screenshots I got at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee website today before they had a chance to pull down their target maps.

    Like

  6. Geo Says:

    What a bunch of despicable low life’s libs are. But it’s entirely expected coming from this crowd.

    “Never let a crisis go to waste”

    What a tragic, senseless act.

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  7. Brian Spotswood Says:

    To Deb (not so nice now) and your friends: Would you all just stop and show some genuine remorse! A politician, a judge, an innocent child and others have been shot, some killed. And all you people can do is say “It wasn’t our fault, those dirty liberals are saying it was us! How terrible they are.” Grow up and stop being so pathetic! Take some responsibility for the small part you – the radical left and the radical right – have played in this tragedy by merely participating in the tribal mood that has come into the political debate in the past few years. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on. You’re just like squabbling children. It doesn’t matter who started it; IT’S TIME TO STOP.

    [Grow up yourself. The shrieking hyperbole about the rhetoric needs to be tamped down...NOW, and even some on the Left are recognizing it. http://www.slate.com/id/2280616/pagenum/all/#add-comment -BiW]
    [Oh, and Deb didn't write this. That big signature at the end of the piece should have clued you in...unless of course, you didn't read it to the end.]

    Like

  8. Candidate Targets Congressman With Crosshairs In Campaign Ad « Nice Deb Says:

    [...] Harry Mitchell! That was just over the top, beyond the pale vitriol, right there, as I’m sure Pima County Sheriff, Clarence Dupnik would [...]

    Like

  9. Blackiswhite, Imperial Consigliere Says:

    Would you all just stop and show some genuine remorse! A politician, a judge, an innocent child and others have been shot, some killed. And all you people can do is say “It wasn’t our fault, those dirty liberals are saying it was us! How terrible they are.”

    Actually, the more I thought about this, the more I’m certain you didn’t get the point.

    Read this again. WATCH the damn video. Sheriff Doofus, who apparently KNOWS the victims couldn’t restrain himself enough to stick to the facts and his “genuine” remorse and resist the urge to say something that he can’t prove in order to make a political point. Perhaps you have some outrage to spare for him?

    *listens to the cricket chirp*

    Yeah, I didn’t think so.

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  10. brucetheeconomist Says:

    People are being quick to make this a political football, and that’s sad.

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  11. geoff Says:

    And all you people can do is say “It wasn’t our fault, those dirty liberals are saying it was us! How terrible they are.”

    Perhaps if Sarah Palin and the Tea Party weren’t blamed within an hour of the shooting, you might have a point. But they were. Save your preaching for those with their baseless hair-trigger accusations.

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  12. nicedeb Says:

    He is preaching for those with the baseless hair trigger accusations.

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  13. Brian Spotswood Says:

    I lived in Northern Ireland for four years during the 1970s – the most violent time there – and I have firsthand knowledge of that brutal culture of oppression and killing. I saw what kind of talk and sentiment it takes to perpetuate it. I lived among it, it was mainsteam. It was your kind of talk.

    The level of violence I witnessed there was shocking. It wasn’t only the IRA and UDA/UVF/UFF shooting and bombing each other and British soldiers on almost a daily basis. Children learn from adults, and there were serious fights every day in my school between protestants and catholics. It wasn’t sufficient just to punch. You had to kick too. And if your adversary went down, you had to kick him in the face and head. There was usually a lot of blood. That was the way we fought as 12, 13, 14 year-olds. At a later age they progressed to knives and other weapons. It was alarming to me, having arrived there from a tranquil village in the quiet west country of England. Thankfully my family left that country when I was 13. It was a huge relief to leave all that behind.

    When I arrived back in the USA in the mid-1990s, it wasn’t like it is now. There were differences, but people were a lot more restrained with their talk. Politicians were more restrained. I think if it were like it is now, I’d not have come back.

    The level of anger and threat here, and the self-righteousness and outright dismissal of the opposition, it reminds me of Northern Ireland in the 1970s. It was pretty uncivilized there back then. One of the things that brought me back here was that I had this notion that people here are somehow nicer, more decent, more open and more friendly than they are in other countries. That’s one of the things that attracted me to this place.

    I think in the 1990s Americans still were that way. But not so much now. The country has let itself lose something of great value. It seems that half the people are at each other’s throat now. The political debate seemed to be getting almost hysterical prior to the mid-term elections with one candidate of note talking openly about ‘second amendment remedies.’ Did this aspiring leader really mean armed insurrection? Is that what she wanted? Did she really want to live in fear of being shot at? Because that’s what revolution is all about. When things go that way it’s seldom just one side doing the shooting.

