Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Using Language as a Weapon

The day of the shootings in Tucson, many people - including myself - jumped on the "this is all the fault of the right wing, gun-loving Republicans and Tea Partiers" before really knowing any of the facts about the shooter. There are still a lot of questions about his motives, but in the meantime there has been a lot of discussion about the vitriolic rhetoric that comes, predominantly, from the right. That's not to say that the left doesn't have a few choice words for the right from time to time, but if you watch any of the news shows on TV or read the news online or in the papers, it's hard to deny that most of the inflammatory, violently worded speechifying is coming from people like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and their ilk.

I say it's hard to deny but in fact there are some people out there who do try to deny it by pointing out any one-time instance of a Democrat or left-leaning journalist using similar language. One of the main reasons this blog came into being was because of a heated argument I was having with someone on Facebook that I consider a good friend. This is someone I know personally, so it's not just an internet friendship. The argument got started AFTER I took a step back from pointing fingers at one side and admitted that both sides use language that could be interpreted by a mentally deranged person as a call to action. I was trying to make a point that the right seems to take every opportunity they can to get on TV, the radio or the internet to manipulate their viewers and listeners into a sense of outrage with their histrionic, usually violently-tinged messages, but EVERYONE needs to take a step back and think before they speak because, even if the Arizona shooter wasn't pushed into action by Palin's crosshair - I mean surveyor's marks - map or any of Glenn Beck's ridiculous rants, there are people out there who very well could take those words and images as a call to action to "take out" a politician the right doesn't like. My friend didn't seem to understand or want to hear what I was saying because no matter how many times I said that everyone needed to think before they spoke, my comments were met with yet another obscure remark made by someone on the left.

So, before things got to a point that I ended up posting something I would regret and end up losing a friend, or two (and these are people I've known for years), I put an end to the discussion, deleted all of the political posts on my page and decided to post my thoughts here. Strangely enough, on the January 17th edition of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, he - and John McCain of all people - pretty much delivered the same message that I was trying to impart to my friend.

I hope that my friend and others understand now what I was trying to say. Whether or not the shooter in Arizona was influenced by political rhetoric, anyone who uses the media to deliver a message to the masses should take a lesson away from this incident and just think before they speak. I may just be living in a fantasy world where people can learn from this tragedy, because a lot of the people who had fingers pointing at them are now calling themselves victims and blaming the Congresswoman for being shot because she didn't have any security or because she wasn't carrying a gun herself. Funny, but I don't hear anyone on the left blaming Giffords for allowing herself to get shot in the head.

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