One Mentally Deranged Shooter Is No Reason To Throw Out The First Amendment

from the discourse? dept

Like many people, I was absolutely horrified by the story over the weekend concerning the shooting in Arizona that has left a bunch of folks dead and left US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in extremely serious condition in a hospital. At the same time, for many years, I’ve been disgusted by the nature of political discourse, which often seems to involve petty name calling and ridiculous hyperbole (on all sides of the debate) usually based on association, rather than any actual position. It’s one of the reasons that we almost always try to avoid naming political parties on this site — because we seem to get knee-jerk reactions to the party that someone is a member of, rather than a response to the actual positions. That said, I’m troubled by the fact that many people have immediately jumped to the conclusion that the shooting was somehow caused by that ridiculous level of hyperbolic discourse, despite little evidence to support that. So far, almost everything said has suggested that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, was an immensely troubled individual, whose views were all over the map, rather than tied to any particular prevailing viewpoint.

So I’m troubled by reports that the quick, knee-jerk reaction from some politicians following the shooting is to pass laws to restrict forms of speech, especially the exceptionally vague plan of Rep. Louise Slaughter to “better police language on the airwaves.” Don’t get me wrong: even if this shooting had nothing whatsoever to do with the level of political rhetoric and childish bickering we see everyday in Congress and among the chattering pundits, it would be great if the end result were to lead to more reasoned debate, rather than ridiculous hysterics and blatant overstatement and exaggeration. But passing laws are not the way to do that. Telling people what they can and cannot say is not going to fix the level of discourse in American politics today. Outlawing certain forms of speech on the airwaves will not stop crazy people from shooting others.

Are there crazy people out there? Absolutely. Is the level of political discourse in this country somewhat ridiculous and often counterproductive? Almost certainly. Are those two things connected? That seems like a huge stretch, with many people jumping to some unproven and unsubstantiated conclusions, leading to knee-jerk responses that limit speech based on nothing but an unproven hunch. That’s not the way law making is supposed to work. And isn’t making unfounded accusations against your political oppoents to try to squeeze some political advantage from such a tragedy just compounding the hysteria already present in the debate? Why not start by setting a good example, rather than threatening to force everyone else to shut up?

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Comments on “One Mentally Deranged Shooter Is No Reason To Throw Out The First Amendment”

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harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: Re:

quite honestly, i believe that both sides will use any point they can grasp on to in order to further their own political agendas. so if the shooter had been muslim, hindu, a satanist or was under the delusions that the cookie monster and the count were telling him to do it, some group would have popped up and said pretty much the exact same things regarding the passage of more useless laws.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The key difference here is that the vast majority of ‘over the top’ political rhetoric in this country is from the right wing.

Ms. Palin, rather than even possibly consider that placing ‘bullseyes’ (her word) over this very Congresswoman’s district or comments like “Don’t retreat, reload” might be just might be, something to reconsider – she decided to attack people criticizing her as the ones inciting violence.

No word on whether she sees the sad irony in her attacks.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Might want to check the history of the Democratic party, they had a similar map in 2004.

Yeah, you might want to take a look at it. Because they’re very different.

First of all, the Democrats were targeting states where they needed to focus future campaign efforts. Palin’s map targeted individuals, and did so after the voters could have any impact on the legislation mentioned in the graphic. There’s also a difference between an archery target and scope hairs.

It’s a stretch to interpret the Democrat’s map as an advocation of personal vengeance. It’s hard to see Palin’s map in any other way (even if that “vengeance” is only symbolic).

Any objective observer can see that the “tea party” conservatives are far more focused on incendiary rhetoric and spreading falsehoods than even the extreme left. They both do it, of course, but that doesn’t mean they’re equally guilty.

…Having said that, regulating “incendiary speech” is terrible, terrible legislation. Fortunately, I doubt it will even come close to getting passed.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Very different huh? You sure are jumping through hoops to justify the Dems use of targets vs. Palin’s use of crosshairs. So if a Republican is shot with a crossbow will you change your mind?

Sorry, I don’t buy your convoluted argument to justify the Dems and condemn the Repubs. If you have to split hairs to justify your view, you probably have the wrong view.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Show me the liberal equivalents of Limbaugh, Beck and Palin with the same media influence. Olbermann has already said his rhetoric has been over the top and pledged to tone it down. Can’t say that about Palin can you?

You are more than reasonable to say Dems have done this too. I don’t discount it. I’m just saying that rather than Palin saying, “Yes it was wrong, both sides have done it, but that didn’t make it right”, she’s simply gone into victim mode.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You sure are jumping through hoops to justify the Dems use of targets vs. Palin’s use of crosshairs.

We don’t call it “shooting” a demographic, we call it “targeting.” So it doesn’t seem like such a stretch. In fact, what is a stretch is thinking the two are roughly equivalent.

So if a Republican is shot with a crossbow will you change your mind?

No. Quite obviously, I will blame anyone who shops at Target. 🙂

Sorry, I don’t buy your convoluted argument to justify the Dems and condemn the Repubs.

I won’t condemn mainstream Rebupblicans. I will condemn “tea party” Republicans. They are to conservatives as Fred Phelps is to Christianity.

And I have many problems with the Democrats. I disagree with them about gun control, “victim feminism,” their one-sided view of racism, and their tendency to try to pass anti-speech laws like this. I think Michael Moore often lies, and that Hillary is a power-hungry political zombie.

So, both the Left and the Right have good and bad points to make. But there’s no question that at the moment, the Right is more aggressive, vitrolic, and spiteful in making them.

But let’s stop fighting, and find something we can both agree on: that Louise Slaughter is an idiot.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

First of all, the Democrats were targeting states where they needed to focus future campaign efforts. Palin’s map targeted individuals, and did so after the voters could have any impact on the legislation mentioned in the graphic.