    People are turning up at political rallies carrying guns. What’s that about? Are they implying they would use them? And what if people on the other side of the debate start carrying guns to political rallies? What then? That sounds a lot like two opposing armies facing each other down.

    Do you see how close we are to becoming a militarized zone? If the current kind of talk and behavior continues it could lead to a lot of violence and bloodshed. You wouldn’t know, you’ve not been there, but it’s a horrible, horrible society full of armies, and fear and loathing.

    Nobody benefits from the hard-headed way of thinking that you on this blog seem so accustomed to. And to think the founder calls herself ‘nice’. What is nice about the diatribes and hostilities expressed on this blog?

    Wake up! You think you’re all so right-on, and comfortable and safe. But let me tell you again, you lack the experience to know where this path of sharp political division leads.

    I am sure most of you will scoff at my caveats, and you’ll use your version of logic to pick holes in my arguments and point to inconsistencies minor or not, and relevant or not, to prove to yourselves that I’m totally wrong and you’re totally right, and I’m a hypocrite and therefore invalid, because that’s what you do. Just look at the way you treated my earlier posting. If you don’t like it you simply dismiss it. I challenge you to show me examples to the contrary.

    So go ahead, deny it. Carry on as you were. Pretend it’s OK to continue playing this dangerous and disgraceful game. But just think of the cultural norms you are imparting to the people you most influence: Your children. Think of the polemics of Olberman, and Beck, and Limbaugh, and O’Reilly (who even yells at people on his show to shut up). What place does this talk have in a civilized society? It’s the tone of the gutter. Yet these are the people who appear to have shaped your way of thinking and debating. OK, now think of those 12 year-old children in Northern Ireland kicking each other in the head for no reason more than one was protestant and the other catholic. Who do you think influenced them? Most of the time their parents would have been shocked if they knew what their kids were up to, and they certainly wouldn’t have condoned the behaviour. You see? Nobody likes to think that they shoulder even just a little bit of the responsibility.

    I don’t really care what side of the political aisle you’re on. I just don’t want to see this great country descend into some version of the tense, strife riven society I knew in Northern Ireland. They were arguing about religion, you’re arguing about politics. In the end it’s not worth disrupting our peace for either of these things.

    You say you’re not headed there? Then where are you headed? What are the next steps as the divide grows along with the vitriolic dismissiveness. You tell me.

    Like

  14. nicedeb Says:

    People are turning up at political rallies carrying guns. What’s that about?

    You seem to have a distorted view of what a tea party is like based on one or two isolated incidents, exaggerated in the MSM. I’ve been to many tea parties, and have seen nothing but peaceful, but passionate individuals. Tea partiers even clean up after themselves, unlike the left, who always leave a huge mess, behind .

    Also, I think it’s a mistake to compare the religious hatred in Ireland that is/was based on centuries of bad blood between Protestants and Catholics to what is going on here, today.

    If you want to see vitriolic and hateful speech, you’ll do no better than to check out Michelle Malkin’s post; The progressive “climate of hate:” An illustrated primer, 2000-2010

    http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/10/the-progressive-climate-of-hate-an-illustrated-primer-2000-2010/

    You would have conservatives just sit back and allow the left, and their media lapdogs to control the narrative. We should just stop paying such close attention, and allow the left to continue rolling over our rights/freedoms/laws/traditions unabated – is that it? Because if we voice what we see happening, that’s mean and vitriolic. We should by no means call a thing by what it is if the word offends delicate sensibilities. We should just sit back and watch helplessly as we slouch ever closer to Gomorrah. We’re just here for the ride, let the winds of “change” take us where they will…and let’s not say anything about it because that would be divisive, and what we need is unity. Right? We had our votes, we should just let our Representatives handle everything since they’ve been doing such a bang up job?

    When you compare Olbermann to conservative commentators on the right like Limbaugh and Beck, you make a profound error. Olbermann is a hateful and dishonest misogynist and propagandist – a man who trashes conservative women in violent terms like, “big mashed up bag of meat with lipstick” on a regular basis. Limbaugh and Beck argue their points forcefully, often with humor, but never hatefully or with violent or obscene rhetoric as you see regularly on the left. They back up their assertions, and are rarely factually incorrect. I’m sorry you don’t like their opinions, but they are valid opinions.

    If you really see no difference, you’re not really paying attention, or you’re buying a false media narrative. Just because you disagree with something someone says, doesn’t mean they’re out of line.

    Like

  15. Blackiswhite, Imperial Consigliere Says:

    Brian,

    First of all, comparing the British and the Irish to us is foolish. They have hundreds of years of oppression and killing between the two of them, and much like jews and arabs, it is a legacy of blood.

