Monday, January 10, 2011

The Shooting in Arizona: More Questions Than Answers

"… we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list but the thing is that the way she's had it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun site over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize that there [are] consequences to that action." Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, March 25, 2010
Anger, they say, is merely the human response to not having as much control as you wish to have over a situation you care a great deal about. If you truly have total control, like say an emperor or dictator or multi-national CEO does, you need never get upset. You simply, calmly express your will, and it is done.

Therefore, I've always considered calmness (or the lack of visible anger) a good indication of which people in the public eye feel they are in control and which do not. John McCain is clearly not in control of the domain he wishes to be. Barack Obama on the other hand seems much more calm than I imagine anyone else in his shoes could be.

Generating anger in the public via political rhetoric, therefore, is as simple as encouraging people to feel they are not in control over something they wish to be. Especially over something they care a great deal about, like, say, the health of their loved ones:

As more Americans delve into the disturbing details of the nationalized health care plan that the current administration is rushing through Congress, our collective jaw is dropping, and we’re saying not just no, but hell no!

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.

---Sarah Palin's Facebook entry on the Health Care Overhaul designed to increase the number of Americans who have access to coverage.

Sarah Palin's now infamous "Cross hairs" map targeted Arizona Congresswoman Giffords specifically because of how Giffords voted on the Health Care Overhaul bill. Sarah Palin went to extraordinary rhetorical lengths to encourage her readers to feel the control they have over their own "life and death decisions" was being threatened by this legislation. In doing so, Palin encouraged the resulting anger that such a personal insecurity would generate.

But that's actually all we know at this point.

There is no evidence yet that Congresswoman Giffords' attacker was specifically angry over health care legislation, that he ever saw the Palin map or heard her rhetoric, or that he wasn't in fact a Democrat. All indications so far suggest he was simply deranged.

Still, it would be the best response to the shooting imaginable by the Palin camp to make a strong statement that indeed there are dangers to stirring up people's core insecurities. And for them to tone it down a few notches. Out of respect for the victims and their families.

Labels: politics


Anonymous laura said...

Anyway, I am still under shock for what happened. I am foreigner and cannot conceive the idea that a crazy guy is able to buy weaponry so easily. I am puzzled how nobody even talks about this and keeps going with the political rhetoric to use your words.

1/10/2011 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Julie Sadler said...

As artists and dealers, we are especially aware of how humans react to visual symbology. Good grief, this is no secret! Try wearing a swastika and see the responses you get!
I feel it is entirely irresponsible of Sarah Palin or anybody for that matter, to think that using crosshairs as a symbol does not send some kind subtle message. Did Sarah Palin purposefully use these symbols, trying to suggest that you kill??> Well no. But she is constantly shown on tv with guns, in her TV show she is killing animals several times (I read this online, I personally protest and refuse to watch it), even depicted in satire by the Taiwanese with guns, and she uses gun terminology all the time in her speech. Is her message violent? You Betcha!
Did her map send Loughner over the edge? it remains to be seen. But without a doubt, her gun happy attitude is contributing to our current heated social climate.

1/10/2011 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

I was just thinking that "deranged" people are the barometer of society. It doesn't bode well.

1/10/2011 11:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we're witnessing is a Master Class in media hypocrisy. Notwithstanding the profound stupidity of Sarah Palin, the truth of this is the perpetrator is a lunatic whose politics tilt decidedly to the Left. Just as the media turns a disingenuous blind eye to the religious affiliation of Nidal Hasan, perpetrator of the Fort Hood shooting, or turns a blind eye to the obvious peril America is in as we hurdle toward financial ruin (you ain't seen nothin' yet!), they would rather focus on Palin and Beck than look at the cancerous language perpetrated on the Left. That is to say, rather than examining their own guilt and accountability. After all, Gabrielle Giffords is a former Republican who supports immigration reform and having National Guardsmen on the border. It begs the question, would this media be as vocal and outraged if the victim here were a Republican, or even Palin or Beck?

