Two Weak Arguments

Ross Douthat deploys the two arguments that we’re going to see in the next few months in today’s column. The first is that it is partisan to criticize violent imagery in politics. The second is that both sides do it:

This won’t stop partisans from making hay out of Saturday’s tragedy, of course. The Democratic operative who was quoted in Politico saying that his party needs “to deftly pin this on the Tea Partiers” was just stating the obvious: after a political season rife with overheated rhetoric from conservative “revolutionaries,” the attempted murder of a Democratic congresswoman is a potential gift to liberalism.

But if overheated rhetoric and martial imagery really led inexorably to murder, then both parties would belong in the dock. (It took conservative bloggers about five minutes to come up with Democratic campaign materials that employed targets and crosshairs against Republican politicians.) When our politicians and media loudmouths act like fools and zealots, they should be held responsible for being fools and zealots. They shouldn’t be held responsible for the darkness that always waits to swallow up the unstable and the lost.

Calling someone “partisan” carries a lot of weight among Villagers, because the savvy insiders know that partisans are caught up in unrealistic zeal and lack the reality-based worldview of the those who really know how things work. But if you strip away the veneer of respectability, “partisan” is just a sophisticated form of name-calling often deployed, ironically enough, in partisan argument. Since Douthat generally supports Republicans, he’s as partisan as anyone else, if you think that word has any bite.

“Both sides do it” is more weak sauce, since even five-year-olds can’t get that one past their mothers. Even if both sides do it, and even if they do it to the same degree (which isn’t the case here), that doesn’t make it right.

The final fallacy in these two paragraphs is the straw man that people are holding Republicans responsible for the actions of the killer in Tucson. No, they aren’t. We’re saying that the whole climate of the past couple of years stinks, and that it’s time to tone it down. The “potential gift” that Douthat references will only become an actual one if Republicans fail to dial back the hard-core hate and bullshit of the past couple of years, and that’s simply because Tucson gave the general public a glimpse of what could come from rabble rousing.

Read the whole column, because it’s a good example of a classic Douthat strategy. He hides the weakest and most reaching parts of his argument (the two paragraphs above) in a bunch of reasonable yet marginally relevant exposition.

68 replies
  1. 1
    Lolis says:

    Anyone know if his claim that Democrats have used the crosshairs is true? I have never seen anything like that.

  2. 2
    Pococurante says:

    Well said.

  3. 3
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I refuse to click on that misogynist scold’s article. Reasonable conservative is an oxymoron. I think the Times should fire him.

  4. 4
    Julia Grey says:

    Anyone know if his claim that Democrats have used the crosshairs is true? I have never seen anything like that.

    There was something I saw yesterday that had archery-type bull’s eyes on Republican politicians, but I don’t think they’ve been able to come up with anything showing GUN SIGHTS trained on Republicans. Much less accompanied by text referring to reloading, etc.

    Bull’s eyes are also not cool, of course, even though their meaning is much more amorphous — hell, look at one of our nation’s leading retailers if you want to see that Targets can be relatively innocuous imagery — so, not the same thing.

    Targets mean, look here, this is important, zero in on this. Gun sights mean, you know, DEATH.

  5. 5
    Ailuridae says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Maybe he could replace ED Kain here. We lose some glibertarian lack of understanding of economics but the trade-off to more prudish tsk-tsking would be worth it.

    I have a tough time taking seriously the “both sides do it” argument. And I don’t mean the argument doesn’t hold water. That much is plain. I think that anyone offering that argument is either wholly ignorant or making it in obviously bad faith. Do conservatives actually believe that the tone of the opposition during the Bush years was anything comparable to what the GOP ran on the last two years or against Clinton? At the point where you answer that with an affirmative you cease being a reasonable person to me.

    My Dad’s a pale-conservative and makes no bones about it. Yes, the GOP uses much different language and tactics when they are out of power than the Democrats do and there are obvious reasons for this. That I can respect. This “both sides do it” nonsense though? Yeah that’s fucking stupid.

