By now most of you have heard about the shooting last Saturday in Tucson that involved Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents. In the wake of the shooting, much has been made of a crosshairs graphic Sarah Palin used to target Giffords' seat in the house, and the media has raised a lot of questions about whether it and other violent political rhetoric and imagery had anything to do with the shooter's actions.
Obviously this was a really terrible act of violence, and it was perpetrated for reasons that are still ambiguous. There is currently no way to know definitively whether alleged shooter Jared Loughner, who some have suggested struggles with schizophrenia, was influenced by violent rhetoric to shoot Giffords. But a really interesting debate has sprung up around the use of violent language in politics and whether it should be curtailed in light of the shooting. Then, of course, in the midst of this debate, Palin with her unfailing subtlety and sensitivity decided to use the term "blood libel" to characterize suggestions that her rhetoric might have had something to do with the shooting.
Since violence like this goes beyond the term "douche-y", and since it would be much too obvious to award the Decree to Palin (let's just call her an honorary Douchebag for life), I thought I'd do a roundup of some of the most interesting and the douchiest discussions of violence, rhetoric, and totally inappropriate anti-Semitic references that have come up over the last few days.
First, the douchebags:
Political commentator Andrew Breitbart, apropos of nothing, gets flippant about rape:
Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post argues that the political climate couldn't possibly have had anything to do with Loughner's actions since people with mental illnesses don't live in the world:
The New York Times thinks it's important that you know about Loughner's defense lawyer's fashion choices, lest her "pageboy haircut" trick you into thinking she's not smart enough for the case:
A former Bush speechwriter claims that marijuana use could have "aggravated" Loughner's desire to commit violence, and that pot can cause schizophrenia. Personally I've never seen marijuana aggravate much except the desire to find and eat snacks, but here you go:
(via The Raw Story)
Congressman Robert Brady goes on Here & Now to talk about his attempt to pass a law against language and symbols seen as threatening to federal officials. His response to Robin Young's concerns that this law would violate the first amendment: "You gotta be careful what you say." He also mentions that Congresswoman Giffords is a "very classy, very nice lady," which gives her "the right...to express her views."
On a douche-free note, here are a few smart, engaging perspectives on the Tucson shooting that deserve to be read:
As usual, Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown has a supersmart take on the issues at hand. Read her "FAQ" about the shooting:
Jill at Feministe makes some good points about how our culture lazily links mental illness and crime:
Glenn Greenwald at Salon argues that unfortunately, tragedies like this one often lead to knee-jerk calls for more governmental power and restriction of civil liberties (hear that, Robert Brady?)
Obviously these are just a few of the many, many articles being written about the Tuscon tragedy. What have you been reading?