OMFG libtard, the dems want someone to shoot entire states and you think that’s fine? that’s genocide!

DS says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“It’s hard to see Palin’s map in any other way”

If you honestly believe in this, you scare me.

Because you might as well be arguing that video games, movies, music, books, etc. cause violence.

I think that you just hate Palin, so everything that’s done by her or in her name is an excuse to demonize her.

Granted, I don’t like her either, but I don’t need to look for tempest in teapots for reasons not to like her.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Erm, look at yourself.

I don’t think for a second that Karl was saying that Palin was responsible for this guy’s actions. But, it’s very difficult to see anything other than violent connotations in that image, even if they weren’t intended to cause real violence.

They didn’t cause or influence the shooting, IMHO, but it’s a great example of the violent and divisive rhetoric regularly spewed out by her and her ilk (“don’t retreat; reload, talking about “real Americans” – implying that non-rednecks are not, “death panels”, “second amendment solutions”, “we came unarmed this time”, etc.).

It’s a symptom of a disease that’s infected your political culture, and Palin is one of their most prized figureheads.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

If you honestly believe in this, you scare me.

Because you might as well be arguing that video games, movies, music, books, etc. cause violence.

To be clear: I do not think that the map caused violence, in any way.

The message, however, was that since these politicians voted for the health care bill, they should be shot. No, that message wasn’t literal, it was rhetorical, and people have been using similar rhetoric since before our country was founded.

But it should be viewed in the same way as burning an effigy of a politician. Think of the images of Islamic fundamentalists burning effigies of Bush. Do you think that contributed nothing to anti-American sentiment? If the leaders of those Islamic people were truly against hurting Americans, wouldn’t they at least publicly decry that kind of symbolism?

That’s really all I’m asking the “Tea Party” conservatives to do. Admit that the rhetorical message is inappropriate, and stop using it. Not because of the shooting, but because it’s bad in and of itself.

Or if they won’t, they should stop being cowards and admit they have no problem with the shooter’s actions.

Either is fine with me.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“Think of the images of Islamic fundamentalists burning effigies of Bush.”

One thing that sickens me about American politics is the reasoning for such extreme behaviour. The Muslims in the Middle East who held such demonstrations were protesting against a perceived anti-Islamic policy of the US. They were protesting the murders of innocents, the occupation of two Muslim countries and the fear that their religion was under attack. Whether you agree with their viewpoints, this is a fairly valid reason to imply the murder of the man responsible, if such a thing can truly be validated.

Americans were protesting… what? Taxes, even though they’re objectively low? The idea that they’d have to provide for people who couldn’t afford healthcare (even though they’re already doing so)? That a black man had the audacity to be elected? Whatever the reason, the protests are hardly comparable, and so the violent imagery in the supposedly more “civilised” country is rather misplaced.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Even if either party had a graphic that blatantly stated “KILL THIS PERSON!!!” holding either of them responsible is absurd. Responsibility lies with the individual – quit placing blame upon things which you can simply associate expressing a similar view or opinion with the crazy sonuva bitches who actually do harm.

What something like the graphics should do is either get you to realize the metaphor being used – or simply discredit the organization using such idiotic propaganda.

Sarah Palin’s rhetoric is that of fear mongering – irrational – semi-violent expression. Likening her crosshair metaphor to a more literal translation isn’t a far stretch but is itself irrational.

The Democrat’s graphic expresses the metaphor of drawing focus – aka targeting – to the states that needed attention is the proper interpretation.

How you interpret the metaphor being used is the critical issue, and if you allow yourself to be influenced by the rhetoric of violence you will see violence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Responsibility lies with the individual

Exactly where is this line drawn, though? Obviously, if someone walks up to me on the street and says “Go on a killing spree,” then the blame is placed on me if I do so.

However, if a large group of people is shouting “We need to attack these people,” and I do so, is it the same situation? (I’ll concede this as, probably. But read on). More importantly, if I’m mentally limited (as it appears the shooter in this case was), then can the blame still rest with me?

If you have a subject who, due to his or her own limitations, is extremely suggestible, then is it really their fault if they’re motivated by the actions of others?

sidewinder says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The Infamous Map

Seen it – similar but different. The bullseyes are barely recognizable as such – the colors of the concentric rings are all off – looks like a kid’s dartboard. Definitely not a reticle.

Also, not accompanied by incendiary rhetoric of the “2nd amendment remedy”, “don’t retreat-reload” “fire an automatic weapon to defeat Giffords” variety. Instead, the Democrat webpage analyzes political strengths & weaknesses & urges political organization.

Recognize these names:

Forde, Popalowski, Von Brunn, Roeder, Hutaree Militia, Kane, Williams?

All right-wingers involved in gun violence in the last two years. Not a left-winger in the bunch. Mainstream Left-wing rhetoric does not inspire left-wingers to violence. Mainstream Right-wing rhetoric does. Ignore facts at your own peril.

Jay says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh, she knows…

A commenter posted the following at 18:12:

“It’s ok. Christina Taylor Green was probably going to end up a left wing bleeding heart liberal anyway. Hey, as ‘they’ say, what would you do if you had the chance to kill Hitler as a kid? Exactly.”

I think I literally gasped when I read that. Remember, Christina Taylor Green was the 9 year old girl killed by the shooter. Apparently she had been brought there by her mom, who thought she might get a kick out of meeting Rep. Giffords, having recently been elected to her student council.

I assumed, as a matter of course, that this particular comment would be deleted with greatest possible speed.

So I kept hitting refresh, hoping to use this as an example to say, “You see, Palin’s Facebook editing at least has the good judgement to remove clearly offensive content such as this.” But it didn’t come down.

