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

Granny Godzilla

January 11th, 2011
11:27 am

The freedom of political speech must be protected, and we must each take personal responsibility for that which we speak.

casual observer

January 11th, 2011
11:31 am

The Socialist Left in this country will use this tragedy to silence opposition. To link Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh to a murder of anybody is beyond comprehinsion. SHAME ON CYNTHIA TUCKER AND THE REST THE OF POLITICAL LEFTIST HACKS!!

If Jim Gerrymander” Clyburn and the rest of the “Free Speech” haters think Socialist Health Care angered this country just wait and see what happens when the start shutting down or criminalizing free speech!! You ain’t seen nothing. The Town Hall meetings about Health Care will be considered a picnic compared to what will happen in this country. If “Gerrymander” Clyburn and his followers can’t beat them they will try to silence them.

EVEN IF IT WAS A LIBERAL POT HEAD THAT DID THE SHOOTING.

james

January 11th, 2011
11:33 am

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”

Some liberal leader said that

If the pot didn’t have a kettle what would it do all day

the far right = the far left

Paddy O

January 11th, 2011
11:36 am

MarkV – you are full of it. The only time a politicians speech can be blamed for the violence perpetrated by another person is if that individual politician specifically urged or ordered citizens to commit such violence. Your rationale is the same as the jury who assesses damage to a bar because one of its patrons drank too much, then drove.

Paddy O

January 11th, 2011
11:39 am

RDG2 – your obvious distaste for your fellow Americans makes your rant irrelevent.

RDG2

January 11th, 2011
11:42 am

@keep up the good fight–what are your true feelings. I am interested.

Junior Samples

January 11th, 2011
11:44 am

Ok, now the’ve done it. The left is now dredeing the bottom of the cesspool. Within minutes the media is blaming Sarah Palin for the shooting. Really? Uhhhh what about the boys parents? Is there any responsibility there or is that something that will conveniently get over looked. There is not one event that the left and the news media will not politicize.

RDG2

January 11th, 2011
11:44 am

@ Paddy O. Distaste for fellow Americans. Rant? LOL. If that is what you call it. So be it…I am glad you read it.

retired early

January 11th, 2011
11:46 am

Paleo
“…are they also mentally ill “.
I am not forgiving one’s behavior due to ‘mental illnesses’….I am simply stating that it is more wide spread than most people want to believe . I use a litmus test of first establishing if one is ‘obsessed’… to the point…that it disturbs the normal , balance of facts , in critical decision making . This obviously can occur in varying degrees…the extreme being what happened in AZ . We cannot begin to know who will ‘act out’ on their extreme views (obsessions) . Therefore , we will never know the effect our words will have on others . I have a problem with right wing talk radio . The unchallenged , non debated points of view being delivered , using hateful language has caused the greatest distortion of facts in modern history . Now…’distortion of facts’…leads to an ‘unbalanced’ point of view . Now, does that make these people mentally ill ? Only if they are also…’obsessed’ .

Mike K.

January 11th, 2011
11:46 am

I agree with Cynthia today, though I don’t care for her focus on Sarah Palin. I wonder why she didn’t mention the Daily Kos’ bullseye on Rep. Gifford. . .

gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2011/01/breaking-daily-kos-put-a-bulls-eye-on-rep-giffords-in-2008/

meow

January 11th, 2011
11:48 am

Enter your comments here

monty

January 11th, 2011
11:48 am

Joe Scarborough says on his radio program that, “Glenn Beck says everyday on his show that Obama is a racist, everyday he says it.” That is a lie, he said it one time in regards to Obama’s comments about his “white mother doing what white people do”. Beck admitted he shouldn’t have said it, he was just thinking out loud in response to Obama’s statements 2 years ago and hasn’t said it since. Scarborough, though, says “He says it everyday!!” Now is that a lie? Of course it is. Now what if someone shot Glenn Beck because of Joe Scarborough’s inflamatory speech?? Some left wing nutt hears Joe’s lies and takes Beck out? Just curious. The left can be as infammatory as it wants to be, but don’t let Sarah Palin use a metaphor of gun hairs to target political stuff. Who is racheting up the inflamatory rhetoric? Just listen to the left.

Really last word

January 11th, 2011
11:49 am

Those who would blame a group or individuals for fueling the vitriol . . . also fuel the vitriol in their blame and are no different than those who they blame.

