Palin’s crosshairs and the First Amendment

As much fun as it is to call out the clueless Sarah Palin for her long list of gaffes, lies and inflammatory nonsense, neither she or her supporters caused the Arizona atrocity. If Jared Loughner, the suspect, is the culprit, it’s likely that we’ll find that he suffers from a serious mental illness — perhaps paranoid schizophrenia — and probably hears voices. Maybe he hears Palin. It’s just as likely he hears Zeus or the Green Hornet.
Palin has taken a lot of grief since the shooting spree because of an irresponsible image she used on her Facebook page during the campaign. In listing a group of Democratic Congressional seats that she wanted Republicans to win, she used a map of the United States and imposed images of gunsights over several Congressional seats. One of those was the seat held by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
(Palin has since claimed the image wasn’t crosshairs, but that’s nonsense. It was.)
In response, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.) wants to make it illegal to use such imagery. He told Fox News yesterday (via TPM):

“It wouldn’t be harm putting that in the bill. It is on both sides. It’s not a partisan bill. Again, we’ve got to stop our bickering amongst each other. We’re setting a bad example for the American people. We need to cut down rhetoric amongst each other. We can disagree without being so disagreeable,” Brady said.

I agree with Brady that we can disagree without being disagreeable. But his proposal for outlawing political speech is foolish and dangerous — as much a threat as a lunatic with a gun. The freedom that Americans enjoy to say almost whatever they like — especially in the political arena — is one of the cornerstones of this great democracy. Brady ought to be ashamed of trying to impose limits on that freedom.

There is no evidence that Loughner ever saw Palin’s Facebook page. But even if the investigation shows that he was specifically motivated by it, such imagery should not be outlawed. (Whether Palin should have used better judgement is quite another matter. She should have, as should all the violent-imagery-worshiping pols who have seen fit to invoke martial accessories for their ads.)

Last week, when Speaker John Boehner set aside time for the new House to read the U.S. Constitution aloud, U.S. Rep. Giffords read the First Amendment. Afterwards, she told several people that she was especially pleased that was the part she was given.

It would dishonor her for Brady to push a law that infringes on that sacred text.

544 comments Add your comment

cosby

January 11th, 2011
9:45 am

Well CT, I agree qwith you and that my dear is scary..however, about the map that everyone is bringing up that Palin used. I understand others have use the same imagery / maps as well. Wish I had time to look into it but I believe it is GPS, or whatever. You do not have to like Palin or Rush or anyone but this hate stuff has to cease and the sherriff certainly spread a lot around. To bad he is not a proficient in doing his job as spreading hate.

bman

January 11th, 2011
9:45 am

The ice has me stuck so, what do I do? Check out Cynthia Tucker’s latest & greatest. Still nothing good here. .

midtownguy

January 11th, 2011
9:46 am

I am a clinical psychologist by education even though I have not worked in the field in years (very little money to be made, I confess as the reason). But the reason we have to be so careful about our public speech/images is because of the unstable among us. When influential people like politicians and pundits start saying things like “Bush organized 9/11 so he could attack Iraq and make his friends rich” or “Abortion clinic staff are murderers” you are demonizing the individual rather than disagreeing with the action. This justifies, in an unstable mind, an attack on the individual.

I don’t think Sara Palin or her crosshairs had anything to do with the tragedy in Tuscon. This guy seems to be all over the place. Probably wanted his fifteen minutes of fame more than anything. That smiling mug shot of his is haunting. But I do hope it serves to make people in positions of influence more careful and aware of the power of their words.

Del,

January 11th, 2011
9:46 am

Cynthia is correct about rejecting Bob Brady’s over reaction, however, she just couldn’t keep herself from knocking Sarah Palin while giving her liberal democrats a pass. The words from Paul Krugman and some other prominent democrats along with the idiot sheriff Stupnik shortly after this tragedy attempting to politicize it was an outrage. Stupnik was evidently the source of the disinformation that Lougner was an Afghanistan veteran and a Tea Party member.

retired early

January 11th, 2011
9:46 am

Cynthia

Did these bloggers on the Right read the same article as I just read ? There is Nothing in your opinion that could be remotely interpreted as anti Right, yet those on the right criticize it nonetheless…there is NO HOPE for them becoming well informed or having a balanced opinion…absolutely…..hopeless. I don’t know how your stomach their nonsense week in and week out.