  6. 6
    MikeJ says:

    @Julia Grey: I wouldn’t draw a distinction between archery targets and gun targets. Both are unacceptable.

  7. 7
    Silver Owl says:

    I do have to say that today’s conservatives have not disappointed me in their complete lack of responsiblity in creating a violent environment.

    Now I’m just reading to see who does the “Duck and Cover” boogie the best.

  8. 8

    “Both sides do it” is more weak sauce, since even five-year-olds can’t get that one past their mothers.

    My response to this as a parent is usually, “I don’t care who started it – you both need to finish it.”

    Unfortunately, Sarah Palin isn’t my five-year-old.

  9. 9
    Kathy Gianneschi says:

    I think it is this comment that causes the confusion:

    The “potential gift” that Douthat references will only become an actual one if Republicans fail to dial back the hard-core hate and bullshit of the past couple of years, and that’s simply because Tucson gave the general public a glimpse of what could come from rabble rousing.

    Immediately after you acknowledge that you are NOT blaming Republicans for any violence, You explicitly state that it is Republicans who need to dial back the hard-core rhetoric. Don’t you think it would be more accurate to suggest that ‘politicians’ should dial back? Or that ‘all of us’ should dial back? Something akin to ‘why can’t we all just get along?’ Huh? And I am not even a Republican. Never was. Never will be.

  10. 10
    PeakVT says:

    The final fallacy in these two paragraphs is the straw man that people are holding Republicans responsible for the actions of the killer in Tucson. No, they aren’t.

    Douthat is purposely conflating the strong-made-it-happen (the killer was an avowed Repuke partisan who took Palin’s messaging literally) and the weak-made-it-happen (nutjobs can be influenced by pervasive violent rhetoric). I find the weak case indisputable, given the number of violent incidents by people who espouse some kind of anti-government sentiment that have occurred since Obama won the presidency.

  11. 11
    Maude says:

    The murders aren’t an intellectual exercise. Would someone please tell this to Mr. Douthat.

  12. 12
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Ailuridae: That is a good idea, and Ms Manners, at Balloon Juice could take Chunky Bobo’s place. I think his reasonable schtick, Repubs is bad but Dems is badder. You commenters have no manners, I is so cultured, will go well on the Times op-ed pg.

  13. 13
    Ailuridae says:

    @Julia Grey:

    And, to be honest, I would have less of a problem with political assassination if it were only carried about by non-composite bows.

    Seriously though I thought the other side was supposed to be so much more comfortable with weaponry than we are. Equating bull-eyes and gun sights suggests that is certainly not the case

  14. 14
    Peter J says:

    How can it be partisan to call on a stop of rhetorical violence if both sides do it?

  15. 15
    gnomedad says:

    The final fallacy in these two paragraphs is the straw man that people are holding Republicans responsible for the actions of the killer in Tucson. No, they aren’t. We’re saying that the whole climate of the past couple of years stinks, and that it’s time to tone it down.

    Sure, that’s easy for Democrats to say. They’re not after the crazy vote.

  16. 16
    Ailuridae says:

    @Kathy Gianneschi:

    The problem is, that eliminationism is a major problem of today’s GOP and is not, and has never been part of the modus operandi of main stream liberalism or the Democratic Party. Pretending that Democrats use the same kind of language to demonize elected GOP officials doesn’t even stand a minute’s scrutiny.

    Simply the reason that Democrats don’t need to pull back from thinly veiled threats and implied calls to political violence is Democrats and liberals do not, broadly, engage in that kind of language.

  17. 17
    mistermix says:

    @Peter J: Genius.

  18. 18
    Skepticat says:

    @MikeJ: I agree. And I’m disappointed to hear about the Democratic candidate who was as addle-brained as those on the right.

  19. 19
    merrinc says:

    @Peter J:

    Exactly. Or to put it in Mom-speak:

    I don’t care who started it, I want it stopped NOW. Don’t make me turn this car around!

  20. 20
    GeneJockey says:

    @Peter J:

    How can it be partisan to call on a stop of rhetorical violence if both sides do it?

