Andrew Sullivan has a compilation of some of the more prominent — and vitriolic — responses to the requests from just about everyone to take it down a notch.
A survey of the bloggy scene suggests a rigid, uniform, passionate position that this assassination has nothing whatsoever to do with violent rhetoric and political polarization. It is as if some loony had just randomly shot some schoolkids or ran into a mall killing strangers. If you are looking for reflectiveness, you won’t find it, in what strikes me as an ominous sign of a right-wing movement more willing to see its opponents gunned down than ever engage in introspection.
He then cites specifics from such cool considerate souls as Jack Shafer:
Our spirited political discourse, complete with name-calling, vilification—and, yes, violent imagery—is a good thing. Better that angry people unload their fury in public than let it fester and turn septic in private. The wicked direction the American debate often takes is not a sign of danger but of freedom. And I’ll punch out the lights of anybody who tries to take it away from me.
Ah, going for ironic touch, I see. And then there’s Glenn Reynolds, who offers two choices:
To be clear, if you’re using this event to criticize the “rhetoric” of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you’re either: (a) asserting a connection between the “rhetoric” and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you’re not, in which case you’re just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?
Well, as I noted yesterday, how about Ms. Palin acknowledging that her PAC ad with gunsights — oh, I’m sorry; “surveyor marks” — was in poor taste and she should apologize?
My favorite, though, is Jonah Goldberg, who offers a mocking series of solutions to the problem of getting past those who are metaphorically challenged.
Let us “hold our fire” and talk no more of “campaigns.” Let us ban the phrase “over the top” even when discussing over the top rhetoric. Never again must we focus on “battleground states” or even cast our eyes on a “battleground” poll. Goodbye ad “blitzes,” “ad wars,” and “air wars” too. Politicians shouldn’t “fire when ready” or unready. And aides should never jump on even a figurative grenade. This is the end of to union-launched “offensives” in the “trenches” and the demise of full-on “assaults.” Let’s not discuss the “nuclear option,” and call an end to the “wars” on poverty and cancer. We must liberate ourselves from our “bunkers” and forget “defending our territory” electorally or metaphorically. Likewise, let us never speak again of opening a new “front” here, there or anywhere. Purge from the history books Al Gore’s oath to “stand and fight” and John Kerry’s schmaltzy “reporting for duty.” Alas, I cannot think of what to all this cessation in militaristic discourse, since none dare call is a “truce” or a “ceasefire.”
He had me at the scare-quotes.
Basically what these tell us is that these people know exactly what’s going on here with the high-pitched noise and that they egged it on. Now that it’s being brought to their attention that it just might be a factor — tangential or not — in the shooting in Tucson, they’re acting like the kid caught stealing from the cookie jar, screaming their denials, and spewing crumbs through the air.