Yeah… It just goes downhill from there. Apparently, Sarah Palin’s Facebook is biased.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why not? When a Muslim killed a number of people at Fort Hood, the left bent over backward to avoid the slightest hint that Islamic teaching regarding treatment of infidels had anything whatsoever to do with the shooter’s state of mind.

If you look at the reaction to that shooting with the reaction to this one, you have to admit they’re not being consistent when placing blame…

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I marked Qritiqal’s post as ‘insightful’ for just this reason. Why point out what one side is doing with this or what the other side isn’t doing… That’s still focusing on the wrong part.

Going down the road of “RIGHT SIDE SAID RARRR” and “LEFT SIDE SAID BLARG” is missing the point: both sides are doing something bad. Now, please note, I did not say “both sides are to blame”. That rests with the shooter (as Chrono said in a different thread here). While I do believe the blame is with the shooter, this event should still be looked at as an example of how the vitriol seeping from Washington can influence bad behavior.

Instead of saying “oh wow, ol’ Lefty is sure being a hypocrite about this”, why not say “Hey, you know what… maybe both parties need to tone it down a lot”. Pointing out how the left would have reacted in a hypothetical is doing nothing but keeping the LvR hostility alive and keeping the focus on the side instead of on issues.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Instead of saying “oh wow, ol’ Lefty is sure being a hypocrite about this”, why not say “Hey, you know what… maybe both parties need to tone it down a lot”.”

Thank you. I was seriously getting frustrated to the point of blasting most everyone else on this thread for missing the ENTIRE FUCKING POINT of Mike’s article and start going on and on with the left vs. right crap, until you provided this ray of hope.

Seriously, anytime anyone says “the left/right are wrong because of…” I immediately stop listening, because I know that person is an idiot….

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Seriously, anytime anyone says “the left/right are wrong because of…” I immediately stop listening, because I know that person is an idiot….”
So I noticed 😉

You’re welcome. There isn’t a single part of the bipartisan, left/right-wing bullshit in this country I don’t hate. And I do mean hate.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

When a Muslim killed a number of people at Fort Hood, the left bent over backward to avoid the slightest hint that Islamic teaching regarding treatment of infidels had anything whatsoever to do with the shooter’s state of mind.

Of course there will be people who say that it isn’t “Islamic teaching regarding treatment of infidels”; the average Muslim shuns violent acts like suicide bombing. They will point out that instead it’s the crazy rhetoric of a few sociopaths that pushed a mentally unstable person over the edge.

interval (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There were in fact the opposite reaction from leftist pundits saying we should “wait to get all the facts before laying guilt on Muslim extremism” and etc. Now the left is questioning the exact opposite viewpoint. If left-sponsored laws curtailing free speech does get passed some how (I’m sure they won’t), it will only turn around and bite them on the ass when they are the minority party again. So short-sited.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m of ‘the left’ and there should be no free speech restrictions here. Public figures who use such inflammatory rhetoric should be punished in the manner they are being called out now – the realm of public opinion; funny how the right doesn’t seem to like that much.

There is a vast vast difference between a blog calling for violence and hateful actions and duly elected/nominated government officials spouting about ‘second amendment remedies’ or ‘don’t retreat, reload.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“There is a vast vast difference between a blog calling for violence and hateful actions and duly elected/nominated government officials spouting about ‘second amendment remedies’ or ‘don’t retreat, reload.”

Or worse still, a no-position-carrying spokesperson saying those things… Does she do anything other than run SarahPAC? Maybe she and Ann Coulter should get together and recite violent rhetoric together.

[DISCLAIMER] I am not commenting on the political views of either Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter. From what I’ve heard, I do disagree with them. But here, I am only commenting on their past use of violent rhetoric in their public addressing, interviewing, etc, and the legitimacy of their place in the political limelight since neither is actually doing anything for the country through an elected or appointed position. If you want to debate how right or wrong either of them is, please go somewhere else and talk to someone else. Thank you.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I really don’t think it matters if they’re elected or not, simply that people listen to them.

Personally, I’d say this is less of a reason to legislate away the first amendment than to practice a bit of self-censorship ourselves. You know, ask yourself if something is plainly stupid or inflammatory before you say it. Granted that’s not likely to happen when politicians rely on inflaming their base to win primaries but still.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You’re right… people will listen to anyone that the media trots out there who says the right fiery words. But if it’s an elected individual, they can be removed from their office.

I severely disagree with Ann Coulter’s tactics of sensationalism. I have an even bigger disagreement with the fact that the media eats it up and spews it out there for the rest of America to suck up with a straw. I don’t think there should be any new laws to damper the flames, but we can take away the matches from elected officials. We can’t do that when the person causing the fire is, essentially, no one except for the fact that people (media) keep letting them talk.

I don?t know what the answer is? These blowhards have proven themselves incapable of censoring themselves. New laws are not the answer. The media really doesn?t care if some of us don?t like it? they?re just going to keep on keeping on. Boycott activism is useless in this day and age because it’s inconvenient and we as a people are too damned lazy to do it.

Honestly, I was most moved by John Stewarts monologue when he was talking about how hopeless the political system seems? I feel the same damned way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

A “call to arms” to defend the country when congress wont do so is called patriotism. Why you ask? Well because that’s how this country was founded, the people’s representatives looked out for their own interests and because of that the people of this once great nation rose up and overthrew the oppressive regime. If America’s citizens had half a spine and half a brain congress would be burning as we speak.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

After listening to Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC on XM Radio for the last couple of days (usually I listen only to music, but this got entertaining) I think that no matter who the shooter was they would try to blame it on the other party somehow. There was a Republican that used the term ‘just sick’ when referring to how the Democrats were trying to blame them and that the guy liked the Communist Manifesto so he was obviously a leftist. There was a Democrat saying that the Republicans (or maybe Tea Party members…I can’t remember) should just own up to the fact that he was one of their own because he was obviously in favor of guns.

