Whose fault is it?

Without a doubt you have already heard too much about how a 22 year old man shot Arizona Rep. ‘Gabby’ Giffords and several other people (including a judge and a child) at a public event in a grocery store in Pima County, Arizona. Within hours of the shooting, people were weighing in (pro and con) if the ’emotionally elevated rhetoric’ of political and public discourse in recent times has anything to do with the shooting. It was noted that Sarah Palin, former govenor and prom queen as well as moose hunter and reality TV star, had hosted an image of a map with the locations of various state representatives who were ‘ideological opponents’ marked with symbols that resemble either the cross hairs of a gun sight (if you dislike Palin) or a suyveyor’s symbol (if you like her… the graphic is reproduced below, left). This, coupled with Palin’s longstanding love affair with gun related turns of phrase (telling her twitter supporters to ‘target’ and ‘reload’) has led some to question if the users of such ‘elevated rhetoric’ bear any responsibility in at least inspiring the shooter at the Arizona grocery.

(BTW, the picture at right is not actually Sarah Palin, but instead is pornstar Lisa Ann who portrayed Palin in a porn film. Lisa Ann is as close as you will get to a picture of Sarah Palin in my blog… unless you have a picture of Sarah Palin killing a puppy or slapping a child; I’ll put that on my blog).

One of the Palin ‘SarahPac’ spokespersons, Rebecca Mansour, has claimed that Sarah Palin and her supporters have been unfairly targeted by the media and states that the symbols are not ‘gunsights’ but map surveyor symbols. Strange how someone else gets shot and Sarah Palin is suddenly the victim. Shortly after the controversey, the graphic disappeared from the SarahPac website (which begs the question of whether or not those ‘cross hairs’ were indeed ‘surveyor symbols’ rather than gun sights… if they were just innocent surveyor symbols, why suddenly decide to take the graphic down?). Back in March of 2010, even media personality Elizabeth Hasselbeck, a Palin supporter, said the ‘gunsights’ were in poor taste and no one from the Palin campaign contradicted Hasselbeck or corrected her by announcing that they were ‘surveyor’ symbols at that time. It’s pretty clear (to me at least) that if Sarah Palin and her followers claim that there was no ‘violence’ in the message they were giving out, that they are lying sacks of shit — but, then again, what else is new?

However, despite my active dislike of Sarah Palin and everything she stands for, I can’t honestly say that I think she is responsible for the shooting. The things she says and tweets and posts on Facebook are stupid and reprehensible and I wish she wouldn’t say them… but they are also just words, and, unfortunately, given her right of free speech she has as much a right to say those words as I do to criticize what she says.

From my recollection, in 1995 when Timothy McVeigh detonated his bomb at the Alfred Murrah Building in Oklahoma, there was a period of stunned silence afterwards. The Limbaughs and the O’Reilleys and the others (whomever the lefty equivalents of Limbaugh might be — Rachel Maddow?) didn’t immediately chime in to offer blame (although, let’s be honest, then President Clinton did benefit, politically, from the unfortunate event — and his opponents like Newt Gingrich were forced to step back a bit from their anti-federalist rhetoric). Today it seemed like the politicals and pundits couldn’t wait to start blaming each other — the blood and brains were not yet cleaned up off the floor of the Safeway before the finger pointing began.

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