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

Fed Up

January 11th, 2011
10:30 am

Don’t think the guy is a nut case. If he was he would have gone to any public arena and kill innocent people. He went to the meeting specifically to shoot a liberal politician. Hitler was a nut case too but for a time being the liberals gave him a pass.

Paul

January 11th, 2011
10:30 am

I agree on not imposing free speech restrictions. That speaks to an emotional response, rather than a deliberate response. And those I’ve seen who advocate an emotional response, who want to limit free speech are Democratic representatives.

Your 8:08 “Jimmy62 and smooveb, In the wake of the weekend atrocity, all you can think of is to try to make Loughner a liberal? That’s where your head is? That’s pathetic.”

Yet the bulk of your supporting argument concerned Palin?

“(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.)”

You could have just as easily cited MoveOn and their crosshairs. Or President Obama and his knife to a gunfight comment. (Personally, I think this citing any image that one considers ‘violent’ is getting a bit silly). It would have been more effective to the spirit or reigning in the rhetoric if you’d emphasized the side of the political spectrum with which you identify yourself. As it is, it continues the perception of left-wing self denial and a readiness to call for civility while continuing the demonizing of political opponents.

Fang1944

January 11th, 2011
10:31 am

Yes, godless heathen, I do want to save lives, and I am heartened by the large drop in traffic deaths over the last few years. A drop in gun deaths would also be nice, but we have to somehow neutralize the gun lobby before that can happen.

Joel Edge

January 11th, 2011
10:31 am

MarkV@10:25
Are you saying that any expressions created should be the sole property and blamed on the politician or party it was created for?
Have you looked at Malkin?

Kamchak

January 11th, 2011
10:34 am

Michelle Malkin has the links posted.

There’s your sign.

Michelle Malkin.

paleo-neo-Carlinist, aka Joe the Plutocrat

January 11th, 2011
10:35 am

retired early, agreed, so as I asked (rhetorically); if we remove the “mental illness” card from the deck, or better yets, literally USE it to “defend” the shooter’s (any criminal’s) behavior, where does that leave us as far as the “pro wrestling/Jerry Springer and “don’t retreat/reload” nonsense being spewed by talking heads and politicos? is this acceptable because they too are “mentally ill” or is our entire political process (and the Americans who “consume” the birther, truther, flat-earth, PETA, ban smoking and plastic bottles nonsense) also mentally ill?

StJ

January 11th, 2011
10:36 am

I suppose Obama should have “used better judgement” when he called Republicans “the enemy”.

Jenzen

January 11th, 2011
10:37 am

@Walter Raymond: “Your comment is awaiting moderation?” WOW! What did you say that would solicit that? Did Tucker find some hidden word or phrase in it?
No matter. I clicked on the URL and another WOW! I thought I kept up with politics – left and right – but can’t remember ever having seen any of those pictures. I did check out several at random and they are accurate. Seems the signs, banners and other repugnant sayings on display at “leftie” rallies are OK. Can’t recall ever having seen any of these type signs at a T-Party rally, however. And the Socialist Progressives (aka DEMOCRATS) think the “Right-Wing” nuts are dangerous?
Ha.
JPA

JKL2

January 11th, 2011
10:38 am

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

Yes, there are differences. Democrats get a free pass on anything they say (Obama doubly so) while Republicans are responsible, guilty and/or just evil (even if they didn’t have anything to do with the situation, like Palin in this example)

quod erat demonstrandum

January 11th, 2011
10:39 am

Fang1944,

Which inalienable rights would you give up?

The right to life?
The right to pursue your dreams?
How about liberty – would you give that up?

Of the original 10 Amendments, the Bill Of Rights, which ones would you fell are okay? Please read them carefully, the lefties are great at re-defining words. “Depends what the meaning of “is” is.”

B

January 11th, 2011
10:39 am

KUTGF – Once again – make excuses for the Dems. Quite the double standard.

B

January 11th, 2011
10:41 am

MarkV -I’m sure I understand the language as much as you do.

Extremes make me scream...

