Sadly ironic

January 9, 2011 • 1:10 pm

This is a real statement by Congresswoman Giffords, made last March:

I don’t place this at Palin’s door, not yet and never wholly.  Still, Palin’s Facebook statement after the shooting  (this might also have been released elsewhere) could have included something more explicit decrying violence against politicians or politically inspired violence:

My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona.  On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.

It’s lame, lame, lame.  Since she’s been associated in people’s minds with the tragedy, it might have been appropriate to add, “Such crimes, and such violent attacks on public figures, can never be justified, and I condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”

Compare what Palin said with Obama’s statement after the shooting:

This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tucson, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded.

We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers.

61 thoughts on “Sadly ironic

  1. i guess if she -mrs. palin- is president- and can still see russia from alaska,she can publish pictures of moscow in the cross-hairs…and not expect the russians to place palin in their crosshairs.

    1. Right, whatever we do, let’s not use the attack on a politician at a political event to discuss the completely unrelated topic of politics.

        1. One has every right to investigate whether the cause of this attack was “political.” From the NY Times online, one gathers that the attach was premeditated.

          He should have just shot himself.

          1. Amazing that I always invoke such passionate angry responses whenever I comment on this blog. I loved the book, I even like the blog, but the commentators…not such much. Heartless, know-it-all, self-righteous pricks the lot of you. A little humility and good natured friendliness entirely a rare thing around here. Group think? Rampant. It’s like all the worst posters from reddit are comment squatting around here.

            1. Hmm. You go from “Let’s not use this tragedy to talk about politics” to “I’m sure everyone involved would like to thank you for your sense of humor right now.” to “Heartless, know-it-all, self-righteous pricks the lot of you”

              Quite an escalation track. As Ray Moscow says, “It could just be you”.

        2. No that’s not humor, that’s irony. Dreadful true-to-life irony. Maybe you don’t appreciate it, but the whole messy situation is steeped in politics and if you cannot see that then you are fooling yourself.

  2. Even if it turns out that this lunatic was a huge Glenn Beck fan, I don’t think it’s appropriate to blame the tea party for this. Crazy, violent people will do crazy, violent things: if it wasn’t some weird ‘currency’ fixation, maybe a Katy Perry song would’ve done it.

    If anything should be learned from this incident, it should be the following 3 things:

    1) automatic weapons are way to easy to get a hold of in the U.S.
    2) We need better mental health services in this country.
    3) American students shouldn’t be able to leave high school without some training in psychology and critical thinking: If more members of our society were able to reason clearly, maybe fewer folks would be willing to offer up these ready-made John Birch fantasies for the mentally ill in our society to cling onto, and maybe there would be fewer folks out there ready to buy into them.

    1. excellent concise analysis of root issues- access to weapons, mental health benefits and access-not withstanding the constitutional right to refuse rx-educational improvements–good thing none of these involve political intervention-but i forgot we shouldn’t talk politics-need a new censor.

    2. Sadly, critical thinking classes in public American high schools are a fantasy. We are having a hard enough time just keeping the literacy rate high. We don’t have enough funding for things like history and science, never mind philosophy. In-particular, if knowledge can’t be taught from a checklist and success can’t be measured on a multiple-choice test, they’re not interested.

      1. From my experience, teachers are making a reasonable effort to inculcate “critical thinking” skills in students. But there are way too many willfully uncurious students who would rather keep their noses stuck in their cell phones. Student behavior is the 800-pound gorilla in the classroom.

        1. Not behavior, accountability. When the teacher is the only one who cares about learning, and the parents and administrators only care about grades and test scores,the kids know with perfect certainty that if they sit there and act stupid long enough, somebody will hand them a diploma.

    3. Even if it turns out that this lunatic was a huge Glenn Beck fan, I don’t think it’s appropriate to blame the tea party for this. Crazy, violent people will do crazy, violent things…

      But if Glenn Beck and the tea party make a point of courting crazy, violent people and giving them targets to rage against, why shouldn’t we hold them accountable for the consequences?

      1. I agree that they have moral accountability–only a profoundly ignorant or crazy person wouldn’t realize that much of the tea party rhetoric incites paranoia, nativism, and potentially dangerous reactivity–I just don’t think they should be legally responsible. If we want free speech, we have to allow for unpleasant speech. The key is to be proactive, and institute some of the other things I suggested in my comment: skepticism, psychological understanding, limited access to assault weapons, etc. A smarter nation wouldn’t be as subject to conspiracy theories.

        1. The right to free speech does NOT extend to incitement to violence. And actions such as publishing a map with the locations of opponents marked by gunsights unmistakeably constitute incitement to violence. (I’ll except the special case of reasoned debate about where the boundaries of free speech lie – but the tea party couldn’t even recognise reasoned debate, let alone take part in it.) This is true whatever the motivations of this particular gunman may turn out to be.

            1. Well it’s pretty obvious they were metaphorical. No argument there. But it was a poor metaphor to use. I would think there are a lot of politicians who never would have allowed that kind of imagery to go out with their name on it.

