Aggressively violent imagery - equal among both parties?

In this Pit thread some people seemed to suggest that the use of violent imagery was used equally by politicians, candidates, and commentators of both Dem/liberal and Repub/conservative persuasions.

I have not done a study of it, but it simply shocked me to hear someone suggest as much. My impression was that the Republicans, with their generally greater support of the military and gun rights, necessarly relied on more allusions to weapons, war and such than their opponents. Right now Sarah Palin seems to get as much press as just about anyone, and she sure works the gun imagery harder than anyone else I can think of.

I’m not saying SP or any particular individual is at fault for the AZ shooting, but I do say that I consider a violent trend in political speech unfortunate. Is anyone aware of any studies that have been done by any political/media watchdogs to assess the use of violent imagery by folk on different ends of the spectrum?

And somewhat less telling, is anyone aware of a comparison of acts of violence that were done in furtherance of conservative as opposed to liberal ideology? Yes, Tim McVeigh, this AZ guy, abortion doctor killers, and others are/were nuts, but I’m not readily thinking of a ton of folk who resorted to violence to advance liberal positions.

(Basically talking out loud here, folks. I acknowledge that Repubs like Ford was targetted twice and Reagan and Wallace shot - tho not sure of the political motivations of the shooters. And I note that some conservative folk might consider legal abortion to be the murder of many.)

Democrats used target symbols in their imagery to go after house districts. They believe its innocuous since it’s the same symbol used by the retailer Target. (uhm, copyright infringment much?)

Semantics. This whole argument is stupid, and a shame that people, pundits, etc. are using a tragedy for political argument.

I’m very dubious that it’s equal. I think it’s clear at this point that both parties have used this kind of language, which is going to mean different things to different people. Whether any of that played a role in the attack in Arizona is unknown as far as I’m concerned, although the shooter is crazy enough that the attack could have happened without it.

An attempted assassination is by definition a political act. How could such an event be discussed without political implications?

It’s not even close to equal.

Depends on how one characterizes it. To my mind “assassination is a political act” makes sense as a description where the assassin has a recognizable political goal.

In this case, “mass murder by a deranged person” may be the better description in light of the evidence.

Considering the suspect has not spoken and it’s unclear what his motivations were, to assume that it was a political assassination attempt is premature and speculative.

First off, I want to say that I agree with you on this point. I think the OP is aware that this discussion is tangential to the topic of the Arizona shooting, or at least has made clear his intention to set it aside for the purpose of this discussion.

I also do not believe that Sarah Palin’s infamous map influenced the shooter. Just my supposition, but since everyone else is making suppositions, why can’t I? Regardless, I do find the map offensive.

That said:

I have heard this a number of times since last Saturday. Do you really think that these maps are equivalent? Target imagery is not so outrageous on its own. People target problems, they target compeititors, they target customers, they target markets, they target sales increases, they target areas for improvement…a simple graphic of a target does not strike me as necessarily violent imagery.

Palin’s map doesn’t just feature targets, it features CROSSHAIRS. Her choice of imagery is far more literal. Pair that with her choice of words such as “reload,” and the image becomes far more violent.

I go back and forth on how much I feel maps like this have actually damaged the national discourse, but it doesn’t seem reasonable to me to draw equivalancy between the two.

They target prey to be killed.

I personally don’t care one way or the other about the violent language or imagery. It is common to talk about your opponents in those types of terms. And yes both party candidates, pundits, analysts, editorialists, bloggers, do it.

What’s next? Banning of violent talk around sports?

I must conditionally agree here. In order to continue being the devil’s advocate, does anyone have figures on the number of shootings done in the US so far this month? Anyone have any figures of the number of multiple-victim incidents? And any real reason to categorize this one incident as being quantitatively different than any other shooting so far this year?

I understand the politically sensitive folks see partisan politics (and their personal political bogeymen) in every situation, but as an apolitical mugwump I see another mentally unstable person shooting at a public gathering.

To my mind the two are not really equivalent, but in isolation I don’t really find the use of crosshairs offensive.

After all, it is common to use such imagry when discussing matters political. politicians “target” districts, are out to “bag” their opponents, etc. etc.

Generally, it isn’t taken literally by anyone.

It is only in the atmosphere of “second amendment solutions” being bandied about that the concern would even be raised. Then, use of crosshairs (or even targets) starts to look in questionable taste.

Since the Democrats have by and large not created that atmosphere, I’d not even blink at their using targets. Normally, I would not blink at using crosshairs either.

It’s not equal. It’s not close. However, ISTM that of the mainstream Republicans, Sarah Palin is to blame for like 60% of this stuff all by herself.

The Patriot Shop is still selling Liberal Hunting Licenses . Am I wrong in concluding they are conservatives making light of killing liberals?

Giffords was not a random victim. It seems pretty clear that the attacker specifically targeted the holder of a political office, and that he had what were–to him, at least–“political” ideas. Crazy ideas, yes–but we might say that about plenty of other (non-violent) political actors. The content and coherence of his particular ideas doesn’t make them non-political.

A deliberate, specific attack on the holder of (or candidate for) a political office, based on the fact of that person’s connection to that office, is an assassination (attempt). An attacker’s reasons for wanting a politician dead may or may not turn out to be of further importance, but the act itself is all that is required for a political context to be relevant and, indeed, unavoidable, in the ensuing discussion.

Seeing Rep. Giffords (or any political figure) dead is a recognizable political goal. It may not make sense with respect to furthering a particular long-term agenda, but that might be said of any number of overtly political acts. If somebody votes for Politician A for stupid or crazy reasons, we don’t say that their vote is therefore not really a political act. Voting is, by definition and in all cases, a political act. So too for assassination.

I don’t believe I am the only person to have felt that there has been a change in the tone of political rhetoric recently, with an increase of violent imagery/appeals. I though I had heard at least some commtators and politicians across the spectrum condemning such a trend.

I think SP’s map is but one teeny-tiny example of this trend, and if it existed without any trend, or if SP were not so strongly identified with weapons causes/images/language, the map would never merit notice or comment.

The Republican party has actively courted hate groups. Anything that could be interpreted as violent imagery would have been done so by those groups. Democrats are pusillanimous nitwits, but have not exploited hatred in the manner of the Republicans in recent years.

Since most people had never heard of her before mid 2008, is she to blame for 60% of the violent rhetoric that occured prior to 2008? Or has the amount of violent rhetoric increased by 150% since her arrival on the political scene? :rolleyes:


Since you seem to know the suspect’s thought process, what was his reasoning for killing a nine year old? Potential senator?

Yeah, seems about right to me.