January 11th, 2011
10:44 am

In this country free speech is guaranteed but responsibility is not. Unfortunately, in this political climate, hate sells. When this type of hate rhetoric was dialed up in the South during the Civil Rights movement, it took many people losing their lives, including 4 young girls, before America put the mirror up to its face. Should other people be hurt before we figure out that people are making millions (and in Herman Cain’s case -thousands) to spew this continuous hate? The economic reward is a guarantee that they will never voluntarily stop as the believers in the Jim Crow south not stop voluntarily their continuous hate speech. Our leaders (left and right) should demand more and stop reaping the reward of this foolishness. Censoring free speech is not the answer but maybe properly labeling these so call commentators as “ENTERTAINERS” may help the American people choose carefully where they get their news.

MarkV

January 11th, 2011
10:45 am

kayaker 71@10:30
An armed bodyguard, who watches the crowd for signs of danger, might have made a difference. But the idea that someone in the crowd with a gun in his pocket would have prevented this carnage caused by one guy who took out a pistol and started shooting is ludicrous.

sally

January 11th, 2011
10:47 am

A key ingredient to being a gun goon is delusions of grandeur. Every time there’s a tragedy, they like to opine that things would have been different if they were there with their trusty sidearm gun. Pathetic.

Joel Edge

January 11th, 2011
10:48 am

Extremes make me scream.@10:44
“labeling these so call commentators as “ENTERTAINERS”

Good idea. Mmm…who gets to do the “labeling”?

retired early

January 11th, 2011
10:48 am

Paleo

Common sense is not common…especially on this blog.

Blue
Cynthia defended Palin’s right to free speech and that she is not responsible for the AZ shooting… but she questioned her choice of words, symbols , etc used to attack her perceived “enemies of Freedom”. Yeah… Cynthia maybe degraded Palin in her description of her , but… she is such an easy target….Sarah is not the standard GOP conservative in my view, she is….out there somewhere…. in a party she made up… ‘All by myself…’.

MarkV

January 11th, 2011
10:48 am

JoelEdge@10:41
“Are you saying that any expressions created should be the sole property and blamed on the politician or party it was created for?”
Where did you get that idea?

tom

January 11th, 2011
10:49 am

Too bad someone did not shoot and kill him. This would save the govt much money. Many times when the criminal is killed or they kill themselves they avoid the justice system and some say that is too bad. I don’t trust the system to always do real justice and I don’t care why someone did a bad thing. I know they can never again kill or harm anyone. Recent state troopers death proves the system does not always work.

The Thin Guy

January 11th, 2011
10:49 am

When it comes to inflammatory and irresponsible rhetoric no one can hold a candle to Cynthia Tucker. With the sole exception of wishing her daughter a happy birthday, every single column consists of her calling other people names. What a clueless, helpless, hopeless, and intellectually stunted vile mean spirited old harridan Ms. Cynthia is. One would think since her alma mater Auburn won the National Championship she’d be celebrating. But she’d rather exploit a tragedy for political purposes. What a pathetic political hack.

MarkV

January 11th, 2011
10:51 am

B@10:41
“MarkV -I’m sure I understand the language as much as you do.”
What you are sure of is hardly evdience of a fact.

Real Athens

January 11th, 2011
10:51 am

quod erat demonstrandum:

Newsflash: Your primary and secondary education has let you down. I can assure Socialism, Communism and Fascism are three COMPLETELY different philosophies. If history is any judge, Monarchies and Caste societies led to the advent of communism. Corporatism and Fascism are by products of each other.

Hitler wasn’t reading Karl Marx and Stalin wasn’t reading Mein Kampf. I recall 20 million communists gave their lives to defeating Fascism in WWII

But, hey, don’t let the truth get in the way of drawing an invalid, dead on it’s face conclusion in order to prove a point based on fallacy.

Perhaps you should listen to Sarah Palin. Though not saying much, even she seems to have a slightly stronger grip on reality than you do.

B

January 11th, 2011
10:52 am

So, every cliche or symbol a repub uses gets to be interpreted in the literal and any cliche or symbol a dem uses is only interpreted in the figurative – makes sense.

