James Fallows on Political Shootings

Interesting:

So the train of logic is:

  1. anything that can be called an "assassination" is inherently political;
  2. very often the "politics" are obscure, personal, or reflecting mental disorders rather than "normal" political disagreements. But now a further step,
  3. the political tone of an era can have some bearing on violent events. The Jonestown/Ryan and Fromme/Ford shootings had no detectable source in deeper political disagreements of that era. But the anti-JFK hate-rhetoric in Dallas before his visit was so intense that for decades people debated whether the city was somehow "responsible" for the killing. (Even given that Lee Harvey Oswald was an outlier in all ways.)

Posted on January 10, 2011 at 7:04 AM • 183 Comments

Comments

JohnTJanuary 10, 2011 7:22 AM

The main thing is to wait until the facts are known, which may take some time. Avoid confirmation bias, don't jump to that conclusion you (the editorial you) are inclined to believe.

Jim HarperJanuary 10, 2011 7:47 AM

+1 to John T.

It's fascinating to watch people flesh out this story using only their predispositions/ideology. To me, that's the story: how ideology deeply channels people's thinking.

(I say that as an ideologue myself --- the job is to be aware of it and articulate about it.)

Larry SeltzerJanuary 10, 2011 7:57 AM

Assassination by the deranged and celebration of violence seem to be not uncommon, at least in this country. I remember after Reagan was shot a columnist at my school paper (The Daily Pennsylvanian, University of Pennsylvania) wrote a column basically saying "good, I approve". (He got a visit by the Secret Service.) But of course Hinkley's motivations were not political.

Incidentally, Oswald was an outlier, but he was also a communist, so blaming the heated rhetoric in Dallas would be cynical in the extreme.

Personally, I think blaming heated political rhetoric for this is cheap and easy and beside the point.

DDJanuary 10, 2011 8:02 AM

its an assasination if the person doing it came with that in mind. dosent have to be political.
In the JFK case,the dallas police had LHOswald in custody, he had bruises on his head, and no doubt the hidden ones that are under his clothes, and he said "I'm a patsy" which is very different from "sic semper tyrannis" the proclamation of a true assasin. Assasins always claim their work and are proud of it and ready to do it again.
Oswald was set up by people around him, working for the cia which runs a secret government with its own policies.
Cia and conspiracy are by definition synonymous, there is just no way to argue that they are not.
No records exist of the interrogation of lhoswald, not a set of notes, nor any stenographic statement, because he was steadily denying it and this would not fit the scenario that was being shaped by investigators who were working with and alongside conspirators who where covering it up. They just did not know that they were being lead to one conclusion. The same was true of the corrupt warren report, some of the conspirators were on the panel and fixed the report to cover up.
Notes were taken and did once exist on the interrogation of Oswald, but the coverup was involved in the investigation and these notes and other evidence was destroyed. Police departments destroy inconvenient evidence all the time.
was loughner a loner? probably, but influenced by the politcal climate of gingriches personal destruction model.

HJohnJanuary 10, 2011 8:09 AM

@was loughner a loner? probably, but influenced by the politcal climate of gingriches personal destruction model.
_________

What the heck does Gingrich have to do with this? Geesh.

(And before anyone says I'm the one being political, I'd say the same if it were a reference to Pelosi.).

ErichJanuary 10, 2011 8:23 AM

One benefit of a more rational and less heated national political discourse *could* be the easier identification of individuals that are unbalanced and likely to commit violent acts. Less noise makes it easier to spot the signal.

aikimarkJanuary 10, 2011 8:35 AM

My guess is that this might have the NRA leadership in a collective pants-crap. Loughner purchased his gun before his mental instability was known to law enforcement. The NRA should be prepared to respond to calls for a gun ownership registry in order to separate guns from unstable and violent owners.

uk visaJanuary 10, 2011 8:40 AM

Sometimes it's only possible to make changes whilst people are shocked/angry.
People are (too) used to the senseless death of children by gunshot - http://life.familyeducation.com/school-safety-month/violence/29712.html
If the US waits to make the rational decision the NRA will act to ensure that the truly rational decision is never taken.
IMHO the 9 year old girl - Christina Green - was not assassinated she was murdered by a young man who had to pass a test to drive a car and should have been required to pass a test before he was allowed to buy a gun.
Madness... and I'm talking about the country that condones every nutter having the right to arm himself.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 10, 2011 8:40 AM

Over in the UK the press have pointed out Ms Palin's use of "Sniper cross hairs" on democrat held areas in her campaign as being something that had been formaly complained about by the lady who has been shot.

The implication is it may have been a contributing factor in the shooting. Certainly as seen from outside the US the past couple of years campaigning has not just been bitter but having all the hallmarks of being well beyond the behaviour you would expect in a civilised society.

With regards to if it was an 'assassination" or not, the word is derived from the same root as assassin. The usual meaning of which is somebody who is uninvolved with either party performing the act of murder on one party at the behest of the second party. In short a "contract killing".

And further the use of the expression "political assassination" has changed in meaning for many to mean a series of overt revelations designed to destroy a politician's credibility with the general public such that they can not either hold their current office nor be electable to any political office.

As has been seen in recent times in the US it does not matter what lies are thought up they get shouted up by vested interests and then get "vomited up" by various talking heads with sometimes covert motivation.

Perhaps it is time the US public started considering what effect such behaviour does indeed have either directly or as an excuse for disafect people of questionable mental stability.

kangarooJanuary 10, 2011 9:00 AM

@Seltzer: Incidentally, Oswald was an outlier, but he was also a communist, so blaming the heated rhetoric in Dallas would be cynical in the extreme.

Except he was also involved with anti-Communist groups. So was he a communist infiltrating anti-Communist groups, or visa versa? Did he intend to be a double-agent or a triple-agent or being insane some high order agent?

His attraction to Dallas was more than likely related precisely to the tone. It's not merely cynical to look at over-heated rhetoric as creating the grounds for events --- as long isn't overly simplistic and treat it as a mechanical relation.

jeffJanuary 10, 2011 9:00 AM

@Glenn, I'll pretend you were actually serious with your comment.

There exist people who don't make up their mind before engaging in public debate and do so with the intent of exploring the issues and figuring out the right answer, as opposed, I guess, to people who have made up their mind and engage in the debate for the sole purpose of convincing others of their view of the issue, but have no intent or ability to listen to what others are saying to justify the opposing position.

A political tone where everyone is talking and no one is listening eliminates the possibility that public debate could actually serve its purpose. This is independent of the specific messages being shouted.
jeff

karrdeJanuary 10, 2011 9:27 AM

Clive: rhetoric, using words like cross-hairs, targeting, or 'when they bring a knife, you bring a gun', is depressingly common in American politics.

Even the current occupant of the White House has been heard to say such things.
http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/06/14/obama-if-they-bring-a-knife-to-the-fight-we-bring-a-gun/

If a speakers says something like that, and a mentally-unstable person interprets the statement as condoning violence, is the speaker at fault?

Or is the mentally-unstable person at fault?

Can fault be assigned, when most of the listeners don't interpret the words as incitement to violence? What about when a mentally unstable person (who may not be adjudicated as mentally unfit to stand trial) does interpret the words as incitement to violence?

Dirk PraetJanuary 10, 2011 9:58 AM

@JohnT & Others

So let's have a brief look at the facts:

1) If CNN can be believed, an affidavit states that investigators found an envelope at Loughner's parental house with Rep. Giffords' name on it and stating he planned ahead. I think that largely qualifies for first degree murder. See http://edition.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/01/09/arizona.shooting.investigation/index.html?eref=edition .

2) Loughner is said to be a high school drop-out, rejected by the army over failing a drugs test, and expelled from Pima Community College on grounds of erratic behaviour not to return before being able to present a clean bill of mental health. Still he was able to purchase a 9 mm. Glock at a gun store and ammunition at Walmart.

3) The Sarah Palin supporters website www.takebackthe20.com featured a US map with districts marked with sniper cross hairs. Rep. Giffords had earlier and publicly voiced her concern over this and other war type rhetoric ("Don't retreat. Reload") and had her Tucson office broken into. The site was taken off-line hours after the Tucson shooting. Someone must have realised the site's content was morally reprehensible, to say the least.

4) For years, people outside the US have been appalled by political campaigns that seem to focus more on slandering, vilification and violent rhetoric against political opponents than it does on actual issues. These are more reminiscent of the Roman empire than of a modern 21st century democracy.

5) In many civilised countries, inciting to hatred and violence is a federal crime punishable by sentences of up to three years in prison. The EU is even working on a harmonised legislation for all member states. Over here, it can be grounds for revoking an MP's or senators parliamentary immunity, awaiting a hearing or full trial before a High Court, and treated in pretty much the same way as murder.

6) Just as with the influence of violent video games on teenagers, there will always be a debate whether or not heated political rhetoric contributes to people resorting to guns rather than debate. Reversing the logic however, it's pretty hard to argument that it is very helpful in dissuading lone wolves and other nutcases from doing so when they can find a justification for their acts in mainstream politics.

paulJanuary 10, 2011 10:00 AM

It's (almost) always the crazy loners who are going to be the assassins. That's the nature of distributions with big centers and long tails. But it's often moving the center of the distribution that does it.

Larry PageJanuary 10, 2011 10:05 AM

@John T "The main thing is to wait until the facts are known"

You are precisely correct. The only fact with absolute certainty we now know is that the shooter was an avid Facebook member. Something needs to be done.

Now I am not calling for Facebook to be shut down, per se. However, members clearly are due additional scrutiny. Perhaps a good start would be to add them to the TSA Watch List.

Anonymous PrimeJanuary 10, 2011 10:10 AM

There have always been those who are murderously insane, and there always will be. Before we had rifles and pistols, they assassinated politicians with swords and daggers. Before we had the Tea Party and Glenn Beck, we had the communists who influenced Oswald and the far-right camp who indoctrinated Otoya Yamaguchi.

Expect a grandiose production of security theater in response to this entirely business-as-usual assassination attempt. Will the theatrics be infringement upon the right to keep arms? The right to bear them? Perhaps a gentleman's agreement regarding political rhetoric?

Sadly, we should not hold out much hope that the response to this will be to strengthen our outreach to the mentally ill -- the one thing that could actually have prevented this tragedy.

noble_serfJanuary 10, 2011 10:17 AM

If you blow the dog whistle enough, the dogs come. The shooter may be the "Black Swan" of the week, but the cheap culture and hyperbole fertilizes the fragile mind.

(Black Swan, the book, not the movie)

HJohnJanuary 10, 2011 10:17 AM

@Anonymous Prime: "Before we had the Tea Party and Glenn Beck"
__________

I think that is an unfair connection. I don't much like Beck, but I have never head him advocate or condone violence against anyone.

Nor do I recall the violence being a platform of the Tea Party. It would be like blaming "MoveOn" if something happened to a Republican... a much as I loath MoveOn, that would be unfair.

I can tell this is going to be a lively thread already. Me, I just blame the piece of garbage that pulled the trigger... anything else, and we are providing excuse for future would-be monsters.

dobJanuary 10, 2011 10:18 AM

"Before we had rifles and pistols, they assassinated politicians with swords and daggers."

An assassin can't kill as many people with swords and daggers as you can with guns, nor can he kill his target as quickly and reliably. Suggesting that guns don't represent a quantum leap in lethality over blades and other weapons is foolish.

jacobJanuary 10, 2011 10:26 AM

@john t and others, correct we should wait for more facts and analysis.

@Larry P. Are you really saying members should be scrutinized more? someone posts a picture of themselves with a beer and should be referred to medical evaluation? Or as many members on this blog have evaluated and complained about security measures and should be added to TSA watchlist? who decides? Do you really want millions of people looking at your facebook page and deciding you need to be evaluated? That could really cost some money to defend yourself. You have a poster of my little pony behind you in that picture. You have a cruxifix, you have an odd twitch in your left eye, hmmm? What does that mean? It's like a ink blot test. The family, college and others saw something. He should have been evaluated. Am I making a judgement call here? Absolutely, he shot 20 people. Some bells or claxon should have gone off to have an evaluation, meds, something.

As far as this incident. A nut is a nut. Over the years crazies do things. Not all shooters threaten, nor do all threateners shoot. Reagan and hinkley, lennon and chapman, maybe even President Mckinley. Most crazies don't shoot or threaten. Some do. How to separate the two. I have no idea. This guy sounds like paranoid Schizophrenic that should have been on medication among other measures.

Assuming that he was evaluated or labeled so that he could not buy a gun. Would that have stopped him from stealing one or just using a bat? I have no idea how to prevent a crazy or terrorist for that matter from doing something if they really really want to.

There is rants on both sides of the political spectrum. Should it be toned down? Probably. But for perspective read some of the stuff written by political opponents in colonial times on upward. just my thoughts.

BF SkinnerJanuary 10, 2011 10:31 AM

@aikimark " NRA should be prepared to respond "
They are. They always do. Look for a rally to be scheduled and held very soon and as close as possible to the shooting site.

@uk visa "condones every nutter having the right to arm himself"
Well my thinking has always been to live without weapons but if nutters have them then I better too. The nutters are defending themselves agin people just like themselves and they know how dangerous themselves are.

@Clive "time the US public started considering what effect such behaviour does indeed have "

Here's the problem where this comes into conflict with 1st Ammendment rights. Speech, as is being pointed out here and FB and blogs ad nauseum ARE motivators. They rarely, very, motivate someone to commit a heinous act. (and SCOTUS has found even speech calling for the violent overthrow of the US gov't is protected political speech) Should the speech be curtailed because there are wingnuts? This is an ongoing battle here. My answer is no.

But the flipside is personal responsibility. Anyone here can say what they like but when consequences occur who's responsible for them? If I mutter on the bus (which I do to keep an open seat next to me in SRO bus trips) that a certain individual should be hung and a crazy next to me goes out an does it am I responsibile for their act? Likely not. But if I am a popular leader who's intent and effect is to influence millions and I make the same statements and it happens. Am I responsbile then? I'd say so and should be held to account.

@karrde
I believe the theory this would be tried under is reckless disregard.

@Larry Page "Facebook"
Facebook, myspace, War and Peace, It was the best of times it was the worst of times. Fail

@Anonymous Prime "Expect a grandiose production of security theater "
I've always wondered why Ceaser didn't institute junk touching at the Senate on the Ides of March.

Anonymous PrimeJanuary 10, 2011 10:32 AM

Dob:

Remember, of course, the gunpowder treason and plot. And those airplanes in New York City a few years back. There are things even more dangerous than pistols. Humanity is smart and resourceful; murder finds a way.

Jacob:

Presumably we should do more for the mentally ill, you know, to help them, than merely mark down that they are ineligible to buy weapons.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 10, 2011 10:37 AM

thanks, that's a good reference. the atlantic, as usual, does a nice job with current issues.

i was surprised the author did not include in his list the assassination of archduke franz ferdinand of austria and his wife by gavrilo princip; and i was curious why he left out any discussion of the word "terror" or "terrorism"

ModeratorJanuary 10, 2011 10:38 AM

DD, I've removed your latest comment because you changed your nickname to post it. You may not bring your imaginary friends to help you win arguments.

In fact, you've been derailing far too many threads under far too many names. You may choose *one* name to use on this blog; from now on anything you post under another name will be deleted. Stick close to the thread topic in the future, and leave out the over-the-top political rants. If you don't do these things you will banned without further warning.

paulJanuary 10, 2011 10:39 AM

I'm grimly amused by all the "killers will always find a way" types posting here in particular. Sure they can find a way if they're motivated enough. But that's usually considered a reason to put up roadblocks, not to build a clearly-marked four-lane highway.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 10, 2011 10:40 AM

@ BF Skinner

"Should the speech be curtailed because there are wingnuts? This is an ongoing battle here. My answer is no."

