“David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009.”—
Val Kalende, chairwoman of one of Uganda’s gay rights groups, on the death of David Kato
David Kato, in 2010
Here in the US, calling opponents “evil” has become a common part of using extreme rhetoric to gain attention, a way to push the Overton window further to the right. It’s irresponsible speech here. Doing this in a country where the group one is calling evil is already extremely marginalized is much more irresponsible.
The Americans involved claim they had no intention of provoking a violent reaction, which suggests that they must be lying, or as dumb as a bag of hammers. Either way, they share in the responsibility for this man’s death and the ongoing repression and violence occurring there.
“…when somebody gives a kidney, we applaud that person as the most altruistic of human beings. But women give their bodies every day to a fetus to bring it into the world. And every pregnancy carries with it the risk of death. Pregnancy is normal. Having babies is normal. It’s natural. It’s no big deal that women do this. It is a big deal that women give their bodies to bringing new life into the world.”—Frances Kissling
“There’s an even more astonishing possibility. The closest living relatives of birds, dinosaurs, and pterosaurs are crocodilians. Although these scaly beasts obviously do not have feathers today, the discovery of the same gene in alligators that is involved in building feathers in birds suggests that perhaps their ancestors did, 250 million years ago, before the lineages diverged. So perhaps the question to ask, say some scientists, is not how birds got their feathers, but how alligators lost theirs.”
…it is a very natural thing that weak and vicious minds should be inflamed to acts of violence by the kind of awful mendacity and abuse that have been heaped upon me for the last three months by the papers in the interest of not only Mr. Debs but of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Taft.
Friends, I will disown and repudiate any man of my party who attacks with such foul slander and abuse any opponent of any other party; and now I wish to say seriously to all the daily newspapers, to the Republicans, the Democrat, and Socialist parties, that they cannot, month in month out and year in and year out, make the kind of untruthful, of bitter assault that they have made and not expect that brutal, violent natures, or brutal and violent characters, especially when the brutality is accompanied by a not very strong mind; they cannot expect that such natures will be unaffected by it.
I do think political discourse played a part in the shooting (and that both sides categorically do not engage in the same levels of violent speech), but Katherine Stone is absolutely right about the dire state of our country’s mental health system.
"…The last boom coincided with a loosening—some would say abandonment—of architectural propriety. Building booms often encourage excess—think of the Gilded Age—but this time large budgets, a celebrity architectural culture, and computer-aided design combined to produce a spate of distinctly odd buildings, such as Santiago Calatrava’s twisting apartment tower in Malmö, Sweden, and Frank Gehry’s apocalyptic Stata Center at MIT…"
Turns out they were printed up by the University. Wingers are probably just upset about “together we thrive” being printed on them. If they’d said “separate and angry all the time we thrive” that would’ve been cool.
I’d be interested to know if someone could find ONE instance of leftwing violence in the past few years that approaches this long list from the last two. And no, Obama quoting the Untouchables doesn’t get there.
It seems it would be appropriate to take a look at the effects of violent political rhetoric and propaganda in other countries as well. There is a different set of historical baggage in each case, but we as Americans are not so unique for that to be irrelevant.
There are many many cases of political violence in other gun-filled countries that also follow demonization of public figures.
Pretending that people here have a different ability to be influenced, especially the mentally disturbed, simply because we don’t consider ourselves to be a third-world nation appears to me to be a sort if willful blindness to how humans everywhere react and overreact.
Our current wave of demonization by constant propaganda has recent precedents all over the world, I’m aware of none that have ended prettily.
Most all of us are grownups and can handle extreme argument, but clearly some people are not, and obviously I’m not just talking about Jared Loughner.
To see that, all you have to do is attend almost any family gathering, where once-loving relationships have been completely lost because of the overheated right-left culture war. If real family relationships are being lost to this kind of political debate, if someone on TV can reach into your living room and break up your family without knowing anything about you or even knowing that you exist, that tells us that this mechanized mass-media rhetoric has been almost unimaginably successful at dehumanizing whole classes of people.
The point of Sheriff Dupnik’s criticism, as I understood it, was that hatred and vitriol expressed by prominent people has a danger of inciting mentally ill people to violence.
Whether it’s Loughner; Shelly Shannon and Scott Roeder; Michael Griffin; Eric Rudolph; Richard Poplawski; Gordon Kahl; Joseph Stack; Tharin Gartrell, Nathan Johnson and Shawn Adolf; Charles Polk; Willie & Cecilia Lampley; Joseph Bailie & Ellis Hurst; Peter Langan; Troy Spain; Todd Vanbiber; Bradley Glover; Jack Grebe Jr & Johnnie Wise; James Kopp; Buford Furow; Benjamin Nathaniel Smith; Richard Baumhammer; Sean Gillespie; Wade and Christopher Lay; Daniel Cowart & Paul Schlesselman; Keith Luke; Joshua Cartwright; James Von Brunn; Shawna Forde; or Dennis and Daniel Mahon, his point stands.
Their politics usually don’t line up perfectly with mainstream parties, but they are all fairly recent examples of disturbed individuals who killed specific people or members of groups that had been relentlessly attacked by media figures. Conservatives can and should be defensive about this: not because the shooters were Republicans, but because it is conservative leaders calling for violence.
There are crazy people in this country and prominent people have no excuse not to expect that incendiary speech will motivate some of them. Lewis and Giffords were right when they called it “playing with fire,” and Dupnik is right to call for more responsible speech.