If anyone ever hears about me shooting up some political folks, please let everyone know that I’m against both major parties and the great majority of the minor parties. I don’t think I have it in me to shoot folks that aren’t shooting at me so I doubt the good people of TechDirt are ever going to have to worry about that, but I wanted to say that on the record.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They seem to have some fucked up priorities in that state.

What do you mean? As a neighbor to the west, I think we pretty much take the cake for screwed up priorities. After all, we thought it was a good idea to sell our power generation capabilities to other states, which meant that when we needed to buy power, we had to do so at inflated rates from our neighbors because even though we had enough power generation capabilities, we gave them away. We also suck when it comes to finances (our governor just announced that he’s raising our taxes, and if we are really good, he won’t raise our taxes as much the next time,) and we tend to pay more for housing and gas then just about anyone else in the nation (except maybe Hawaii.) Then of course, you have the free health care, education, and food stamps to illegal immigrants.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Another Hate California Firster

How many people who live in California like what is going on? How many more people in California are going to be up in arms when gas is $6.00 a gallon (SF lead the nation as the highest priced gas a while back) and rolling black-outs are reintroduced, and now we’re fighting over water too. I live here, and I am not too happy with our state right now.

I am just offering perspective for the Anonymous Coward that said Arizona was all screwed up. I am looking at Arizona right now and all I see is far more sanity beyond the border (sure, grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.) Now if there were jobs that I could work there, and I could afford to sell my house, I’d be heading east.

Rod says:

Free Speech

The 1st amend does not protect ALL speech, only a subset regarded as FREE. Crying “fire” in a crowded theatre doesnt count as free speech nor does incitement to violence. The trouble comes when that incitement comes in the form of innuendo and demagoguery.

Where is the line? I don’t know, but I’ll know it when I see it.

Anonymous Coward says:

likewise, the stance that many have in wanting to pass anti-gun legislation after these kinds of events. Everyone needs to stop for a bit and try to determine what happened, where life went wrong for this individual, and try to determine what can be done to prevent that. By all accounts he had loving and caring parents, so what caused him to tread this path?

Passing laws for these kinds of occurrences should only be done with careful deliberation. Knee-jerk reactions is what give us abominations like the USA Patriot act.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Or we could chalk it up to some people are just fucking crazy and call it a day. Harder and harder to do in our culture of blame though. Nothing is ever an individual’s fault anymore. It’s always the fault of some corporation, government, parents, the media, or other group.

PSA: The coffee you order will be hot and crazy people will do crazy things.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Give credit where credit is due

I don’t care what is said, no mater how bad it is, it is no reason to start shooting people. Creating laws like this and blaming the speaker takes blame off of the person who actually did the shooting.

This is the same crap that got Jack Thompson disbarred. He tried to take blame away from where it was due.

Anonymous Coward says:

Where were all those politicians when the nutjob got into the Discovery Channel building and started to shoot people?

Anyways is just a matter of time for nutjobs to start getting out of the woodwork, this government is not popular and people are just fed up with them. There is an anger that is growing and that will lead to violent demonstrations eventually if they keep curtailing everything and don’t pay attention to their constituents not that I’m condoning anything, I’m noting the natural development of things, people are not happy and for now is just the nutjobs continue to act like there is no population and soon it will not be just crazy people doing violent acts,

Free speech will be greatly threatened at that point and we will see what the people is made of then.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am horrified of course. Any Terrorism is horrible. But Terrorism is not only acts of violence. It also includes hate speech. The hate I heard over the airwaves this last election made me put my gun in my car, loaded with the safety off.
The TEA Party terrifies me with Sarah Palin talking about using your guns, I feel I have to defend myself just to vote. I got so sick of the rhetoric I had no choice but to turn it off.
Of course the TEA Party will raise hell and get everyone riled up with their hate speech and then take no responsibility for their actions.
I blame the TEA Party and Sarah Palin personally for this horrific act. I also blame the past actions of the GOP in the state of Arizona. They are promoting violence with their policies. Arizona terrifies me even more than Texas and I’m white.
PS. No matter how you look at it, rewrite it or sugar coat it. Mr. Boehner, Your name is not pronounced Bayner, It’s Boner. I learned English in American schools and cannot pronounce it any other way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Please take your irrational fear mongering bigotry elsewhere – FOX could always use more viewers.

HATE speech to the rest of the civilized world is not Terrorism, hell it’s not even “hate speech” it’s just called an opinion. See, we sane people who can exercise self regulation know that words are harmless. They in and of themselves cannot do anything – they are intangible modes of conversation.

It is crazy, insane, or otherwise mentally compromised individuals that give words physical merits – such that they can influence or directly cause action. If you honestly believe a 3rd-party is responsible for the actions of an individual you can count yourself amongst the crazies. I most certainly will.

Paul Hobbs (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I don’t entirely agree with you here. Words can actually be very powerful – they may not pull a trigger, but the right words spoken by the right person can dramatically affect behaviour. There seems to be consensus that the shooter in Tucson was a nut job. But can you say the same thing about every soldier in the German army during WW2? Hitler was a master orator and was able to unite and galvanise a whole country to the extent that many thousands of people either carried out brutal acts of murder and torture, or they stood idly by and did nothing (or perhaps even silently cheered). Conversely, Churchill said things which inspired amazing acts of heroism and sacrifice (eg: Battle of Britain, D Day).

Ultimately we are all responsible for what we do (or choose not to do). However, to say that words have no influence over one’s actions is to underestimate the power of words.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Ultimately we are all responsible for what we do (or choose not to do). However, to say that words have no influence over one’s actions is to underestimate the power of words.”