I thought the battle was lost at the battle of Schenck v. United States in 1919 when it was decided you can not falsely yell "fire".

Speech was curtailed. You say no?

Richard GadsdenJanuary 10, 2011 10:44 AM

Another data point for the "political cause, but not one that most others would regard as important". Spencer Perceval was assassinated over the (UK) Government not paying compensation to a man who was unjustly imprisoned in Russia for a debt he never owed.

jacobJanuary 10, 2011 10:45 AM

@Anon Prime. Reread what I wrote. I said eval, meds, something should have been done. Second, Assuming he could been prevented from buying a gun. It would not have stopped him if he really wanted to act out. If all political rhetoric stopped, he may have decided to take out females working in the public or reagan (remember 666 in his name). Crazies are crazy, the media and public is trying to put a cause and effect on this. It's not there, he's crazy!!!!!!

If he was hospitalized, ate crayons and rolled his poop into little balls I would have gladly paid taxes to support his alternate lifestyle. ;)

Was jodi foster whispering in chapman's ear? Nope, making movies. Nuts was confusing reality and movies, long path there...

Crazies hear voices or make what they think are logical choices!!! Think about it..

Brandioch ConnerJanuary 10, 2011 10:47 AM

I'm going to predict that the rhetoric in this thread will become fairly "heated" as well.

The problem is that there are multiple items/issues being "discussed" without any attempt to keep them clearly distinct.

1. The shooter and his target.

2. Is the current political dialog "hateful".

3. Was #1 influenced by #2.

4. Would different gun control laws have prevented the shooter from getting a gun?

5. Would #4 have prevented the killing or would the shooter have used a different weapon?

a. All we know right now is #1.

b. You can make different cases for #2.

c. But that does not imply #3.

d. And #4 & 5 would be purely speculative with "research" being available from different sources showing different findings.

BF SkinnerJanuary 10, 2011 10:47 AM

"A nut is a nut." "He was disturbed" "He was irrational" "rampage" "assasination"

I really should put a list together.
Everyone is saying the same thing .

Have you ever noticed that in other countries political violence can be ascribed to one of a set of particular organized interests (cf Hariri bombing) while in the US our myth is a lone nut. I've even heard people on the media (who should know better) call Tim McVeigh and John Wilkes Booths as 'lone' nuts. It's a powerful myth that blinks past facts.

Of course it helps that there's no other easy narrative to fit this in. If Loughner had been a Moslem then this would be another instance of radical islamic extremists who hate our freedoms attacking us.

It's funny, the conservatives, (not you! oh no, no not the wise folk who comment here but the loud mouths on the talking head shows) who are now saying lets wait, let's not jump to conclusions, were the first to demand Maj Hasan be strung up without trial.

@john t and others, correct we should wait for more facts and analysis.

Only for the case of law. There are stereotypcial behaviors (news coverage, denunciation and refutation based on policitcal points of view, word choice, creation of a narrative, calls for increased security etc) that can be predicted and should be documented in real time. Twitter has been very instructive on this.

MatJanuary 10, 2011 10:48 AM

X wrote:
"there cannot be a gentlemans agreement since there are no gentlemen in politics"

Generally speaking, I'd agree, though, check out John Oliver's interview on Dec 8, 2010 with Andrew Maynard and Stuart Norman on the Daily Show.

That being said, I don't think any policy change, outside ultra-restrictive policy could have prevented the shooting from happening. For that reason, I don't believe that any change of policy will have a positive outcome. The problem is assuming that any crime can be prevented by law.

llamasJanuary 10, 2011 10:53 AM

Just to clarify for non-US readers - the shooter was not able to simply waltz out of a gun shop with a handgun, 'no questions asked', as is being widely suggested. As with all firearms purchases from federally-licensed firearms dealers, he would have had to pass the Federal background check before a dealer could deliver any firearm to him.

If he passed the Federally-mandated background check - what does that say about the background check, given what we are now learning about his history?

You can have all the gun-control laws in the world, and they will not stop a deranged killer. We have seen this time and again, including in places such as the UK, which has some of the most restrictive gun laws anywhere, brought in in response to just such a "spree killer" as this one, and yet the "spree killings" with firearms happen just the same.

I love where pundits are bemoaning the fact that Arizona has liberal concealed-carry laws - as though this would not have happened had Loughner realized that it would be illegal for him to hide his gun. The man is obviously, self-evidently barking mad - only an idiot would imagine that laws would dissuade him from his purposes. It's a pity that there was not an armed and willing citizen close to this moonbat when he began his attack - it might have come out a lot less badly.

llater,

llamas

BF SkinnerJanuary 10, 2011 10:55 AM

@ Davi Ottenheimer

No I said the argument is ongoing.

Has it been limited because you can't put the public at risk. and do the public at large have an interest at not be put at risk. In this case the court said yes.

My answer in this instance is no. Don't curtail it. Hold the individuals responsbile for results of their words.

How do we do that? Civil court likely. There's precedence in parents being held liable for the actions of their children.

Westboro Church performs outrageous conduct during their protests at military funerals. While their case works through the courts laws are being written to restrict access around.

In the meantime? Repudiate them. Call their conduct dispicable and in time people will stop sticking cameras at them and covering them as part of "the story". It removes their motivation.

Sen McCain gave as strong a repudiation of Loughner or anyone I've seen yet. Good on him. Many are just being very quiet. or claiming "not me. I didn't do it. You can't blame my words for someone else's actions."

HJohnJanuary 10, 2011 10:57 AM

@Brandioch Conner at January 10, 2011 10:47 AM
_________

I agree with most of your post. In regards to 1, 2, and 3, one thing that worries me is if we answer "yes" to 3, so we try to prevent 1 by controlling 2, then free speech is at serious risk. I don't like some of the rhetoric, but where to draw the line may be messy, especially since the powers that be can always move the line a little further in order to silence their critics. As with any law or power, it can be abused.

These occurances, fortunately, are not very common here. In a country this big, we can always find an excuse for someone.

BF SkinnerJanuary 10, 2011 11:03 AM

@llamas "there was not an armed and willing citizen close to this moonbat when he began his attack - it might have come out a lot less badly."

And here I was so proud of everyone not even going there.

It wouldn't have helped Gabby. She was shot from behind it wouldn't of helped the Judge Roll or Miss Green. Another gun or several or dozens would have incrased the body count. Who do you shoot? If you're not there at the very second of the event - why the people with the guns.

You know what worked? Patricia Maisch who, though injured and unarmed, engaged Loughner and kept him from reloading. What helped was a population that knows it can defend itself. Not the fact some (may or may not) be carrying death in their pocket.

karrdeJanuary 10, 2011 11:03 AM

Thanks for the comments.

Does this count as much as Palin's words? Search the page for 'bullseye' and 'Giffords'.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/25/1204/74882/511/541568

I was trying to say that anyone who wishes to blame violence on the words of politicians (or big-name political commentators on the Internet) can find evidence of violent-themed language from multiple sources. If reckless endangerment is the charge, we need to prove that this specific language was a cause, and no other similar language from other sources was a cause.

Currently, we don't have enough information to make that claim.


--------------------------------------------
Returning to the Security focus of Bruce's blog: does anyone notice that the shooter was halted by people on the scene, and held until police arrived?

What does this say about security of non-Presidential politicians, and the security of individuals who are not famous/rich enough to hire bodyguards?

BF SkinnerJanuary 10, 2011 11:18 AM

@karrde "was halted by people at the scene"
I did. See above.

Many were using similar language (and I think KOS even had the SarahPac chart up until the shooting).

It has been alledged by liberals that the conservative media is using not just the same arguments but the very same words. Almost as if it had been written for them after a focus session and circulated on a daily memo. The right has a very effecitive noise machine. The fact that the same wording appears in multiple sites would tend to indict the blogger and the originator of the words wouldn't it?

AlexJanuary 10, 2011 11:25 AM

Bruce: Any comments on how best (or how you would) address these lone wolf type attackers? They seem to be the most difficult type of attacker to pick up via intel.

What DOES bother me is that the kid's parents were fully aware that they had a problem on their hands. I'm not blaming them for this, but I do wonder what steps they took. I'm not sure if they buried their heads in the sand or weren't able to find adequate help. Either way, what a sad tragedy that should have been prevented.

GreenSquirrelJanuary 10, 2011 11:27 AM

Am I alone in thinking Larry Page's comment about facebook was tongue in cheek? Everyone seems to have taken it seriously.

llamasJanuary 10, 2011 11:37 AM

@bfskinner:

'It wouldn't have helped Gabby. She was shot from behind it wouldn't of helped the Judge Roll or Miss Green. Another gun or several or dozens would have incrased the body count. Who do you shoot? If you're not there at the very second of the event - why the people with the guns.'

You have no basis on which to make any of these assertions. By this logic, we should immediately disarm all police officers - after all, who do you shoot?

"You know what worked? Patricia Maisch who, though injured and unarmed, engaged Loughner and kept him from reloading. What helped was a population that knows it can defend itself. Not the fact some (may or may not) be carrying death in their pocket."

I don't wish to detract in the slightest from the bravery of Ms Maisch (sp?) and others. But this is a strange definition of 'worked' - others are finally able to overpower the shooter after he has discharged (by media accounts) 31 rounds over a period of 30-60 seconds, and only because he was trying to reload? I call that a failure. Nobody stopped him from doing what he was doing - the best you can say is that he stopped shooting and was prevented from starting again.

If what 'worked' is a 'population that knows it can defend itself' - why would you argue against the population having effective means for its defense? Why do you suggest that citizens should be made to go bare-handed (as these citizens did) against a man with the means and the inclination to use deadly force?

I'm not suggesting that an armed and willing citizen would have been able to prevent this situation from happening at all - merely that it might have made it a lot less bad. Experience shows that 'spree killers' like this, when confronted with armed and determined resistance, either give up or kill themselves - either of which would have been fine in my book.

It's like the lottery - your chances of winning may be small, but they are certainly zero if you don't buy a ticket.

llater,

llamas

Mark RJanuary 10, 2011 11:44 AM

@Greensquirrel - I read it the same way and chuckled at the responses. "Successful troll is successful."

I don't know how to say this without sounding cold or uncaring... I do feel very sorry for all the victims and their families... but isn't the "lone nut wielding a gun" threat so rare and unpredictable that no countermeasures are called for, since they would redirect resources away from much more common risks?

BF SkinnerJanuary 10, 2011 11:49 AM

@Mark R "isn't the "lone nut wielding a gun" threat so rare and unpredictable that no countermeasures are called for"

Add to what worked.
Gabby during the campaign and before has recieved death threats and had her office windows shot out. She neither quit her job, hired monster 'security agents' like say Alaskan Senate candidate Miller, nor curtailed her meeting with her constituents.
She refused to be terrorized.

JeremyJanuary 10, 2011 11:53 AM

@HJohn at January 10, 2011 10:57 AM

Sometimes the best way to draw a line is to simply refuse the pen in the first place.

RHJanuary 10, 2011 12:20 PM

@ Richard: 'I agree that background checks are critical, but of course you cant demand a "clean" psychological profile prior to purchasing a gun.'

I agree. Psychology is a VERY subjective art. It will be interesting to see if anybody could design a law to help here (this is, of course, ignoring that apparently law enforcment did not know he was ill beforehand) and simultaneously not prevent everyone diagnosed with ADD as a kid from carrying.

I think it was Vermont that had an interesting rule (don't know if it passed). Anybody involuntarily committed could not own a gun. I'd rather see it as "anyone involuntarially committed is going to have to go in front of a judge to own a gun", but its an interesting line to draw in the sand.

HJohnJanuary 10, 2011 12:38 PM

@Jeremy: "Sometimes the best way to draw a line is to simply refuse the pen in the first place."
_________

Good advice.

Had the victim been an (R) instead of a (D), we could just as easily be blaming MoveOn, MS-NBC, Michael Moore, Bill Maher, Howard Dean, etc. That too would be unfair.

When people look to draw a line on one side's speech, they need to look at what that line may do to their side's.

ModeratorJanuary 10, 2011 12:43 PM

Glenn/Dave, you are not allowed to bring your imaginary friends to the debate, either. Since you actively pretended to be two people -- and after a warning about sockpuppetry in the same thread -- you are banned from the blog.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 10, 2011 12:44 PM

@ BF Skinner

"Have you ever noticed that in other countries political violence can be ascribed to one of a set of particular organized interests..."

DW has a summary of EU news reactions to this instance:

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,14760315,00.html

"Die Presse from Vienna writes that the Republicans did not argue against the despised health reform - they ranted and raved."

"'Hatred for Barack Obama, his supporters and everything America's first black president stands for is the manure currently fertilizing US soil,' writes Italy's La Repubblica."

and so on...

dobJanuary 10, 2011 12:54 PM

"Had the victim been an (R) instead of a (D), we could just as easily be blaming MoveOn, MS-NBC, Michael Moore, Bill Maher, Howard Dean, etc. That too would be unfair. " @HJohn

That's true. Unfortunately, the data indicates that political violence is almost exclusively the province of the right-wing in this country. Political assassinations over the past hundred years:

• Huey Long, populist Senator from Louisiana, shot in 1935
• Albert Patterson, democrat-elect Alabama Atty. General, shot 1954
• JFK, shot 1963
• MLK, shot 1968
• RFK, shot 1968
• Harvey Milk and George Moscone, shot in 1978
• Allard Lowenstein, Democrat NY-5, shot 1980
• Tommy Burks, Democrat from Tennessee HR, shot by his Republican opponent, 1998
• Bill Gwatney, Chair of Arkansas Democratic Party, shot 2008
• and now judge John Roll and others surrounding Democrat Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday.

Acts of political violence against civilians since Obama was elected:

The Knoxville church shooter
Richard Poplawski, the Pittsburgh cop killer
The Holocaust museum shooter
George Sodini, who shot up an aerobics class near Pittsburgh because Obama was President
Shawna Forde, the Minuteman Project killer, who killed another nine year old girl and her dad, for being Mexican.
The Oakland Tide Center cop killer
The Dr. George Tiller murder

These facts being evident to anyone paying any amount of attention to the real world, your counter-factual premise is a waste of time and an insult to the intelligence.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 10, 2011 1:04 PM

@ llamas

"Just to clarify for non-US readers - the shooter was not able to simply waltz out of a gun shop with a handgun, 'no questions asked', as is being widely suggested."

Sounds like you have a different definition of control than most people.

The accused passed a single instant federal background check and then?

He was allowed to conceal and carry his firearm without a permit, thanks to the infamous (NRA A+ rating) Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. She right away repealed the permit law for gun owners to carry concealed weapons, making it only the third state (AK,VT) in the US to allow concealed non-permit guns. She eliminated background checks and education requirements.

She said: "I believe this legislation not only protects the Second Amendment rights of Arizona citizens, but restores those rights as well"

http://www.azdps.gov/Services/Concealed_Weapons/

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (started after the Reagan assassination attempt) gives Arizona "among the poorest ratings of any state" -- out of a 100 points for rules or laws designed to limit access to guns Arizona gets just 2 points.

So I do not see your point to the non-US readers.

Whether or not you agree with limit laws, it doesn't get much easier than Arizona for someone to "simply waltz out of a gun shop with a handgun".

mcbJanuary 10, 2011 1:17 PM

Fallows' (hastily written?) comment that the assassination of William McKinley had nothing to do with the politics of the time is interesting. McKinley was killed by a self-described anarchist. From what I've read about the politics of the era the anarchist movement was an ongoing concern to European and American goverments. Such concerns were validated when the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by an anarchist lit the fuse on the First World War.

HJohnJanuary 10, 2011 1:19 PM

@dob

I never deny right leaning people are responsible for some violence. Just in your examples alone, however, there are people whose motives weren't right leaning.

Huey Long was shot by Dr. Carl Weiss, the the son-in-law of Long's long-time opponent Judge Henry Pavey.

