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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Arizona: Sick, political or both?

Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik said he wouldn't have much to say at the press conference regarding the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) and 17 others. Then the 30-year sheriff for the Tucson area unloaded.

Dupnik said it was ridiculous to think that "unstable" individuals like the suspected shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, weren't influenced by the vitriolic rhetoric on talk radio and television. He said unstable individuals could be "more susceptible" than others to hate speech.

Dupnik said he feared that Arizona had "become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry." He later added: "I think we need to do a little soul searching as a country."

Although he said Loughner's motivations remained unknown, the plain-talking sheriff made it clear he thought heated anti-government speech on radio and TV was not helping. Some might "poo poo" that notion, including "those who make a living off of doing it," Dupnik said, before concluding his press conference on this note: “That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences."

The effect of heated commentary in the media became an issue last year when a Northern California man engaged in a gunbattle with the California Highway Patrol.

Byron Williams, 45, reportedly had been on his way last summer to target individuals at the liberal nonprofit group the Tides Foundation and the ACLU when he engaged in the shootout with Highway Patrol officers, according to authorities in Oakland.

The Tides Foundation had been attacked in the media, particularly by Fox News host Glenn Beck. Williams' mother talked about how he had decided to act after he learned on television "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items."

Observers will jump to conclusions about Loughner's motivations based on their political dispositions, but it's wise in these tragic cases to wait until more evidence is in  before trying to draw conclusions about motivations. Even when all the evidence is in, it's difficult to precisely weigh the various influences that prod a sick mind to turn bad thoughts into worse actions.

-- James Rainey


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When Glen Beck was a dj, he called a competitor's wife who had recently suffered a miscarriage. He harassed her about it. Rush Limbaugh made cracks about Chelsey Clinton when she was a preteen. These people are not honorable or ethical and why anyone would pay them attention at all is beyond me.

Why is it that whenever a fanatic and mentally ill person does something horrible that so many people want to broad brushstroke another group and assign the blame to either some political party or big business, or a lobby? There are 305 million people in America and 99.99% of them are not assaulting our political leaders, nor are they bombing abortion clinics, committing acts of terror, or threatening other people.

The person who committed this horrible act should receive the harshest penalty the law allows but we should not be so quick to blame the lack of proper political discourse for causing these heinous murders. It is not the fault of any party, any group, or any lobby why this horrible event happened. Whenever something terrible happens we either blame it on the gun lobby, big corporations, some cable news show, or a political party. In a country of more than three hundred million people, no matter how civil our discourse is with each other we cannot and will never be able to prevent deranged individuals from harming innocent people. Instead of blaming others we need to blame the deranged person who committed this awful act.

Already, leftists Paul Krugman and Jane Fonda blame the shootings on Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. Krugman and Fonda, hacks of the worst kind, always knee-jerk into this kind of bilge.

Well at least Rainey didn't immediately blame Sarah Palin as two of the three "mainstream" networks did. This guy was a sick individual, and none of us, conservatives nor liberals, condone such actions.


He picked HER out, not just any random group of people at any random shopping center. He had deluded anti-goverment (incuding anti-immigrant) views. I'd be willing to bet money that he'd seen Sarah Palin's "crosshairs" maps and knew she was on it, and had seen the news video of those clowns toting assault weapons near where the President visiting in Arizona, and maybe even knew that Sheriff Joe had campaigned for Second Amendment Remedies Sharron Angle.

Sure, it looks like she was broadly just a symbolic political target for his Arthur Bremer-ish Blaze-of-Glory Moment rather than someone he wanted to kill because he hated her acutely.

But, it was "both."

I don't expect the hate or the heated arguments to stop, but one thing that political leaders like Palin and media pundits like Limbaugh and those on Fox news can do is never imply violence is okay through hints like second amendment remedies might be needed or take aim or don't retreat, reload (Palin's). Political arguments are resolved with votes not guns. This kid was mentally ill, and he may not have been political, but he was picking up anti-government rhetoric from the Tea Party and talk radio because he talked about the Gold Standard, a favorite of Glen Beck. He was listening... and others might be listening.... and he fed his paranoia and justified his actions perhaps by this tacit approval of violence as the solution that is going on. Stop the culture of violence in the political talk... it is not illegal but it is immoral.

One of the things the Tides Foundation does is support the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Oh, yeah, sure, maintaining a garden in memory of those who died of AIDS sure is a "left-wing agenda item," as was Congress declaring the Grove a National Memorial. I had just watched the Pima County Sheriff on CNN before I read your article. Thank you for writing about the man who threatened them, Mr. Rainey.

It figures that those on the left...that is the media... would seize this opportunity to focus on those from the right who exercise their rights to disagree with the left's chosen one, and his policies....yet they all conveniently forget :

"You're damn right; Dick Cheney's heart's a political football. We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him." -Ed Schultz, MSNBC and radio host.


"When you look at the way the (then-Republican-controlled) House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation. And you know what I'm talking about." -then-Sen. Hillary Clinton

Aren't these examples of political hate speech, and the politics of personal destruction?

Why didn't the media didn't connect the film, the Assassination of George Bush to any threats against the President? Why didn't they call that hateful and dangerous? Where was the media outrage and hand wringing then?Why is it that it is only hateful and dangerous when a Conservative mouths it?

This kid is a nut job, plain and simple...I read his youtube stuff...he didn't need any political vitriol to lose it..he was a problem looking for a place to happen..this is a mental health issue, not a political issue

It was President Obama who said in Philadelphia, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we'll bring a gun."

It was Obama who labeled opponents to his legislation as "enemies" who need to be "punished."

When the leader of the Democratic party invokes images of violence, it's okay.

Sick people with access to assault rifles is enough to direct responsibility to those who are so utterly dogmatic - beyond common sense - about "the second amendment". From the small window to the young suspects rantings on YouTube, it may be more clear that he has mental illness issues than a political agenda. But what little of a politics can be gleened, it is certainly not a "liberal" agenda he expounds. It will be very very difficult to believe the "fear and hate ones opponents" rhetoric did not contribute to this tragedy, including such specific recent ominous statements as "(we may have to) resort to second amendment remedies", as voiced not by an anonymous blogger but by Republican Party candidate for the US Senate Sharron Angle... as well as former Gov. Sarah Palin's now infamous "in the crosshairs" map which included Rep. Giffords.

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