First, I agree with your conclusion.

Second: Any day we get both the “Fire in a Theater” scenario and Nazi Germany mentioned in comments to the same blog post, then we know a good discussion is underway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Words are Harmless

This is why your First Amendment Right to Free Speech comes with limitations

Cash value 1/20th cent. Not redeemable for cash. Not usable in theatres, cinema houses or auditoriums. Not valid in all areas, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, or anywhere outside continental U.S. Other state laws may impose additional conditions. Intended only for the private use of our audience. Other descriptions or accounts of the game are prohibited without express consent. Available by prescription only. Seek immediate medical attention for an erection lasting longer than four hours. Consult your doctor to see if this product is right for you. See product insert for full details, additional restrictions and limitations.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Re:

OMG! Anti-Tea Partiers are loading their guns with the safeties off and putting them in their cars. Now I need to get a gun and do the same. When I go crazy and shoot people I will blame Purple Warp-Speed Anonymous Coward because he made me so afraid of Anti-Tea Party types I had to arm myself to feel safe.

/troll feeding

Paul Hobbs (profile) says:

Re: Re:

America is a wonderful and amazing country for many reasons, but there are times when I am soooo glad I don’t live there. You, sir, are a perfect example of what America needs more of:

1. people who draw completely irrational (and patently incorrect) conclusions about who is to “blame” for some event
2. people who constantly live in fear
3. people who have easy access to a gun
4. people who believe that carrying a gun somehow solves a problem

Overcast (profile) says:

Since when has outlawing free speech stopped a psycho?

Actually, it might make more of them. This ‘pressure’ on the people from government is likely the root cause of this whole situation – considering the targets.

Every time the ‘take away more rights’ answer comes up to a ‘problem’ – it starts making me wonder about the source of the original ‘problem’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, I feel someone should play devils advocate here…

“Those that make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable” -J.F.K.

The mentally disturbed are in less control of themselves, then of course they are going to be the first to react (over-react?)

Since we have lost control of our government long ago, it does not surprise me that someone was going to act out sooner or later.

“Lost control of our government? Mr. Anonymous Coward how could you say such a thing? We have elected officials, voting, checks and balances, etc, etc…”

An easy answer, (not the only one of course), is that laws are passed without consent of the people. Patriot Act comes to mind, so does Obamacare. I don’t wish to start a debate/ argument over these two peaces of law, I simply use them as an example of something that I did get a chance to vote for.

We’ve lost control folks. Pat yourselves on the back.

Prashanth (profile) says:

Before anyone jumps on me, I will say Sarah Palin was responsible, but only to the extent that J. D. Salinger was responsible for the attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life – i.e. not at all. Lunatics will always be lunatics, though I have a feeling that this guy did see that map with crosshairs and took it to mean that his plot to attack Giffords is “officially endorsed”. Again, that means Palin is not responsible for the attack per se. However, having watched part of her video response to her critics, I do find it sad that she can’t seem to comprehend the idea of toning down the speech a little (she believes those calls are just political attacks). Then again, she does thrive on strong (sometimes violent) rhetoric.

Anonymous Coward says:

Loons are loons, and they will do what loons do. You cannot control that.

However, loons don’t get idea beamed to them from little green men on mars, they get ideas by listening and reading public discourse on the issues of the day. Certain things resonate with them more, such as “setting things right” or “reclaiming America” or 1000 other things that might have triggered their logic.

Combine that with incredibly easy access to guns, insane public carry laws for guns in Arizona (yes, you can take your gun to school or the office). Guns are the answer for many people, and all this loon did was put 2 + 2 together and decide to “fix things”.

There is more than enough blame to go around, but certainly the level of public discourse, rhetoric, and venom involved in many of the discussions on the radio, TV, and the like are not helping. For someone with some issues on dealing with reality, these things are the grist for their mills, the energy that encourages them to do stupid things. Most of the time the stupid things are on the level of holding signs up in public or perhaps shouting insults at people in public areas. This dude took it to the next level and took out 6 people and wounded a dozen or so more.

Like it or not, he is a product of your society. Society must accept part of the blame. If the wingnuts on the radio can’t control themselves, perhaps it’s time to give them a time out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Like it or not, he is a product of your society. Society must accept part of the blame. If the wingnuts on the radio can’t control themselves, perhaps it’s time to give them a time out.

No, this asshole is the product of some gene that didn’t develop fully giving him the same rational that the rest of us exercise. As you stated – he is a loon – loons are fucking crazy – and there’s nothing you can do about that.

NullOp says:


To all of you who don’t already know, the government of this country is trying to find a way to nullify and/or rewrite the Constitution. The Constitution was written by men who had seen and lived under oppressive governments. Our current government does not want you to think in those terms. Today is the day of reinterpretation. We have to reinvent that which we don’t like and make it something we do like, e.g the Constitution. The government wants ALL the power. People like our sitting president, lower case intended, want the power to take everything from you, all your freedoms. Mostly they will do it in the name of “Safety”. Beware of line like “We are doing this for the public safety”. Don’t drink the Kool-aid!

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

For the two sides that maintain power yes. The problem is I dislike both sides so I side with neither. Each side has a few opinions I support, but I feel neither of them represents me well enough that I would vote for them on a regular basis.

My post was meant to point out the sad people who are very close minded and simply won’t ever realize that they may be wrong, and should at least revisit their views once in awhile no matter how much evidence stands against them just because they think you belong to the opposing group.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been accused of being a Democrat or a Republican for my view on [ random thing ]. I actually find being accused of either to be in bad taste because that just shows me that they are a very close minded person.