JFK was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald, a leftist that had at one point defected to the soviet union (I distiguish between leftists like communism and liberals like JFK and most democrats).

RFK was killed by Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestian (identified himself as a Christian) with the likely motive being a Middle East conflict and support for Isreal (the same reason cited by many for Bush hatred today) and not really on our political spectrum.

Insofar as MLK goes, most clansman (such as the late Robert Byrd before he renounced it, to his credit) and segrgationists were associated with the Democratic party, which was also the party most supporting of slavery. This isn't meant to demean the Democratic Party of today, which clearly is not segregationlists nor racist, but you can't just look at a person assassiated at blindly subscribe left or right to it... James Earl Ray was a racist monster, pure and simple.

I'll stop there, this could get out of hand. It's just that your assertion is just silly... it's like only looking right when crossing the street because your grandfather was killed by a car coming from the right.

John HardinJanuary 10, 2011 1:26 PM

The NICS background check would probably have worked and would have prevented the shooter from buying a firearm legally if he hadn't been forgiven _two_ possession of paraphernalia charges by participating in "drug diversion" programs.

Sure, forgive the first incident if the person completes a "diversion" program, that's reasonable. But if they get arrested for possession _again_, the first charge should be reinstated and they should not be able to dodge charges again by simply attending a class.

John HardinJanuary 10, 2011 1:31 PM

@HJohn & @dob: Of course dob's assertion is silly. In this instance,someone who knows the shooter says he was a liberal, and one of his listed favorite books is The Communist Manifesto.

This shooting isn't due to political rhetoric, it's due to Paranoid Schizophrenia.

Lee GJanuary 10, 2011 1:37 PM

Davi,

You are cherry-picking your facts.
AZ law removed the requirement for a permit for concealed carry.
Federal law still requires background check on all firearms purchases.
If you have a CC permit, which still requires training and a background check, you can use it instead of the background check at time of purchase.


HJohnJanuary 10, 2011 1:41 PM

To step away from the politics of this for a moment:

TUCSON, Ariz. — Doctors said Monday that Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' brain remains swollen, but the pressure isn't increasing — a good sign for the congresswoman's recovery.
http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-health/20110109/US.MED.Congresswoman.Brain.Injury/
___________

Whatever our political leanings, we are all united in our outrage towards the monster that pulled the trigger and in our hopes and prayers for Gabby Giffords.

aikimarkJanuary 10, 2011 1:45 PM

The problems with the Loughner gun-purchase time line:
* The school is not a law enforcement agency, capable of putting an alert on Loughner's gun-clearance process
* The gun was purchased between the school's suspension and the attention by the police, so he sort of fell through this 'crack'

It isn't clear whether his parent even knew he had purchased the gun. I would assume that they would have acted responsibly and taken away his gun privileges until he got some help.

====
Reposting my comment from a FB discussion. This follows a misquote of Ben Franklin.

The actual Ben Franklin quote is "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

At this point, I'd like to thank the NRA for all of its opposition to the Brady bill. Thank you for killing the 5-day waiting period. Thank you for all the court challenges. Thank you for preventing state law enforcement agencies from sharing gun crime data. Thank you for trading societal gun safety for your (perceived) "essential liberty". The conservative demigod, Ronald Reagan, almost died in the assassination attempt that wounded James Brady. One would think that gun violence statistics in America might have enticed the NRA into working with congress instead of perpetuating the cycle of violence. Hell, more people are killed by guns than die in vehicle accidents -- I'm feeling soooo much safer already, just doing the research for this paragraph.

jacobJanuary 10, 2011 1:47 PM

ok. let me try this angle. Assume the following are true:
1. Conservatives are inflammatory.
2. Liberals are inflammatory.
3. Little civil discourse in this country.
4. Gun laws to prevent anybody viewed as mentally ill.
5. There is definitely a cause and effect with what people hear in public and what actions they commit.

Where does that get us? nowhere.
Crazy people will act crazy. They find a weapon or make their own, make a bomb, or just strangle someone, etc.

My son asked one time why people kill in the name of god. I replied, "What better reason to justify your actions?"
People commit acts and justify them in a larger context, or bigger sphere of influence than they live in. I have seen reasons in this blog of why this guy did it. Right wing incites, left wing incites, whatever. I am not looking for a cause and effect. That is too simple for a complex situation.
The public and public officials are looking for an easy solution.

MANY READERS of this blog debate security, and even mock the easy answers. We should apply the same standards to this horrific shoot 'em up by a mentally deranged individual (everyone can agree on that, right)?

Clive RobinsonJanuary 10, 2011 1:57 PM

@ BF Skinner,

"Here's the problem where this comes into conflict with 1st Ammendment rights"

It is not the only part of the founding fathers legacy that is taken to extreams, which is where the problem occurs.

One thing people forget and need to be reminded of is "other people have the right to be secure" in society for society to function. That is they should not feel threatend or be oppressed by others without the right of redress.

Back in times past it was known as "keeping the King's peace" that is there was an implicit contract between the "crown" and the "people" that the crown would provide protection from enemies both within and without the kingdom and in return the people would provide assistance in action and deed to support the crown in this endevour.

The mechanism was through the Lord High Sheriff of a county apointed by the crown down through Sheriff's, constables and officers of the peace in the hundreds. Redress was via the various "courts" where a persons peers would decide what punishment was due to a person for breaching the King's peace.

Thus the contract placed responsability on individuals as well as on the crown as their should be in any fair contract.

However there was within this system a judgment call to be made by the peace officer as to what behaviour was occasioning a breach of the peace. And this likewise fell onto the tribunal of truth (the jury of peers) under the guidence of the tribunal of justice (the judge or magistrate).

The reason behind this was simple on some occasions a particular behaviour would not be either threatening or offensive and thus not provoke a reaction from others, however under other circumstances the same behaviour would.

Although open to abuse it is a process that has worked reasonably well untill recent times, because of the checks and balances within the system (which Tony Blair did so much to remove).

The problem with the "right of free speach" is it can be read as having no limitations within social norms thus it becomes an unfair contract, which allows behaviour that will cause offense or others to feel threatend and oppressed, but they dare not alow themselves to react as they would be in the wrong.

Taken to this point it is just another form of represion or intimidation and well outside the social norms by any reasonable measure.

At this extream it is in essesnce little different to the crowd baying for blood at a cockfight or bear baiting pit. And I don't know about others but it makes me uneasy for many don't just believe in the rhetoric of an eye for an eye as an abstract idea, they realy belive in a life for an honour insult, that might is right and plain simple vigilanty vengeance.

mcbJanuary 10, 2011 2:20 PM

@ llamas

"Others are finally able to overpower the shooter after he has discharged 31 rounds over a period of 30-60 seconds, and only because he was trying to reload? I call that a failure. Nobody stopped him from doing what he was doing - the best you can say is that he stopped shooting and was prevented from starting again.

If what 'worked' is a 'population that knows it can defend itself' - why would you argue against the population having effective means for its defense? Why do you suggest that citizens should be made to go bare-handed (as these citizens did) against a man with the means and the inclination to use deadly force?"

A pistol in the hands of well-trained, alert, and well-situated bystander might have helped. So might an unarmed attack on the shooter before he emptied his pistol. Maisch and the others did what they could with what they had and probably prevented the death or injury of another dozen victims.

"I'm not suggesting that an armed and willing citizen would have been able to prevent this situation from happening at all - merely that it might have made it a lot less bad. Experience shows that 'spree killers' like this, when confronted with armed and determined resistance, either give up or kill themselves"

This tragedy occurred in Arizona where any law abiding adult who wants to go armed can do so. We might surmise there was a self-selected fraction of the population carrying concealed pistols in Phoenix that day but there don't seem to have been any in that parking lot, at least no one we've heard from.

While mass murder incidents (let alone political assassinations) such as these are extremely rare, the interruption of such attacks by lawfully armed citizens are essentially unheard of. Still, we have examples - perhaps especially since 9/11 - where unarmed citizens attack gunmen with their bare hands, or their handbags http://eclecticbreakfast.blogspot.com/2010/12/bravest-person-in-room.html , and frequently make a difference, as Maisch did on Saturday morning.

"It's like the lottery - your chances of winning may be small, but they are certainly zero if you don't buy a ticket."

So if everyone in Phoenix who wanted to "play" that day was doing so, are you saying you want more people to "buy tickets?"

MarkHJanuary 10, 2011 2:36 PM

I have some sad experience, of being close to people who were suffering varying degrees of mental instability. What I observed, is that their fears and obsessions appeared to be strongly influenced by what they took in from "news media."

Having witnessed this, I think it probable that inflammatory political rhetoric will be a causative factor in the decision of an unstable person to move from inner turmoil to the shedding of blood against people of public political import.

Two kinds of "rhetoric" that come to mind, that I think are both needless and risky:

First, and I guess most dangerous, is the making of greatly exaggerated (or completely fictive) claims about dangers to ordinary people posed by those in power. For example, I believe that at least one US legislator and at least one very famous TV "news" commentator warned that President Obama would create federal re-education or concentration camps to imprison those who oppose his programs (wish I were making this up, but sadly this is the actual behavior of influential Americans). What effect do you suppose such claims might have, on someone who is already tormented by anxiety and a sense of persecution? This kind of rhetoric implies an urgent physical threat.

Second, is verbally attacking not only the ideas and positions of political opponents, but also (even primarily) their character and morals. For example, both Obama and Bush have been frequently compared to Hitler. Another example is a book about a popular political ideology titled "Treason." This kind of rhetoric implies that opponents deserve to be put to death. “What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.” [John F. Kennedy]

HJohnJanuary 10, 2011 2:43 PM

@MarkH: "Another example is a book about a popular political ideology titled "Treason.""
___________

As someone who leans conservative, I do want to say that I have always thought "Treason" was completely over the top and ridiculous. Very few of the targets in the book deserved to be called treasonous. (I also don't think either our current president or his predecessor deserved to be compared to Hitler, so I'm consistent in rebuking nonsense on both sides.)

GabrielJanuary 10, 2011 2:50 PM

We can blame heated rhetoric all we want. The fact is there are psychopaths, sociopaths, violent outlaws around good and bad causes. Just look at bleeding Kansas and the later James gang. Abolition was a good cause, confederate insurgency a bad one, yet both had violent fringes. This guy in Tucson seems to be a psychopath. He would have found any reason to kill.

Now imagine the chilling effect on speech if we start regulating rhetoric. As Jefferson the answer to bad speech is more good speech. ( or something similar

Dirk PraetJanuary 10, 2011 2:54 PM

As a European, I am often puzzled by the somewhat ambiguous attitude many Americans seem to have towards murderous attacks.

In the case of the Tucson shooting, I hear many voices calling for further investigation and analysis before drawing any conclusions. The shooter is most probably a lone nutcase running amok. The right to keep and bear arms is firmly embedded in the Constitution and violent political rhetoric is protected under the 1st Amendment. No causal link - direct or indirect - can be proven between either of those and the dramatic events that toke the lives of six people and injured fourteen more, amongst which the congresswoman that appeared to be the prime target.

I wonder if their reactions would have been the same had a 22 year old mentally deranged muslim shot Sarah Palin. Chances are that the terrorist threat level in the country would have been raised to "Highest" in no time with scores of people calling for the immediate execution of the folks behind MoveOn or the deployment of nukes over Waziristan as a swift retaliation. All fingers would be pointing to a plot by jihadi sleeper cells. In days, there would be massive support for new bills further curtailing civil liberties and very few would object because "security has a price".

Now honestly ?

It's this strange duality in American nature that I have always found quite fascinating.

HJohnJanuary 10, 2011 3:06 PM

@Dirk Praet: "It's this strange duality in American nature that I have always found quite fascinating."
____________

We're a melting pot of cultures, beliefs, religions, races, languages, etc. We're also a vast and quarrelsome family. Ironically, our gulf of differences often keeps many of us honest with each other.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 10, 2011 3:08 PM

@ Lee G

Thanks for your clarification. He passed the instant fed check and then walked.

I wouldn't call it cherry-picking to say the accused only had to pass one (federal) instant background check before buying and carrying a concealed semi-automatic pistol.

Likewise, Arizona's 2 points out of 100 on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is directly relevant.

http://bradycampaign.org/stategunlaws/scorecard/AZ

The rating is for limit laws and risk. For example:

"if Congress had not allowed the 'Assault Weapons Ban' to expire in 2004, the shooter would only have been able to get off 10 rounds without reloading. Instead, he was able to fire at least 20 rounds from his 30-round clip."

From the reports I have read, the attacker was tackled during his reload. Although he managed to get another 30 round clip in, the gun malfunctioned and only then was he incapacitated.

If you have a different "cherry" to show that says AZ limit on gun ownership is too strong, please share.

mcbJanuary 10, 2011 3:18 PM

@ Gabriel

"This guy in Tucson seems to be a psychopath. He would have found any reason to kill."

He may in fact have been psychotic. He was certainly prone to violence. One does not lead to the other. Very few psychopaths or psychotics commit murder. To the contrary, paranoid schizophrenics, for example, are more likely to be the victim of violence than to perpetrate it themselves. In time we may learn more about the shooter's mental state and the source of his ideation, but at this time no one knows enough to understand the path that led to this horrible tragedy. I guess it won't keep folks from guessing though...

SamJanuary 10, 2011 3:20 PM

@Davi:
"He was allowed to conceal and carry his firearm without a permit, thanks to the infamous (NRA A+ rating) Arizona Governor Jan Brewer"

Are you seriously suggesting that someone who had previously decided to go on a shooting spree would decide not to, if only there was a law prohibiting him from transporting his firearm?

o.s.January 10, 2011 3:27 PM

Sadly,the tea party and their ilk have encouraged this violence as an replacement for honest and intelligent discourse. Who's been showing up at the the rallies and political events with AR-15's????? Republicans and tea party loyalists that's who. Sarah Palin has taken it down from her site but she already was widely publicized as wanting to "put certain Democratic members districts in the crosshairs" including "Gabby's" district. I wonder how this will play in her inevitably ignorant and sad presidential run she's planning in 2012.

aikimarkJanuary 10, 2011 3:41 PM

@Dirk

There are instances where a citizen's second amendment right to own/carry a gun is revoked (sometimes permanently).
* Felons
* Probationers
* Those involved with domestic abuse
* Stalkers and the recently separated/divorced
* Those that are judged as posing a threat to themselves or the public (this is the mental instability crowd) -- note that guns are the number one suicide method choice in America.

Fortunately, the courts are involved in most of these decisions so that these rights infringements aren't capricious. Even if a law enforcement officer seizes a gun for the protection of a spouse, the gun owner has the right to petition the court for a judgement on the issue.

atkJanuary 10, 2011 3:43 PM

@akimark: "Hell, more people are killed by guns than die in vehicle accidents -- I'm feeling soooo much safer already, just doing the research for this paragraph."

Not true. As indicated in my first aid manual from the american red cross, gun deaths are significantly less likely to occur than most other deaths, including but not limited to vehicular, falling off the stairs, and drowning.

@dirk praet: "I wonder if their reactions would have been the same had a 22 year old mentally deranged muslim shot Sarah Palin"

Likely the same kind of reactions would have been seen, just with "democrat" and "republican" reversed across a lot of it.


@Davi Ottenheimer: Are you saying that, in the face of laws designed to prevent him from getting a gun (or another weapon) he couldn't have either purchased one illegally (Britian - an insland nation - can't stop guns from getting on its shores, how could the US?), or made one (ever read the US Army manual of improvised munitions?)?

mcbJanuary 10, 2011 3:45 PM

@ Davi Ottenheimer

"Likewise, Arizona's 2 points out of 100 on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is directly relevant."

How's the violent crime (and gun crime) rate in states that score higher on Brady-scale? Lower? Higher? No apparent correlation? Weird, huh?

