THE ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION of Gabrielle Giffords brought about another finger storm of thunderpoints in the media, each one blaming the other for the rhetoric that seems to be turning our nation into a tinderbox.
But with all due respect to the critically wounded Ms. Giffords and the others injured and killed in the rampage, the radical right is no more responsible than the loony left in the dire events of Saturday, January 8th. In a post the very next morning, editor Carly Carioli of the Boston Phoenix wrote a blog post titled: “Why we need to hold the Radical Right responsible for the Arizona bloodshed.”
“Are Tea Partiers and right-wing Republicans responsible for the horrifying violence we saw yesterday in Arizona? Of course they fucking are,” he began, before echoing Sen. Joe Lieberman‘s claims again WikiLeaks. “These people,” Carioli wrote, “have blood on their hands.”
The post then goes on to point out numerous links, and the back and forth of left and right, before calling on the left to “bludgeon” the right.
Note to the left: quit begging the Right for permission to bludgeon them with this shooting. And start fucking bludgeoning them with this shooting. It wasn’t a matter of whether America’s conservative traitors would provoke violence, but when and how much. Now they have exacted their pound of flesh. Now they should pay.
“Traitors,” “pound of flesh” and “now they should pay” sound an awful lot like violent rhetoric.
Carioli and others immediately jumped on a map, which Sarah Palin‘s sarahpac.com propagated, showing “cross-hairs” in important political districts, one of which was centered directly above Giffords’ district.
That “targeting” symbolism is as much a liberal, Democratic symbol as it is Republican and right wing, as any many of the million right wing political blogs were quick to point out.
The problem, then, is with those enflaming the rhetoric. From Jon Stewart rallies to best-selling books, one media outlet reports about toning down the political rhetoric, and the other side says “no, you should,” and back and forth, until they are arguing about, wait for it, who needs to tone down the political rhetoric.
It’s fucking ridiculous.
IT TURNS OUT THE SUSPECTED shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, is quite simply insane. Dan Kennedy pointed out as much in his blog, Media Nation, on Sunday—but not before turning the spotlight on himself. “One day in 1993, when I was managing editor of the Boston Phoenix,” he writes, “I received a letter from a man named David Taber, who claimed that the CIA and his father had conspired to implant a computer chip in his brain so they could monitor his thoughts.”
He goes on to report that he was then visited by Taber, whom he was not able to meet face-to-face in the office. Taber then (“within a few weeks”) walked into a school in Acushnet, took hostages and ended up killing the school nurse.
Kennedy’s point being that, er, crazy people do crazy things. And sometimes you too can meet crazy people, if you’re not too busy.
WBUR SHOUTED INTO the canyon of cacophony when it was “apparently” the first to report, via Twitter at 2:02pm Saturday that “Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been shot and killed in Arizona.”
As reporter Andrew Phelps explained on Monday, National Public Radio was the first to announce the false report at 2:01pm and he immediately relayed the information on Twitter.
Giffords, remarkably, had not been killed in the incident and, as of press time, was still fighting for her life.
So of course WBUR went back to its Twitter account and asked its followers if they should delete the erroneous information. Some of their followers suggested they not delete the message in order to “do a story on it” or to “show you were on top of the story”—albeit the wrong story. Others suggested they delete the report because it is “not the historic record.” But this is the internet, and the internet never forgets. Never mind that even more commenters brought up the Library of Congress’ archive policy regarding Twitter, this is the library of humanity … this is the internet.
Either way, it’s a snapshot of the left wing media overreacting in its own way against the right. Had FoxNews or even Rush Limbaugh erroneously reported on the death of a Republican congressman, it’s not hard to imagine what Keith Olbermann would have to say about inciting the base.
IN THE WAKE OF THE NEWS, it’s obvious that the media should turn away from left-right contrarianism of divisive politics, fueled mainly by the political parties. Reports on Arizona’s incredibly lenient gun laws and bizarre “Shoot a Fully Automatic M16″ political events were much more insightful.
In a powerful press conference, Arizona county sheriff Clarence Dupnik called his state a “mecca for prejudice and bigotry,” but he resisted indicting the nation or, more importantly, one entire side or another.
Don’t shoot the messenger and don’t shoot the message.
In fact, don’t shoot anybody.