RDG2

January 11th, 2011
11:49 am

@ Junior, the boy’s Parents is another issue, but I am right with you, my friend. I could write even longer about that one. It is really simple: No one is blaming Sarah Palin. She is just a glaring example and representative slice of this behavior in this country–on both sides. In that, you are correct. The tragedy is that hateful people exist behind ill-advised and questionable messages. And now that I am ignoring people whose names Rhyme with Paddy O. , I really think you have a valid point to be further explored.

Scout

January 11th, 2011
11:51 am

O.K. Libs.

Headline (ABC) : “Lone Wolf Killers: It’s About Fame, Not Politics”

“For all the warnings about terrorism, law enforcement authorities say the greater and more likely threat in this country comes from people like the suspect in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords –what are known as lone wolves.

And while some observers want to blame Saturday’s bloodshed on lax gun laws or heated political rhetoric, experts say there is nothing more American than a loner who wants to be famous.
“If we feel that civility in public discourse is going to take away mass shootings we are mistaken,” said Dr. Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist at New York University and an ABC News consultant. “Because the one common threat in mass shooting is, what does the shooter get out of it? And the shooter recognizes that if you assassinate a political figure you will be notorious.”

Keep up the good fight!

January 11th, 2011
11:52 am

RDG2… The is a definite power of advertising and power of words and images. Not sure what else you are asking about my “true feelings.” I believe in the 1st amendment and also responsibility for your words.

Blame the MSM

January 11th, 2011
11:53 am

As much fun as it is to call out the clueless Joe Biden (Sarah Palin) for his (her) long list of gaffes, lies and inflammatory nonsense….

So easy to do and also so accurate…..ah, pot meet kettle……

Ayn Rand was right

January 11th, 2011
11:53 am

CT – Very well written piece today. I hope that as a society, we begin to apply consequences to those who exhibit poor judgement and behaviors especially in the public sector. This error in judgement should be the final nail in the coffin of Ms. Palin’s political career. Her inability to exhibit responsible behavior including engaging the media while acting like a middle school mean girl should topple any high office aspirations.

meow

January 11th, 2011
11:56 am

Just because you have the freedom to do so, does not mean that it is wise, or responsible to spew whatever garbage comes to mind. With freedom, should come responsibility. Whether this maniac used Palin’s imagery as justiication to go on this rampage or not, is besides the point. In her position, she should know better than to promote gun violence (you can’t tell me that she isn’t) and should better choose her words. Not only is she setting a poor example for americans – who will think that it’s OK to talk/think like that, but it makes her look bad in the public eye.

Peter

January 11th, 2011
11:56 am

What a load of garbage Cynthia. How about your gangsta rap imagery, cop killing lyrics, pimp/hoe culture and excessive violent images on tv and movies? All we do is slap a rating on them. The political discourse is nothing compared with these examples that the left seems to want to protect under the guise of free speech. You liberal hacks have no common sense whatsoever. The hysteria around the Arizona shootings is fabricated by you and those like you who can’t stand the popularity of Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, etc. Your only route is to cook up hysteria to silence your detractors. We are on to you you pathetic wench! (Oops, is that ‘inflammatory’????)

Blame the MSM

January 11th, 2011
11:57 am

“I hope that as a society, we begin to apply consequences to those who exhibit poor judgement and behaviors especially in the public sector”

The November 2nd election results were a nice consequence to those who exhibited “poor” judgement….

Ayn Rand was right

January 11th, 2011
11:57 am

@ Blame the MSM – AGREED!

RDG2

January 11th, 2011
11:58 am

@Keep up the good fight–I watched the video and the host said a lot of things, so I just wanted to hear from you, is all. I guess I should have been more clear that I am not blaming Sarah Palin, necessarily. I just don’t like her or the way she does things. She is really a hateful person. If we multiply her rhetoric and tactics by the number of people in this country who actually feel the way she does, we truly do get down to the real problem. As far as responsibility for one’s words goes, you probably said it far better than I did. In fact, I am sure you did. Enjoy ur day!

Kamchak

January 11th, 2011
11:59 am

(Oops, is that ‘inflammatory’????)

No, it’s asshattery.

RDG2

January 11th, 2011
12:00 pm

@meow. Again, somebody said it better than me with fewer words. Thanks.

WAR

January 11th, 2011
12:06 pm

i love Americans who make themselves victims when a tragedy befalls someone else. libs/conserves really disappoint me with the finger pointing about vitriol rhetoric and gun laws and who is to blame. i’m not giving up my free speech or my gun(s). i dont want anyone else to give them up either even when they say someting i feel is inflammatory or evil.