TheOldFart (profile) says:

Rant and ramble

First I have to disagree completely with your characterization of it as “…seems to involve petty name calling and ridiculous hyperbole…”. Inviting people to shoot machine guns at photos of their political opponent is not petty or ridiculous, it’s a serious call to violence.

Second, the sort of extremist speech we see is an effective tool. I’m going to touch several third rails here but I believe the only solution lies well outside the realm of laws restricting free speech. Only a change of political and religious leaders will reduce the senseless violence.

Fred Singer. He gave us the whack job argument that cigarettes don’t cause lung cancer because you can’t link smoking a specific cigarette to a specific individual getting lung cancer. Mountains of statistical evidence notwithstanding, tobacco companies are free to sell a deadly product because they have cover of “plausible deniability”.

Fred Singer. He gave us the whack job argument that because you can’t trace a specific weather event to human influence on climate, there is no human influence on climate. Mountains of evidence notwithstanding, big oil companies continue to receive generous federal subsidies with full cover in the form of “plausible deniability”

For decades now we’ve heard the Republican party allow its members to repeatedly and openly call doctors “baby killers” and “mass murderers”. Periodically one of the wild-eyed zealot followers picks up a bomb or a gun and commits murder. We get that same Fred Singer excuse – you can’t link their rhetoric directly to the zealot committing the crime, even though statistically it’s obvious that there are zero pro-choice activists killing people and there are dozens if not hundreds of anti-choice activists burning down clinics, killing doctors and nurses and screaming amplified versions of the same rhetoric that originated with/is endorsed by officials at the very highest levels of government.

So now we have an out of control element of American politics who thinks anyone and everyone who dares to disagree with them fair game for mock executions by machine gun, and we have political candidates who either tolerate it or endorse it. Even mainstream Republican presidential candidates had multiple incidents of people shouting out loud that their political rivals committed treason and should be killed.

Where have we heard it before? “You can’t trace my machine gunning portraits of my political rivals to some specific lunatic actually gunning down the person that I was only *pretending* to kill”

There is nothing wrong (from a first amendment perspective) with allowing people to picket the funerals and say that people should die and that a god wants those people to be killed. There will always be lunatics in the world, that’s a fact of life.

What’s wrong is the lack of any serious, sustained response by supposedly responsible political and religious leaders to stop the hate at the source.

Try the shoe is on the other foot. How many politicians of every stripe have blamed Muslim leaders for violence specifically because those governments/leaders allow fundamentalist hate speech to go unchecked?

What would the reaction of the tea baggers and Christian religious leaders be to a Muslim pointing his AK47 at a portrait of Sarah Palin as part of his election campaign?

They would of course, endorse the man for high public office, wouldn’t they?

US politicians and religious leaders have a standard response whenever they’re called on their own wink-wink nod-nod version of hate speech: “We don’t endorse that weed, we only planted the seeds and watered them a little bit whenever election time comes around. You can’t possibly blame us for it getting out of control in a few places”.

There is ample evidence that “plausible deniability” works well. It’s not free speech that’s the problem, it’s political and religious speech (or lack thereof) that’s the problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

?What I?d like to see is if we could all get together on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, and really talk about what we can do to cool down the country,? Slaughter said. ?Part of that has to be what they?re hearing over the airwaves.?

No, part of that is how much it costs to feed a family, heat our houses, fill our cars, watching our buying power dive into the toilet, etc, etc.

“hearing over the airwaves”
There you go, cant have an original thought, must have been told to them by the radio.

Jimr (profile) says:

You can not really understand the mind of an insane person

You can not really rationalize the though that drive an deranged person to act. Something triggered his out burst, and it could have easily been a bird flying to close to his head. To point is that crazy people do crazy things for crazy reasons. That is why they are crazy! Anything can set them off.

Joe Szilagyi (profile) says:

Easy solution: just this.

You know how if you use any violent imagery or rhetoric toward the President, you get the Secret Service knocking?

Expand the exact same level of protection to all 535 members of congress and all Federal judges, district to SCOTUS. Send out the FBI. Criminalize the same, which will not affect any legitimate political speech. Done.

Anonymous Coward says:

I have a question that is tangent to the topic –

Why are shooters of political figures predominantly identified in the media by 3 names?

Jared Lee Loughner
John Wilkes Booth
Lee Harvey Oswald
James Earl Ray
John Hinckley, Jr. (the Jr. probably threw them for a loop)

Any reason? I know there are exceptions (i.e. Sirhan Sirhan) but still…

Heath says:

words have power and meaning

I have been thinking about this whole mess for a few days now. While I agree and believe that there are just crazy people out there that don’t need a “reason” to do things like shoot innocent people, I do think that there is something to be said for the level of discord that this country has reached. Words do have meaning and power, would anyone really argue that they don’t? I mean if they didn’t things like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution would be meaningless right? They are just filled with words.

All through the history of the ages, words have meant something. While it’s debatable whether or not the shooter acted upon the “far right” message, what can’t be in question that there are people who “do” take this words to heart, on both sides.

We have almost forgotten what it’s like to have a true debate without it turning into a he said, she said, type of thing.

It’s time for both parties and the mainstream media and all of these pundits to realize that we are doing no good in behaving this way, we are destroying this country. And the sane rational people out there, are letting it happen…

TDR says:

It’s generally assumed the shooter was crazy, but perhaps he was one of the few who actually put into action what some of us only say in words – attempt to spark a revolution. Dunno, just thought I’d throw that out there. It would be good if our government was completely thrown down and restarted from scratch, to be honest, but I don’t know how that could be accomplished.

profallister says:

Well, it’s obvious that the violent rhetoric is exclusively the fault of the right. Back in the Bush years, the left maintained the height of class and eloquence in expressing distaste for Bush (e.g.: footage of the President with the subtitle “Snipers Wanted”). On the other hand, now that Obama’s in power, we have the right using such militarily oriented terms as “campaign,” “battleground state,” and “attack ad.” Clearly, an unprecedented uptick in violent imagery and inciting violence.