Halftrack

January 11th, 2011
10:52 am

CT – I wish you news media would come up with a code of ethics to go by. Many had a knee-jerk moment and blamed the right and Sarah P. without any evidence. Yet when the Fort Hood thing came along – many said look for more evidence. What is the context of ancedotal data and what is not? Even the Sheriff in AZ got it wrong and did not look at the facts – - – if only Sgt. Friday was still on the job. Push for more civility and fact finding among your constituency.

williebkind

January 11th, 2011
10:53 am

You progressive liberals are so funny trying to use all that education. Let’s go back to English 101 and the essays you had to write for the class. Did you write about how socialism is the perfect type of government or did you write about bear hunting. You claim to be wise and thus became fools! Sara references the passions of the people in her state–hunting, fishing, and outdoor exploring. You educatied progressives surely see that. If not, your degree is worthless. Now, we see how you are attacking someone who had absolutely nothing to do with the actions of another person. That is not education but indoctrination! What is deplorable is that you progressive liberals are using a tragedy for political gain. Deplorable yes, but not unexpected from progressive liberals whose ideology has been and continues to be rejected by America. Progressive liberals are more dangerous to a free society than any automatic weapon. We hear you want to limit free speach now! You are like a ripe boil and needs to be lanced.

Wise Just Moderate

January 11th, 2011
10:53 am

What really links this killer to the Right is the pathological contempt and distrust of the Government. It permeates current conservatism far beyond the personalities noted here. He was rejected by the Army and Community College and having adopted the narrative (from his posts) that Government is the root of all evil and that it is “The Problem”, not the solution, blamed that for his failures. Neighbors report he was raised largely in isolation by an extremely contemptuous “stay at home” father. You can bet Government was the focus of that contempt. Direct links to individuals may not be there but this was very clearly his mentality, one shared by many here.

kayaker 71

January 11th, 2011
10:54 am

Extreme makes me scream,

Then what are we who believe that our country is going down the tubes supposed to do? Sit back and watch while someone with an agenda methodically takes our country apart. Are we not supposed to get pretty damned upset when the values that we maintain are ridiculed, mocked and rejected by these nuts? Rational political discourse lost out quite awhile back and there is not much hope of it returning….. not while these idiots are in the White House and Tucker is free to spew her leftist hate freely while calling it “editorial opinion”. I have not heard Herman Cain spew hate speech, just opinion. We are all free to have one, Mr. Extreme, and if you don’t like mine, I know a place where the sun don’t shine that you can put it.

Elliott

January 11th, 2011
10:56 am

By ascribing an ideology to Loughner, be it liberal or conservative, you’re giving him way too much credit. He’s just a stupid community-college kid who listed some inflammatory titles as his favorite books for shock value; I doubt he’s even read most of them. Based on his non-sensical blogs and videos, it’s clear Loughner has absolutely no idea what he believes, nor the intellectual capacity to distinguish between left- and right-wing politics.

Joel Edge

January 11th, 2011
10:57 am

MarkV@
“Where did you get that idea?”
Maybe from this “The heat Sarah Palin is getting for her crosshair map is appropriate”
And this “She had everything to do with her map and her expressions.”

Kamchak

January 11th, 2011
11:00 am

What is deplorable is that you progressive liberals are using a tragedy for political gain….Progressive liberals are more dangerous to a free society than any automatic weapon. We hear you want to limit free speach now! You are like a ripe boil and needs to be lanced.

Glass house, meet stone.

Hmmmmmmm

January 11th, 2011
11:02 am

I just love it when a MORON calls somebody “clueless”………. Priceless….

midtownguy

January 11th, 2011
11:04 am

There is one thing that puzzles me about the crosshairs map. If there was nothing wrong with it why was it taken down? If I were in her shoes I would have explained my position and left it where it was. By taking it down she is admitting that there was something wrong with it. Right?

MarkV

January 11th, 2011
11:05 am

Joel Edge @10:57
What I have written nowhere claims that “any expressions created should be the sole property and blamed on the politician or party it was created for.” Your interpretation simply does not make sense.Where did I mention anything about “sole property?” Certainly a politician can be blamed – if it is a matter of blame – for an expression he/she has used.

dw

January 11th, 2011
11:05 am

the real clueless is you and your messiah BHO.

Paul

January 11th, 2011
11:05 am

It’s fascinating how this has devolved to an emphasis on conservatives’ ’speech’ and, in the columnists case, an emphasis on Palin. It’s fascinating because, as she said, “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.” Then she goes on and on about Palin.

So: the guy’s mentally ill. Yet the Arizona sheriff, before he even knew the suspect’s name, was decrying the rhetoric of the right. Krugman launches another Pavlovian attack on Beck and others. Even Ms. Tucker discusses Palin as much as the speech issue.

