Be sure to watch this interview with Al Gore. I’ll be writing on this soon.
Both Violet and myiq2xu have posts up pointing out that the shooter in yesterday’s tragic events is likely mentally disturbed and may have not been inspired by the increasingly violent rhetoric coming from the right.
I am one of those who made such a connection. However, upon examination of his videos, it is pretty clear that this guy was emotionally disturbed. Having had some up close dealings with it, his fixations and paranoia make me think he is likely schizophrenic, though I am not at all qualifed to make that diagnosis. No doubt we will learn much more about him in coming days.
And let’s be very clear that the vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent towards others, and in fact, are more likely to be the victims of violence rather than perpetrators.
Whether he was inspired by the likes of people like Sarah Palin or Sharron Angle, et al, remains to be seen. I rather doubt it.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have a problem in this country.
Whether or not Palin or Angle or anyone’s words provided justification for Jared Loughner, the violent words that many use to demonize their political opponents and rally their supporters has to stop. If that language had not been out there, if we had not heard phrases like, “Don’t retreat! Reload!“, or seen maps with crosshairs with the words “Time to Take a Stand” on them, or been witness to abortion clinic bombings and killings, heard diatribe after diatribe by rightwing radio hosts and authors pushing the idea that liberals or progressives should be “eliminated,” or gazed upon “Wanted Posters” with targeting abortion providers or web sites which, as early as 1999, posted abortion doctors’ home addresses, can anyone really blame us for immediately thinking that this guy, who specifically went to a political event and shot a Democratic Congresswoman in the head at point blank range, might have been one of those crazies inspired by that inflammatory language? Maybe if all that rhetoric had not preceded this, we may not have jumped to the conclusions we did.
What could ever have given us that idea?
The full 20 minute video and transcript is here.
I have no doubt that such language is responsible for Dr. Tiller’s assassination, and for the likes of domestic terrorists and murderers Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh, James von Brunn, Richard Poplawski, or the wanna-be terrorist headed for the Tides Foundation who was inspired by Glenn Beck’s conspiracy mongering and us-or-them language.
This is not to say that I find our side completely without blame. I’ve heard the some of the same sort of language coming from people on our side of the politial spectrum. Just yesterday, one of my so-called ‘liberal’ Facebook friends expressed an interest in putting a bag over Sarah Palin’s head and, as he put it, “pumping some rounds into her.” Needless to say, he is no longer my friend.
It’s just that I’ve never heard anything comparable from Progressive Talk Radio. Ever. And I’m not seeing a whole lot of shootings or bombings coming from the Left. Stupid language, yes. Violence? No.
Which brings me to Keith Olbermann.
As many of you know, I used to love me some Keith Olbermann, until his misogyny started to grate and finally, his out and out war on Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primaries led me to finally tune out, never to watch again. Still. He is correct here (video and transcript), and as for me, apology accepted. Go and sin no more.
Because tonight, what Mrs. Palin, and what Mr. Kelly, and what Congressman West, and what Ms. Angle, and what Mr. Beck, and what Mr. O’Reilly, and what you and I must understand, was that the man who fired today did not fire at a Democratic Congresswoman and her supporters.
He was not just a mad-man incited by a thousand daily temptations by slightly less-mad-men to do things they would not rationally condone.
He fired today into our liberty and our rights to live and to agree or disagree in safety and in freedom from fear that our support or opposition will cost us our lives or our health or our sense of safety. The bullseye might just as well have been on Mrs. Palin, or Mr. Kelly, or you, or me. The wrong, the horror, would have been – could still be just as real and just as unacceptable.
At a time of such urgency and impact, we as Americans – conservative or liberal – should pour our hearts and souls into politics. We should not – none of us, not Gabby Giffords and not any Conservative – ever have to pour our blood. And every politician and commentator who hints otherwise, or worse still stays silent now, should have no place in our political system, and should be denied that place, not by violence, but by being shunned and ignored.
What is frustrating about this whole Palin-Letterman brouhaha is that there are so many people that want to make this Just About Sarah. It’s not. It is about all women. Just so you know, we women can stick up for ourselves. Sarah can handle herself, and she’s proven it over and over again. But yeah, we need you guys to have our backs too, just like Somerby does below. We need to know that you guys “get it.”
Somerby on Olbermann, Palin, Letterman and sexual politics:
That same day, we had posted a fairly obvious comment, one we’ll amplify now. Most American liberals have very refined senses of “racial politics” (that’s good). Most people understand: There are painful, ugly ancestral insults which simply can’t be tolerated.
That’s good! But when it comes to “sexual politics,” many folk lack the first earthly clue. (Truly, it’s quite remarkable.) Olbermann and Letterman keep raising their hands to let Teacher know that they qualify.
Olbermann has been comically awful in this realm for years. No one loves insulting and ridiculing women—preferably, young women—quite the way this multimillionaire does. For our money, he maintained the cluelessness Wednesday night, even as he tried to showcase his lofty, high-minded good judgment.
Asked about the quip on a radio show, Palin, maintaining good humor, had pretended to scold: “Pretty pathetic, David Letterman!” Might we say what is blindingly obvious? For once in her year-long national life, Palin had something right! But how does Ole Massah respond to such matters? Olbermann played tape of her comment, then (Howard) sternly opined:
OLBERMANN (6/10/09): That is pretty much a tin-ear response from the governor. But frankly, was the word “slutty” really needed, let alone appropriate?