As for Loughner, he didn’t watch TV, listen to talk radio, of follow the news, as he considered them to be boring. Also, he first expressed animus toward Giffords after he pulled a TAM on her in 2007. 2007, you’ll remember, is when right wing hate speech was at its peak, especially regarding house members in Arizona.

Of course, these are all trivial points when you look at the real issue: Loughner played video games. Specifically, this indicates that he played a text-based empire management game. Last I checked, empires were built through conquest.

Therefore, Loughner’s actions can be traced to violent video games. Yet another reason we should work to ban these murder-porn simulators.

Jimmy The Geek (profile) says:

Maybe democrats are tired of getting death threats

And tired of having their propane tank lines cut and shots fired at them, and anthrax sent to them by American right wing nuts.

You have the right to swing your arms around all you like, unless you swing your arm into someones nose.

You have the right to say anything you like, unless you utter a death threat.

Penguin Pete (user link) says:

Not you too!

Never have I seen such mass, rushed, desperate denial over such a basic, obvious fact.

Jared Lee Loughner was politically motivated. He made YouTube videos ranting about his politics. He talked about his politics. He scared everyone who knew him with his politics. His favorite books were political. He ate, breathed, and slept politics.

The politics he chose to gravitate to were right-wing, hateful, and, well, as crazy as he is.

Do we deny that he was mentally insane? Of course not!

Are we suggesting that we burn all the books that were on his favorite list? No!

Are we proposing a limit of the right to free speech just because of one nut? If you believe that, you have conspiracy theories to rival Jared Lee Loughner!

But when you start out denying “Oooooh no, he wasn’t part of our camp! No, he had NOTHING TO DO with politics!” – you become afflicted with a psychological malady we like to refer to as “being full of shit”.

Now, look at John Lennon’s killer. He had “Catcher in the Rye”, pulled it out and read it over Lennon’s dead body. It was his bible. Nobody is suggesting that it was J. D. Salinger’s fault that Lennon got shot.

Nobody is suggesting that it’s Sarah Palin’s fault (or Rush Limbaugh’s, or Glenn Beck’s fault) that Jared Lee Loughner went on his rampage. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking that when Palin, Limbaugh, or Beck heard the news, that their eyes might have flickered with a twinkle for a minute when they heard about the main target before they put on their media face. Doesn’t mean I’m right, but you have to admit that Palin, Limbaugh, and Beck have done everything they can to make me not put it past them.

As a content producer (I write, draw graphic art, and make software) I try to be responsible for what I put out in the public. There have been ideas I’ve had that I discarded specifically because I don’t want to put ideas into the head of some nut who would not be responsible with them.

No, I do not want a legal requirement to censor myself. Legally, we must have complete freedom. But MORALLY – is that word extinct, or what? – MORALLY, I have a responsibility to society to not create an atmosphere conductive to hate.

It is this morality that is lacking in some political media. That’s all anybody’s trying to say.

Jay says:

Something I would like to point out

You have the right to say whatever you want to say in the US. When we pass laws against free speech, that is censorship.

But please be aware that although you can say anything you want, you have to own up to the consequences (good or bad) of your actions. I honestly think that’s why our political system is so frustrating. Congress gets immunity to do whatever they want within reason and it hurts us in a negative manner.

Still, if you’re a citizen in the US, sometimes, it’s best to keep your mouth shut.

I’ll stay out of the left/right debate, merely noting that there isn’t much differentiating between the two party system. Quite frankly, if we want our political system to work, we need all new parties and election procedures.

Anonymous Coward says:

So right wing politicos are responsible for the majority of “hate” speech in the media? Have you forgotten GWB? How often do liberals call the GOP supporters stupid? Bill (I forgot his last name but he was on Leno last night) went on a rant of how right wing hate speech vastly outnumbers left wing hates speech. Right after that he said how he hates Newt Gingrich.

Lets bring up gun control too (Bill did on Leno, think his last name is Mauer or something.) Lets ignore the fact that guns are easy to get in Arizona but hard to get in New York and New Jersey. Lets compare shootings in Arizona to New York City or Camden or Newark. Bet there are more in one city in NJ than in the state of Arizona.

To call this wack job in Arizona a right winger is just a joke. He was a nut that followed no normal political thought. To try to blame it on a political party is just the lowest form of politics I can imagine.

Sidewinder says:

Re: Left wing hate speech

1) Yes – right-wing politicos ARE responsible for the majority of hate speech in the media – the VAST majority of it.

I’ll not deny that there were plenty of Left wing insults, mockery & just plain hate speech thrown at Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez & the rest of that gang of thieves by common folks, but prominent Democrats of the sort that get in the media were pretty mild in their criticism. (Perhaps you feel differently because you are unusually sensitive. Cite me some examples & we can discuss this further.)

History will judge the “loyal Bushies” to have been the most corrupt administration since Harding & it is a crying shame that Obama did not choose to prosecute them. They **deserve** the opprobrium of the people of this country. If I have any complaint about the Obama administration, it is that they hew too closely to the corporatist policies of Bush/Cheney.

2) More shooting in New York/New Jersey than Arizona?

For 2006 at least, the murder rate was 7.5 per 100,000 in Arizona, 4.9 per 100,000 in New Jersey, & 4.8 per 100,000 in New York.

3) With regard to the deranged Mr Loughner – if he had shot Jan Brewer & wasn’t a gold-backed currency freak (Beck influence), then you might be able to make a case that he wasn’t influenced by the right-wing cult of violence & paranoia – but, hey, he shot a Democrat, albeit a conservative Democrat.