Jimmy62

January 11th, 2011
9:47 am

Here comes Sally, trying to sell her freedom (and yours) to whatever politician makes Chris Matthew’s leg tingle next.

quod erat demonstrandum

January 11th, 2011
9:47 am

cosby,

I have posted the link to the different Democratic maps, but the editorial staff has my links on hold pending review.

smooveb

January 11th, 2011
9:48 am

Jimmy62 @ 9:43

Ditto! Thanks, man.

Michael H. Smith

January 11th, 2011
9:48 am

Quite to the contrary Sally, you might be very shocked at my answer to the question I posed. I’m sure upon hearing it you will be able to knock Ms. Tucker over with a feather. (in a manner of speaking, don’t assault her)

paleo-neo-Carlinist, aka Joe the Plutocrat

January 11th, 2011
9:49 am

I swore of these pointless blogs as my 2011 resolution, but as I told JB, I am not above giving myself a “Mulligan”. truth be told, I can’t sit back and watch you folks (media) continue to shill for the plutocracy (which owns you). you have no authority to declare or pronounce the shooter as “mentally ill”. is Sarah Palin “mentally ill”? are the birthers “mentally ill”? how about Sharon Angle and her “second amendment solution” minions? in dismissing the shooter as a “mentally ill loner” you (and the rest of the media) reduces this incident to the level of a random traffic accident or computer glitch, which actually enables the hate/fear-mongers and criminals like the shooter (I refuse to use his name). as far as the First Amendment goes; why hasn’t anyone asked this simple question; IF this incident never happened, would the issue of placing politicians in cross hairs and/or the habit of publicly opining about “second amendment solutions” and the slogan “don’t retreat, reload” be acceptable? there is a difference between Constitutional rights (free speech) and doing what is right, and it is clear that the plutocracy (which includes both the political class and their corporate owners) has its own definition of “right”. Palin is a discgrace and she SHOULD be tarred and feathered. her shameless backpedalling and the explanation as presented by her pathetic PR shill are shallow and empty. again, from the paleo-neo-Carlinist perspective, “mentally ill” is a very, very, VERY large net.

gun goon

January 11th, 2011
9:50 am

And sally when your rights and freedom are threatened, I’ll defend them too.

Owl

January 11th, 2011
9:52 am

The irresponsible image depicted 20 races, of which only two Democrats were elected. So sure, maybe some other symbolism would be appropriate- but who gets to choose the symbol? Al Sharpton…Glen Beck…Cynthia Tucker?! Either way, it was quite a shellacking.

sally

January 11th, 2011
9:54 am

The NRA needs to visit the wizard of oz, just a bunch of cowards.

Joel Edge

January 11th, 2011
9:56 am

Looks like my links are “awaiting moderation” also. Michelle Malkin has the links posted.

kayaker 71

January 11th, 2011
9:57 am

Sally,

Responsible gun ownership does not make you a goon. If someone at that rally had been armed, other than the shooter, you might have seen a quite different outcome. Otherwise, the general public is at the mercy of irresponsible gun owners with bad things in mind. These are the real goons.

Blue

January 11th, 2011
9:59 am

You have the nerve to call OTHERS pathetic? Your first line “As much fun as it is to call out the clueless Sarah Palin for her long list of gaffes, lies and inflammatory nonsense, neither she or her supporters caused the Arizona atrocity.” is pathetic, as are most of your articles. Always find a way to call someone in GOP a liar, incompetent, full of nonsense. ALWAYS…kind of like the Rev Lowery found a way to ridicule Bush while Bush was gracious enough to be at Coretta Scott King’s funeral, or the way the Dem’s took Wellstone’s funeral as an opportunity to scream at Republicans. Bet you didn’t call them pathetic because (drum roll please)…they are Democrats. Where is your outrage, also, at the “left” journalists and TV personalities who HAVE afixed blame to Palin, TP’s and Republicans for this? Yeah…they have far less influence than a couple of bloggers. Hack…

Keep up the good fight!