For a bunch of folks who generally view with disdain people who overreact to rare risks and regard with fear and skepticism governments which propose Draconian safeguards, there sure seems to be a lot of frantic rhetoric erupting among us.

This need not be a culture war issue. We might wait a couple more days (or even a week) to learn what actually happened and why, assess the risk of it happening again, evaluate possible solutions, consider the trade-offs, seek consensus, and then implement appropriate remedies. Or, we can go all Red State Blue State on each other and slap each other into a draw.

atkJanuary 10, 2011 3:46 PM

@all anti-tea-partiers: Please show me where a spokesman for the tea party, recognized by the tea party, has advocated violence. Failing that (or better, in addition), please show me a scientific study that shows that a majority of tea partiers advocate violence. Failing that, please show any kind of reasonable evidence that it's reasonable to paint thousands of people as inciting violence.

HJohnJanuary 10, 2011 3:58 PM

@o.s.: "Sadly,the tea party and their ilk have encouraged this violence as an replacement for honest and intelligent discourse. "
____________

That's ridiculous. If you think honest and intelligent discourse was a hallmark of the years preceeding Obama and the Tea Party, you must have been hibernating.

HistorianJanuary 10, 2011 4:01 PM

@Dirk Praet
As an American, I am often puzzled by the somewhat ambiguous attitude many Europeans seem to have towards murderous attacks. When Pim Fortuyn and van Gogh were murdered, many Europeans seemed to think that "they had it coming".
-----------

On the subject at hand, I agree that "the political tone of an era can have some bearing on violent events", but that is true of many different things. People who think that the political tone in the US right now is especially abrasive might be right, but not necessarily so. US politics has been combative (in the verbal sense) since 1776; it's the way democracy works.


Ryan CunninghamJanuary 10, 2011 4:05 PM

@atk

There's Angle's "And you know, I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems."

ModeratorJanuary 10, 2011 4:19 PM

o.s., since you value "intelligent discourse," please make sure you comment in a way that fosters it. The SarahPAC chart has already been mentioned and discussed in the thread; you brought it up as if it's new, and what's more, you've misleadingly turned it into a quotation. This is not helpful. The off-topic political flamebait about Palin's "inevitably ignorant and sad presidential run" is even less so.

o.s.January 10, 2011 4:29 PM

@Ryan
Thank you for pointing out some of the obvious statements abdicating violence that the tea partiers have clearly used.

@HJohn
You're actually right the level of discourse was never so great to begin with. The gun-toting displays,rhetoric and general ignorance and stupidity of the tea party has taken the level of discourse to an all new low though.

Richard Steven HackJanuary 10, 2011 4:31 PM

Let me make one very clear statement: controlling access to handguns, and consequently ANY form of violence involving handguns or any other firearm, is completely and totally PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

I don't care WHAT laws you impose, up to and including Ross Perot's notion of sending the military door to door to confiscate all firearms, it is absolutely and totally PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to control the estimated 70-170 MILLION firearms in this country.

Period. End of story. Move on.

If you want to argue that there should be some sort of social procedures to identify, monitor and control people who are liable to mentally deranged violence, that is an appropriate topic of discussion which is in the realm of possibility.

"Gun control" is NOT. It is a FANTASY.

Dirk PraetJanuary 10, 2011 4:43 PM

@ atk

Please reread point 3) of my first post in this thread. All over the world, media covering these events are associating sniper crosshairs with guns and subtle advocacy of violence the same way a swastika is typically associated with national socialism and concentration camps. Except than for India where it is a mark to denote good luck. If the responsible parties behind takebackthe20.com were absolutely sure such an association wouldn't make any sense at all, the site would still be on-line.

Although I suspect that if taken to (a US) court it would be thrown out under the 1st Amendment, the damage is done. When I go visit people at their homes, I always take off my shoes and politely greet all present in the proper way expected by their culture. Although there is no law that can force me to do so, I would be considered a neanderthal if I didn't and pretty much reduce to zero my chances of taking out their daughter. Likewise, you can call your boss a moron at work exercising your right of free speech, but still end up jobless at the end of the day. It just goes to say that free speech may be protected under the law, but may still have dramatic consequences outside the legal framework.

o.s.January 10, 2011 4:47 PM

@Moderator
My comments were meant to be in line with this statement from the blog:

"3.the political tone of an era can have some bearing on violent events.""

This is why I was discussing political discourse as it relates to political tone. I feel this is a very important topic that we need to discuss honestly and find solutions. I'll admit that my anger may not have facilitated this process and for that I apologize.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 10, 2011 5:09 PM

As some will have no doubt noticed there is a division on those who think the unplesant political rhetoric may or may not have influenced the behaviour of gunman.

The viewpoint of some is no and of others yes. And surprisingly depending on how you measure both could argue that they are right.

If you look at a normal population distrubution (the bell curve) it shows the number of people that fall into different slots.

For instance if we measure the hight of men on their 21st birthday we will find that the hight ranges from as little as three and a half feet to over seven feet.

If we look at the number of men who are six and a half feet they occurr on the right hand side just at the bottom of the stepest part of the curve. Now if the average hight goes up by say one inch the curve moves slightly to the right. The increase around the mid point would not be that noticable due to the broad flat cure at the bell top. however the number of men at six and a half feet would go up very significantly as it is on the outlying edge of the steepest part of the bell curve.

So you could argue that to the average person the increase in unpleasent political rhetoric has made little or no differance but to those on the outling edge it has made a significant difference.

Thuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Moshe YudkowskyJanuary 10, 2011 5:37 PM

Goodness gracious, what a load of excrement.

Let's see... the gunman raved about the Communist Manifesto, was anti-Constitution, and hated Gifford since 2007. Yet somehow Palin's ordinary political discourse is held to be at fault.

Palin serves as the nexus of the Left's neurosis. Other than that, the referenced article has no discernable lesson.

wind freeJanuary 10, 2011 5:38 PM

uk visa: you must live in a very elegant uk, I know that after your "weapons problems" were "solved", your home invasion(while occupied) rates went through the roof, and your goverment protects those invaders of peaceable folk, while jailing, and ruining, those who defend themselves. a pity that some of you dont take your Bentleys and run down a few MPs that voted for such asinine conduct:-). It may also interest you(but not much) that Inspector Colin Greenwood of the W. Yorkshire Constabulary conducted a collegiate-level study, in which his statistical conclusions revealed that gun crimes were lowest(in uk) when ANYone could purchase. But, I understand the uk's superiority, that's exactly WHY we came here; you should sweep your own steps before telling us how to live, eh? Parting thought: what would it have been like if 1 or 2 responsible citizens had been there and had firearms, the toll would have been much less. Remember the Colorado church security guard??, and remember Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen Texas?, there WAS one there that could have save 20 lives, including her Mother and Father, but HER gun was in her car, because at that time Texas didn't have concealed carry. "An armed society is a polite society..." Heinlein

atkJanuary 10, 2011 6:05 PM

@ryan cunningham: listen to the whole quote in context nd it's pretty clear that it's a pretty poor choice of words, though not a call to arms. Just as poorly worded as deval patrick's statement that he "knows that there's free speech, even if [he] doesn't have to like it." (Paraphreased). Everyone uses poor wordimgs to express points. It is not and should not be illegal to speak poorly.

@dirk praet: the zeitgeist (both verbal and pictorial) is full of hings with both military annonmilitary meanings, often which eventually lose their militarty meaning. "The whole 9 yards" - giving somethig your all - comes from world war 2 bomber planes that would carry 9 yards of ammunition. If someone said you should stick to your guns and give it the whole nine yards, would they necessarially be advocating violence?

Symbolism happens all the time, too. Ever see someone give a thumbs up? It comes from roman gladiatorial times where the emperor used the symbol to show the death (or life) decision on a fallen gladiator. Or what about the briish version of flipping someone off? Today ot is just a rude gesture, whereas it was originally a show of defiance by british archers against the french, who would cut off the fingers of captured brit archers.

If you look at the palin map, what you really see are a bumch of translucent white dots overlayed with solid white plus signs. This has a vague similarity to reticles, bu think about it: how many ways are there to indicate a point on a map? The most common mechanisms seem to be dots or crosses. How simple would it be if this were just a combination of the two? Just because you see a reticle, that doesn't mean that it is the intended message. I've seen enough map symbolism to have seen crosses and spheres both separately and together. They do not, in my mind as a map reader, indicate a reticle. They often mean things like railroad crossing or abandoned house.

Nobody has claimed that you should not respect one's cultur - if that's not your point then i think you need a better example than you showing people respect. i do see a lot of disrespect paid to many people's culture in this debate in general. Law abiding us citizens that own guns are being lumped in with criminals. Tea partiers are all being painted wih a very broad brush as vitriolic hate spewers, but nobody has provided proof. Attempts have been made to show the murderer as a leftie or a rightie, when he subscribed to both nazism and te communist manifesto. There are even attacks against republicans (on this very tread) trying to make them the only party hat has ever had murderers - rediculous in the extreme, but stated nonetheless.

Dirk PraetJanuary 10, 2011 6:05 PM

@ Historian

"When Pim Fortuyn and van Gogh were murdered, many Europeans seemed to think that "they had it coming"."

The point I was trying to make is that many Americans in my observation are reacting completely different to similar events depending on the target and/or the perpetrator.

Pim Fortuyn was a Dutch right-wing politician with a strong anti-islam agenda. He was shot through the head just before general elections in 2002 that according to polls he would have won by a landslide and probably even made PM. Theo Van Gogh was a Dutch film maker, writer and columnist with an equally outspoken and very provocative anti-islam opinion. In 2004, he was butchered by a radical islamist just a few weeks after a local imam had called him a criminal bastard and had wished him a terrible disease.

Although both had insulted Islam in more than one way and on many occasions, neither had ever overtly or covertly called for or hinted at any sort of violence against muslims as this would have been punishable under Dutch law. For your information, nobody in Holland had seen Fortuyn's murder coming as The Netherlands were a very tolerant and open society with their last political murder going back to 1682. Although Van Gogh arguably had made himself a possible target, he never asked for protection and authorities didn't provide any.

The only people that ever expressed both had it coming were those that said exactly the same about the 9/11 attacks, left-wing extremists, nihilists and islamists. They would in essence have taken the same stand on any similar event. Therefor I think your comparison is a bit flawed.

jacobJanuary 10, 2011 6:17 PM

I see a whole lot of heat with very little analysis. Previous posters have mentioned the care and identification of mentally ill individuals. The Baker? act allowed many mentally ill to be discharged as well as broad actions to prevent the mandatory usage of drugs to help individuals cope with the mental illness.

I am not interested in the debate of Palin or Moveon.org fostering individuals. some have equated automobiles deaths with gun laws. How many guns? How many cars? How many people drive vehicles and kill people? Test their reactions time, temperament? How many guns are there in this country? I would guess about 300 million guns that someone can point and fire. Kind of a small number of shootings, I think. I could be wrong. This is really a straw man argument with people looking through their tinted glasses.

Let's debate if we can do more to identify individuals that are mentally ill and move to help treatment. Even if we identify them, some will go off meds and a smaller number will harm themselves or others. Someone here talked of them being victims. You are absolutely right. With current practice, the mentally ill usually wind up in prison to be abused and abuse others. It's kind of sad.

I am sick (and tired) of the easy answers to complex problems. @clive. You can probably tell us of criminals not being able to get guns and using knifes. I really wish people and especially the learned people of this blog would stop looking at easy solutions/blame and discuss the issues.

1. Mental heath identification, evaluation, treatment.
2. gun laws that make sense. Would 3 additional days make a difference? Really?
3. stop blaming one group (conservative/liberal). No one is innocent of raising the rhetoric.
4. Security.

Can we move this to a more intelligent discussion rather than blaming Palin or moveon.org? I remember people hating bush. Do you remember the movie showing his assassination? Or saying obama was going to move people to camps and intentionally crash the economy? If words equate violence, why did no one take a shot at bush? Think about it. It is not cause and effect. There were 8 years of individuals hearing/feeling the hostility toward bush.

Just my thoughts.

aikimarkJanuary 10, 2011 6:20 PM

@atk

You are correct. I had included non-fatal (gun injury) figures in my statement. Sorry for the misinformation.

1993 CDC report:
Gun deaths: 38,317 (15.2/100k)
Motor vehicle deaths: 43,536 (17.3/100k)

2007 CDC report:
Gun deaths: 31,224 (10.4/100k)
Motor vehicle deaths: 42,031 (13.9/100k)

jacobJanuary 10, 2011 6:21 PM

@bf skinner. I would be the first to buy both a beer. Guiness or lager of their choice. Personally, a 3 finger sifter of brandy for me and deep breaths. LOL I'll even buy you one. You leftist scum.

AndrewJanuary 10, 2011 6:35 PM

aikimark says >> Hell, more people are killed by guns than die in vehicle accidents -- I'm feeling soooo much safer already, just doing the research for this paragraph.

I'm not feeling so safe, either.

Deaths, 2007, motor vehicle accidents: 41,259 or 13.68 per 100,000 population

Firearm homicides, 2007: 12,632 or 4.2 per 100,000 population

Firearm suicides, 2007: 17,352 or 5.8 per 100,000 population

Firearms-related deaths and vehicle-related deaths run neck and neck for any given year. However, the firearms homicide rate is one third the total death rate for automobile accidents.

I have yet to encounter a firearm that killed anyone. People kill people, guns make it easier -- and most of your 'killed by guns' statistics are people who kill themselves.

This particular nutjob probably could have had a similar death toll if he'd jacked the cab and driven it into his targets. Let's put the blame where it belongs -- mostly on the idjit in question, somewhat on his parents (wonder why they are missing from the discussion?) and a bit on our lack of a decent mental health system.

(Sources: http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx; http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm; http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm)

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 10, 2011 8:43 PM

@ atk

"Are you saying that, in the face of laws designed to prevent him from getting a gun (or another weapon) he couldn't have either purchased one illegally.... "

No, that's a Straw Man argument again.

I said he was able to buy a gun and waltz out, contrary to the post that said he could not just buy a gun and waltz out.

Let me try to put this another way.

When you remove all access controls from a firewall and pass traffic after verifying only a source address (any IP will do), a packet can just waltz right into your network.

Arguing that there still is a firewall rule does not fairly represent the fact that you have removed controls that prevent known (highly probable and severe) attacks.

JamesJanuary 10, 2011 9:02 PM

Aside from all the topics discussed here about the gun and how crazy the guy was, I didn't see anyone discuss the conditions around the senator (the security theater).
The line of defense around the senator was broken. She was out in the open talking to people and it allowed him to get too close. A supermarket out in the open is a great way to approach constituents, but maybe not the right place to have a political discourse. Other representatives (during the health care bill discussion) did so in a more closed area where control would be easier and it might have made it harder to approach her (since it would have been obvious that he shouldn't be so close to a podium for example) and in that case maybe others would not have been killed and he might have missed her.

DavidJanuary 10, 2011 9:16 PM

Coming in late to the game, but one thought that I had (which doesn't seem to be prevalent in this discussion) is how it was the local citizens who happen to be around who disarmed the gunman.

As Teh Bruce has pointed out again and again, it wasn't law enforcement that stopped the incident--it was the average Joe (or Joanna) who did something.

I have noticed that, while lots of praise is being heaped upon those who tackled and disarmed the gunman in Tuscon, no one is really talking about how often unofficial citizens have made the difference...not officialdom. (Underwear bomber, Shoe Bomber, that old Marine down in South America, all the way back to Flight 93 and earlier).

The point has been made here, again and again, that explicit controls in whatever form will fail, but having alert users can be the deciding factor over and over.

Why, even here, does everyone jump on the predictable arguments (gun vs. control, left vs. right, etc) when a simpler lesson is ignored?