Yet after the fact, we find fellow students described the shooter as ”left wing’ and ‘quite liberal.’ If these spokespersons and columnists want to go down that road, they should speculate why a liberal constituent would try to assassinate a Blue Dog Democrat.

Larry

January 11th, 2011
11:06 am

Wow! Aside from the needless jabs at Palin, you actually put something out there I think we all can agree with. As Redd Foxx used clutch his chest and say, “Elizabeth, it’s the big one!!!”

williebkind

January 11th, 2011
11:07 am

Kamchak

January 11th, 2011
11:00 am
Are you promoting violence? Throwing a stone is dangerous to one’s health and property.

Scout

January 11th, 2011
11:09 am

Cynthia:

For once you make some sense but you hypocritically forget THIS CULPRIT !

A selection remarks by Obama:

“I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
“Don’t you think we’re not keeping score, brother?”
“Bring it on”
“Get ready for hand-to-hand combat with your fellow Americans”
“I want all Americans to get in each others’ faces!”
“You bring a knife to a fight pal, we’ll bring a gun”
“Republicans are our enemies”
“Hit back twice as hard.”
“We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick. “
Republican victory would mean “hand to hand combat”
“It’s time to fight for it.”
Obama to Latino supporters: “Punish your enemies.”
“I’m itching for a fight.”
“They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back”

Grob Hahn

January 11th, 2011
11:10 am

You sound like a typical left wing blogger when you talk about Palin’s “Lies” without giving an actual example. What has she actually LIED about? Was it REALLY a “Lie”? A genuine “Lie”? If so, why not let us in on it.
Grobbbbbbbbbb

TruthBe

January 11th, 2011
11:10 am

Once again Cynthia Tucker is a complete RACIST LIAR. Cynthia Tucker is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the liberal perverted democrats and their sick agenda.

Chris D.

January 11th, 2011
11:10 am

Good blog Ms. Tucker, It appalled me over the weekend when all the liberal left-leaning media wanted to make this all about the evil Republicans and and their hate speech. I too wish the political discourse would become more civil, but the Right and Left are equally guilty when it comes to the tone of our current political discourse. Glad you have moved above the fray on this issue.

Kamchak

January 11th, 2011
11:11 am

Are you promoting violence? Throwing a stone is dangerous to one’s health and property.

Nope you are, standing on the front porch of your glass house.

Joel Edge

January 11th, 2011
11:14 am

MarkV@11:05
Even for the choice of a symbol on a map? One what she herself didn’t choose to use. Maybe she should have used bunnies.

charles mcghee

January 11th, 2011
11:18 am

Why is it when an American committe mass murders of other Americans they’re insane. But when a Middle Eastern murder Americans they just hate America? Maybe loughner is the same as any other terrorist he just hate America/Americans for whatever his sick reason.

Joel Edge

January 11th, 2011
11:20 am

The just announced Verizon is getting the iPhone. Come February. Gotta go.

RDG2

January 11th, 2011
11:21 am

This article is even further proof that the dumbest people in the world are often politicians, writers/editors, etc., often possessing two, three, or more academic degrees. Case-in-point: ALL OF US ARE SUBJECT TO THE EFFECTS OF IMAGERY IN ADVERTISING. I speak from the “other side” of the advertising initiative, as I am an advertising professional. More clearly, we graduate and promote advertising professionals all day long for their abilities to sway the average Joe (people who both read and reason on a 6th or 7th grade level), who spend indiscriminately, and who “act now” and think later. And do you know what? It all works as intended. But the minute someone says “this is free speech”, the message or advertising all of a sudden loses its inherent power to influence the behaviors of the people to whom it is directly sent.

As far as subliminal messages go, the brain itself is sublime and determines its own pleasure derived from detestable and prohibited behavior. There needn’t be malicious intent at all on behalf of the writer. Another case-in-point: I GO TO NEW YORK AND SEE A “NO SPITTING SIGN” IN THE SUBWAY. BUT I’M NOT EVEN A SPITTER AND MY MOUTH GETS WET. However, absent malicious intent ( and giving the heffa the benefit of the doubt), the Palin Bitch is either Dumb as donuts, or has a far more benign view of human nature than my 11 -year old; and it seems this writer is barely two steps behind her in practical reasoning. In fact, I give Palin more credit than I give the writer, here (and for obvious reasons).