    The guilty flee when none pursueth.

  21. 21
    bago says:

    So people who think it’s perfectly responsible to bring guns to political events don’t want to take responsibility for someone who took a gun to a political event?

  22. 22
    jcricket says:

    The false equivalence runs really, really deep. It’s not about whether someone like Alan Grayson went over the top recently. It’s about 50 years (you read that right) of eliminationist rhetoric on the right.

    Go read the history of JFK’s election and what the environment was like in Dallas before he was assassinated. JFK’s a commie, flags flying upside down, etc.

    Remember the militias during Clinton (Ruby Ridge, Waco) and the environment before the OKC bombing (UN black helicopters, Clinton’s murdering people).

    And it probably goes without saying that the violent rhetoric surrounding the anti-abortion crowd has lead to murders, intimidations and bombings that have been well documented.

    And here we are again.

    Sure, Democrats do sometimes go over the top in their political rhetoric. The war metaphors are convenient, and too cheaply deployed (I complain about this at work, and when sports fans use it too).

    But that pales in comparison to 50 years of Republicans going into COORDINATED FUCKING FREAK OUT mode every time a Democrat gets elected. From the GOP officials yelling “YOU LIE” and “BABY KILLER”; to the right-wing media (talk-radio, now blogs) talking about “tyranny”, “2nd amendment remedies”, “beating a Dem to a pulp”; to the near-constant use of gun and violence related metaphors. It’s not fringe lunatics doing that stuff. The fringe lunatics get incited (like the guy in this tragedy) by all this talk – and that, IMHO, is basically by design. Neo-nazis have been using this strategy for years to avoid culpability, and now it’s all over the right.

  23. 23
    Rick Massimo says:

    The final fallacy in these two paragraphs is the straw man that people are holding Republicans responsible for the actions of the killer in Tucson. No, they aren’t. We’re saying that the whole climate of the past couple of years stinks, and that it’s time to tone it down.

    I’ll add that maybe Ross Douthat should think for a minute about who has been calling their political opponents a cancer who must be cut out from the body politic if America (which is currently at risk) is to survive? Who has been saying that the other side is intentionally hell-bent on weakening America? Who has been saying that there’s an existential threat to the country? Who has been talking about Second Amendment remedies? Who has planted the idea that “we came unarmed THIS TIME?” Who has planted the idea that your political enemies are so far beyond the pale that they must be eliminated?

    Hint: It ain’t Rachel Maddow. It isn’t even Ed Schultz.

    And stupid bullseye ads notwithstanding, which politicians have been getting shot? Whose offices are getting vandalized?

  24. 24
    JCT says:

    Another article in the NYT from the other day really crystallized their sheriff’s point about the nature of political “discourse” in the district and his concern that no one would run for political office.

    Ms. Giffords’ district office is the same that had been vandalized — a window broken, perhaps with a pellet gun, the police said — late last March, after the national health care bill passed with support from Ms. Giffords, who was known as “Gabby” to her constituents.

    After that, during her re-election campaign, protesters gathered on most Saturdays on the same corner shouting and holding signs that said things like “Gabby, You’re Gone.”

    “On a typical Saturday this corner is filled with Tea Party protesters,” said Brenda Tyler, who was with her husband, Lyndon. “I’ve seen signs saying things like ‘It’s time to reload’ and ‘One way or another, you’re gone.”‘ A real estate agency in the neighborhood had a sign out front that said “Goodbye Gabby” and showed the silhouette of a witch on a broom,” she said. It had been taken down on Saturday.

    How nice that they took it down — I’m sure only because they didn’t want any bad press.

    This is sickening.

  25. 25
    merrinc says:

    @bago:

    That’s pretty much it. What really baffles is me is why no one mentions that during the Dubbya years, you couldn’t attend one of his rallies if you had the wrong bumper sticker on your car. Remember the “Free Speech Zones”? Corralling American citizens a block or two away in a fenced off area? That was all fine and dandy. But complain about some fucking yahoo carrying a rifle to an Obama event and you’re a constitution hater.