Avenger

January 11th, 2011
12:11 pm

Cynthia. I don’t know about outlawing free speech, but clearly there are limits to any thing. There are things that are clearly over the top. Hollering fire falsely in a crowded theather. A lot of Dems. and Repubs. agree that the vitriol is over the top. Most decent folk think calling the president a thug,a punk, or as one of your poster like to call him “BOZO is over the top. Yes outlawing free speech might be going too far, but the free speech amendment, the 13th,14th,15th, and all the rest came about because those guys (in horse and buggy days) knew that they were writing laws dealing with the human animal. These guys (who had no concept of jet fighters, going to the moon, or TV) knew that they couldn’t possibly cover every scenario that the human animal would create. We can wring our hands and say we are sorry about the senseless killings, but if that all (I suspect it is) we do, their deaths really don’t mean any thing to us. I know the double talkers like Hannity and the master Rush will out do Michael Jackson doing the moon walk from this senseless event, but they show their hypocrisy by demonizing the “left wing media” for jumping to conclusions while they are smirking and proclaiming that a lunatic did it and that’s that. Words have meaning. No body told the evil monsters (they weren’t lunatics) to beat a fourteen year old kid senseless,shoot him in the head,and split his head open with an axe. No one had to – the atmosphere set the stage. Words have meaning. I will bet you dollars to dough nuts that when a cop shows to a murder scene where a man’s wife is killed, that cop will start suspecting that man in nano seconds. Some times, there is logic to jumping to conclusions – especially when there is a lot of history to back it up.

Woe is US

January 11th, 2011
12:11 pm

Predictable that the dish-it-out-but-can’t-take-it right has mede itsefl out to be the victime on this tragedy. No, there will probably never be a direct connection found to right wing invective. Yes, their vitriole incourages and enables their surrogates to intimidate through the threat of violence. The powerful have always operated this way. “The lady doth protest too much”.

Peter

January 11th, 2011
12:12 pm

Palin is a sign that people are evil, Rush has the same sign on his forehead.

Will Fraser

January 11th, 2011
12:13 pm

a. The shooter was not a liberal, nice try crazies
b.Palin’s website did use crosshairs
c.We DO clearly need gun control (and this is the
former Pacific Fleet Marksmanship Champion 1976 USMC writing this)
d.The Tea Party is even more reactionary and crazy than the GOP
e.God Help America
f.These comments pages are proof of the dumbing down and radicalization of Americans by commentary news programs that have little contenet but lots of opinion
Glenn Beck, Bill OReilly, Rush and the MSNBC crazies all suck
Regards,
William Fraser
Oil and Gas Geologist
Captain US Marine Corps 1973-1979

midtownguy

January 11th, 2011
12:14 pm

Granny G, my father always phrased it this way ‘Your right to free speech does not excuse you from responsibility for the consequences of it”.

Woe is US

January 11th, 2011
12:14 pm

‘cuse my typos

Darwin

January 11th, 2011
12:15 pm

Not all people who who listen to Fox News and the Rush Limbaughs of the world are nuts. But all nuts listen to Fox News and the Rush Limbaughs of the world.

Obama is over

January 11th, 2011
12:16 pm

I am pleased with the way you approached today’s column by taking the high road. I hope that people will put partisan politics aside and save their vitriol for the Westboro Baptist church who has announced that they are going to protest the funerals.

Granny Godzilla

January 11th, 2011
12:18 pm

Both sides do it?

Which side will stop first?

Which of YOU will stop?

WAR

January 11th, 2011
12:18 pm

i listen to rush, limbaugh, beck, palin, hannity, sharpton, bortz, clyburn, lewis, jackson, and other libs/conserves fairly and equally. i dont like much of what any of them say because rarely does compromise exist. America is built on compromise, self-reliance, being your brothers keeper. her history is rich with hypocrisy, resolve, perseverance, and disdain. America is imperfect, but still greater than anything else. we are a nation of laws and freedoms that many abuse for gain. these talking heads and politicans should agree to disagree, but they wont… aint no money, votes, or ratings in it.

Granny Godzilla

January 11th, 2011
12:19 pm

midtownguy

your father was very wise

midtownguy

January 11th, 2011
12:21 pm

Westboro moved from protesting gay pride events to military funerals when the gay guys started making fun of them. Look! It’s Rev. Phelps! Let’s go over and take a photo with him. In other words, Westboro became a joke rather than a threat.

