Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Unarmed, But Even More Dangerous

One of the more depressing aspects of the media reaction to the Tucson shootings has been a rekindling of the scurrilous charge that Michele Bachmann did something heinously wrong in her comments that citizens should be "armed and dangerous" regarding proposed global warming legislation.

Believe it or not, Rep. Bachmann made that comment on the First Team of the Northern Alliance Radio Network. If only the station got royalties every time a media outlet quotes this statement or plays a hatchet job YouTube version of the audio, maybe the show would still be around today!

As a first person participant in that conversation, I am in a prime position to accurately relay what was said and what it meant. And I did so in this post, back in March of 2009, when this trumped up controversy first started making the rounds on the lefty blogs and oozing into fellow traveling mainstream media outlets. I thought I put this to bed once and for all with my definitive account. But people are still misreporting the incident. How frustrating it is to chisel something into the stone tablets that are the Internet and still have people get it wrong! What the hell's wrong with you people?

Let's go over it one more time, quoting from my March 2009 words:

Restoring the context, surrounding this statement (and her entire point for being on the show) was her promotion of two public forums she's hosting with a researcher on the consequences of the upcoming Obama energy tax schemes. It was obvious that her comments about "arming" related to arming oneself with information and the "revolt" was about citizens opposing this legislation through normal channels (petition for redress of grievances, right to assembly, make known you're willing to force the bums who vote for it to look for other career opportunities, etc.)

I'll go one better. Here's the absolute definitive account of what she said in all of its glorious context. The original audio, still posted on the Town Hall web site, from March 21, 2009, linked here.

Listen to it yourself, the context is crystal clear. The "armed and dangerous" comment occurs at about 11:45. But I'm sure all the professional journalists and bloggers out there will want to listen to the whole thing, to ensure their accounts are truthful and fair.

Or maybe they won't. Despite the fact that truth has been out there for all this time already, here's just a sampling of how her comments have been used in the past few days. You may have heard of a few of these news outlets.

The New York Times, as relayed by a Nobel Prize winner, no less:

It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.

If Al Gore is any guide, this level of misrepresentation and context mangling may earn Krugman a second honor from the Nobel Committee, this time the Peace Prize.

From the Washington Post:

Trading in ambiguity and veiled threats, thugs, whether on the streets or in the political suites, can always deny they meant any harm. (...)

From Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.): I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people - we the people - are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country."

The shooter's motive in this case could have nothing at all to do with the statements of people such as Broden and Bachmann. But Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik, who is leading the investigation into the shootings, minced no words in saying that vitriol spewed mostly by Republicans had contributed to the tragedy in Tucson.

On CNN, via professional comedian and amateur criminal psychologist Bill Maher:

... Sarah Palin put the cross hairs up on her website. That’s a person in a position of authority. Her other example was, you know, Keith Olbermann says worst person in the world.” Well, first of all, it’s comedy. It’s tongue in cheek. And it’s very different than what Alan West talks about, what Michele Bachmann talks about. I want to, you know, keep my opponents scared to come out of his house. I want Minnesotans armed and dangerous. Sharron Angle with 2nd amendment remedies. Nobody on the left is saying it would cause a rational person to do something crazy. We’re saying it goes out to the borderline cases, the nutty people. but it’s always from the right.

On MSNBC, via Joe Scarborough:

Scarborough, who especially criticized Fox's Glenn Beck for his relentless incendiary attacks on Obama, said "conservatives do themselves a disservice if they don't look in the mirror" regarding the increasing vitriol coming from the right." He added that "conservatives need to call out, yes, Sarah Palin for putting gun sights" on target lists on her website and that they "need to call out Michelle Bachmann for telling Minnesotans to be armed and dangerous."

No, conservatives need to call out Joe Scarborough for being an hysterical ninny. And for running with a story that is 100% false.

The irony in all of this is that Michele Bachmann was calling for people to be "armed" with the facts so they can be dangerous to counter arguments. These professional pundits and journalists prove that being utterly devoid of the facts is even more dangerous.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker, another first person witness to Michele Bachmann's comments, sheds more light on the subject:

For the record, here is what Michele said: "I'm going to have materials for people when they leave. I want people armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back." Yes, that's right: she wanted Minnesotans to be armed with materials--facts and arguments--not guns. If this is the best example of "eliminationist rhetoric" that the far left can come up with, you can see how absurdly weak the claims of Krugman and his fellow haters are.