    Just started reading a hard hitting article at Harper’s about how badly the GOP has screwed up Arizona. A four day school week in some districts because of funding cuts? If I lived there, I’d probably hate the government too. But since I’m a bleeding heart liberal and card carrying member of the ACLU, I’m pretty sure I’d manage not to kill anyone over it.

  26. 26
    Julia Grey says:

    @MikeJ:

    I agree that both archery targets and gun sights are unacceptable.

    But I insist that the archery targets are not equivalent to gun sights, because targets can have other meanings, as I mentioned, like “here’s where I want to concentrate your attention,” or “this is where we need to focus.” Their meaning is very dependent upon their context. They are therefore frequently used in things like sales meetings, school assignments, and other innocuous contexts.

    Gun sights always mean: “SHOOT THIS.”

  27. 27
    liberty60 says:

    Krugman has a few good comments on the false “both sides do it” argument.

    But its a bit misleading to get drawn into the minutia of “who drew bulls-eyes/ surveyors marks/ bullet points/ asterisks” on which political mailer.

    The entire right wing blogosphere is drenched in violent imagery and thoughts.

    Take a moment to browse blogs like Ace of Spades, Flopping Aces, RedState, or any others;

    Ace publishes “war porn” videos of action in A-Stan and Iraq, gleefully showing brownskinned people getting blown up;
    Flopping Aces has as its title graphics, silouettes of cowboys with guns drawn;
    RedState routinely uses language of war, and one of the regular posters has as his tag line, “powder is dry”.

    Broader still- right wing pundits always, always, use the language of toughness, of steel eyed warriors dripping with machismo and bloodlust.

    When was the last time anyone ever heard of a conservative advocacy group with the words “Peace”, “Justice” or “Fairness” in their title?

    When you spend 20-30 years pounding a drum like this, creating a culture that rejoices in violence and war, is it surprising that you draw nutters like moths to a flame?

  28. 28
    cleek says:

    the main difference between the Dems’ archery targets and Palin’s “surveyor’s symbols” is that the Dems map appears to only target states, while Palin’s map targets individuals, by name.

    i’m not sure that’s an important difference. yesterday i thought it was. now, i don’t think so.

  29. 29
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Julia Grey: Do you happen to know where we can find that archery target example you had in mind? I’m asking because (a) I get the sense that this might be a case of the right making shit up again, because if they had anything tangible, Fox News would have widely disseminated it by now; and (b) it might help illustrate the distinction. I definitely agree that there’s a difference between “target” and “archery target,” but I’m wondering if we might be getting mired in some false controversy here over something that might have been best described as merely a “target.”

  30. 30
    Jennifer says:

    Douthat’s lying, again. There are no examples of Democrats putting gun sights on maps.

    There are also no examples of Democrats putting bullseye targets on any particular politician. There was a map showing TARGET DISTRICTS in which those were denoted with a classic bullseye archery target.

    I’d be willing to accept that the bullseye target is equivalent to the gun sight if any political figure in this country had ever been assassinated via bow and arrow. Because that’s never happened, it’s moronic to equate the two. “Target” is a term often used in politics (as well as many other endeavors) and its meaning is “goal” in most uses these days. Saying that Democrats are “targeting” a district in an election is also nowhere near the equivalent of “don’t retreat – reload!” or “second-amendment solutions.”

    Most intelligent people can see the difference, which is why it eludes Douthat.

  31. 31
  32. 32
    JPL says:

    What if all sides did it…so what. The topic should be changing the discourse in our nation. Targets, rearm, death threats and bulls eyes are throw away words to limit free speech not promote it. What journalist asked what the republicans meant about job killing. How many jobs and where? Show me the numbers. The repubs use throw away lines because it’s all they have.
    How did they get their supporters to the polls in November?
    The Republicans are not going to change.

