Sarah Palin is back in the headlines, surprise surprise, though this time it’s more serious than for her shockingly bad ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ TV show.
The story broke yesterday of the shooting of US congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords and 5 others:
Six other people, including a nine-year-old girl, a federal judge and a member of Giffords’ staff, were killed when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket in Tucson where Giffords was meeting with constituents, shooting 18 people.
Giffords, a 40-year-old Democratic member of the House of Representatives, was in a critical condition at the University Medical Centre in Tucson, where she was operated on by a team of neurosurgeons.
This horrific case has stimulated a number of debates over gun control and second amendment rights, but, possibly the biggest talking point arisen from the case concerns comments Sarah Palin made about the congresswomen before her critical shooting.
Gabrielle Giffords, to fill you in, is a very moderate Democrat. She supported second amendment rights (the right to bear arms) and took a strong stance against illegal immigration from Mexico into her state of Arizona. So, what could this women of done to annoying Palin? She went and voted for healthcare reform.
In March, after the Health Care reform bill passed, vandals broke the door of her district office - one of several attacks against Democrats following the vote.
Basically, she made the mistake of using the democratic process to vote against Sarah Palin and her tea party mob. Pfft, amateur. But we live in democracy, yes? We discuss things and whatever reflects the opinion of the majority passes, right? Well that’s not how the Tea Party roll, unfortunately. Following on from the attacks on her office, Palin released this poster, the item that has caused the biggest fallout following Gifford’s shooting.
A poster, with cross hairs above congress-people who voted for health care reform, with the campaign’s associated catchphrase ‘don’t retreat, just reload!’. People have naturally gone a bit ape-shit over it.
In response, the Republicans have shown this image of a Democratic campaign poster…
Problem is a) no names b) no crosshairs and c) It doesn’t fucking say reload, does it!
Now I don’t for a second suggest that Palin wanted any harm to Giffords herself, but it was a stupid thing to do. You have a country with very lucid controls on guns, and one with a long history of gun-related violence (e.g Columbine, Virginia Tech). I’m not one personally that likes drawing a link between catalyst and cause. People who blame Marilyn Manson’s goth-pop for school shootings or that if you read ‘Catcher in the Rye’ you’re going to end up killing a music icon. No. Invariably, people that go on mental shooting sprees tend to be bat-shit crazy. If it isn’t one thing it’ll be the other. People use these events to try and supress free speech and diversity.
Take the killer for example:
A former classmate of Loughner at Pima Community College said he was “obviously very disturbed.”
“He disrupted class frequently with nonsensical outbursts,” said Lynda Sorenson, who took a math class with Loughner last summer at Pima Community College’s Northwest campus.
On Dec. 13, he wrote: “I don’t feel good: I’m ready to kill a police officer! I can say it.”
“I’m thinking of creating a new currency,” he wrote. “Therefore, I’m thinking of a design for my new coins size, shape, color, material, and image to start a new money system.”
Clearly the assailant had shown signs before the event that he had the capacity to entertain such disturbing thoughts.
But, this doesn’t mean that people should be given carte-blache to say anything they want against people. And this isn’t the first time that the ‘Right’s’ words of vitriol have been arguably linked to deaths. George Tiller, a doctor who gave late term abortions to women in Wichita, Kansas, was assassinated in May 2009. This same doctor was frequently called ‘Tiller, Tiller, baby killer!’ on FOX news by Republican-bias anchors; with head pundit Bill O’Reilly stating that he ‘wouldn’t want to be Tiller, Kathleen Sebelius, and other pro-choice Kansas politicians if there is a judgment day’. Though Tiller’s line of work made him a target for unhinged pro-lifers, portraying someone as a murderer who will burn in hell, is perhaps NOT the message you should be promoting on national TV.
I mean, just examine the original poster again. Imagine if that had been released by Al-Qaida or religious fundamentalists. All HELL would have broken loose. These same Republicans, leaping to defence of Plain would be using all sorts of colourful language to describe the assailants. ‘They hate America! They are nut-jobs that should be wiped off the face of the planet’. So why is Palin getting a pass then? Is it because she’s white? Is it because she’s Christian? Is it because she’s a white, Christian, Republican?
Like I said earlier, I dislike when people frame the catalyst as the cause of events. I’ve played violent videogames, yet I’ve never shot a prostitute. I’ve listened to dark, metal music, yet I’ve never been inclined to take part in a satanic mass suicide. No, Palin’s poster didn’t cause the death of Giffords, but you know, here’s a thought; perhaps in a civilised society, we shouldn’t produce posters with people’s name below a cross-hair encouraging people to ‘reload’. Call me crazy, but perhaps that’s a little rule of thumb we should adopt. Perhaps we should have smart debate to solve disputes, rather than push bullshit, populist rhetoric to get your point across. Perhaps we should have a bit of thought when we construct our views in poster form (‘Wait, guns are easily available, aren’t they? And this country has had instances of shooting, hasn’t it? I’m just take the crosshairs off this bit……and maybe the bit that says reload, as well….’).
Anyway, to lift the mood a bit, here’s the Palin we all know and love, making an arse out of herself on national TV.