4) You say “To try to blame it on a political party is just the lowest form of politics I can imagine.”

Really? The “lowest form of politics”? No, I think inciting the population to paranoia, delusion & rage is the “lowest form of politics”.

And I think that statement of yours is a pretty low form of politics too.

Sidewinder says:

Re: Re: Re: Left wing hate speech

And yet, for every 100,000 people, 7.5 wind up dead in Red, White & Blue Arizona, but a little less than 5 do in much more populous, crowded & stressfull bastion of left-wing horror that is New Jersey. (Ever been to the Meadowlands? It’s a hellhole – lot worse than the opening of the Sopranos makes it out to be.)

Hardly twisting a point – making a point is more like it.

Here’s another point:

“I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready,” he explained on Fox and Friends. “I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this.” Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. “And that’s who I at first thought was the shooter,” Zamudio recalled. “I told him to ‘Drop it, drop it!’ “

But the man with the gun wasn’t the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. “Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess,” the interviewer pointed out.

Zamudio agreed:

I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. Two, maybe three seconds between when I came through the doorway and when I was laying on top of [the real shooter], holding him down. So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. ? I was really lucky.

The Arizona Daily Star, based on its interview with Zamudio, adds two details to the story. First, upon seeing the man with the gun, Zamudio “grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall” before realizing he wasn’t the shooter. And second, one reason why Zamudio didn’t pull out his own weapon was that “he didn’t want to be confused as a second gunman.”

This is a much more dangerous picture than has generally been reported. Zamudio had released his safety and was poised to fire when he saw what he thought was the killer still holding his weapon. Zamudio had a split second to decide whether to shoot. He was sufficiently convinced of the killer’s identity to shove the man into a wall. But Zamudio didn’t use his gun. That’s how close he came to killing an innocent man. He was, as he acknowledges, “very lucky.”

That’s what happens when you run with a firearm to a scene of bloody havoc. In the chaos and pressure of the moment, you can shoot the wrong person. Or, by drawing your weapon, you can become the wrong person?a hero mistaken for a second gunman by another would-be hero with a gun. Bang, you’re dead. Or worse, bang bang bang bang bang: a firefight among several armed, confused, and innocent people in a crowd. It happens even among trained soldiers. Among civilians, the risk is that much greater. “

Get the point?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Okay some interesting stuff ....

“So far, almost everything said has suggested that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, was an immensely troubled individual, whose views were all over the map, rather than tied to any particular prevailing viewpoint.”

Schizophrenia is a disease that does happen at different times in peoples lives. Some people are born with it some people it comes on later in life. From what I have read of this this guys writings in 2006-2007 Jared Lee Loughner began acting differently. Which was more than likely the onset of the disease.

Now to start a war of words 😉 … perhaps it was obamanomics that caused this event. I mean the guy tried to get a job 30 times or so. Or maybe it was the fact that he couldn’t get laid like all those crazy muslims. Or maybe it was sarah palins maps targeting democrats.

Endless speculation about what triggers a psychotic individual doesn’t work.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Okay some interesting stuff ....

I’m no expert on the American political scene, but what I’ve seen so far has been very revealing. One side of the political scene had regularly and consistently used violent imagery that included the approval of using violent retribution if the elections didn’t go their way.

Now, much of that was clearly rhetoric and people will claim that’s not to be taken seriously. But, the weight of evidence, from Palin’s “crosshair” graphic to the “second amendment solutions” comments points toward a political scene that approves of violence. It’s a poisonous and atrocious viewpoint that people have been pathetically trying to distract from or ignore rather than apologise for or address.

I’m not saying that Palin or anybody else on “her side” was directly responsible for this guy’s actions. He was clearly mentally disturbed and held extremist positions from all sides of the political arena. But, to pretend that the toxic and violent rhetoric that’s been coming from these people wasn’t a factor is just plain ignorance.

wayout says:

If the symbols on a map were enough to cause someone to go out and shoot someone, then folks we have much bigger issues with society at large. Issues that more laws are not going to fix, regardless ofthe intent. And to be honest I am surprised it hasnt happened sooner. Look at the last couple of years, has not congress pretty much done what it wanted without regards to what its constituents wanted..(i.e. we know whats best for you). And unfortunately there are those who dont know how to handle it when someone doesnt want to listen to those who put them in office….Look at what happened at some of the town hall meetings when they were trying to sell the healthcare bill to the public..The anger was there then…

And as far as guns are concerned..had the idiot used a car and just run over people would some you now be calling for limiting vehicle use, or outlawing cars….I wonder what the discussion would be then

Anonymous Coward says:

For 2006 at least, the murder rate was 7.5 per 100,000 in Arizona, 4.9 per 100,000 in New Jersey, & 4.8 per 100,000 in New York.

Sidewinder, explain the fact that Camden is the 2nd most dangerous city in America? Used to be #1 but lost out this year to St. Louis. With police layoffs, probably make it back to the top spot.

My friend is a cop and he doesn’t like to go to Camden.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Camden - we're #2

Why don’t **you** explain to me why there are more murders per capita in Arizona that in over-crowded, financially depressed, polluted New Jersey.

I’ll answer your question with a question. Why do you think Arizona is passing laws to curtail illegal immigrants? Mexican immigrants in particular. Mexico having a small problem with drugs and violence of their own right now.

Get the point?

Sidewinder says:

Re: Re: Re: Camden - we're #2

So, you’re insinuating that the high per capita murder rate is the result of Mexican drug murders on American soil, but you don’t offer any evidence.

So please bring me numbers – surely the local media must be overflowing with stories. The aptly named Fox affiliate KGUN must be livid with outrage that Murdoch’s national network is showing such liberal bias.

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