  33. 33
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @cleek: Thanks. Definitely going to have to go with archery target on this one. And man, outside of the whole rhetorical implications, they really should have gone with a more generic-looking target because that looks ugly as sin…

  34. 34
    numbskull says:

    @jcricket: Here’s a good link to some of the thinking at the time of JFK’s murder:

    http://www.esquire.com/feature.....z1AbFiqMAS

  35. 35
    jaleh says:

    I am listening to Diane Rheems show on NPR. She asked a Republican Congressman “are we going to change the rhetoric?” He said “I am not guilty of it, so there”, in so many words. She asked a Democratic Congressman and he replied “If I have been guilty in the past, I will change that now.” That is the difference between Dems and Repubs…They will never admit they do anything wrong. And, that is sad.

  36. 36
    Joshua Norton says:

    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Bull. And if I may add, Shit. Republicans openly advocate the use of “Second Amendment Remedies” in their campaigns and refer to member of Congress as “domestic enemies”.

    This is a thinly veiled message: should Republicans lose elections at the ballot box, they should start killing members of Congress.

    Hate speech might have yielded a short-term political gain for teabaggers and wingnuts in 2010, but there is a long-term price to pay. Those who would inflame people to violence bear a lot of the responsibility for the results. When you call for domestic terrorism, you get domestic terrorism.

    Big surprise!!!

  37. 37
    agrippa says:

    The ‘both sides do it’ is a fatuous argument. Every crime stands on its’ own. The fact that someone has done what you have just done has nothing at all to do with the fact that you have done it.

    Civilized people are supposed to be difficult to provoke.

  38. 38
    Ailuridae says:

    @Jennifer:

    Agreed. This is a conventional use of target as “goal”. If I have a problem with anything there it is the “Behind Enemy Lines” accompanying language. But even that doesn’t have the clear violent connotations of “Don’t retreat – reload”

    And of course those classic archery targets aren’t just used for archery but for pretty mundane reasons. Gun Sights? Not so much.

  39. 39
    Jay in Oregon says:

    The “potential gift” that Douthat references will only become an actual one if Republicans fail to dial back the hard-core hate and bullshit of the past couple of years, and that’s simply because Tucson gave the general public a glimpse of what could come from rabble rousing.

    Honestly? If Sarah Palin had disappeared that bullseye graphic from her website and replaced it with a statement along the lines of, ” In the wake of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, we apologize for the choice of gunsights as a metaphor for focusing on specific Congressional districts in the 2008 election,” then she might be able to rightly claim that her critics were making it a partisan issue.

    (Of course, if the Palin camp actually did that, I’d start watching the skies for low-flying porcines…)

  40. 40
    bob h says:

    The final fallacy in these two paragraphs is the straw man that people are holding Republicans responsible for the actions of the killer in Tucson.

    That’s not a fallacy-I am holding them responsible. They are a reckless party ripping at the fabric of our society.

  41. 41
    someguy says:

    The important thing to remember is not Loughner’s politics. It’s that Republicans have, for two generations, created the kind of hatred and vituperation in politics that make attacks like this possible.

  42. 42
    kwAwk says:

    I remember making the arguement on a blog I used to post at a while ago that even during the worst of the Bush administration you didn’t have a lot of Democrats talking about armed insurrection and/or sucession from the union and/or 2nd amendment solutions.

    What you did hear a lot was Democrats threatening to move to Canada or wanting to impeach Bush/Cheney and throw them in prison for life.

    That is the difference really. It wasn’t just one map picture with a crosshairs on it by Sarah Palin. It was also Rick Perry’s and others talk about sucession, which means civil war. It was also Michelle Bachman and her armed and dangerous comments. Also, lost in this, with all the focus the racist messege in Tea Party protest signs at their rallies is that a lot of violent messages in the signs too. I seem to remember at least one that said something about how the carrier had left their guns at home, ‘this time’.

    Couple that with all of the Hitler/Stalin/Joker signs which portrayed the President as a violent criminal and it all adds up really. This Jared Lee Loughner may have been a psychopath or a paranoid schitzophrenic, but that was the point wasn’t it? That it only takes one broken person to take this stuff seriously in order for people to die.