      2. There is precedent in the United States for prosecuting people who incite violence and hate speech (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire U.S Supreme Court Decision in 1942). Not all speech is protected by the First Amendment and if you are publicly calling people to violence then there should be some accountability when violence occurs. Perhaps this particular guy never heard Sarah Palin’s call to arms or perhaps he did but she certainly doesn’t seem to care whether she might have had some culpability in this at all. Whereas Keith Olberman immediately admitted that he once said something that might have been interpreted as a call to violence and recanted it immediately. Will the right change their rhetoric? No. Will they change their right to bear arms policies? no.

  3. Prescient. In a non-supernatural way.

    As an aside, I don’t understand why she is being characterized (mainly by republicans, but it is gaining traction) as a conservative democrat.

    She is pro-choice, pro-immigration reform, and pro-health care reform.

    She sounds right on the mark as a rational progressive (is that redundant?).

    1. she labeled herself as a “blue-dog democrat”, and recently voted against Pelosi on a major issue.

      She’s not really a blue-dog dem at all, but she damn near had to maintain that fiction if she wanted to get elected in Arizona.

  4. As usual Palin never addresses the subject at hand: I don’t think she can even speak this way so had to have someone write it for her and if so, she crossed out what a good writer would have written.

  5. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there are consequences to that action.

    We have no reason to believe that inflammatory rhetoric from the right contributed anything whatsoever to this slaughter. But people will think about that, and that’s the consequence. And I hope folks think about that the next time they feel inclined to show how tough they are by talking about Second Amendment remedies (Sharon Angle).

  6. So now we will get to hear about how both sides need to tone down the rhetoric.

    When was the last time a liberal activist blew up a building, flew an airplane into a building, shot a physician, …….

        1. Erik Erikson from RedState doesn’t even grant an equivalence. He stated on his site that “Ironically, by perpetuating the lie… that the right and the tea party incited this evil act, the left and media may very well incite violence against the right.”

  7. Giffords’s statement is sad, all right, and understandable, too, but it’s hardly ironic. Rather, it’s poignantly coincidental.

  8. Palin did not pull the trigger on that gun. However, by means of that ad, she loaded, cocked and aimed it.

  9. And to add -literally- insult to injury, guess who’s planning to attend the victims’ funerals? The Westboro Baptist Circus.

  10. Loughner may have never seen Palin’s crosshairs ad, but unfortunately for Palin, she will forever be associated with this massacre. Maybe we’ll hear less from her now.

  11. From an Australian point of view, where we don’t bear arms, its awfully sad that a whole country does. Its horrifying that guns are used as a metaphor – especially gun-sights.

    1. From the NYT

      “Responding to accusatory messages on the Web, Ms. Mansour [adviser to Palin] added: ‘People actually accuse Governor Palin of this. It’s appalling — appalling. I can’t actually express how disgusting that is.’

      Ms. Mansour said that the cross hairs, in fact, were not meant to be an allusion to guns, and agreed with her interviewer’s reference to them as ‘surveyors symbols.'”

      Yup, surveyor symbols. Anyone should have seen that…

  12. Sorry to tell you, but that’s not “ironic”. The word for this false kind of irony is “Alanic” (after Alanis Morissette).

    1. Yeah, most of us irony sticklers relish pointing out that the Congressperson’s words turned out to be more sadly coincidental rather than sadly ironic. Certainly that quote of hers was prescient.

      But, had she been a character in a movie, and said those words while the audience had knowledge that her assassin—inspired by the “crosshairs map”—was planning to kill her, that might be a form of dramatic irony.

  13. I feel so sorry for the family of the girl who was killed – born on 11th of September 2001, a day of huge tragedy when the birth must have seemed to offer some sort of hope for the future. Grim.

  14. I am not American, have never been to the States, and don’t really understand the peculiar American preoccupation with guns and the wonderful freedoms they offer (not that I know nothing about guns: we had an army thing at school and I was taught how to shoot a rifle and machine-gun, and later, in the countryside I had my own shotgun, duly licenced), but I really think this pussy-footing – sorry, Jerry – about whether one can really blame Palin and the tea-partiers for what might turn out to be merely the act of a mad individual connected with no-one misses the point. Surely, the rhetoric of people like Palin, Beck and countless others has created a poisonous atmosphere in which shooting down people you disagree with politically is taken as a courageous and correct undertaking. No,of course they cannot be held legally responsible, but surely they bear a great moral responsibility. Political passions can run high anywhere, but the poisoned and poisonous rhetoric, with its constant playing with violence, that seems to be acceptable in the States is surely an extraordinary phenomenon.

  15. Don’t forget: in all their ranting about the evil Jews, the Nazis didn’t bother much about naming specific people.

    The fascists in the US will backpedal like mad in public regarding their responsibility, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear that they held a secret celebration party over this double assassination.

    I used to think Palin was just a rather stupid, ignorant tool of evil people, but now I think she herself is actively evil – just like Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, Hannity, and the rest of the rightwing shock jocks.

    1. I used to think Palin was just a rather stupid, ignorant tool of evil people, but now I think she herself is actively evil

      Aw, why can’t it be both? On the one hand she’s the classic stuffed suit—vacuous and simple-minded, scrawling talking points on her hand—but on the other hand she is herself a master of manipulation and demagoguery. She’s a useful idiot for pin-stripe conservatives, but she also takes advantage of the millions of useful idiots that make up FoxNews’ viewership. I think this has something to do with why so many movement conservatives are ambivalent about her: in some ways she is movement conservatism’s best hope, but she’s also their biggest liability (ditto the Tea Baggers).

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