January 11th, 2011
9:59 am

Others may have used crosshair symbol on maps but that is disingenuous. Did they also tweet about the “bullseye icons” on their maps. Did they also use “We’ll aim for these races and many others,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “This is just the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington.” Did they also talk about reloading. Did they also encourage candidates who talked about second amendment remedies. In its overall context, including people attending political rallies with guns, people having politicial rallies at gun shops where targets are shot and some included the names/initials of elected officials on those targets, Ms. Palin clearly failed the test of responsible discussion.

Good Grief

January 11th, 2011
10:00 am

I wish Rep. Giffords and her family the best. And while this is a tragedy, I’ve found it sadly amusing that so many liberal pundits are taking this guy, who was described as a liberal by classmates, and saying that his actions were the result of right-wing hate speech. If only we could get right-wing opinions off the air. How dare those conservatives have a stranglehold on FoxNews and Talk Radio? I mean, liberals only have CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Headline News, the AJC, the New York Post, Times, WaPo, Boston Globe, Hufington Post, etc.

mark in mid-town

January 11th, 2011
10:01 am

Democratic Party groups have used targeting symbols on maps as well. It’s been normal practice in politics, though much of the msm has been pretending that it’s only Palin who has ever done this.

Good Grief

January 11th, 2011
10:03 am

Keep Up – Are you suggesting we remove any and all language that could be described as potentially related to some sort of military/violent act?

nrb4

January 11th, 2011
10:03 am

Another gun and speech grab on the part of worthless Democrats.

These worthless human beings in government DESERVE TO BE AFRAID.

They HAVE to fear us, otherwise it turns into the other way around and we end up with Democrats helming another third reich!

These idiots are blaming a REACTION to the problem. The problem is our government. They are focusing on the REACTION to the problem.

We will NEVER be silenced.

You worthless democrats will NEVER be allowed to turn us into a socialist country.

Blue

January 11th, 2011
10:06 am

LeeH1; yeah, because we all know that the left has never employed a “policy of personal attack”. Never hearrd any comparisons from the left about Bush being Hitler, an “illegal war for oil”, etc. Keep going with your liberal play book; you sound just like the writer of this piece of tripe.

Keep up the good fight!

January 11th, 2011
10:06 am

Grief…my position has been posted on several blogs at Jay’s and CT’s including earlier today. You are welcome to read it.

Joey

January 11th, 2011
10:07 am

Sally:
“Weak pathetic men” and a “bunch of cowards” ouch. I am cut to the quick. To make me feel better I going out today to buy that little 25 caliber that Teresa has been wanting for her purse.

rightwingextreme

January 11th, 2011
10:08 am

CT, I would have given you an A on this article, and believe me, you haven’t earned any previously, if you hadn’t backhandly attacked Palin. I can point out just as much inflammatory nonsense, as many gaffes, etc from dimocrats….especially the one occupying the White House….can we say 57 states?? If they bring a knife to a fight, we bring a gun! Get in their faces, argue with them.

You see, I could make the arguement that Obama’s rhetoric has been far more inflammatory than anything Palin has said.

But I agree with you on this….to try and limit free speech, whether it is the so called Fairness Doctrine or limiting symbols is a dangerous and slippery slope we don’t need to get on.

It would be nice if we could have an open and honest exchange of ideas in this country but I don’t think the Left is up for that. Everytime their ideas are fully vetted and examined they lose and they don’t want that!

Ragnar Danneskjöld

January 11th, 2011
10:08 am

Dear CT, well-written, reasonable people of all political stripes can agree with your argument.

Tom

January 11th, 2011
10:08 am

This anti-social probably was just as interested in seeing Sarah Palin’s charts as he would in reading CT’s daily ravings!! This is just an evil person and nothing more! Perhaps when he is sent off to prison, justice will occurr. Alot of inmates have children, some will not take kindly to a child-killer!! That is the real world, people! Retired COP

Keep up the good fight!

January 11th, 2011
10:09 am

Now nrb4’s post is exactly the type of post that should be condemned as unacceptable by ALL, no matter what your party. NO elected official should ever be told they should be afraid in the context of a discussion about a violent shooting.

In this country, if you dont like your elected officials, then elect others.

ed

January 11th, 2011
10:09 am

nrb4,

Looks like you exceeded your daily dose of hate-flakes for breakfast.