  43. 43
    El Cid says:

    Douthat’s right. It’s time that Democrats stop being partisan. If Democrats are willing to act by doing everything Republicans and Tea Party groups want to do, especially by losing elections. It’s about time that the liberal side of the spectrum abandons its divisive partisanship and do what the other side wants.

  44. 44
    Paris says:

    When our politicians and media loudmouths act like fools and zealots, they should be held responsible for being fools and zealots. They shouldn’t be held responsible for the darkness that always waits to swallow up the unstable and the lost.

    Well that is exactly wrong. With great power comes responsibility. There is a difference between Bachman, Palin, and the Drug Addled Gasbag spouting off hyperbolically and using violent metaphors, and the guy down the street doing it. DoucheHat is a morally corrupt, narcissist.

  45. 45
    Chris says:

    The Democratic operative who was quoted in Politico …

    Righties sure are getting a lot of mileage out of Politco’s obvious ratf*cker (any “veteran” political “operative” would know exactly how that statement would play) background source. I’m guessing it was Pat Caddell.

  46. 46
    jaleh says:

    I need help to respond to this exchange from WSJ:

    I sent an email to Jonathan Weisman from WSJ who was interviewed by Dianne Rheem on NPR:

    Mr. Weisman,

    At the end of the show you stated “nobody is admitting guilt and they claim it’s all the other side’s fault”. I am not sure if you were listening to Dianne’s show at the beginning, however, she did ask a Republican Congressman, Michael Burgess, from Texas “do you think this will change the rhetoric out there on both sides?”, he responded “I never do that and am not guilty”, in so many words…Dianne asked a Democrat from AZ (I don’t remember his name), he responded “if I have been guilty of it, I will change”…

    THAT is the difference between the two sides, Republicans will never admit they are guilty.

    Another point in all this is that Democrats are anti-gun, where Republicans are all for guns and killing.

    Sincerely,

    and this is what he replied back (within 10 minutes!!)

    Yes, I was listening on that exchange, and yes, I noted the difference – although Rep. Grijalva also stopped short of saying, “I have said things I regret and I will try not to repeat them.”

    They just don’t want to admit there is a difference between the two parties.

  47. 47
    Cris says:

    Calling someone “partisan” carries a lot of weight among Villagers

    I’m glad you pointed that out. We need to reclaim the term “partisan” as one to be proud of.

    “You’re damned right I’m partisan. Some things are wrong. Some people are wrong. It does no good to pretend they’re entitled to their perspective when their worldview actively hurts people.”

  48. 48
    Anniecat45 says:

    If both sides do it then how come so many more Democrats and/or liberals end up wounded or dead? Here’s a partial list in my lifetime:

    Medgar Evers (1960s, I forget exact year)
    Schwerner, Chaney & Goodwin (also in the sixties)
    John Kennedy 1963
    Martin Luther King 1968
    Robert Kennedy 1968
    Malcolm X (can’t recall exact year)

    Yes, George Wallace and Ronald Reagan got shot but please note both survived their injuries.

    And the above of course is not counting all the victims of lynchings in the South during the civil rights era. It wasn’t liberals who were doing that.

  49. 49
    liberal says:

    @kwAwk:

    It was also Rick Perry’s and others talk about sucession, which means civil war.

    Wha? If TX and other right-wing states (like OK) withdraw from the Union, I assume the outcome will be rejoicing, not civil war.

  50. 50
    Peter J says:

    @liberal:

    Wha? If TX and other right-wing states (like OK) withdraw from the Union, I assume the outcome will be rejoicing, not civil war.

    Are there any studies done on the pros and cons of Texas seceding? If not, then someone should fund one.

  51. 51
    debbie says:

    I’ve read more than one conservative-leaning person on Facebook today using the same example to say that liberals do the same thing: Obama using the word “punch” when he told supporters to push back against the Republicans in the mid-term elections.

    That’s some talking point.

  52. 52
    matoko_chan says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: conservative pundits are all dishonest intellectual whores servicing dead-white-guy phailosophy.
    but you got the misogynist part right.
    Douchebag is a limp-dick creeper that can only get it up for impregnation.
    phall if you will but rise ye must.

