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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Columnist Kathleen Parker Should be Disqualified

In her most recent column, Kathleen Parker attempts to diminish the latest public outrage against Sarah Palin as mere hysteria provoked by over-sensitivity and then suggests that anyone who invokes Hitler or Nazism is asking for trouble in free speechery.
Burlington Free Press Excerpt:
You want real trouble in free speechery? Suggest that someone is Hitler-esque or a Nazi, as Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen recently did. Cohen was trying to make the case that, in his view, Republicans have created untruths about health care reform that have become credible through repetition.
Baloney! Trouble starts when someone begins drawing gun sight crosshairs on congressional districts and repeatedly use words like, "don't retreat - reload." That's trouble. But it really doesn't hit home until someone guns down the targeted district representative and kills six others and doesn't retreat, but is only stopped during reloading. That's real trouble. But the really big trouble in free speechery doesn't begin until defenders of the "crosshairs and reloading" start demonizing people simply because they connected the words and imagery to the actions. Excuse me for relating the two - but people died. Sarah Palin, Bachmann, Beck and their band of idiot-worshipping idiots need to deal with the consequences of their rhetoric.

At the same time I'm fully aware of the negative connotations behind Nazi imagery and invoking Adoph Hitler. It's taboo in America as it should be, but its use is not targeting someone for murder. I've heard so-called conservatives and their sponsors repeatedly lie about and demonize the American policies of their opposition with references to Marx or socialism, even linking up the goals of American democratic policies with the body counts under Stalin or Mao. It is rhetoric with an intention no less disturbing than invoking Nazism, yet I don't hear about anybody disqualifying the authors of those words. Elected public officials, talk show hosts and columnists use it all the time. People shrug. Yet, as much as I detest the language and references of American policies to communism and body counts, it's not murderous rhetoric. Much like invoking Nazism, it lacks originality. But so what.

We are led to believe that the biggest outrage about our current problem in free speechery is the fact that some folks are finally picking up the incendiary devices and throwing them back. It's not. The biggest outrage is that Parker and others are only now crying foul.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the term "Hitler" should be replaced by "One-Ball" and "cross-hair" imagery be replaced with "circle, circle / dot, dot" imagery. That way, the language will match the level of the discourse.

Lou Kaye said...

Personally, I have absolutely no problem with the labeling or the imagery - it's free speech. Even the targeting with cross hairs. It's subject to interpretation but it's also subject to social justice. Palin, Bachmann, Beck et al are free to fire away and do as they wish as much as anyone else. But it seems to me that the moment the other side decides to throw something back, particularly relating to Hitler or Nazism - suddenly it's uh-oh, now you're asking for trouble in free speechery. Take a time out buster, you're over the line.

patrick said...

The people who connected the cross-hairs to Palin are her political enemies; they are not stupid enough to suspect that those images did anything to encouraged a deranged man to kill innocent people, nor are they--or the writer of this post for that matter--really concerned that anyone was hurt. They just want to damage Palin who they are obsessed with (in a creepy way). If the cross haris were really something they were really concerned with they would have noted that both parties heve regularly used similar imagery and both have used "military" metaphors to define political conflicts.

One would think that considering the time elapsed, we would find a little more insight on the issue than we find here.


Lou Kaye said...

Palin connected the gunsight cross-hairs to herself. Her opposition did not make her use that imagery or twist her arms to use those metaphors. Palin alone (and Bachmann to some extent) used the "don't retreat - reload" as a political slogan to score an advantage with their gun toting supporters. Sure, both parties have used military metaphors in their campaign slogans in the past, but when I attended two recent Tea Party rallies, I felt like I was at a gun show. I don't get the same feeling at labor union or democratic rallies.

Whether it was right or proper for people to connect Palin to the shooting shouldn't be the question - it's the fact that something in the human psyche of many people, some who have little political motivation otr intent, made them connect her to the shooting. That language and imagery is a gamble the Tea Party and Palin appear to be willing to take for political gain. They may be a victim of circumstances this time, but what about the next?

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