Just wondering...

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 10, 2011 9:32 PM

@ mcb

"How's the violent crime (and gun crime) rate in states that score higher on Brady-scale? Lower? Higher? No apparent correlation? Weird, huh?"

Yes, that is weird. I take it back...no, haha, wait, that's actually my point again.

The Brady-scale is a measure of gun limit laws. California has the highest score because they have the most background check rules, etc.

http://www.bradycampaign.org/stategunlaws/scorecard/CA

I am not trying to agree or disagree with these limit laws. I only am trying to make the point that Arizona has almost no gun limit laws.

In my firewall example above, likewise, I am not saying whether it is right/wrong to have an open rule-set. I am trying to point out that if you have an open rule-set it should be described as an open rule-set -- a lack of controls.

You can debate good/bad effective/not all you want, but at least be good enough to agree there are no limits.

A firewall with just power on and fans spinning is not the same thing as a well-managed one that has rules defined. They should not be confused or considered equal.


atkJanuary 10, 2011 9:38 PM

@davi ottenheimer: ah. thank you for the clarification. you were simply arguing that a fact previously pressented was incorrect, with no further implication intended.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 10, 2011 10:14 PM

@ mel

"certainly implies removing controls will result in a greater number of attacks."

implies perhaps, but that's not my point.

that's a separate argument for a number of reasons. for example, one might argue that fewer rules managed well are better than many rules that are poorly managed or even un-managed.

that would be one way of saying fewer rules can be more effective.

of course most rules can be argued ad nauseam...i know i've had my fair share of endless debates about gratuitous ARP (thank you Cisco - NOT). not trying to do that here.

AZ lacks limits -- 2 out of 100 (as listed and described by the Brady site) is an extremely reduced set, which is why i say AZ lets you buy a pistol and waltz outside (back to the original post).

andrewJanuary 10, 2011 11:02 PM

an idea
if someone thinks a leader might take a direction that will have negtive
effects, far out the look in the future the more damage will be done.

could explain why people with time on there hands and not worrying
so much about food,roof might do these things

edJanuary 10, 2011 11:32 PM

"AZ lacks limits -- 2 out of 100 (as listed and described by the Brady site) is an extremely reduced set, which is why i say AZ lets you buy a pistol and waltz outside (back to the original post)."

The only reason I can think of for saying this is that you think it's significant, or has a significant effect. Does it? If not, then it's moot: it's of no consequence.

You could similarly attach a score to firewalls, based on configuration, rules, etc. But the ultimate measure of a firewall is effectiveness. If scoring is correlated with effectiveness, then there may be value in the scoring. If it's not correlated, then of what use is the scoring?

Fewer rules, more rules; managed well, managed poorly. None of that matters if you aren't measuring effectiveness. And if the scoring you're using isn't correlated with effectiveness, then what value is it?

Or take another example: Arizona's budget shortfall (one of the worst of the 50 states) has reduced expenditures for state mental health support. How about scoring that? Would focusing on that funding have been effective (or more effective), rather than focusing on the Brady scoring of the state's gun laws?

hoodathunkitJanuary 10, 2011 11:34 PM

@ Davi Ottenheimer - Brady's continued efforts to restrict civil rights mistake reality for theory, the murderer had already been convicted of illegal drug use. Duh!
________
America's campaign rhetoric isn't so bad, the past was much worse
http://reason.com/blog/2010/10/29/attack-ads-circa-1800
Unlike the '60s, not a single US city burning, nor is likely too.

President Obama:
- “They bring a knife to a fight, we bring a gun“
- “Get in their faces“
- “Punish your enemies“
- “Hit back twice as hard“
- “Hand to hand combat”

http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/10/the-progressive-climate-of-hate-an-illustrated-primer-2000-2010/ has a partisan but accurate listing of hate-n-violence rhetoric . . . and even a sprinkling of actions.

Rep. Kanjorski (D-PA) about Gov. Scott (R-FL) ,“Put him against the wall and shoot him.” Let the people decide, as they did in this case, to elect the Governor and to un-elect the Representative.

andrewJanuary 11, 2011 12:09 AM

"Or take another example: Arizona's budget shortfall (one of the worst of the 50 states) has reduced expenditures for state mental health support. How about scoring that? Would focusing on that funding have been effective (or more effective), rather than focusing on the Brady scoring of the state's gun laws?"

Change people(mental health), would remove the need for a gun law(then remove the need for mental health). but change the gun law would not remove the mental health, and not remove the gun law.

How can you get a accurate score, with such a large configuration set.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 11, 2011 1:51 AM

@ed

"The only reason I can think of for saying this is that you think it's significant, or has a significant effect."

*sigh*

The reason I said it was because an earlier post said:

"Just to clarify for non-US readers - the shooter was not able to simply waltz out of a gun shop with a handgun, 'no questions asked', as is being widely suggested."

That is simply not true. AZ apparently has no questions they want to ask. The only question was a federal one...and the federal one was weak and ineffective probably because states (e.g. the NRA) argue bitterly against any federal questions. So a lack of gun limit laws at the state level (by design) really means a lack of gun limit laws.

That is my point, nothing more. The reason no questions were asked is because a lack of gun limit laws means no questions will be asked! Whether you are for or against limit laws, AZ does not have limit laws.

And with that, I will stop repeating the point.

@ hoodathunkit

"the murderer had already been convicted of illegal drug use"

You mean charged and dismissed?

Right. That furthers my point above that the accused was easily able to buy a gun and waltz without answering questions.

"partisan but accurate"

You mean wanton but fair?

WinterJanuary 11, 2011 3:04 AM

This looks very much like the assassination of Rabin.

There too were Israeli politicians uttering veiled calls for murdering political opponents.

And Sarah Palin did call for armed resistance to democratic decisions. I cannot but see the snipper target map as a call for targeted violence.

The real question, though, is whether the Americans will want to elect a president who advocates shooting political opponents?

Clive RobinsonJanuary 11, 2011 3:07 AM

@ Jacob,

" clive. You can probably tel us of criminals not being able to get guns and using knife"

I could but I have not because as others have pointed out in the reality of measurment it only realy effects the scale of damage the premeditated attack caused, not the fact that the premeditated act was commited.

That is as with the cost of defence you cannot directly measure the success of a deterrent only it's failures.

That asside your main point appears to be about public mental health care, this is something that many US citizen's find more contentious than gun control. Some of the worst political rhetoric of recent times has been around POTUS's Health Care Reforms.

To many outside of the US where public health care is the norm it's a "no brainer" argument because the chronicaly ill make the rest of the herd more susceptible to ill health and thus drag the rest of society down with them. In times past the solution to the chronicaly ill was social exclusion like "leper colonies" and less than a century ago various states in the US did not give medication to black's with syphilis even though it was federaly mandated for the simple public healthcare reasons of stopping it spreading via prostitution into the community at large.

For some reason that is unclear mental health issues in the US appear worse than in other equivalent nations. The question is if it is just 'appear' or 'actuality', if the latter then you open up a very significant and very fraught debate.

You can look up the statistics but it is suggested that around 1 in 4 people will have a serious mental health problem at some point in their life. Most will get through it without harming others or themselves, however this alone makes it a "hidden issue" in that it is very probably under reported.

Increasingly it is being found that trying to adjust the chemical balence of the brain is not a satisfactory way to deal with mental health issues. Some studies show that commonly used drugs in mental health appear no more effective than placebos or herbal remadies (St John's wort, camomile, mace/nutmeg, cinoman, cloves, pepermint) and in many cases the side effects are considerably worse than some of the known herbal psycotics (wormwood, cleary sage, etc). Worse many drugs don't solve the mental health issues they just alow rudimentary functioning of the person taking the medication. Thus they may actualy prolong the condition.

One area currently under investigation is "cognative behavioral therapy" but like many many other treatments for mental health issues it is manpower intensive and thus very expensive.

However as has been known for many many years unhappy people make other people unhappy, a happy smiling face and a sincere word of comfort helps lift people and make them feel better within themselves, thus a lot of people belive mental health issues are very much community life style issues.

It could be argued (but I am not going to) that lone nutjobs cannot go unnoticed in a tightly woven community, and thus can be helped or dealt with.

I could go on at even greater length but it is a very contentious issue in the US and likley to be considerably more so in the next few days.

GreenSquirrelJanuary 11, 2011 3:39 AM

Ah, a debate about guns. I am always entertained by how heated such a debate involving Americans can get.

Entertained and surprised.

As with any debate on what is effectively a religious topic, there will be myths on both sides...

As an example: @ wind free
"you must live in a very elegant uk, I know that after your "weapons problems" were "solved", your home invasion(while occupied) rates went through the roof, and your goverment protects those invaders of peaceable folk, while jailing, and ruining, those who defend themselves."

Incorrect. This is a fairly commonly held myth.

However, I do think that the Arizona shooting is an incident of something that would happen with or without gun control laws.

While I am not an advocate of an armed public (too few people know what they are doing) I dont believe that punishing the law abiding public because of the actions of a madman makes sense.
If someone had driven a car into the crowd and spent time driving back and forth to hit as many people as possible, would it make sense to ban cars?

Jon HannaJanuary 11, 2011 4:41 AM

There is a point to this, in the minds of those doing the killing or attempted killing, their motives may be "political" and hence will affect them similarly to how the motives of other political assassins are motivated.

It would seem on first blush to have the negative effect of such a motive in a crime (they have a sense of dedication that would make them act against self-interest where most criminals wouldn't) without the possibility of propaganda or political resolution (since they are also nuts too - how do you bring a Jodie Foster fanatic to use the ballot box instead of the bullet?).

On the other side, some of this seems to be overly applying a simplistic narrative to American politics where anything other than the "big issue of the day" is marginalised. Hence treating it as remarkable that Truman was shot over something other than Korea and the Cold War, which totally ignores the fact that there have been many other acts of terrorism on American soil in support of Puerto Rican independence (not only has there been more Puerto Rican terrorism that Islamic over the last 80 years, there remains active engagement by a group with numbers estimated at over a thousand). Really, why is this considered an example of the point?

That the political tone can affect the likelihood of events is hardly a controversial point when it comes to those cases more directly viewed as political. It's not hard to see why the 1970s had the greatest amount of terrorism on American soil (in terms of number of violent incidences, the numbers killed in the 2001 attacks makes it come second to the last decade on that count). Really, it's a no-brainer that people who consider themselves "at war" will kill more than those who don't, and that the number of people with this view changes in relation to political events.

In terms of those not affiliated to active groups though, where mental unbalance becomes a bigger factor in the decision to act (though it remains a factor even in the choice to join regular forces, never mind those groups engaged in terrorism and/or asymmetric warfare) the political tone is not the only relevant tone. People are more likely to act in a way they consider normal, condoned or common while condemned. The view that killing is the way to obtain ones goals is not solely a political view. Consider Brian Keenan's remark that his captors seemed as strongly influenced by the Rambo films in their self-perception as they did by their ideological justifications for killing and kidnapping.

Not only does "political" in the minds of an assassin not necessarily match with the dominant political narratives of the day, but they may not be the sole motivating narratives even in those that are more "cleanly" seen as politically motivated.

HJohnJanuary 11, 2011 5:41 AM

@Winter: "And Sarah Palin did call for armed resistance to democratic decisions. I cannot but see the snipper target map as a call for targeted violence"
_____________

Actually, targets on political maps and such analogies have been used by both sides for years. The 2004 election map for John Kerry put targets on states where Bush was vulnerable, and I don't believe for one second it was a call to violence.

This made scramble to leverage this tragedy for political gain is just cheap and insulting to the victims of this tragedy.

hoodathunkitJanuary 11, 2011 6:14 AM

@ Davi Ottenheimer and the one-note song of gun control.
So you think gun prohibition would work better than drug prohibition? LOL. Drugs are consumables and firearms last centuries; that 'logic' quadruples American firearms ownership. No firearms prohibition —in the history of the world— ever *reduced* violent crime. The one-note song is off key.
--
@Winter, who asked, "The real question, though, is whether the Americans will want to elect a president who advocates shooting political opponents?"

You mean like Barack Obama: “They bring a knife to a fight, we bring a gun“; “Get in their faces“; “Punish your enemies“; “Hit back twice as hard“; “Hand to hand combat”

Political hypocrisy is amazing.

SteveJanuary 11, 2011 6:31 AM

Whatever the local politics, gun laws, media 'coverage' and whatever the country and whatever the 'mental state' of the perpertrator it is wise, I believe, to look at fundamentals so that the politics, gun laws, media 'coverage' and the 'mental state' of the perpertrator do not obscure the basic issue.

What distinguishes the State is its monoply on violence. ( I recall Obama bearing witness to this in interview ).
So assissinations become the ultimate way of fighting fire with fiire - dealing with the State on 'equal terms'

Not that I advocate the practice nor do I support it in any way expressed or implied.
There are many personal tragedies in this event and any reasonable human being must be moved by them.

But look at the meta level as well.

It is, occasionally, inevitable whatever the motives (real or imagined) of the perpertrators or their ability to achieve their objective. The collateral damage in this event is appalling.
But the State, whichever State you care to think of, creates collateral dmagae all the time.

If you work for a violent organisation some blow back is inevitable.
'Wiseguys' accept this as a fact of life.


The interesting question to my mind is what does it say about the State when the perpertrator is a member of the public as opposed to a political opponent.


GreenSquirrelJanuary 11, 2011 6:58 AM

Guns vs Drugs: I actually agree that gun control would be about as affective as drug prohibition. But it is interesting that the converse argument (legalise and tax drugs) gets very little traction from advocates of weapon-carrying.

I am sure that if the state provided every man, woman and child (over the age of 16) with an assault rifle and 200rnds of ammunition violent crime would vanish. Eventually.

There is an argument that nothing any government does reduces violent crime but it seems we still want the government to do things.

On the subject of hypocrisy its funny how people can argue their words are meaningless & protected while objecting to those posted by others as leading people astray.

Remember if the statements make everyone take one step towards violence, some will cross over the line.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 11, 2011 7:24 AM

@ Green Squirrel,

"Remember if the statements make everyone take one step towards violence, some will cross over the line."

Yup and rather more than you might think depending on where the line cuts the bell curve.

It was a point I was describing in my usual pedantic way ;) last night when the keyboard on this mobile phone locked up again 8(

And due to the batery being nearly flat on reboot it went into "FEED ME" mode. So I just stuck it on charge and went to bed instead of finishing up with a punch line (the one I had in mind was not as good as yours).

I was going to try and tactfully address the issue of public mental health care as well but it's a subject that is still very raw and open in the US as it had a lot of "crazzies" from churches etc climbing in on it.

My view such as it is as I said in my reply to Jacob above is that it is in the collective interest of a nation to not have people avoidably being chronicaly ill as it will spread through the nation bringing the collective health down.

HJohnJanuary 11, 2011 7:39 AM

@hoodathunkit: You mean like Barack Obama: “They bring a knife to a fight, we bring a gun“; “Get in their faces“; “Punish your enemies“; “Hit back twice as hard“; “Hand to hand combat”
__________

Clinton also called his political headquarters "The War Room" and a Democratic congressman (can't remember his name) actually fired a gun during a campaign commercial while shooting a copy of the Cap and Trade bill.

I want to be clear--these Democrats used analogies with no intent to advocate actual physical violence. I do not condemn them for this, my point is about the selective outrage. Early indicators are pointing to Jared Loughner as left leaning, and I certainly don't think anyone on the left is responsible for his actions.

aikimarkJanuary 11, 2011 7:39 AM

@Andrew

I posted the combined statistic because we are talking about gun deaths and vehicle deaths within the context of mental health. It doesn't matter to me if Loughner intended to use his last bullet in his last clip on himself, expected to be killed by police, or had not thought that part through.