  53. 53
    Nellcote says:

    Both sides do it but liberals tend to be the ones that end up dead. How does that work?

  54. 54
    kc says:

    “Both sides do it” is more weak sauce, since even five-year-olds can’t get that one past their mothers

    Yeah, well, Republicans can get it past that empty suit who hosts “Meet the Press.”

  55. 55
    Frank says:

    Krugman wrote today in his NYT op-ed column that (I paraphrase) “it’s okay to attack and ridicule your political opponents, but that eliminationist rhetoric is out-of-bounds.” I agree, and yet I keep asking myself if we don’t
    risk increasing the potentiality for violence when we
    personalize our rhetorical assault. Depicting George W. as Alfred E Neuman or Moe (the stooge) or a chimp is funny.
    It may even make a salient point, but it only serves to annoy
    the other side; it does not cause them to say, “Wow, what a great point! I had not realized how the guy I voted for does resemble a chimp. I think I will vote Dem. next time!” YES, there is a big difference between depicting someone as an iconic comic figure (Moe) and a horrible despot (Hitler), but we keep upping the level of personal attack. To what ends?
    YES, we progressives are less inclined to
    utilize violent imagery, but some members of society do not police themselves so well and cannot draw the line between humor and violence. I am not saying that what happened in AZ is the fault of progressives. I think, however, that we may be contributing to the chance of such
    events occuring when we employ hyperbole over clearly-stated facts. Maybe our contribution is just 5% of the whole. (I positively agree that Beck, Coulter, et al are employing a far greater (in amount) and more violent brand of rhetorical assault, but should we all try to tone things down a bit?)

  56. 56
    Cris says:

    @liberal: Wha? If TX and other right-wing states (like OK) withdraw from the Union, I assume the outcome will be rejoicing, not civil war.

    Not for long. Texas is the second-highest oil-producing state of the Union (behind LA), producing nearly twice as much as California.

  57. 57

    I’m reminded that 2 1/2 months ago, Jon Stewart was holding a rally to restore sanity on the National Mall attended by 100,000+. Meanwhile, Republicans were shooting at targets with Democratic candidates’ initials on them.

    And all our national media could do was moan about how Stewart called President Obama “dude.” Well, not quite: CNN had the brilliant idea to hire Andrew Breitbart for its election night online coverage.

    Therein, my friends, is the difference between left, right and the mainstream media.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Cris says:

    @Frank: You make some very reasonable points. I’ll add an ingredient to your blender, though: the frequent call for Democrats to learn to “fight back” against traditionally unrestrained Republican attacks. While it’s very noble and probably right for us to keep our own rhetoric in check, it has the practical effect of bringing a soft pillow to a gun fight.

  60. 60
    Mr Furious says:

    @jaleh: Rehm had the whole thing framed wrong from the jump. She was dogged in her pursuit of a straight answer, but she was asking the wrong question: She insisted on pushing the Congressman on whether the problem was how members of Congress speak and refer to each other during debate and personally within Congress and whether he himself or others in his and the opposing party should change that.

    How members of Congress treat each other on fucking C-SPAN is the least of our problems. It’s how these assholes talk about their opponents when on Hannity or Limbaugh’s shows, or at the rally down in their district. THAT’S where the real shit goes down.

    Making this about decorum in the Capitol is really missing the point.

    That said, I didn’t last long listening. She started by giving a GOP Congressperson first shot at knocking down any arguments, and went right to Karen Tumulty (or someone) who immediately went with the “boths sides do it” crap. And then someone else on the panel jumped to bring up the Democrat target thing. I had to turn it off.

  61. 61

    @Cris:

    ZOMG you said “soft pillow” and “gun fight” in the same sentence ZOMG that PROVES the violent rhetoric of the left is JUST AS BAD as what you hear on the right!

    /sarcasm

    Actually, not really sarcasm. Over the weekend a Teanuts on Twitter referenced Obama’s use of the “bring a knife to a gun fight” phrase as proof of how violent liberals are.

