When I originally posted this cartoon, I didn’t add any text to the blog. I wanted the cartoon to speak for itself. From all the comments, letters and phone calls we’ve received, it spoke loudly.
I understand the image is disturbing. I respect the opinion that heated rhetoric laced with violent gun metaphors did not contribute to the massacre in Arizona on Saturday. The cartoon actually doesn’t say it does. The cartoon sticks to the cold hard facts. There are dead and wounded right where Sarah Palin drew crosshairs.
April 20, 2010 I wrote this:
I’ve blogged about this before. I’ve seen all this anger and resentment toward the government form into a huge wave until a government building was exploded by a domestic terrorist, then the resentment and anger subsided. I’m just telling people, calm down. You have the right to be angry and speak out, assemble, scream and holler but you should also have a responsibility to take it in stride.
I’m not saying by being Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, a member of the Tea Party, or a small government conservative, or even a protestor, that if something bad happens then you’ll have blood on your hands. I’m just saying be careful with what you’re feeding. No, you won’t have blood on your hands, but you’ll probably feel a little chunky.
I had to give that same argument to my editor. He disagreed with my argument about there being a connection, or a common force between Newt Gingrich’s assault on big government and the Oklahoma City bombing. I argued the likes of Gingrich helped build the atmosphere that ultimately led to something horrible. I felt it was going to do it again if we didn’t calm down.
Now am I some great prognosticator who can predict what will happen in this country regarding politics and culture. Yes. But this wasn’t a far-fetched assumption. Anyone should have seen something like this was on the horizon. Out of 535 representatives in Congress the shooting took place in one of the 20 districts Ms. Palin drew crosshairs.
A very conservative friend who shills for the right wing agenda wrote that his first thoughts upon hearing of this massacre was the blame that would be attributed to the right wing. If those were the first thoughts, and first concerns, for the defenders of the right wing faith, that screams that they are well aware of the barrage of violent rhetoric coming from their side.
These are groups who can’t tell the difference between a political opponent and an enemy. they paint those who voted for Health Care Reform as treasonous. They call themselves “Freedom Lovers” and “Patriots” implying that those who don’t vote their way are anything but freedom loving patriots. They stage actual shooting rallies as campaign events. They say “if the ballot box doesn’t work then we need 2nd amendment remedies”, “don’t retreat, reload” and “if ballots don’t work bullets will”. The First Amendment guarantees their right to say all that. But it doesn’t say they can’t be held accountable.
I would love to read a post by a conservative who states “we were wrong for all the violence and gun rhetoric”. Even if they don’t buy that it lead to this massacre, they can still say it. You don’t have to give up your beliefs, your agenda, to face a little bit of reality. Just put down the kool-aid for a minute.
I waited a couple days before I came to an opinion on all of this. When I did I drew the cartoon above. Someone called me a joke for that. I think the joke is ignoring what we’re doing to this country. This brings me to my opinion on the one question everyone’s debating.
Did Sarah Palin incite Jared Loughner to shoot a U.S. Representative and kill six people? Did Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh or the Tea Party contribute? I don’t think so. I think it’s far fetched to believe this guy followed anyone on today’s political radar. But while conservatives are screaming the answer is no, they should actually consider the question. Considering the question might get them to reason that maybe they should cut out the gun metaphors.
“I don’t know” is the answer to all of this. I do know the rhetoric is too much. I know it’s wrong to put crosshairs on human beings. I know it’s wrong to mask threats as political overtones. It seems conservatives would agree with that.
I ask that you ask yourself what I’ve asked myself. Did the right wing contribute to this?
I can’t say it did.
And you can’t say it didn’t.