The motor vehicle death statistics don't have a useful breakdown that would allow us to categorize which deaths are homicide and suicide.

====
broken link corrections:
http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm

HJohnJanuary 11, 2011 7:46 AM

@BF Skinners: Westboro Church performs outrageous conduct during their protests at military funerals. While their case works through the courts laws are being written to restrict access around.
_______________

Yeah, those heartless jerks at Westboro are rumored to be planning to picket at Christine Greene's funeral on Thursday. I hope this rumor is not true.

It is worth noting that the leader of Westboro, Fred Phelps, unsuccessfully ran for office five times as a Democrat. I point this out for two reasons. First, because the knee jerk reaction is that it's a right wing extreme group, which isn't the case.

And second, and most importantly, I don't hold the democrats responsible for Phelps and Westboro any more than I hold any democrats or republicans (whichever he turns out to identify with) responsible for Loughner. Just because they identify with a group doesn't mean the group identifies with them.

I only bring the politics of Westboro's leader Phelps and the alleged (not proven) politcs of Loughner into this to make the point that it is unfair to blame point to the words/actions/associations of some people in a peaceable majority as the excuse for a few nuts that happen to pop up. People like Lougher are rare... there are tens of millions of wonderful people (and some not-so-wonderful people) on both sides of the political spectrum, and in between.

If "rhetoric" was really the cause, we'd see a lot more of this on both sides of the aisle.

jacobJanuary 11, 2011 8:00 AM

@clive. You are always good for a better arguement and raising the bar.

I was trying to move the discussion to that of mental health services. I was not trying to get into a debate of national health care. A previous poster mentioned the usefulness of drugs. I understand the issue. I also would like to see a debate of how do we identify and treat individuals that will commit acts of violence. That is a tricky thing to implement.

Security for officials is another area that should be explored while trying to allow citizens to talk to reps and even shout at them from time to time without gunfire.

Political rhetoric does need to be toned down a little.

Lastly, a crazy person will act crazy. If they are violent they DO tend to act violently. I would think (just my supposition) that they will gravitate to a worldview or opinion that fosters or comes from the mental issues they have. A person might shoot at public officials because they think they are reptiles in disguise. You can not predict what will trip the circuit breaker. It is environment usually something they see, read, or hear. But it could be something they think up.

From what I have read so far this guy like mein kampf, thought we never landed on mars, thought control, etc. This is not a political animal. Apparently he met the Giffords and thought she was stupid. That may have been all it took to focus on her. This guy could have focused on a clerk at the safeway instead.

I really see people looking for an easy answer, a cause and effect. I just don't believe it's there.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 11, 2011 8:05 AM

@ wind free,

"It may also interest you(but not much) that Inspector Colin Greenwood of the W Yorkshire Constabulary conducted a collegiate evel study, in which his statistical conclusions revealed that gun crimes were lowest(in uk) when ANYone could purchase."

I would like to see a link to the study you mention.

You may have misread it, in the UK the Home Office was always very reluctant to reveal gun crime by legaly held fire arms (always very low since the 1960's from the studies I've seen).

And apart from hand guns the law on guns has not realy changed that much over the years.

A clear distinction is made between "guns" which are smooth bore weapons and rifles and other weapons with rifled barrels.

As far as I can tell from various studies that the countries with the lowest occurance of gun crime with legaly owned weapons usually have better if not madatory training in weapons handeling.

I have always thought it odd that you require a licence to operate a car but not a kinetic weapon, some of which in the UK you could once purchased without a permit.

Perhaps the US statistics on gun crime should be broken down by those weapons lawfully owned and used by their lawfull owners and those either not lawfully owned or used by a person other than the lawful owner. Then further break the figures down by those who have had suitable training at a gun club or through an appropriate teaching course.

I once remember seeing a statistic that said in one part of the US 9 out of 10 white deaths by guns where suicides and only 1 out of ten black deaths where suicides... If it was correctly drawn up it is a stagering statistic of diferences between what was probably as much a demographic difference based on available oportunites such as education.

The subject of gun usage and control is complex and depending on how you view the statistics many different arguments can be made.

However on the subject of prohibition of drugs or guns, you need to think back to see what happened in the US with alcohol when that was prohibited and alcohol related crime before during and after prohibition. Usually history has leassons to teach us if we look carefully.

Oh and whilst at it how do alcohol deaths in the US stack up against gun related deaths?

GreenSquirrelJanuary 11, 2011 8:08 AM

@Clive - I totally agree. I am amazed at the widespread reluctance to national healthcare within the US. I really do find it strange.

@HJohn - while I think I see your point, I would be amazed if you could describe Fred Phelps as "left wing." I suspect part of the issue here is that in the US left wing is still very right wing for the rest of the world.

For my personal position, I dont believe it is as simple as saying Person A has said X which led to Person B committing a crime.

However there is an element of that and public figures have to bear in mind possible consequences of their actions. This has always been the case (just ask Thomas Becket) and most politicians the world over are aware of it - and use it to their advantage.

Part of the oddity in the US (at least from an outsiders perspective, things may be different inside) is that in the last few decades there has been an apparent increase in the use of martial terms - all done to show how robust and patriotic the politician is.

For most people this is easily identified as meaningless rhetoric.

For those on the edge things arent so clear.

We all readily accept that the terminology used in retail adverts affect the behaviour of viewers. People happily argue that watching porn has an adverse affect on the behaviour of men. People happily argue that violent films / games make people violent.

Why cant we accept that exposure to militaristic rhetoric has the same effect?

jacobJanuary 11, 2011 8:09 AM

I partially retract my thoughts. The cause was a mentally ill person who despite multiple warnings and years was not treated or identified. (so far that is the story).

The effect, he focused on a political representive, opening fire, killing and wounding many.

How's that for a cause and effect? The question is could have it been prevented. If a professional warned rep giffords there is a mentally ill person focused on her? If he was on meds (assuming they worked), etc. ad nauseum.

HJohnJanuary 11, 2011 8:14 AM

@GreenSquirrel: "while I think I see your point, I would be amazed if you could describe Fred Phelps as "left wing." I suspect part of the issue here is that in the US left wing is still very right wing for the rest of the world."
__________

I don't really think Phelps is left wing. Dont' think he's right wing either. I think he's a bitter person who enjoys causing pain and he takes issue with many things on both sides of the spectrum and uses that as his excuse to hurt people.

My point about his running for office several times as a Democrat was simply it is unfair to use his allegiance to the Democratic Party against him since they show no allegiance to him. By making that point, I was hoping those on that side of the spectrum may think twice about associating so many conservatives with some outliers because they certainly do not identify with them.

So, if my intent was not clear, I apologize. I dont' identify Phelps as left or right, I just identify him as low.

GreenSquirrelJanuary 11, 2011 8:26 AM

@HJohn

Thanks for the clarification and on a re-read that does make perfect sense. It is a mistake to jump to unfounded conclusions relating to allegiances, especially while very little is known.

However, there is always a risk of the "No True Scotsman" being applied.

HJohnJanuary 11, 2011 8:34 AM

@GreenSquirrel

Thanks for that. I have a special disdain for Phelps because he does his nonsense under the guise of Christianity, and the specific denomination of Baptist. I'm a non-denominational Christian, and I went to a baptist high school where I was educated by some of the kindest, most tender-hearted, sincere people around. People like Phelps and his followers often bring people like myself and my old teachers into disrepute no matter how hard we try to separate ourselves from them. We don't identify with them, but they identify with us, and for some that means guilt by association.

Best,
HJohn

Dirk PraetJanuary 11, 2011 8:41 AM

@ James

"Aside from all the topics discussed here about the gun and how crazy the guy was, I didn't see anyone discuss the conditions around the senator (the security theater)."

BF Skinner did raise it. In spite of the threats, the violent rhetoric, the raiding of her Tucson office, Rep. Giffords refused to be terrorised either by nutcases or political opponents. However concerned she was by these, she refused to surround herself with pretorians and other security theatre based on her beliefs that in an open and tolerant society democracy works through debate, argumentation of facts and keeping close to your constituents.

Irrespective of the shooter being a nutcase or driven by a political agenda, the only appropriate way to pay respect to the victims of the Tucson shooting, and as per Rep. Giffords own wishes, is for all parties and their supporters to tone it down. However much many Americans seem to have grown accustomed to inflammatory rhetoric, demonisation of political opponents, populism, symbolism and even arms parading, none of these in my humble opinion have any place in a modern 21st century democracy. If nothing else, they are the precursors of an unspeakable evil that roared its ugly head in Europe in the twenties and thirties. Forget about the past, and you're doomed to repeat it.

GreenSquirrelJanuary 11, 2011 9:01 AM

@HJohn: it is a strange thing. All my life I thought of Baptists are very relaxed, fairly liberal, very kind people. Then I discovered US Baptists...

(Fortunately I quickly discovered that not all US baptists are like the more outspoken ones!)

Phelps (who is an oxygen thief if ever there was one) is an interesting example though. He calls himself a Christian, so are we correct to say he isnt a "real" one because no true Christian would behave in the manner he does? He, and his clan of creatures, take the odd position that everyone else isnt a True Christian because they hold softer views.

It is, I suspect, a debate that could go on for some time. Personally, I will hold to the position that some people are occupying space on Earth that would be better used for other things. He is one of them.

@Clive

Inspector Colin Greenwood appears to have left W Yorks Police in the late 1970s. He is probably the same person who provided evidence to the Commons in about 1999 about trends in firearms crime.

His evidence is interesting - appeared to show an increase in the use of firearms in crimes, but its presented in a bit of an artificial manner. He shows how the numbers go up (generally) but doesnt match it to the total number of crimes, which are (according to the BCS stats) going up at about the same rate.

The biggest jump appeared to be 1990 - 1991 (which matches a jump in the BCS) and is unrelated to any firearms legislation.

The main thrust of the evidence presented to the commons is that legislation is not the most effective tool at *reducing* the incidence of gun crime - he doesn't claim that it increases the incidence. His evidence to Commons certainly doesn't support the fact gun crime was "at its lowest" when anyone could purchase a gun (he only looks at 1980 onwards for a start). The BCS figures between 1981 and 1994 show robberies appeared to increased from (about) 11000 - 19000 incidents while the incident of firearms involvement went from (about) 2000 - 4000 over the same period. The peaks and troughs do not align with any legislative changes over that period.

Doug CoulterJanuary 11, 2011 12:22 PM

The speed and fierceness with which advocates of this or that have jumped on this tragedy to make their case for whatever is shameful, and it misses the real point, though a whisper of it has arrived here (and almost no where else). There's this bell curve -- well, we really don't know the shape, and as Clive mentioned, pushing the middle around also pushes the tails around too, and at some point someone in the tail crossed the line.

It's my take that disenfranchisement, in various forms is the real issue, and is being ignored.

Anytime you create a body of people who can easily believe that "anything would be better than this" this is what you get. The easier it is for them to believe it (or the closer it is to true), the more trouble you get because more people in the tails of the distribution get pushed across the line.

When it's a group, we call it terrorism, which is the next step after "complete nutjob events" like this -- this should be a wakeup call but not for rhetoric, gun issues or any of that (though I'd love to see the political rhetoric taken down a notch and more effort on solving the problems that cause people to be or feel disenfranchised).

This particular kid was able to easily feel like that, rejected by people up close and personal, and by larger institutions as well -- and that's natural, when I find someone is a noisy, disruptive crazy, I avoid hanging out with them myself, kind of in self defense. Whether we should let a completely unofficial judgement by a school (no medical expert backing, merely the request for one) ban someone from having other rights, I don't think is enough, but surely the fact that this wasn't followed up by anyone is the real issue here.
Again, along with the fact that disenfranchisement is becoming more and more common for more in more people in more and more ways in this country, and nothing is being done about it by any of the "sides" in this debate. This doesn't speak to the very difficult issue of how do we detect and stop a lone nutjob -- I feel for anyone given that task, it's just about impossible.

What I'm speaking to is creating fewer of them in the first place, and taking care of the accidental ones better, by the way we run society. You know, elections that provide an actual choice -- so people don't feel left out of the legal system, laws that don't favor the rich and large so prominently, things like that.

Anytime the center gets pushed a certain distance, you push the tails over the edge -- at some point all the way to real revolt. You could blame it on some tinpot organizer, but he'd not have traction if the underlying conditions weren't what they are.

The sad thing is I see no effort by "any dog in this fight" to do that -- put the center back in the center. Certainly both parties are thriving on the noisy rhetoric, and phrasing problems so no compromise can be made so they get to ride the gravy train forever and don't even have to think up new issues to point at the other guy over.
Both parties here are and have been pushing for laws that help the rich (which is me too in this case) and large, at the expense of all others, so there is no choice at the polls if that's your concern and it is mine. Zero. Completely disenfranchised am I at the polls. I do ok in other areas, but that's because I'm well off and know how to work the system, not that common a case, so the "tail" I represent is thin and no where near crossing any such lines. But I do see it all around me wherever I go, in others.

Could it be we should put down the cel phones and figure out what to do to bring that odd guy everyone rejects into the mainstream again, or get him treatment to prevent this sort of thing?

I think we need a new way of looking at this class of problem if we're ever going to solve it. A lot of other things have been tried now -- judge the success for yourselves.

I don't see how more government intrusion into the bulk of the good people's lives helps a thing, I think it makes this all worse.

GreenSquirrelJanuary 11, 2011 12:27 PM

@ Doug

While I agree with a lot of what you said, I am not sure I concur with the last paragraph.

Government intervention is what allows an "official" assessment of what rights people like this can have removed.

Would you advocate they be based on community assessments of their suitability? If not, what is the third option?

Doug CoulterJanuary 11, 2011 12:57 PM

I'm not against government assessment in cases like this, what I don't like the idea of is a completely unofficial one being used by the government to deny rights without a professional look into it.

The college statement isn't one from a mental health pro, it is a statement that one should be involved (but isn't) and give the guy a clean bill of health before they will let him back in. Obviously that should have been followed up in some manner. Maybe by the government. But letting it stop right there (which is similar to the VA Tech case, near where I live) was the problem.

But if we let one guy you annoy call you a nut, and that automatically takes all your rights, we have a bigger problem and a new way to ruin anyone you don't like, real easy -- I do object to that outcome. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. If anyone in authority over anything can call you a nut and have it stick without a real pro being involved to make the determination, then we have big trouble of another kind.

No, I'm not saying an eval by the community should be enough either, for the same reasons. What I was trying to say, is that when one such eval has effectively been made by the community, it's not only time to call in pro help -- it is, and for false positives it's not too "expensive" on the "innocent" but that also when community knows there's this problem, maybe instead of shunning the person totally, they should (unlike what I do, so I can call myself a hypocrite to some extent) take an interest and see if they can bring the subject a little back to normal interactions with humans, which tend to prevent this kind of thing getting that far. Borderline cases may not need a "pro", just having somebody to talk to (other than the faceless internet) would probably bring a big fraction of these types a little more down to earth and less likely to go off the deep end.

So what I'm saying is that there's plenty to go around, and some blame has to be placed on the people who created the conditions, which includes neighbors and perhaps estranged friends.

I see this happening in my rural area, maybe that's why things like that don't seem to happen here, that's all I'm trying to say. Probably better to fix the problem, not the symptom, at a lower level, and longer before it becomes this kind of issue.

So some people are talking "how to we prevent or catch all lone wolf nutjobs once they are committed to being nutjobs" -- which I think is probably impossible.

I'm saying something else -- let's nip it in the bud, fix the problem before it gets that bad, and in ways that don't give the government or some other person an easy way to further disenfranchise someone so easily.


As I started out saying and want to repeat -- the speed with which a bunch of people with some ax to grind jumped on this tragedy to grind their same old ax, has left me with a lot less respect for them all, on *any* side of this of the axes any of them are grinding.

