Monday, January 10, 2011


As we are sure you've heard by now, this past Saturday morning, a crazed 22 year old gunman in Arizona shot and killed six people, and wounded thirteen others, including Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Sadly, and yet unsurprisingly, by Saturday afternoon, finger-pointing and blame-shifting from both ends of the political spectrum were being blasted throughout the media as the cause for this senseless act.

In light of the sad and unnecessary violent killings in Omaha last week at both a school and a local business, as well as one in Baltimore, and now in Tucson, we have had more than enough of hateful rhetoric.

What we are going to say here is similar to what has already been said by some of the best examples of media integrity this past weekend - but it bears saying again, repeatedly.

We ALL need to stop the kind of irresponsible, nasty talk that has permeated our politics, especially over the past 15 years. From far right to far left, it is time - long past time, in fact - for our politicians and especially our media commentators to stop using the metaphors of violence and war to describe those with whom we have simple ideological differences.

It is also LONG past time for us to stop making a false equivalency between those on the left and the right.

There was a time when large numbers of those in power and in positions of authority on the political left regularly used violence in their rhetoric. That time has long passed and was in full bloom before most of our staff were even born. Even so, it was inexcusable at the time, and it is just as inexcusable now.

Likewise, the recent trend of hyper-violent rhetoric on the political right has has not passed our notice. It has now gone far beyond what any sane individuals recognized as healthy. Crosshairs on maps targeting political opponents should NEVER be used as they were by a recent candidate for the Vice-President's office of the United States. Public exhortations by that same individual as "Don't Retreat, instead - RELOAD" are more than just offensive - they are incendiary. Outright threats of using "Second Amendment remedies" if votes don't end up the way conservative Congressional candidates desire are inexcusable. Commentaries labeling those who oppose the author as murderers when they are not, are not acceptable. Commentaries that take out of context Thomas Jefferson's comments on watering the tree of liberty are equally heinous and dangerous. Those in the media who use that kind of rhetoric to whip up their audience, as a cheap way to gain attention, are more heinous than most.

We are not, in any way, absolving anyone on the political left from their own hate-filled rhetoric. The truth, however, is that conservative media figures on radio and TV who are important and powerful enough to have the ability to move large numbers of people have not advocated violence against their fellow right-wingers.  No one of any serious stature on the left - in congressional speeches, in national tv or radio programs, or in national print media - has regularly and recently called for the kind and degree of violence that has become so commonplace to hear coming from those in positions of authority on the right.

That does not absolve anyone of any political affiliation, of the responsibility for our collective part in this culture of violence.

We are ALL to blame for the culture we have created, and it is long past time for us to do what it takes to rein it in.

We close today with a pledge, initially put forth over the weekend by the television commentator Keith Olbermann, who himself admitted his own part in creating this atmosphere.

We think EVERY American should take this pledge, as we do today, and especially everyone who works in politics or media:

"Violence and the threat of violence has no place in our democracy. We apologize for and repudiate any acts, words, or images, or anything in our our pasts which may have even inadvertently encouraged violence towards one another, over politics. Whatever else we may be, we are all, first and foremost, Americans."

It is time we all said together, as one people, "Enough."

No comments:

Post a Comment