Too perfect! According to Ole Massah, it’s a “tin-ear response” when Palin speaks up, even in a good-natured tone. But it’s A-OK when Ole Massah himself instantly states the same judgment! But then, boys like Olbermann have behaved this way all through the annals of time. In their heads, the little ladies simply mustn’t complain. We Big Men will do all the talking.
How empty is this show’s “sexual politics?” Soon, Crawford was teaching the ABCs of gender insult to his slow-as-molasses host. Poor KO! Puzzling hard about which words are fair, he asked the world’s dumbest question:
OLBERMANN: The joke about the governor, which [Letterman] did not address apparently—we only had these excerpts from his taping tonight: Is it in fact appropriate to use that one word, “slutty,” in any joke about a woman politician, or should that be out of bounds?
CRAWFORD: I think it’s probably out of bounds. The global language monitor today—we learned the English language now has one million words. So there were maybe some others to choose, or maybe leave it out all together. Of course, it’s also an insult to flight attendants.
Poor Craig had to tell our slowest boy that no, you can’t call women “slutty.” (Correcting Craig, who was probably trying to be polite: Since the whole point of the “joke” was to call Palin slutty, there really was no “other word” Letterman could have chosen.)
All this said, do you see what we meant in Wednesday’s post about the lack of any sexual politics? By now, everyone knows that people simply can’t toss racial insults around. Everyone knows what those words would be; for obvious reasons, liberals are quick to reject them. But Olbermann, dumb as a very cold rock, still doesn’t know about gender-based insults. Is “slutty” a word we can use? He wondered, on Wednesday night’s program.
Why I have absolutely no regrets about not watching Olbermann any more. I just couldn’t stomach it any longer.
What would make a grown man conjure such a ludicrous notion? To state what must be blindingly obvious, Newt Gingrich has not proposed “paying teenage girls to have sex,” the formulation with which Olbermann pleasured himself, just one night after feeling forced to discuss that “unwed (teen) mother.” For ourselves, we’re underwhelmed by Gingrich’s actual “plan,” which is described in this AP report. But what could possibly make someone think that it involves “teen prostitution?” (Answer: The desire to talk about teen prostitution!) Finally, the host explained, as he named his “worst person:”
OLBERMANN (3/12/09): But our winner, Newt Gingrich. He wants health reform in this country and he knows how to get it: Pay for it. Not pay for doctors or medicine or hospital, but pay people to do healthy things. Pay poor people money not to smoke, pay teenage girls money not to get pregnant. Wait a minute—paying teenage girls to not get pregnant while having sex. There is a flaw in that logic somewhere. What could it be? Oh yes! Legally, that would be government-sponsored child prostitution. Newt “bordello brain” Gingrich, today’s worst person in the world!
By now, Gingrich was recommending child prostitution, a formerly serious topic. But speaking of “bordello brains,” what could have made this kooky man think that Gingrich had proposed “paying teenage girls to not get pregnant while having sex?” (Our emphasis.) At this moment, it became clear: Olbermann is the biggest gender-nut in the world. He wants to talk about teens having sex. And he’ll find ways to do it.
By the way: Those thoughts about that unwed mother weren’t the only such thoughts crowding Olbermann’s brain Wednesday night. In the second half of that evening’s program, he treated viewers to a truly impressive array of dirty-boy obsessions. The gentleman managed to conjure a way to return to Bill O’Reilly’s “hookers.” And who could stop him from extending the thought to his fellow nut-case, David Vitter?
A bit of background: For at least a decade, MSNBC has been the network of gender-nuts and -obsessives. For years, Chris Matthews carried the banner (with occasional help), insulting and ridiculing liberal women and trashing Hillary Clinton for her deeply unseemly “ambition.” Here’s Matthews in December 1999, describing the lady’s vile prior conduct: “She said, I’m going to give you universal coverage. I want to give every man who gets into this country, legally or illegally, free health care, and they’re going to have to thank me for it, and bring flowers to me like I’m Evita.” In other words, this guy’s a stone nut.
But by 2007, Matthews had help. Every evening, Olbermann was banging away at the world’s young blondes, and a string of empty lads (of all ages) were banging away at Clinton. And good grief! Within the last year, Morning Joe has been consumed by a weird strain of Archie Bunkerism, with imagery straight from Valley of the Dolls. Co-host Mika Brzezinski expounds each day on the way “mommy” is strung out on her mood-enhancers, as the male panelists chortle and play. In recent weeks, male panelists have stopped ridiculing Brzezinski for her laughable clothing and jewelry, but that had been a regular part of the program’s big fun too. Scarborough himself is often visibly angered by Brzezinski’s exceptionally dumb, stupid conduct. It’s like Austin Powers is producing this show, so much does it take the viewer into a gender time-warp.
In TV news, this occurs nowhere else. It dominates at MSNBC—has done so for years. But now, after years of searching, this remarkably kooky network has found the world’s biggest gender-nut. It’s astounding to see this kind of conduct enacted in the name of “liberalism.”