They need to hear that loud and clear -- you profit off tragedy, I don't like you anymore I won't vote for you or send you money.

Maybe that would tone it down some. Then we could look at the real issue without so much angry noise, and I bet a good portion of the anger is faked to promote that same old cause, when really the eyes are bright and the hands rubbing together gleefully that now we have a way to push our favorite hobby horse down the road further.

Using someone else's death to gain from. That's sick, man.

HJohnJanuary 11, 2011 1:14 PM

@GreenSquirrel: "it is a strange thing. All my life I thought of Baptists are very relaxed, fairly liberal, very kind people. Then I discovered US Baptists..."
________

Problem with assessments like that is, "liberal" means different things at different times to different people. Me, I see liberal as a political ideology with a key tenant of using the power of government to pursue often noble caues, whereas others associate it with kindness and tolerance. I consider myself a conservative, which I see as a political ideology with a tennant that for even many otherwise noble intents the government may not be the best solution, whereas others think that means uncaring and intolerant.

The valid point in regards to the discussion we have had is that many people use the same word in different ways, which I think makes for a misunderstanding of rhetoric. I think that is what happens in cases like these. Liberals may point to what may have encouraged him to do something, whereas conservatives may say if he was smart enough to study up on what political issues angered him then he's also smart enough to know that it's illegal and unacceptable to shoot 20 people. There are many good people that weigh the causation/accountability of this differently.

dobJanuary 11, 2011 1:20 PM

"But if we let one guy you annoy call you a nut, and that automatically takes all your rights"

Golly, that would be a problem. Fortunately, that's not what anyone's called for. The most I've seen anyone call for is restricting the right of someone credibly alleged of mental instability to possess a gun, with judicial review as requested. That's not even close to automatically taking all of one's rights.

"Using someone else's death to gain from. That's sick, man."

This is, by my count, the ninth act of public political violence committed against liberals in the past two years. When do we get your permission to try to tone down the deluded eliminationist rhetoric that's been emanating from the right-wing?

The speed and defensiveness with which the right-wing has leaped to condemn the left's calls for calmer political rhetoric strikes me as evidence of their discomfort on this issue.

GreenSquirrelJanuary 11, 2011 2:02 PM

@HJohn

"Me, I see liberal as a political ideology with a key tenant of using the power of government to pursue often noble caues, whereas others associate it with kindness and tolerance."

Excellent points and good example. It does explain why discussions of this nature, especially ones across national / cultural boundaries lead to confusion.

I certainly would not view the term "liberal" as a political ideology - even though we have a political party with that name here. Certainly in the context I used it with Baptists, I meant something along the lines of this:

# broad: showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; "a broad political stance"; "generous and broad sympathies"; "a liberal newspaper"; "tolerant of his opponent's opinions"
# having political or social views favoring reform and progress
# tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition
# a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties

(source: http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=liberal)

It does interest me how in the US "liberal" seems to mean something different than what it *should.* My understanding, and lifetime use of the word, does not sit well with excessive government interference (which seems to me to be the definition of "illiberal")

WinterJanuary 11, 2011 2:37 PM

@HJohn
"Me, I see liberal as a political ideology with a key tenant of using the power of government to pursue often noble caues, whereas others associate it with kindness and tolerance."

Actually, in Europe we have parties which call themselves "liberal", but are striving to reduce government and are strongly free market. They were the advocates of neo-liberalism.

Same word, but now right instead of left wing.

The funny thing is, that if you do not look at their relative position in the political spectrum, but at an absolute position, they might be at the same position.

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Political_spectrum

---
Btw, wrt my earlier comments about Mrs Palin.
I really do not care about US politics, if Americans think Sarah Palin will be their best president, it is their choice. But I am concerned about the aspirations of a woman who thinks you should kill those who publish unwanted truths.

She said “He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”

http://www.suite101.com/content/calling-for-the-death-of-julian-assange-a316915

She also called out for the CIA to neutralize him, which I cannot understand otherwise than as a call to kill him.
http://www.newser.com/story/106544/is-palin-condoning-assange-assassination.html

After the above calls for assassination the following is difficult for me to see as a call for peaceful protest:
"Now a Fox News analyst and potential 2012 presidential candidate, Palin faced criticism after posting a map on her Facebook page that had circles and cross hairs over 20 Democratic districts. She also sent a tweet saying, "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!""

http://carvergop.blogspot.com/2010/03/dont-retreat-instead-reload-sara-palin.html

JamesJanuary 11, 2011 2:59 PM

@Dirk

I missed it. Most discussions were gun and mental health centric. We can all agree that there is a need to reduce the violent rhetoric as well as provide improved mental health. I wonder about any liability of those people (especially parents and family) who said "yes, we noticed him getting worse" but didn't do anything about it. There is a certain responsibility, despite him being an adult, to make sure he's not a danger to others. It might be hard for a parent to do that, but it seems it came to the point a reasonable person would have consulted with a mental health professional.

Doug CoulterJanuary 11, 2011 3:21 PM

Everybody does, and always has had my "permission" to call for less heated rhetoric, and to
call for the ending of any violence,threats of violence, hate talk, not that it matters to many commenters here who evidently only read part of what I said.

What I object to is groups who use tragedy to push the same cause they were pushing the day/week/month/year before, when it's maybe not even relevant to their cause without some spin they never manage to forget to add on it. That's still sick.

And doesn't address the causes with a mind toward fixing the problems, just pushing that viewpoint, already held, further forward, using someone else's violent act as an excuse to do so.
I think that makes people doing it partly culpable in that same violence, since they seek to profit from it, and do.

This guy listed the communist manifesto on his favorite reading list, not one from the tea party, for example...I'm sure he'd have done Palin had he had access, but no, no one does any research, no one looks at root causes, it's to easy to stay trapped in your tiny preconceived notions and blame whoever you already hated for whatever reason, probably unjustified at that. Don't think, just believe what you are spoon fed by talk show host X and keep those blinders on, sheeple. I feel sorry for such.

And then forget the real issue -- should his own neighbors have intervened, and put up with the jerk enough to lead him back into society? Even though by all reports this cat wasn't fun to be around? Obviously they did not. Should some school administrator who is NOT a mental health professional be able to make a pronouncement that gets some one on a list that takes away their rights without due process?

That has been called for in a lot of places, maybe even here, certainly in the Va Tech community where I live. Now, if the school had a comm channel whereby they could mention this to the legal authorities, and they then look into it in a professional way, with due process, I don't have a bit of trouble with that.

Such a situation should call for an outside evaluation by a pro -- filtered through the legal system and not automatically putting somebody on one of those DHS lists, because "false alarms" aren't too expensive, but as we just saw, "missed detects" are.

Anybody allowed to believe they have nothing to lose becomes dangerous, no laws can apply to someone who has decided to break them anyway until too late, and that is the base cause of this, and most of what gets called terrorism as well.

That's my message, and the cure isn't easy -- fix is so no reasonable person can reasonably think they have nothing to lose, but it is the only one that will work. History has thousands of examples, I didn't make this up on the spur of the moment. Just try looking at the events of the last couple centuries through that filter and see what you think, that's all I ask.


Dirk PraetJanuary 11, 2011 6:20 PM

@ James

I concur that mental health care and the reasons behind mental illness (disenfranchisement etc.) are very relevant issues in this discussion. In Europe this would be a no-brainer as Mr. Loughner and his family would have had easy and affordable access to health care programs, either for treatment or even to have him committed. I don't know if the Loughner family had the right medical insurance for this to be covered without incurring serious costs. If not, it unfortunately raises the topic of how the US is going to deal with mental illness within the framework of its current health care system, with or without the Obama reform bill being overturned.

Since he was no longer a minor, there was probably little his parents could have done. You can however rest assured that both - and for more than one reason - are just as devastated by these events as the victims and their families are. They are very likely to require psychological help too. This is, for all practical purposes, a family destroying event.

This said, and however much I condemn anyone trying to use these horrible events for political gain, it still is beyond me how some folks continue to emphatically deny any causal link - direct or indirect - to the climate of heated political rhetoric, vehemently slamming and accusing anyone even trying to raise the point. I think it was Freud who once stated that he closer you get to the problem, the more emotional the patient will react. Then again, and as I've said in my first post, I live in a part of the world where much of the political rhetoric used in the US would be cause for criminal prosecution, which is probably determining my own mindset on the issue.

GabrielJanuary 11, 2011 10:52 PM

While access to any form of health care is a concern, a significant issue, at least in our culture in the us, is the stigma associated with mental illness. It keeps many from seeking help. Mental health professionals are "shrinks". Those who see them are nuts or loons. If you tell someone thei son needs help, it's perceived as calling their kid a nut. Often people with insurance opt to pay for treatment under the table, instead of using their coverage so that no records can easily get back to their employer or the government. A public health system payed by the government will only make things worse. During a previous bout of debates regarding access to guns by the mentally ill, some of the stories were on "collateral damage" from these regulations. People who went to court ordered marriage counseling during a divorce could not buy a gun. Why? Because apparently anyone referred to a mental health professional by a court must be a loon.
It seems before we can progress on this issue we need a new perspective. We equate anyone who sees a mental health professional to the worst of the homicidally insane. The same as we equate an 18 yr old convicted of having oral sex with his 16 yr old girlfriend with a pedophile who rapes little children, and refuse to discuss how to fix it.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 12, 2011 12:01 AM

@ hoodathunkit

"@ Davi Ottenheimer and the one-note song of gun control. So you think gun prohibition would work better than drug prohibition?"

I said nothing even close to that.

Another straw man argument.

I guess I can play the same game:

So you think guns are only used by criminals?

See, it's a logical fallacy.

I wonder why those who say US states should have no limit law would want to be vague about removal of the limit laws. Why not stand proud and just claim victory, like the AZ Governor? There are fewer gun limit laws because that was the point of removing limit laws.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 12, 2011 11:56 AM

@ BF Skinner,

Have you got something against either calm reasonable people or even hippies?

It's the second time I've seen you call some one a hippy (the first was me ;)

Or are you trying to be like the US's most popular ever (on percentage) republican President "tricky dicky"?

Like many others I'm just waiting for the weather that makes all the flowers grow so I can chug my hayfever meds, till then this Koala is heibernating ;)

Dirk PraetJanuary 12, 2011 12:45 PM

@ Cre

I'll make this my last post on the issue since there is just no way either side will convince the other.

You may wish to Google for a Rwandan radio and tv station called RTLM, or Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines. Its racist and violent rhetoric played a significant role in creating an atmosphere of charged racial hostility that allowed the 1994 Rwandan genocide to occur. Likewise it was nazi rhetoric and violence against jews in Germany that eventually made an entire nation turn a blind eye and allowed them to be put in concentration camps and murdered.

If heated political rhetoric is not toned down in time, this is were you're eventually going. And it's only two examples. It is of course much simpler to ignore history and deny any possible correlation than admitting that an entire political culture is up for serious revision.

BF SkinnerJanuary 12, 2011 1:04 PM

@Clive

I'm finding out that the late unlamented President Nixon wouldn't even make it out of the primary these days. Wanted universal healthcare provided by the gummint for everyone. He's a dangerous liberal and, thank you for pointing it out another, Hippy!

The system of the US was supposed to replace rioting and assisination with name calling and character assassination.

It is an imperfect if muddy system.

CreJanuary 12, 2011 1:46 PM

@Dirk

While I agree that the Rwandan genocide and Nazi Germany are examples of where racist propaganda and incitement to hatred had terrible consequences, I feel it is an exaggeration to claim that the heated political rhetoric in the US will lead to something similar.

HJohnJanuary 12, 2011 2:08 PM

@Cre: "I feel it is an exaggeration to claim that the heated political rhetoric in the US will lead to something similar."
_____________

I agree. Reasonable people can differ as to how appropriate war/military/gun analogies are and how much damange rhetoric (on both sides) does. But even the most ridiculous people in politics/news/radio/television/commentary/etc. never advocate the outright killing of a person or group.

HJohnJanuary 12, 2011 2:41 PM

@mcb at January 12, 2011 2:32 PM
______

Give this great nation a bit of credit. It is 235 years old, and while we clearly and tragically brought over some evils from the old world, we have largely overcome those evils. We'll never be perfect, and there will always be incidents, that's part of the price for freedom. We're a much different nation than we were 50 years ago, and we were much different then than 100 years before that.

While I was never a supporter of President Obama, i was proud of my nation on many levels when he was elected. In 2008, we not only elected a man with a black father, a white mother, and an arab name (middle name Hussein, nonetheless), we did so in by casting a record number of votes for him. It's been half a century since MLK, and we've been at war in the middle east (once against someone named Hussein), yet our people correctly rejected his skin color and name as completely irrelevant to his worth as a person.

I do get part of your point, we should never forget lest we be doomed to repeat. But the vast majority of us are a good people.

Dirk PraetJanuary 12, 2011 4:10 PM

@ Cre / HJohn

The US is a great nation, and reasonable, well-educated people like yourselves will always be able to make abstraction of rhetoric and take it for what it's worth. It's the disenfranchised, the frustrated and the mentally challenged that can't. As to the exaggeration of the comparison, I do hope you're right but it is dangerous to assume that whatever atrocity just cannot happen in your own country. I think that's a myth that 9/11 has permanently put to sleep.

Brandioch ConnerJanuary 12, 2011 4:12 PM

On a completely unrelated note - Charles Turner Habermann was recently arrested for making death threats against U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D) of Washington state.

Charles Habermann seems to have a $3 million trust fund. So funding for psychiatric care does not appear to have been an issue.

HJohnJanuary 12, 2011 4:24 PM

@Brandioch Conner: "On a completely unrelated note - Charles Turner Habermann was recently arrested for making death threats against U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D) of Washington state.

Charles Habermann seems to have a $3 million trust fund. So funding for psychiatric care does not appear to have been an issue.
______________

Sounds on topic to me. I'm just glad we're talking about Rep. McDermott as a victim of threats and not murder.

mcbJanuary 12, 2011 4:25 PM

@ HJohn

"Give this great nation a bit of credit."

I give our great nation a large measure of well-deserved credit, but we do greater honor to our legacy and our aspirations by acknowledging that we humans in the USA are not significantly different from humans in 1930s Germany or 1990s Rwanda (or 1960s China, or 1970s Cambodia, or 1980s Central America).

We Americans are quite capable of interning our own citizens in time of war, turning fire hoses and police dogs on civil rights marchers, gunning down students protesting an unpopular war, installing and supporting despotic regimes, and exporting prisoners of war to countries where they could be tortured. All these acts were acceptable to a significant fraction of the American people because of the rhetoric of the time.

The problem with crazed individual actors is that they can be radicalized by a great many more media than in the days when newspaper, radio, and television were under more or less centralized control. These days talk radio, email, forums, blogs, meet-ups, social media, and tweets preach to self-selected converts in self-reinforcing echo chambers.

It has never been easier to be a Swift-boater, a Jihadi, a Truther, a Birther, or whatever crackpot fringe-ism is lurking in our immediate future. It has never been easier to entertain and cultivate disordered thought. Ideation for acts of horrible violence is never further away than a click of the remote or the mouse.

We are a great people living in a great country because doing the right thing is hard and requires constant effort, not because it is easy or natural. To suggest that other countries and peoples are prone to such failure and that we are above it denigrates them and cheapens our success.

HJohnJanuary 12, 2011 4:30 PM

@Dirk Praet at January 12, 2011 4:10 PM
_________

Fair enough. There really isn't a viable solution though, at least not from a legal perspective.

People like Loughner and Cho (the VT shooter) are rare in comparison to the numerous people who fit the profile. The dots seem easy to connect afterward, but beforehand we'd end up with thousands upon thousands perhaps millions of possible people... we can't just round them up, analyze them, institutionalize them. Many of them never hurt a fly and won't.