Don’t fool yourself. It took some brains to get that broad to where she is politically (wherever that is), because she really isn’t smart at all. But you are telling us that NOBODY on her team was smart enough to second guess the suitability of that ad, even if she wasn’t? I mean, really. Given the number of political assassinations that have taken place in this country, the double meaning of that political message NEVER crossed the minds of the people she employs? Give me a FLIPPIN’ break.

But people who write stuff like this ACTUALLY get up in the morning and say they “went to work” today. What a lie. But she is obviously proud of her position as writer, in general, and that pride automatically extends to the things she writes (content and common sense notwithstanding). Okay. It’s to be expected.

The first amendment may call such graphic communications “legal”, but it is far from innocent. Moreover, the only reason it is even “legal” is because the framers of the constitution figured that engaging in the very questionable business of trying to figure out what people ACTAULLY MEAN by the things they write and say would be tantamount to crushing the wind pipe of the collective American voice, and couldn’t really be accomplished, anyway. Then, too, for fear that the government may even ATTEMPT to qualify, classify, or otherwise assign meaning to free speeches (despite the impossibility of doing so would halt this modified, representative democracy to the tune of death, division, and uncontrollable anarchy among its constituents and framers alike. And, last, there was a WHOLE lot of trust vested in the strengths and protections of free speech and those who engage in it. Nobody (from the Supreme court on down) has ever TRULY conceded that the world in which those freedoms were cast was a far cry from the world we inhabit today (one day, I imagined myself sitting next to Ben Franklin with a Droid 2 mobile phone and it all became clear to me).

On their part, derelicts and hateful idiots know they cannot legally be compelled to reveal the true intentions behind their speeches and communications and enjoy all day long the intended and unintended protections of the raggedy ass 1st amendment. But let that STUPID ho send a cross hair image to the white house and see what happens. Or, conversely, let her send something overtly innocuous and apparently non-threatening–a mere ROSE PETAL, let’s say–to a POST OFFICE in Skokee, Wisconsin, with a follow-up message stating that the intent was to blow up everyone in the building and see what happens to her.

I will (reluctantly, reluctantly, reluctantly) grant that Palin probably did not intend to incite violence against the “targets” in her cross hairs. But if you think her spiteful, bitter, “Alaskan Wild”, goofy-looking, bear hunting ass had no idea concerning the implications of her little “political art work” and/or that she was completely clueless to the reality that a significant portion of the American population is on the verge of COMPLETE insanity and psychopathic behavior given the “colored” administration and its supporters, all of you need to turn in your Crayons and put on the little helmets. Sorry, you are no longer allowed to sit in the classroom with the rest of us.

Screw what ya heard, pimp; that heffa KNEW what she was doing.

To sum up my position, we all agree that advertising is powerful. But it all of a sudden becomes completely harmless and void of any POTENTIALLY harmful effects when pitched in a conversation framed by the first amendment.

And who the HELL is the editor here, anyway?

Well, sorry for the rushed response and raggedy writing. I’m torn between being busy and pissed. I usually much better than this.

You all have a great day.

Keep up the good fight!

January 11th, 2011
11:21 am

Paul

January 11th, 2011
11:23 am

It’s interesting.

When Major Hassan murdered all those soldiers there was a concerted rush to not make any assumptions. Even considering the contacts he had with extremist Muslims was frowned upon.

Now that extremist Muslim – an American – is on a Kill or Capture list signed by the President and in our current case, amidst all the cries for calm, reasoning voices it’s still All Palin, All The Time.

sigh…..

midtownguy

January 11th, 2011
11:25 am

“Liberal perverted democrats and their sick agenda”: I am assuming my partner and I will not be able to count on your support for Marriage Equality.

Tom

January 11th, 2011
11:27 am

@Big Tom to little tom – Your post and mine are real life concerning this anti-social criminal punk. These other blogs about idealogy are a bunch of BS from folks who enjoy debating each other, liberals vs conservatives! Just take a look at his picture with the newly shaven bald head, he is grinning and wants to be remembered as a mass murderer! Looking at the photographs of the victims, including the 9-year old child, I wish I could water-board him myself . He is more EVIL than the Muslim terriorists!!! Eye for an Eye, at earlist possible time!!! Retired COP