Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another Timeline of Incendiary Statements

It's not just the leading media organizations in this country actively promoting the notion that Michele Bachmann had something to do with the Tucson shootings, based on grossly out-of-context remarks. Our local free weekly, the City Pages is on the bandwagon as well. They present a timeline of her "incendiary statements. It includes the preposterous and utterly debunked "armed and dangerous" comment she said on the NARN First Team. Here's how they preface their contrived pearl clutching:

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords barely survived a massacre in Tucson on Saturday, after gunman Jared Lee Loughner opened fire on her and a crowd of supporters and staff.

Six people died in the attack, including a judge and a 9-year-old girl. Many more were injured. And now there have been calls for politicians like Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to ease up on political speeches that glorify gun rhetoric and bloody revolutions.

What they then document, more than anything else, is Michele's use of military metaphors. Something perhaps unwise for a politician to do in this hyper politically correct day and age. But it's entirely in the realm of mainstream American speech. All the things that matter to people -- sports, politics, work, sex (for some weirdo's, you know who you are) -- commonly are subject to the use of martial imagery. Why? I imagine it's because they're important and people emphasize that through the use of the most urgent, critical, high-stakes, life-and-death wording they can think of. It's hyperbole, exaggeration to make a point.

That's not to say there aren't examples of speech that cross the line. The New York Times' Nate Silver made that point in a recent Tweet:

Think we ought to be distinguishing "violent" political metaphors (which are ubiquitous) from actual calls to violence (which are rare).

That is a key distinction. Calls to violence are beyond the pale and need to be delegitimized by all people of good will. As documented by the City Pages, Michele Bachmann has never engaged in calls to violence. But you know who has?

It occurred to me when reading their faulty characterization of Michele Bachmann's and Sarah Palin's comments:

"And now there have been calls for politicians like Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to ease up on political speeches that glorify gun rhetoric and bloody revolutions."

Glorifying revolution, you say? You know, that rings a bell. Not from Michele Bachmann. No, when I think of rhetoric about bloody revolutions, there's only one statement that stands out from the past few years. And what do you know, it appeared on the City Pages web site:

From September 22, 2003, a characterization of the consequences if George Bush were to win reelection in 2004:

In my heart, I still believe in revolution. In my heart, I still think I have the 'nads to put my life on the line for a cause. In my gut I think this is the only way we'll ever achieve our goals of economic and social justice. But in my head, I want to win the next election so we don't have to have a revolution.

Of course, Bush won decisively in 2004 and the revolution has yet emerge. Luckily, the City Pages is as good at predicting the future as they are at identifying the causes of gun violence.

A few other golden nuggets from the City Pages, that paper who is scolding Republicans for glorifying gun rhetoric.

From an article on September 29, 2004:

Curtiss A hates you, but probably not as much as he hates, say, Dr. Phil and, for sure, not as much as he hates Republicans--as demonstrated by the 53-year-old rocker/artist/local legend's latest creation, a T-shirt emblazoned with "Kill Republicans, Not Mourning Doves" on the front, and "Start With Norm" on the back.

"Have we forgotten that all Republicans are criminals?" he rants. "Reagan? Iran-Contra? I don't care how much everybody likes him and thinks he looks like Superman. F*** him. F*** Nancy. F*** Laura [Bush], Nancy, the Bush twins; they should all be eviscerated. And Norm Coleman is spawn of the devil.

Does that qualify as a call to violence? Is that glorifying anything? Granted, they are officially just reporting on the subject of an article, it's not their own editorial opinion. But the reporter and editors chose to publish these particular facts about musician Curtiss A, rather than all of the other charming witticisms and commentary I'm sure he provided. And they present it uncritically. There were no indignant calls for him to ease back his rhetoric or a timeline of his incendiary statements. In fact, his words are presented with a wink and a smile. If nothing else, publicizing these views certainly adds to a certain climate of, I don't know, hate?

One more. This item from October, 2006. It was the midst of Bush's second term and the height of local examples of Bush Derangement Syndrome:

I'm here to say that Ike Reilly stood on a stage at an amusement park in Shakopee, Minnesota last night, in front of 200 or so hardy souls in f***ing hats and gloves and down coats, fending off winter and celebrating Halloween and Friday the 13th, and sang "Who says you can't take a shot at a president?" and "We're drinking to your assassination" three weeks before Election Day. And those might not have even been the best moments.

Does that in any way qualify as glorifying gun rhetoric? Is that a call to violence? It certainly gets closer to those notions than anything they've documented from Michele Bachmann.

You get the sense that the City Pages cares less about the evils of glorifying gun rhetoric than they do about making sure its it's aimed at the right target.