OK. I was done with the topic of the stupidity around the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, personally, when I wrote my “I hate stupid people” post. Unfortunately for you (or fortunately, if you really want to hear more about this, I guess), a good friend of mine wanted to hear “my sane take” on the matter. Obviously, while this is a lifelong friend of mine, we haven’t spoken in quite a while, because he’s forgotten that most of my takes on the issues aren’t exactly normal.
I will cop to having at least an ounce of sense, though, which was the other thing my friend accused me of having, so maybe it’s worth me not treating this whole thing so flippantly.
If you missed my first post on this topic, it was entitled “Hopefully Your Stupidity Isn’t Contagious.” That was the original title, anyway. For some reason, I felt the need to add a tag at the end reading “Liberalism = Stupidity?” While it may be fun to rattle the cages of my more liberal friends, I view liberalism different than I view stupidity.
Liberalism, to me, is a bit like an affliction, similar to alcoholism. It’s based on bad choices, and is curable, though not easily so. Stupidity, on the other hand, is very difficult to fix, and is sometimes genetically incurable.
Still, I feel good about my decision to block the liberals in my various activity streams who want to equate conservatism with a propensity for violence. I don’t choose to hang out with alcoholics all day because that’s not my lifestyle. Similarly, if your life choices lead you to say ignorant things at the top of your figurative online lungs, then I don’t want to have anything to do with you.
Sanity: I Haz Some and Many Liberals Don’t, Apparently
This whole thing started shaking out the day before my birthday. Admittedly, my mind was on other things – like enjoying the weekend and avoiding doing any real work (sorry, John).
I actually noticed the news from Twitter. It was one of those afternoons where you’re vegging out on one of those turn-based-strategy games, and switching between surfing the web and looking at your activity feeds in Tweetdeck, and maybe once an hour answering unread emails from the previous week.
Upon further reflection, I may be the only one that has lazy days like that. Most people probably take naps or something. This is my version of a lazy weekend, though.
I notice the pace at which news is filing into Tweetdeck hit a serious uptick – and I gather from a few minutes of watching what’s coming in the facts of what happened.
It’s surprisingly rare when current events break online (and they don’t have to do with product announcements and press releases). It’s still exciting to watch it, though.
So I’m just picking up what’s being laid down, and all of a sudden, I start seeing Sarah Palin’s name introduced to the conversation. Then I start seeing a bunch of “fsck Glenn Beck” kind of messages.
Some of them are from the typical idiot celebrities who are always spouting off their opinions when everyone wishes they’d just shut the hell up and go be pretty in a movie or something. But then I start seeing it from tech pundits and those hardcore CSPAN watchers that I keep in my list so I know what’s going on inside the beltway.
And they’re linking to Michael Moore and Markos Moulitsas and Firedoglake and this stupid infographic that Sarah Palin made.
Rather than describe this thing, I’ll just show you.
This is the graphic that was on SarahPac.com. Sarah Palin obviously didn’t create this (can you see her trying to get around in Photoshop or Illustrator?). She may have seen it once, or told a designer to “put more red on the page,” or something else.
In fact, very few people probably saw this thing at all, other than policy wonks and a few hardcore supporters of SarahPac.
It’s Hard to Talk About This Without Getting Sarcastic
Here’s what FireDogLake wrote about the graphic:
Fuck it. I’m going there…
Back in September:
“Twenty House Dems from districts that McCain carried in 2008 voted for the health care bill, and Sarah Palin has a target on every single one.”
“The targets were released on the six month anniversary of Obamacare, and include a lot of familiar names such as John Boccieri (OH), Chris Carney (P N) Gabrielle Giffords (AZ) and Ann Kirpatrick (AZ). The site invites donations, social networking, and the unbeatable Sarah love that has led to a 26:11 win/loss record of candidates in GOP primaries. Granted, some of those were in safe districts, but she’s also pulled off massive upsets that probably outshadow her less successful picks.”
“Regardless, this site should go a long way towards knocking off the politicians who put their party affiliation ahead of their constituent’s demands. It was announced via a tweet from SarahPalinUSA: “Lies, Damned Lies – Obamacare 6 Months Later; It’s Time to Take Back the 20!”
