It’s been less than 48 hours since a lunatic named Jared Lee Loughner shot and killed 6 people in Tucson (including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl), critically injured Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and wounded 13 others. But thanks to the immediacy of social media, it was only a matter of minutes before blame for the incident could be assigned. Here’s just a brief sampling of some of the sober, fact-intensive reaction to the shooting. If you have a barf bag or some sort of anti-emetic handy, now would be the time:
If you hear about a mass murder and your first thought is how you can pin it on somebody you disagree with politically, there is something very wrong with you.
Look for more of this in a newspaper or newscast near you. Never mind whether Loughner ever saw any map with crosshairs on it. Never mind that combative rhetoric is so commonplace in political life that no less a figure than Barack Obama has been known to say, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” and calls his political opponents “hostage-takers.” Never mind whether the same people leaping to blame Palin and the Tea Party will scoff at claims that violent movies and video games cause violence. None of that matters. After all: Never let a crisis go to waste.
Isn’t it odd that we weren’t supposed to jump to conclusions about Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, but now it’s fine to jump wherever we like? Byron York and Tim Blair have more. See also Glenn Reynolds, “The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel.” And for lovers of irony, see our own Matthew Boyle: “MoveOn launches campaign against vitriolic language — despite sordid history of using vitriolic language.”
As for hate speech and ugly political rhetoric, Michelle Malkin has a good roundup of some stuff our moral and ethical superiors seem to have forgotten already. Apparently it doesn’t count as hate speech if the person being hated is a Republican.
Some of the cooler heads among the left:
Howard Kurtz: “This kind of rhetoric is highly unfortunate. The use of the crosshairs was dumb. But it’s a long stretch from such excessive language and symbols to holding a public official accountable for a murderer who opens fire on a political gathering and kills a half-dozen people, including a 9-year-old girl.”
Richard Roeper: “Blame lunatic for Ariz. tragedy, not Palin or rhetoric.”
Rachel Maddow(!): “There is nothing to be gained from speculating on the motives and affiliations of AZ shooter w/o facts.”
P.S. Almost forgot. Daily Kos, 1/6/11: “My CongressWOMAN voted against Nancy Pelosi! And is now DEAD to me!”
P.P.S. To summarize George Packer in the New Yorker: “It’s irresponsible to demonize and delegitimize your opponents, like those evil right-wingers do.”
P.P.P.S. Remember when various groups would play record albums backwards to find “hidden Satanic messages” that supposedly told their listeners to kill people? It was ridiculous, but at least they used records they knew the murderers had listened to. Whereas the geniuses like Moore, Ebert, et al. didn’t wait to find out if Loughner had even seen that Palin map.
P.P.P.P.S. From last September: A madman with an agenda acts alone, except when he doesn’t.