1/11/2011 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

"they would rather focus on Palin and Beck than look at the cancerous language perpetrated on the Left"

Please point to someone on the left is as high a position as Palin who is spouting language as cancerous as hers.

1/11/2011 08:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew someone from the core of the art world would jump on the Palin hate wagon. I'm no fan of Palin or her politics, but if you are going to slam her with charges of hate filled political rhetoric by use of images you might want to step back and recall the number of art exhibits nationwide that depicted then President Bush in worse scenarios.

I can recall images of Bush with crosshairs over his face at SCOPE a few years back. I can recall an image that depicted Bush being ripped to pieces by black youths at Bridge when Bridge was still kicking. I can recall public funded exhibits that depicted the same line of images fueled by Leftist hate imagery against the Right.

Which is worse? A politician who uses crosshairs in the same manner that some store chains use crosshairs in their discount ads? Or institutions that define visual culture that allow such imagery to dominate simply because political rhetoric creates media buzz?

I can think off hand of several quotes by President Obama, whom I voted for, that involve statements such as "we are at war with the Right" and other statements that promote the idea that citizens are in a "battle" over culture. If we are to think that Palin meant to stir crazed individuals into killing we much then ask if Obama is trying to stir civil war.

Be careful how you use this to bash the Right because it will most likely come back to bite our backsides.

If Palin is to be held responsible for these murders I suppose that means that gallery owners who exhibit depictions of specifc groups being killed or tortured should be held responsible if some crazy goes on a rampage. Is that what you are saying?

You were interviewed by an art writer who has a series called Assassination. Does that mean if someone kills you durig a mugging or someting like that we should force a connection of dots and all blame that writer for his use of the word assassination? Think about it.

Another problem with this story is that the media is barely mentioning details of the killers personal life. For example, he was an avid reader of socialist viewpoints, he has Obama bumper stickers on his car, his friends have made it clear that he was an Obama supporter. What angered him about Giffords is that she is technically a conservative Democrat.

Have you looked up some of the killers online accounts? He was a self-described anarchist which is as far Left as you can go. When Bush was still in office he posted rants about how Bush should be terminated. He obviously was not stable and I think it is amusing how people are trying to show how Right wing he was when everthing he stood for was predominately Leftist in ideology.

1/11/2011 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I've noted, as you do Anonymous, that there's no discernible direct connection between Palin's rhetoric and the shooter. But to suggest that we shouldn't even discuss the positively haunting coincidence of a Congresswoman targeted with a crosshair image, who predicted it could bring violence, then later being shot is to be willfully idiotic. Politics is the most obvious thing in the world to discuss in the light of a political assassination attempt.

All this, "don't mention Palin" is ignorning the proverbial gorilla in the room. Palin's rhetoric was the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard about the shooting. Because of Palin's non-stop, lock-n-load, Annie Oakely style rhetoric I have been EXPECTING something like this to happen.

Now, because the Right doesn't like people bringing up their extremist rhetoric, the rest of us have to ignore the obvious?


PS. I googled your Obama doesn't turn up. You shouldn't use quotation marks where you're not sure the person said such a thing. It's a sue-able offense.

1/11/2011 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Oh, and one other thing...if any of the rhetoric on the left coincides, God forbid, with an assassination on attempt on a Republican, I'll be the first to point that out and criticize it as well.

1/11/2011 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

For the record, I agree with George Packer on this:

[I]t won’t do to dig up stray comments by Obama, Allen Grayson, or any other Democrat who used metaphors of combat over the past few years, and then try to claim some balance of responsibility in the implied violence of current American politics. (Most of the Obama quotes that appear in the comments were lame attempts to reassure his base that he can get mad and fight back, i.e., signs that he’s practically incapable of personal aggression in politics.) In fact, there is no balance—none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

1/11/2011 12:31:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home