The emphasis in the above quote is all FDL. He’s quoting from a Townhall.com blog post, which is politics analysis for folks who really like politics analysis. Wonk talk. Essentially, this sort of verbage is both non-partisan and fairly common.
Still, with 20/20 hindsight and a creative red editor’s pen, you can make anything seem insidious, and that’s exactly what the left-o-sphere has done here.
Rather than paraphrase, I’ll quote directly from something a random (former) reader of mine said today (before I blocked him):
Honestly it wouldn’t surprise me that you’ve now become a Palin spokesperson. Care to venture a view on the association between politics, crosshairs and surveyors, while we have the honor of your presence, Mr. Hopkins?
"The goal is to transform Jared Loughton into Obama’s Timothy McVeigh."
What of a more honorable goal, to point out that the fevered pitch for a rise in violence as a means of protecting constitutional rights is simply wrong? What if it means, as has been pointed out, that consequences of hate speech have now become reality? This is yet another failed attempt to dismiss responsibility, to allow those who profit from fear to continue to do so without remorse.
Deny it all you like, but its the republican party that’s monopolized hate and fear in this country. Lets face it, its about the only thing left in your arsenal that has worked, and you’re now just a little bit scared it might be toned down.
All of this was in response me simply pointing out that the right suffered through eight years of the type of crap featured in the images above.
Meanwhile, No One Seems to Care about Jared Lee Loughner
All this nonsense, mind you, was building to a boil on Twitter, Facebook and blogs before the identity of the shooter was even released. Once that information was out in the open, though, it’s not as if anyone stopped and took stock of what was being said and whether it jived with reality – it just seemed to ratchet up even further into the insane-o-sphere.
Boing Boing and the Inquisitr seemed to do a good job of profiling the guy.
My buddy Steven Hodson wrote what he found out in his research:
As Kim wrote earlier, Congresswoman Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot while she was holding a “Congress on the Corner” at a local Safeway. Thankfully, and contrary to early reports, Giffords has survived the shooting and is expected to fully recover.
As it seems with most outrageous acts like this the attacker, confirmed to be a 22-year-old man named Jared Lee Loughner, has left a trail on the Web with stops at YouTube where he had his own channel, and at Myspace, who has now removed his page.
@jhlaing managed to grab a screen cap of the Myspace page before it was removed and posted it to yFrog. I had a look at just one of this young man’s videos on YouTube but couldn’t make it through the whole thing. This one is the last one that he posted.
The videos were, indeed, hard to watch and decipher. I took a crack at it, but wound up having to go to Boing Boing for a refreshingly (rare and) sane approach to a current events story:
OK, I just spent about three hours cleaning up the Wikipedia article on David Wynn Miller, the anti-government activist whose Time Cube-like views on grammar may have caught the fancy of Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner (see previous Boing Boing pieces on Loughner’s social media presence by Sean and produced videos by Xeni). Miller travels the country advising people in the Sovereign Citizen anti-tax movement that they can fight in court by using a special grammar he created in 1988.
It basically comes down to a belief that how one renders one’s name with punctuation and how one uses grammar can alter one’s legal status as a person. In other words, DAVID WYNN MILLER (as on his birth certificate) can be taxed, but :David-Wynn: Miller cannot, because that is not legally a person. In addition to unsuccessfully assisting people accused of tax evasion, Miller has also unsuccessfully assisted people convicted of abusing children, including a woman in Hawaii who broke the teeth out of her nieces’ and nephews’ mouths with a hammer.
She claimed her conviction was invalid because her sovereignty group, Hawaiian Kingdom Government, said she did nothing wrong. Miller was spokesperson for the group and has claimed he is King of Hawaii. Miller says people don’t need to pay taxes if they can "prove that money is a verb," and he offers seminars around the country on how to use his language to defend against criminal charges. Regardless of any connection with Loughner, these anti-government grammar people are, just… wow. I need to go lie down now.
Basically, we’re not talking about political ideology, we’re talking about Grammar Nazism as a way of life.