MarkV

January 11th, 2011
10:09 am

Suggestions, such as ” If someone at that rally had been armed, other than the shooter, you might have seen a quite different outcome.” are the usual nonsense the NRA supporters come up with in any such sutuation. They have absolutely nothing in common with reality. On the other hand, taking this tragic event and trying to make arguments for more gun control is equally pointless and useless.
The heat Sarah Palin is getting for her crosshair map is appropriate, but Cynthia is right that there should be no attempt to make such things illegal. Nobody knows whether it did or did not play any role in the Arizona shooting. It was simply irresponsible and another nail into Palin’s political coffin.

Waldo

January 11th, 2011
10:13 am

@Retired Early – Read the FIRST SENTENCE of CT’s post and tell me there’s nothing that could be interpreted as anti-right.

Paddy O

January 11th, 2011
10:15 am

NOt too terribly surprising that the knee jerk reaction was by a Democrat from one of the most nanny states in the country, Pennsylvania. Those SOB’s still have 55 mph speed limits on super speedways through the middle of nowhere, and were also still arresting people, and fining them, for cursing (state police & local cops). I would have to concur with Ms. Tucker today – a rational article. Sarah Palin is highest profile red neck in the country – if you vote for her, you need to cease registering to vote. This occurred for 2 reasons – a nut job, and a careless Congresswoman (no security whatsoever – could the state not provided her with at least 1 State Trooper?).

retired early

January 11th, 2011
10:15 am

Paleo
“Mentally ill is a very, very, Very large net”. Yes, indeed . Anyone who is ‘obsessed’ about any one thing precluding their ability to focus generally, is by definition…mentally ill…to varying degrees.
I know this broad concept includes very many people from devout religious groups to over zealous environmental activist, and on and on. Remember Jim Jones…his influence caused hundreds of otherwise ‘normal’ people to poison their children and themselves . I submit that these Jones followers were not ‘normal’ because they were uncommonly ‘obsessed’ about either religion or Jones.
My point here is that these obsessed people often, only require a little encouragement to ‘act out’.
We should be carful and not to provide that encouragement .

david jacknin

January 11th, 2011
10:15 am

Obviously it’s important to have easy access to guns and bullets.

I was held up at gunpoint recently and really enjoyed it.
Go Republicans. Go NRA

B

January 11th, 2011
10:16 am

and Obama says he’s bringing a gun to the fight – but that’s ok.

Joel Edge

January 11th, 2011
10:16 am

MarkV@10:09
“It was simply irresponsible and another nail into Palin’s political coffin.”

Apparently everything is, even the things she had nothing to do with.

resno2

January 11th, 2011
10:16 am

Brady’s attempt to outlaw using cross-hairs is another example of knee-jerk reaction by an over zealous politician. But he needs to be careful, because he’d be making illegal some of the very same tactics that the dems used in 2004.

Paddy O

January 11th, 2011
10:18 am

“responsible discussion” liberal code for restrictions on speech (because some other moron may act irresponsibly & immorally from those spoken words – even if they are on a facebook posting). Sticks & stones (and loaded guns discharged) can break my bones, but names can never hurt me – a good adage not to take those who dislike you, too seriously.

MarkV

January 11th, 2011
10:19 am

Anybody who equates Obama’s “If they bring a knife to a fight, we bring a gun!” with Pailin’s crosshairs, “reload,” or Sharron Angle’s “second-amendment remedies” has a severe problem of understanding language.

Dudley

January 11th, 2011
10:19 am

The main thing is that tougher gun control laws would not have changed the outcome of the tragedy. A criminal is gonna get a gun if they want a gun.

Keep up the good fight!

January 11th, 2011
10:20 am

B — The cliche is “bring a gun to a knife fight”. You take it in context along with 1,000s of other images that we have in society because of war, guns and history. The President may in light of the other things that occured during the election after he said that, regret it. Perhaps he should apologize for it. BUT it does not excuse Ms. Palin or anyone who discussed using second amendment remedies.

In the knee jerk reaction to defend the over-the-top vitroil of the election, there are degrees of nuance.