    Secondly, this nation has had very partisan debates in the past. In terms of low, gutter-inspired dialogue, you might look up the vitriolic rhetoric of the election between Jefferson and John Adams. Then, like now, what was at stake were two very different visions of the future of this country. The rhetoric got so heated and so personal, it was years before the two former friends corresponded with each other, although, happily, their friendship was eventually restored. Watching old age and infirmity pick off your contemporaries one by one tends to have that effect on people.

    Half a century later, we again had “vitriolic rhetoric” that spilled in to real violence…this time on the floor of the Senate. At stake again were two competing visions for the country, and a conflict made even more terrible by a succession of compromises that let the underlying causes fester and become so poisonous that only fire, conflict, death could cauterize the infection and let the body heal.

    You see something that leads to conflict. Fine. I see something that is an outlet for the very real frustration for both sides of a widening ideological divide in this country. Putting a lid on that, and suppressing a right fundamental to this Republic will not solve the problem. There will not be sunshine and roses, unicorns will not skitter from rainbow to rainbow in the sky, and strains of “Kumbaya” will not fill your ears where ever you go. What it would accomplish is fomenting of the very conflict that I think we would both like to avoid.

    As for my children, they are mine to raise. It is bad enough that I have to spend considerable time countering a pernicious social agenda pretending to be neutral that they are inculcated with in nearly every way, but I also have to try to teach them real skills and independent thinking, as well as the history that is either ignored or presented as something to be ashamed of. I think all the time about my children, and I am proud of the fact that they could successfully debate many of the people who would invoke them as a means to shame me into pretending that I am not already confronted with ideologies and hate that are accorded the luxury of the fiction that they are anything but.

    And if you claim to not know what it is that I am talking about, have a gander at this:

    http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/10/the-progressive-climate-of-hate-an-illustrated-primer-2000-2010/

    When you confront THEM with the same hand-wringing sanctimoniusness that you have applied to me, you might just have a lecture that I’ll give serious thought to.

    Like

  16. geoff Says:

    In the end it’s not worth disrupting our peace for either of these things.

    It’s not worth disrupting our peace to determine the future of our country? I don’t think I can agree with that on any level.

    Like

  17. Brian Spotswood Says:

    Nice Deb wrote:
    “… You would have conservatives just sit back and allow the left, and their media lapdogs to control the narrative. We should just stop paying such close attention, and allow the left to continue rolling over our rights/freedoms/laws/traditions unabated – is that it? Because if we voice what we see happening, that’s mean and vitriolic… ”

    No, that’s not at all what I think. I think it is important to voice one’s opinion and to listen to and duly consider those of others. Equally it is important to be respectful in voicing and hearing opinions.

    Disagreement and dissent are very different from hatred, vitriol, dismissal and disrespect.

    Disrespect very quickly begets more disrespect, and tit for tat is disastrous. Gandhi’s quote “an eye for an eye leaves the world blind,” puts it succinctly.

    I myself feel I have been quite disrespectful on this blog. Sounding that way makes me feel like I’m fitting in with the group speak here. You disrespect your opponents apparently without a second thought. This makes me wonder how you would be with one another when the pressure comes on. I don’t much care for that mode of discourse and will stop visiting for that reason more than anything else.

    Like

  18. geoff Says:

    I myself feel I have been quite disrespectful on this blog.

    At least you’re not alone.

    I don’t much care for that mode of discourse and will stop visiting for that reason more than anything else.

    “I’ve been disrespectful, and I hate that mode of discourse, so I’m leaving!!”

    That was so very, very funny.

    Like

  19. geoff Says:

    Reminds me of the scene from Kentucky Fried Movie:

    Hornung: Mr. Grunwald, in addition to your occupation as a spoon, is it not true that you are a driving instructor?
    Grunwald: No.
    Hornung: Then it is true.
    Grunwald: Yes.
    Hornung: That you’re not a driving instructor?
    Grunwald: No.
    Hornung: Your Honor, I object to this line of questioning.
    Judge: Overruled.
    Hornung: Very well, then; I’d like some time to go over my briefs.
    Judge: Please.
    Hornung: [inspects his underwear] They’re fine.

    Like

  20. Blackiswhite, Imperial Consigliere Says:

    Disagreement and dissent are very different from hatred, vitriol, dismissal and disrespect.

    Tell that to someone who is an open Christian in public schools, or the majority of Universities.

    Tell that to someone who dares to point out that the Left often has no clothes in the assertions they present as fact.

    For years, their response to any serious criticism was “SHUT UP!”, and now that no longer works, they have to marginalize, belittle, and attempt to appeal to a sense of shame that they themselves do not possess.

    Like


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