There’s more about the guy. Tech news outlet WebProNews had the scoop – I’ll quote it in it’s entirety, since it now seems to be missing from their site (saved by my RSS archives):
The media and social media echo chambers of Twitter and Facebook may have a problem with their storyline that Jared Loughner was motivated by the Tea Party movement if the tweets of a former classmate are accurate. Obviously, the truth is that the killer has mental issues and no political philosophy is responsible. However, in light of the thousands of Twitter posts and hundreds of articles referencing Sarah Palin or the Tea Party as having an influence on Jared Loughner these Twitter comments should be given some exposure.
Just hours after the killing of six innocent people and the severe wounding of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords a former friend and classmate Caitie Parker posted these comments on her Twitter account:
@johnedelstein & when I say "us" or "our" I mean our group. There were 5-6 of us that hung out in hs.
@johnedelstein well for the Bush/Kerry election we all wore "1 term president" buttons. That election was HUGE to us.
@icwhatudo he was leftwing when I knew him in hs & college, 3 years ago. So he may have changed, who knows. But thanks.
@johnedelstein we listened to political punk in high school & agreed with their leftist opinions for the most part Anti-Flag was our band.
@johnedelstein also probably more libertarian & definitely socially liberal.
@johnedelstein liberal in wanting to change the way the world was run, we both wanted to. He took it to an extreme I never would’ve.
@icwhatudo he was leftwing when I knew him in hs & college, 3 years ago. So he may have changed, who knows. But thanks.
@lakarune I haven’t seen him since ’07. Then, he was left wing.
@antderosa As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.
@antderosa he was a pot head & into rock like Hendrix,The Doors, Anti-Flag. I haven’t seen him in person since ’07 in a sign language class
@antderosa He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in ’07, asked her a question & he told me she was "stupid & unintelligent"
How does this have anything to do with political ideology? Does this guy sound like the sort of person who watches Glenn Beck or would vote for Sarah Palin?
More importantly: why does it matter?
Rightwing podcaster and friend Wendy beat me to the punch on the whole “being a voice of reason” in this sea of insanity:
…both left and right (though left-wing media far outnumbers right) – are baying for more blood, by blaming each other for the carnage.
The meme on the left is that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are responsible for this tragedy, what with their re-load, Apocalypso, allegedly hate-filled harping. On the right, frequent mentions of shooter Jared Loughner’s reading list (Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf) are made, making him out to be a leftist of the most dangerous kind. After all, it’s not like the left doesn’t use rhetoric or violent imagery… (or make snuff films about killing a sitting president)
I don’t believe Jared Loughner to be either left or right. He’s more of a Dylan Klebold than a Lee Harvey Oswald. A messed up kid that’s had a hate-on for Rep Giffords since 2007 – long before anyone knew the name Sarah Palin – and whose preferred book list is lacking only Catcher In The Rye to make him the quintessential attention seeker. In fact, if his favorite book is the Communist Manifesto that puts him on a par with Canadian blogger Dr. Dawg, who blames Sarah Palin. And if he hates government and religion and smokes a lot of weed, that puts him more in the Ron Paul/Cato Institute group of crazies, doesn’t it? Pass the bong, dude.
This kid can’t be pigeonholed, because his head is so messed up. We can play the left-vs-right game all we want in search of meaning behind this, but in the end, all we’ll do is further divide the country. Lock him up with Hinckley and Chapman, and throw away the key.
I really can’t say it any better than that.
A politico is defined as “someone who is engaged in the political process.” In America, this is defined as the regular non-violent revolution we call “elections.” Jared went outside that framework. As disenfranchised as I am about politics, I’m not about to take up arms against my government. I prefer to remain a “politico.”
This kid is messed up in the head – but what’s equally messed up is that this post needs to exist at all: that a large number of folks (folks in the majority, in terms of governing power) are saying that their opposition is to blame for this tragedy.
Think about it – the Republicans only barely hold a majority in one of the branches of our federal government. The other two branches are largely dominated by members of the Democrat party. This party is wasting no time at all vilifying their minority opposition as murderers.
That’s messed up, no matter how you slice it, and I won’t tolerate this sort of asinine opinion in my activity stream or my life. If you take the opinion that folks who believe conservatively are trying to incite a violent revolution against liberals with me, expect me to turn around, walk the other way, and never look back.