Blue

January 11th, 2011
10:21 am

retired early

January 11th, 2011
9:46 am

Nothing in there that could be interpreted as anti right? “As much fun as it is to call out the clueless Sarah Palin for her long list of gaffes, lies and inflammatory nonsense,” “Whether Palin should have used better judgement is quite another matter. She should have, as should all the violent-imagery-worshiping pols who have seen fit to invoke martial accessories for their ads”. Yeah, I would say that her backdoor way of calling her “violent-immagery-worshiping” is, yes…dare I say…subject to being interpreted as “anti right”. Not like she ever does that, right? I’m glad I don’t have to stomach YOUR nonsense on a weekly basis.

paleo-neo-Carlinist, aka Joe the Plutocrat

January 11th, 2011
10:24 am

hey, here’s an idea; let’s make “mental illness” illegal. because guns don’t kill people, mentally ill people with guns kill people, right? oh, and let’s make insantiy pleas illegal, because it’s pretty clear that nobody has a clue when it comes to defining or diagnosing “mental illness” (let’s not forget, homosexuality was regarded as a mental illness through the 1970’s). it’s a shell game, folks. oh, and let’s dial down the “he said/she said, Obama’s imagery and language is much more inflamatory…” because, if the shooter’s behavior can be explained via mental illness, it doesn’t matter WHAT Obama, or Palin, or Rush, or Newt, or Harry Reid, or Sharron Angle says. if there are “mentally ill” people amongst us, we’re going to have the occassional Columbine, U Texas, Va Tech, etc., right? so, John Hinckley, Charles, Manson, Tim McVeigh, Lee Harvey Oswald, Eric Rudolph, et al are the “cover charge” for this wonderfully progressive, “shining city on the hill” we call a Constitutional Republic.

Rafe Hollister

January 11th, 2011
10:24 am

I think it was Barry’s fault. I mean, he said, if they bring a knife, we need to bring a gun, so the guy did, right.

Sarah just copied the DNC senatorial campaign map of 2004 and their use of the “crosshairs” to target Republican Senate seats.

Everyone needs to grow up and blame the shooter, not the crosshairs, rhetoric, the pistol, the ammunition, the political climate, the lack of security, global warming, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, BH Obama, Safeway, the Sheriff, the parents, the college, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ronald Reagan, NRA, Gov Brewer, the Tea Party, Republicans, Elmo, and Santa Claus.

MarkV

January 11th, 2011
10:25 am

JoelEdge@10:16
“Apparently everything is, even the things she had nothing to do with.”

She had everything to do with her map and her expressions. The events in Arizona simply brought them in focus.

LizBeth

January 11th, 2011
10:26 am

How did “Mein Kampf” and “The Communist Manifesto” become “liberal” books? They are certainly not in my library.

Joel Edge

January 11th, 2011
10:27 am

MarkV@10:19
“has a severe problem of understanding language.”
We understand well enough. When you have violent images and words against conservatives, Sarah Palin, Tea Party, etc. That seems to be glossed over by the media. The “don’t rush to judgement” was sounded during the Ft. Hood shootings. Not so much on this one. We did notice that.

quod erat demonstrandum

January 11th, 2011
10:28 am

Ah, yes more leftie bleating.

The right is wrong, regardless.

I enjoy seeing CT restrict access to the links showing the dangerous rhetoric and symbols the left used in prior years. I guess only the left can censor. Restrict access to the information, kind of like your own version of “Net Neutrality”

kayaker 71

January 11th, 2011
10:30 am

MarkV,

If you or yours had been a victim at that rally, you might have wished for someone who was armed to take out this nut. It is certainly not outside of reality to have armed protection at a rally of this type. Why do you think that the President’s security detail is armed? They don’t spend their time shooting tin cans off posts. Do you not think that one state trooper or a responsible citizen who was armed might have made a difference? If someone at the Ft. Hood shootings had not shot that Muslim fanatic, there might have been many more people injured or killed. This is reality, MarkV, and I hope you are never in a position to face it.

quod erat demonstrandum

January 11th, 2011
10:30 am

quod erat demonstrandum Your comment is awaiting moderation.

January 11th, 2011
8:00 am

CT, you are right. The left has been unusually vicious in its attacks and needs to bring down the rhetoric. The left used a bullseye instead of gun sights. Not sure which is worse, a gun sight or having a target painted on your state or candidate.

Way to go – is this another Hays Commission? More censorship from the left.