The flip side is, if we believe rhetoric sparked it, what do we do, limit speech? People will no longer be able trash a health care bill, or a homeland security act, or [insert legislation here]? We can hope people will be civil, but we can't really police their utterances. Plus, saying someone is a dangerous politician is a far cry from advocating their murder.

I'm not saying that Loughner had not done something that warranted action. But trying to prevent the rare incident in the context of millions of potential threats is quite dangerous to our liberties.

But I dont' disagree with you. I just don't know what the solution is.

HJohnJanuary 12, 2011 4:34 PM

@mcb: To suggest that other countries and peoples are prone to such failure and that we are above it denigrates them and cheapens our success.
_______

For the most part i appreciate your post.

The above line I want to address... I never insulted other countries, and certainly any people can rise above it. But as you pointed out earlier, we cannot forgot the depths of human depravity that has plagued much of the world through history. Humanity has been both beautiful and ugly at times, but I meant no disrespect to any other nation.

Dirk PraetJanuary 12, 2011 7:21 PM

@ HJohn

"I just don't know what the solution is"

Rest assured, mate, neither do I 8-)

The only thing I can think of would be bipartisan self-regulation, but since I know of very few instances where self-regulation has actually worked, I'm afraid that's gonna be a long shot.

hoodathunkitJanuary 12, 2011 7:42 PM

@ Davi Ottenheimer who claims "I said nothing even close to that. Another straw man argument."

You repeatedly made a firewall-equals-law analogy, and my example shows your analogy is false, especially for this individual. Laws against things (drugs, guns) do not prevent (drugs, guns), they establish punishments on the discovery of the things.

Ottenheimer has repeatedly pushed Brady Campaign (Handgun Control Inc) talking points, even quoting them; the most extreme and unreasoning partisans in the nation. Like the Phelpsians of Westboro, Brady exists solely on others' misfortune; running a “two-for-one special” in the hours after the Virginia Tech murders.

As this is typed, the Brady Campaign is exploiting these AZ murders to . . . solicit donations. They are parasites, ghouls that feed on peoples' misery and fears.

HJohnJanuary 12, 2011 9:34 PM

Full disclosure: I didn't vote for President Obama in 2004 (I'm from Illinois) or 2008, won't vote for him in 2012. That's political, not personal.

That said, I was very proud of my president tonight. His speech, guidance, and comfort on this issue was commendable.

spectrum of yodaJanuary 12, 2011 9:45 PM

Clearly more data mining of the web is needed to flag such crazies before they go off. Up the monitoring of conspiracy related websites and radical forums and key in on words.

HJohnJanuary 12, 2011 9:59 PM

@spectrum of yoda: "Clearly more data mining of the web is needed to flag such crazies before they go off. Up the monitoring of conspiracy related websites and radical forums and key in on words."
___________

I could see where that could be abused by those in power big time. Problem is, considering how rare an act like loughners is, you'd probably have hundreds of thousands flagged and harrassed for every one you *might* prevent.

Kent MuellerJanuary 13, 2011 12:17 AM

Something like one percent of the certifiable mentally ill commit violence at any time in their illness or lifetimes, this guy Loughner was one of them. That said, few things occur in a vacuum. The air in Dallas was toxic before and during Kennedy's visit. The political atmosphere in this country has been toxic for two years, I see a lot of false equivalency on both sides, but primarily on one side.

I expect AM talk radio to be incendiary. I don't expect politicians, particularly in a democracy based on the rule of law but with a proven history of political violence, to talk in weaponry metaphors and particularly those involving guns. An attack on one IS an attack on all. If it's okay to "open fire" on the politicians of one side, well, not many actions in this world don't result in a reaction.

Put all the comments any one cares to cite from one side or the other, regarding violent rhetoric, side by side in their full context. There IS a difference.

It would have been a good opportunity for some on the Talk circuit to tell anyone in their audience that if they're felling alienated or lonely or suicidal to reach out for help, talk to someone. Those people have sway. It is at any rate a good time for all to reach out to friends, neighbors, loved ones who you feel have isolated themselves, ask if they're okay, etc.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 13, 2011 6:11 AM

@ hoodathunkit

"You repeatedly made a firewall-equals-law analogy, and my example shows your analogy is false, especially for this individual. Laws against things (drugs, guns) do not prevent (drugs, guns), they establish punishments on the discovery of the things."

No, I did not say a firewall equals law. My point is that a list of controls should be accounted for as a list -- described and/or quantified. When a list is shortened, we should say the list has been shortened rather than say a control (generic) is in place. The latter is highly misleading.

A firewall has an access control LIST. Removing a control makes the list shorter. That is all.

Stop trying to say that I am for or against controls.

You are obviously trying to bring an argument up and just throw it on me.

"Ottenheimer has repeatedly pushed Brady Campaign (Handgun Control Inc) talking points, even quoting them; the most extreme and unreasoning partisans in the nation."

First, I did not "push" them. I said they are relevant because they provide a control list we can count.

Second, you really believe the Brady Campaign is "the most extreme" group in America? Really? This is THE most extreme?

http://www.bradycampaign.org/about/

"We believe that law-abiding citizens should be able to buy and keep firearms. And we believe there are sensible gun laws that we can and should insist upon when it comes to gun ownership."

If you call this "the most extreme" position in America you must be joking, or very uninformed.

A campaign to reduce violence is "exploitive" of violence? Your definition of exploitation is sorely lacking. I suspect you do not understand the term. Or maybe you are a troll. That would explain why you say a religious fundamentalist who "applauds the killings" is the same thing to you as as a group that condemns killing.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 13, 2011 6:48 AM

@ HJohn

"In 2008, we not only elected a man with a black father, a white mother, and an arab name (middle name Hussein, nonetheless),"

Oh, I thought this was clarified in 2008.

Hussein is a Semitic name -- used by Arabs and others.

http://www.juancole.com/2008/02/barack-hussein-obama-omar-bradley.html

"Barack Obama’s middle name is in honor of his grandfather, Hussein, a secular resident of Nairobi. Americans may think of Saddam Hussein when they hear the name, but that is like thinking of Stalin when you hear the name Joseph."

The article gives examples of other Presidents with Semitic names; Obama clearly is not the first:

John Adams
James Madison
Zachary Taylor
Abraham Lincoln

bob (the original bob)January 13, 2011 7:32 AM

@GreenSquirrel: "...If someone had driven a car into the crowd and spent time driving back and forth to hit as many people as possible, would it make sense to ban cars?..."

No it would not. And the law would be on the books within a week. And if the same logic was applied which was used on 9/11, bicycles would be banned as well.

In OH, businesses are allowed to "opt out" and post a "No guns" sign which prohibits LAWFUL carry of firearms on the premises (since mere signs do nothing to stop UNLAWFUL carry; that requires ALERT armed guards AND metal detectors AND luck - notice how many guns get through AIRPORTS by someone not even intending to do such).

I do my utmost to NOT go to these places (sometimes I do so inadvertently because they seemingly hide the sign; this is the worst of all worlds because it means they just want something to hold up in court and say "we tried" after the massacre) because I would rather do business in a facility where the odds are overwhelming that guns in the facility are in the hands of a law abiding citizen, rather than than all the guns in a facility being in the hands of sociopaths.

I find this to be similar to the concept that it is OK for children to talk to strangers if the child is the one who initiates the conversation - the odds of a random stranger being one who would hurt a child is infinitely small; whereas if the stranger initiates the conversation that would increase the danger odds by several orders of magnitude. Or my view on antibiotic soap - I would rather have the virulent bacteria on my hands fighting for resources with crowds of weak or benign bacteria, than to wipe out the weak ones and give a few remaining dangerous ones a free hand (pun intended).

If anything, I am disappointed that no bystander in the crowd shot the guy after he opened fire. I see this as self-selection bias: the victim belongs to the "ban guns" party, therefore the bulk of the people (if not all) who went to see her probably disdain guns and therefore had self-disarmed and were helpless til he reloaded. (note: there was a shooting on the LIRR several years ago where the perp was described as "calmly reloading" 3? times between massacre batches and I have always wondered why no one jumped him when he was doing so, perhaps the 9/11 "Lets Roll" 'you are responsible for your own future' mentality is taking hold?)

Clive RobinsonJanuary 13, 2011 7:45 AM

@ HJohn, mcb, Dirk,

The problem with rhetoric is desenseitisation.

In many ways it is the same as "grooming" or recruiting for terrorism.

Little by little you move the collective view point, thus what would have been outrageous 15 years ago is just dispicable 10 years ago unpleasant 5 years ago and acceptable today.

Societies norms move we like to think and hope it is progressive or enlightend, but the truth is it's mainly driven by self interest and gets traction by altering some peoples perception or by pandering to their self interest.

As has often been remarked people have to fight for their freedoms, even though they may be called "rights" they are not a right and are easily stolen away by a few self interested individuals.

At the risk of stiring up a hornets nest, the US attitude to universal health care has changed radicaly in the past 40years. If you try to analyse it dispassionately you will realise it has more benifits for the many than disadvantages for the few. The current US system is the worst possible way of organising health care there is in a first world nation, it costs a hidden fortune which goes to a select few and actually delivers not much except for cheap quick fixes, which heaven forbid don't work the first time the chances are you won't get funding for the second time.

Yes there are downsides to universal health care (I can give you a long list) but they are all within reason managable in one respect or another and there are enough examples in the EU to show what works and does not.

As a UK resident where various recent Governments want to move our healthcare towards the US model, I'm appaled at what has come to light about the US system caused by various Big Health Care organisations that have been fined in the US multiple times for behaviour well beyond bordering on criminality.

These same companies are spending fortunes on wining dining and holidaying our politicians some of whom (Patricia Hewitt) have moved into the English lexicon as bywords for sleazy uterly self interested behaviour (as in "doing a patsy Hewitt" when asking for a bribe etc).

HJohnJanuary 13, 2011 8:03 AM

@Davi Ottenheimer: Oh, I thought this was clarified in 2008. Hussein is a Semitic name -- used by Arabs and others.
_______

I stand corrected. However, my point is the same. Within a few short years of being at war with a Hussein, we correctly disregarded someone's name (and their race) as being any indicator of their character.

Best,
HJohn

Brandioch ConnerJanuary 13, 2011 10:23 AM

@bob (the original bob)
"If anything, I am disappointed that no bystander in the crowd shot the guy after he opened fire. I see this as self-selection bias: the victim belongs to the "ban guns" party, therefore the bulk of the people (if not all) who went to see her probably disdain guns and therefore had self-disarmed and were helpless til he reloaded."

Except that Giffords supported gun ownership and owned a gun herself.

MarkHJanuary 13, 2011 10:36 AM

This is a very peripheral question, but I wish to set the record straight:

Hussein (often Husayn) is of course a Semitic name, but it originates quite specifically in Arabic, and to my knowledge has no similar-sounding counterpart in other branches of the Semitic languages (for example, Hebrew).

Among Muslims, Hussein has honorific connotations, and is a very popular name for males. Given the president's family history, it is quite natural that this Arabic name is part of his.

Davi OttenheimerJanuary 13, 2011 6:43 PM

@ MarkH

"...has no similar-sounding counterpart in other branches of the Semitic languages (for example, Hebrew)."

None? Hussein is a diminutive of Hasan or Hassan ("cantor" in Hebrew) or Hazon ("vision" in Hebrew), which all are common names for non-Arab Jews.

Sure sounds similar to me.

And then there are the Hasson families of Ireland...

DaJanuary 13, 2011 7:25 PM

Fun logic failures:

All toilets are called John
A man is named John
Therefore, that man is a toilet

And, given John's family history of going to the John, it is quite natural that he is named John.

HJohnJanuary 14, 2011 10:03 AM

As a conservative, I would like to quote a prominent liberal:

"Everything about the shootings points to politics except the evidence."
--Democratic Strategist James Carville

MarkHJanuary 14, 2011 6:28 PM

@Davi:

By "similar-sounding counterpart," I meant a related name or word -- not a name or word that by coincidence has a similar sound.

It would be rather like saying that Diego is a Gaelic (or even Celtic) name because it sounds a bit like Douglas. (Or even better, that CSA General Robert E. Lee's family name is Chinese, because it sounds like Li!) But their meanings are not at all related, and they are not counterparts.

Hussein is a very specifically Arabic name, and the significance that makes it so popular is very specifically Muslim.

That the US president was given this name is a reflection of his father's cultural and religious heritage -- in much that same way that my given name (from the New Testament) reflects my father's cultural and religious heritage.

By the way, the president's first name IS generically Semitic -- its Hebrew counterpart is Baruch. But its Hebrew homonym, Barak or Baraq, has a completely distinct meaning.

It says a lot about the US (my country) that we elected a man whose name proclaims his Muslim heritage, at a time when Islam and its adherents are regarded with so much anxiety and so little understanding -- we aren't yet completely fear-driven, I am glad to say!

Some Random GuyJanuary 15, 2011 1:17 AM

dob,

So every assassination in history was the result of Republicans and "right-wingers?" Really, this is what you said, so I just want to be clear.

I noticed you listed JFK in your list of politicians killed by "right-wing" assassinations. You do realize JFK was killed by Oswald who was a communist don't you? Your line of reasoning seems to be that if a Democrat is killed it is a priori a Republican responsible. This is, as JFK proves, demonstrably false. A non-sequitur would be the best description. But, then again, when politics is the subject of debate most people throw logic out the window.

This whole "debate" is really quite silly. What we have here is a mentally ill man (a paranoid schizophrenic) going off and killing people who he thought were persecuting him and the left-wing wants to make it about the Tea Party (they know better but don't care). The actions and thought processes leading up to this shooting on behalf of the shooter are classic signs of psychosis and is not uncommon with these types of killers (Hinkley, Berkowitz, etc.) This is a guy who thinks the government controls the population through grammar (whatever that means). Therefore, the notion that Palin's crosshairs caused this attack is wishful thinking by people like Keith Olbermann and the dailykos; it's based in as much reality as the notion the government caused Hurricane Katrina through weather manipulation.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 15, 2011 3:20 AM

@ Some Random Guy,

"Therefore, the notion that Palin's crosshairs caused this attack is wishful thinking by people"

In specific or general?

I would agree that the specific case of Palin's crosshairs was not the sole motivator.

However I would have a hard time beliving that the general shift in peoples thinking and perception that the continued use of such rhetoric has engendered did not contribute (have a look at some of the ideas behind NLP).

The point is if you move societies norms towards the extream then the outliers on the steep part of the curve come up way faster than in the middle where the curve is effectivly flat.

Also the outliers on the other side drop faster so you get double the effect as you lose the counterbalance of parental or other moderating guidance.

And just to make a 'silly point', your comment,

"... it's based in as much reality as the notion the government caused Hurricane Katrina through weather manipulation"

Your use of "weather manipulation"...

The word manipulation has two sides when it comes to cause and effect. To deliberatly not act in prevention of an effect is as manipulative as taking action to cause an effect. That is not putting your foot on the break is as likely to cause an accident as stamping your foot on the gas...

Thus it could be argued that Hurricane Katrina was an extream caused by the effects of global warming caused we belive by increased CO2 and Methane production.

And thus you could further argue that US Government "policy to not curb" the carbon foot print of the US industry in order to not adversley effect the US economy thus increasing/maintaining CO2 is as harmfull as deliberatly destroying the rain forest and northern hemisphere forests to make way for cash crops farming etc that increases methan production and removes a carbon sink.

It all hinges on what you believe and why and the viewpoint you investigate.

Dirk PraetJanuary 17, 2011 5:11 AM

@ Some Random Guy

"You do realize JFK was killed by Oswald who was a communist don't you?"

I wasn't even aware that after all these years there are still people buying into the Warren commission myth of the lone communist gunman. It would seem to me that today the most commonly accepted explanation is that Oswald was set up as a patsy by one or more entities with an agenda of their own.

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