Thursday, February 07, 2013


OK, perhaps the headline is a slight exaggeration. But look at the lead items at Memeorandum right now. They all concern this story:
The Family Research Council shooter, who pleaded guilty today to a terrorism charge, picked his target off a "hate map" on the website of the ultra-liberal Southern Poverty Law Center which is upset with the conservative group's opposition to gay rights.

Floyd Lee Corkins II pleaded guilty to three charges including a charge of committing an act of terrorism related to the August 15, 2012 injuring of FRC's guard. He told the FBI that he wanted to kill anti-gay targets and went to the law center's website for ideas....

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said that the Southern Poverty Law Center should take responsibility for the shooting and take down their hate map....
Nearly all the blog respondents to this (and other versions are the same story) are right-wingers who are fully in agreement with the notion that the Southern Poverty Law Center has blood on its hands for posting its maps.

Many of these bloggers, however, were horrified when the 2011 Tucson mass shooting that critically wounded Gabby Giffords was initially blamed on a "crosshairs" map posted by Sarah Palin's SarahPAC.

Back then, the right-wingers' position tracked that of Slate's Jack Shafer. He wrote:
... Only the tiniest handful of people -- most of whom are already behind bars, in psychiatric institutions, or on psycho-meds -- can be driven to kill by political whispers or shouts. Asking us to forever hold our tongues lest we awake their deeper demons infantilizes and neuters us and makes politicians no safer.

The call ... to take our political conversation down a few notches might make sense if anybody had been calling for the assassination in the first place, which they hadn't. And if they had, there are effective laws to prosecute those who move language outside of the metaphorical....

Any call to cool "inflammatory" speech is a call to police all speech, and I can't think of anybody in government, politics, business, or the press that I would trust with that power. As Jonathan Rauch wrote brilliantly in Harper's in 1995, "The vocabulary of hate is potentially as rich as your dictionary, and all you do by banning language used by cretins is to let them decide what the rest of us may say." Rauch added, "Trap the racists and anti-Semites, and you lay a trap for me too. Hunt for them with eradication in your mind, and you have brought dissent itself within your sights."

Our spirited political discourse, complete with name-calling, vilification -- and, yes, violent imagery -- is a good thing. Better that angry people unload their fury in public than let it fester and turn septic in private....

What's an incitement to violence? When a right-wing blogger writes, "Break their windows. Break them NOW," with specific references to offices of Democratic officials and candidates, I'd say that's an incitement. Sarah Palin's "Don't repeat, reload" rhetoric is pushing it -- though at least after being criticized, she's tended to throw in rhetorical qualifications ("And we reload with reality by giving facts and numbers to the American public..."). Her "crosshairs map" seemed too stylized to be an incitement (though I never blamed it for the Tucson shootings because it was clear from the earliest news reports that Jared Loughner was profoundly mentally ill, more obsessed with paranoid theories about letters and numbers than with politics).

The SPLC hate map? Well, go look. There's no incitement to violence. There are symbols on the individual state maps, but they're symbols representing the groups' ideologies. Is it painting a target on a neo-Nazi group to map it with a swastika, a symbol the group itself is likely to brandish proudly? (There are a lot of clenched fists on the maps, by the way, representing black separatism. The symbol for "anti-gay" is, um, a triangle. Inciting!) Names and cities appear on the maps, but no addresses, phone numbers, or e-mail addresses.

What Shafer wrote two years ago is correct regarding these maps -- if you use them to plot crimes, you have the problem. And hey, aren't right-wingers the folks who are always yammering about personal responsibility, and not blaming society for the actions of individuals?


JoyousMN said...

Maps don't kill people. People kill..



Victor said...

Conservatives POV:
Personal responsibility for thee - NOT, for me!

And YOUR map was serious.

OURS, was just a joke.

But, as usual, you Libtards show that you have no sense of humor. Sarah's map was a JOKE!

Ten Bears said...

"Burn the churches, burn the banks"?

Don't need a tinfiol hat to wonder how a white dog could cook up a story like that and then pretty much get away with it.

Examinator said...

Sadly Victor's criticism goes BOTH ways. Including (especially) me.
I have to disagree with Steve the 'brilliant article' is selective, inaccurate and full of hyperbole designed to attract agreement from a demographic (emotions). It is articulate and well crafted to that end. Informative...not so much.
I remember watching a Jon Stewart show about the Dems convention in which several dems were interviewed and they claimed that they/democrats were the party of inclusion, tolerance etc BUT then went into a lengthy list of types that weren't tolerated! Hmmm. Spot the oxymoron?
The problem is the generally accepted level of background Hyperbole, psyching up in the American culture.
To be heard above the babble those seeking attention need to be MORE and MORE outrageous.
If one compares the level with other western countries one might be surprised.

America can't claim overall to be more tolerant than others, simply compare the DEGREE of Partisanship between it and other countries. Sure it exists every where BUT where are he MOST LEAST tolerant acts
taking place? e.g. The abortion debate bombings, murders etc, The mass shootings, the bombing of Government buildings, the shooting of politicians armed stand-offs with race and religious extremist groups.
A civil war that still has reverberations. Towns, districts, states that have entrenched racism, exclusionary.

Even the key sports finals have music to stir cheer lead the crowds...why? Sport at that level is already a highly emotive and irrational activity. The press is more extreme. Libel/slander laws are a joke. The line The movies are more salacious, more gratuitously violent. The national myths are out of proportion its heroes are over the top even the President is expected to be some sort of savior. The Churches are extreme....where else do they own TV networks and universities that teach their versions of the truth. Where is the home of Creationism (aka intelligent design (sic) ).
Where are the homes of the most extreme western religions? (Scientology (sic), the brethren, the 7th day adventists, Mormons and goodness knows how many Charismatic Churches with one hand on their followers heart stings and the other in their pockets ? et al).
I have no problems with religion although I personally don't believe. What I do find unacceptable is that in the US the 'churches(sic)' are actually fronts for tax/ accountability free businesses. Not that US corporate culture is all that either responsible or accountable.

Examinator said...

The sad thing is that the causes are well known and understood the first it summarised in 'familiarity breeds indifference/ acceptance' ( habituated...i.e. I grew up in PNG at a time when breasts and nakedness was common so I was never into 'dirty pictures of naked women as a teenager', nothing novel there listen to the 1920's song 'Anything Goes') the corollary of that is that to push 'the edge' one has to become continually more vivid/immediate. This is particularly so in group dynamics the basis of most ads. Let's be real, ads don't inform the consumer about products they are designed to 'motivate' consumers to buy... this is done in any ways including constant repartition (high rotation) . They (including political ads) are DESIGNED to by past the logic and appeal/motivate the irrational emotions. It is proven fact that when instructing staff on something new repartition is key (average 5 times) one could speculate why TV ads tend to be much more.
And there Ladies and Gentlemen is the key motivationt $'s . which in the west = power, privilege, advantage et al.
If I were to sum America up it wouldn't be an extreme Democracy but a PLUTOCRACY. Americans have be given a ocean of wooden nickels in terms of WEALTH is the answer to everything (love, happiness, popularity, power, survival....Nirvana (not the band) and therefore the more wealth the more Nirvana. (SIC)
The answer is as clear as it is difficult.
Tell the truth (all of it), don't attack people but what they say/do...there is a difference.