They had to find something even more shocking, so they moved on to protesting at military funerals, now this. All they want is publicity and we just keep giving it to them.

WAR

January 11th, 2011
12:22 pm

@will fraser

what type of gun control is needed? i paid a fee for my conceal weapons license. i was fingerprinted. i received my license after the background check. bought my gun. follow the rules of georgia and government. i vote. i pay taxes. please do tell what gun control?

Todd

January 11th, 2011
12:27 pm

For the first time in my life I find myself agreeing with CT – for the most part. Amazing! However, Palin was no more irresponsible with her target analogy than Obama was with his “bring guns to the fight if they bring knives” or the democratic WV governor using a rifle to shoot the cap and trade bill. Sane people recognize these as metaphors and are not going to harm anyone as a result of seeing them.

WAR

January 11th, 2011
12:28 pm

criminals do not follow gun laws.

Bob

January 11th, 2011
12:28 pm

At any time on any subject half of you are wrong, and it’s never the same ones.

Wilma

January 11th, 2011
12:29 pm

The lefties were out in force blaming Palin long before any facts were evident. The politics of advantage seems to be all they can think about. In contrast, President Obama has been restrained and leader-like. Durbin, Hoyer and Clysdale are too busy with their political pimping to actually lead.

DK

January 11th, 2011
12:29 pm

Hey CT, what about the following that President Obama and his staff has said?
“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard.”
“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”
“I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry. I’m
angry.”
“I want you to argue with them and get in their faces.”
“I’m itching for a fight.”
“Fight for it!”
“We’re gonna punish our enemies.”
“Our job is, keep our boot on [their] neck.”
“We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.”
“[Republican victory would mean] hand-to-hand combat.”

Maybe the guy took the President’s words to heart? Maybe it was the Bullseye map that Dems put out? And please, next week lets talk about the gaffes of the VP

WAR

January 11th, 2011
12:30 pm

well said Todd @ 12:27.

MyName

January 11th, 2011
12:32 pm

The article would have been more interesting and could’ve been taken seriously if CT had been imaginative enough to pick a democrat, instead of SP, to make her pointless point. But then, SP is an easy target that even an elementary school student could whip out an article like this in a matter of seconds. I guess that’s too much to expect these days.

LD

January 11th, 2011
12:33 pm

So when are going to see the “Daily Kos’s target list and the First Amendment” editorial?

Or the “Obama’s ‘enemies’ and ‘bring a gun to the fight’ comments and the 1st amendment” editorial?

Probably about the time we’ll stop seeing liberals try to tie all Conservatives to the Giffords shooting, which is never. Because liberals never incite other liberals to violence with political rhetoric…right?

A dad

January 11th, 2011
12:34 pm

For once, Ms. Tucker, we agree. Perhaps there is hope for true bipartisan governance after all, seek the common ground and procees from there. Freedom of speech is one of our countreis most cherished rights (yes, it’s in the Const. so it’s a real “right”), and often when we hear a dissentling opinion one of the hardest to bear. But it is one we must, for once we start down that slippery slope of what speech isn’t protected (other than, say, yelling “Fire” in a crowded public place) we begin the slow but steady road to censorship of our everyday speech. O’Brien lives!

By the way, this conservative thinks it ws a stupid thing for Palin to do. Conservtive she is, but some of the tools ain’t in the shed….

WAR

January 11th, 2011
12:35 pm

dk @ 12:29

in English this is an extended metaphor. like many of the words many speakers and politicians use to make a point… not to be taken literally. “dont retreat–reload” was one of them too. a crazy will take anything to the extreme as in this case.

midtownguy

January 11th, 2011
12:36 pm

Granny I am as old as you but just not a grandfather (for obvious reasons). I spent much of my career in Personnel Management. A typical personnel hearing would go like this.

1. Employee makes extremely racist or sexist comment to either a fellow employee or customer
2. Manager fires employee
3. Employee files grievance claiming his “right to free speech” was violated.

No, you chose to make a statement inconsistent with company policy. You got fired for it. No one violated your “right” to say it. But you still have to suffer the consequences of saying it.

Where I work if you use the “N” word in reference to any person of color, the “B” word in reference to any female or imply that the words “hispanic” and “Illegal” are synonymous the “back door will hit you on your way out.” No right to free speech violated.