  62. 62
    Frank says:

    Hi, Cris @59. You’re correct. And even as I wrote my little
    sermon I felt conflicted. I don’t think both sides are equally guilty. I do strongly
    suspect that going easy on the Republicans won’t cause
    them to ease up. Walking away from a bully doesn’t help
    much if the bully simply chases you down or picks up the
    thread the following day. It’s all rather discouraging.

  63. 63
    Nutella says:

    Hey, I found the ‘other side’ doing it! Might be snark though, don’t you think?

    (h/t pharyngula for the link)

  64. 64
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I don’t think there’s much question that it has been the right wing that whips up fear of The Government — perhaps to the chagrin of civil libertarians and anarchists and whatever Alan Moore is.

    If Loughner is paranoid about The Government, that’s a long-standing right-wing theme, one that Kubrick is parodying in _Dr. Strangelove_ with the “bodily fluids” stuff. Sarah Palin didn’t create it, Glenn Beck didn’t create it, fine. Nonetheless, it’s overwhelmingly a right-wing hallmark, and has been for decades.

  65. 65
    Triassic Sands says:

    @kwAwk:

    …even during the worst of the Bush administration you didn’t have a lot of Democrats talking about armed insurrection and/or sucession [sic] from the union and/or 2nd amendment solutions.

    I think most lefties were more inclined to talk about emigrating to Canada rather than overthrowing the US government or seceding from the Union. Since I can see Canada from my yard, I thought about it all the time.

    As for bull’s eyes versus crosshairs, I think there is a genuine difference, but explaining it sounds an awful lot like splitting hairs, but not crosshairs, and I doubt if the person who drew the Democratic map with bull’s eyes on it was thinking to him- or herself, “Gee, crosshairs are associated with aiming a firearm at something, whereas bull’s eyes are what one uses for target practice and in darts and they really aren’t closely connected with killing people or animals.” Instead it was a colorful graphic for depicting “targeting” something.

    But the wingers make such a huge issue out of guns, and having guns, and shooting guns, and killing people who threaten them that the crosshairs were obviously meant to satisfy a nasty little urge to point a rifle with a telescopic sight at a communist Democrat and pull the trigger. Palin’s claim that hers were surveyor’s crosshairs was a typical howler coming from one of today’s great liars.

    We desperately need media that will assess the two sides and be able to tell the difference, because the difference is real, and honestly report reality rather than their current favored “both sides do it.” I have no hope this will happen.

  66. 66
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, but

    FUCK Ross Douthat! AND THE HORSE HE RODE IN ON!

    There. I feel a little better. How ’bout you?

  67. 67
    val says:

    I finally got a chance to look at the bull’s-eye map. This is the biggest steaming pile of false-equivalence crap. It’s a graphic accompanying a 2004 article for the DLC — NOT the Democratic Party, per se. I didn’t read the whole article word for word, but I skimmed over it. It’s all about ways Democrats can win in red states Bush carried by small margins in 2004. Not a single Republican’s name is mentioned in the article or on the graphic. No seats are mentioned. The targets are over the nine states, not any particular districts or seats. There’s nothing that’s even in the same universe as even the barest hint of violence. These maps are in NO way comparable.

    It looks like the Kos piece has been “enhanced” by the right-wing site that posted it, with a photo of Giffords (which wasn’t on the original post), lots of arrows, and a big pull quote, which makes it look more linked to Giffords than it is. It was a list of Dems — a very LONG list, actually — who voted the wrong way on the FISA bill and was titled “Who to Primary?” and it has this horribly violent sentence: “Not all of these people will get or even deserve primaries, but this vote certainly puts a bulls-eye on their districts.” Wow. I know I’d go right out and get a bodyguard after that. Your average Obama rocks/Obama sucks argument on Kos gets more vitriolic than that by the opening comment. If this is the best they have, it’s pretty pathetic.

  68. 68

    […] and in some cases, blame them. “Serious” commentators have restorted to the lazy “both sides do it” canard, as they crib off a five year old for their talking points. The better, but still […]

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