18 January 2011

Words, Responsibility, Hypocrisy

On January 16, 2011, in the “Communities” section of The Washington Times online, which seems somewhat deceptive, Amanda Read berated “liberal media” (and some other odds and ends that apparently made good distractions) for their insensitive and irrational criticism of Sarah Palin. If the piece is representative, I am disappointed to find another purportedly educated person delusional or simply as given to shamelessly fueling the fear-mongering bandwagon as those she seeks to defend. She criticizes criticism, mocks those who dare mock, interprets misinterpretations, judges the judges, spins the spin...all while apparently seeing her point of view as...different, smarter, right. By Read’s own report, President Obama seemed to follow the Tucson shootings with invitations to take better care of each other, while Sarah Palin took the opportunity to whine about being picked on, again pretending that she doesn’t (or forgetting she does) say about half of the ugly, negative crap she does.

Am I criticizing Amanda Read? You bet I am. Is it unfair? Let’s see...she wrote an “article” intended for public consumption, purposely sought this stage, and in doing so declared herself a credible source, a voice worth listening to, in order to manipulate people’s opinions, the heinous sin with which she is charging others. In other words, much like with Sarah Palin, it’s not only fair, but it would be downright irresponsible of me not to respond in just this fashion, and far be it from me to shirk my “individual responsibility” as an American, as directed by the late President Reagan, a man for whom I actually had great admiration and respect.

For the most part, I simply shook my head as I read the “Not Your Average Read” (conjured, no doubt, in a fit of marketing genius), but there are a few points to which I was compelled to respond as follows:

“As Loughner’s incoherent ramblings and love of conspiracy spiraled downward to senseless bloodshed, King Solomon’s warning proved true - ‘the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness’ (Ecclesiastes 10:12-13).”

So this is what we have to look forward to from Glenn Beck?

“In response to the tragedy, President Obama’s January 12th speech in Tucson was a bit better than I expected.”

What? You expected President Obama to fail? No! Really? To provide more fodder for your criticism? But you’re not part of the problem, right? Here’s the thing...on the rare occasion that I purposely listen to anything Sarah Palin says, it’s in the hope and full expectation that she will show a little more humanity, that she will have abandoned her mission of giving her audience somebody new to hate or fear every single time she opens her mouth, that just once, she’ll either say something nice, or not say anything at all. For real, I expect that; I look for it. Thank you for clearing up for me what exactly you and others like you are spending your energy looking for. It does shed some light, at least on your initial motivation, although it does further cloud how you can possibly find so much fault with whatever truly liberal journalists you could find for leaping so allegedly unfairly on Sarah Palin’s pleas of innocence. (Side note: as though this time were actually about her.)

“Why is it that some in the media find it so hard to blame the murderer alone for murder?”

Because he is not alone in the production. He alone is guilty of shooting those people. But it is not as though his craziness was a secret kept hidden until that day or as though he showed up out of the blue and killed people with his bare hands.

“‘We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.’”

Damn straight, each and every individual. Every individual who insists that the 2nd amendment guarantees his/her right to tote around a Glock like it’s a pack of gum; every individual who runs for public office (or has a cable tv reality show) and makes a platform of turning people against each other, making somebody afraid of somebody else every time she speaks, and crying when she’s called on it; every "journalist" who wants to insist on individual responsibility while disregarding both individual and collective influence.

“(By the way, Palin is now receiving an unprecedented number of death threats. Will the media tell us which group of people is to blame for that?)”

Well, then, I guess she and the president have finally found something in common. Do I smell a beer summit? Surely death threats are not only a bad thing now that Sarah Palin’s getting more of them? Surely you’re not suggesting now that there’s a correlation between rhetoric and death threats...because if there wasn’t before, it certainly would seem to undermine your position to claim that there is now just because a new target’s been added.

“But for some nonreason her words can't just mean that - nothing that Palin says can possibly be taken rationally. There must be something perverse, something apocalyptic - something potentially devastating to humanity - in every slightest gesture Palin makes.”

First of all, who exactly is it, if not Sarah Palin herself, that has worked to ensure that her every word and gesture is? She’s built a career, hell, an identity, out of her own rhetoric (or at least what’s written for her). She alone is soliciting credibility based on what she produces for the public. If Jared Loughner is to be held solely responsible for his actions (and this presumably means absent even mitigating circumstances), then surely Sarah Palin should be held equally responsible for the role in which she has begged to be cast.

Second, if you want the things you say to be “taken rationally,” you should develop the habit of saying rational things, not charging people $500 each (pure profit--news flash, people, the “Tea Party” is not a “party,” just a bunch of people shopping for political offices) to listen to her read from her hand about things she can’t talk about otherwise. I could be wrong, but it seems like if you do understand something and you can talk about it, you would. Right? And it definitely can’t be a none-of-your-beeswax thing if you’re portraying yourself as serious political (leadership) potential.

“‘Because fighting and warfare are the most routine of political metaphors.’”

It is completely absurd to even try to make the case that violent metaphors have identical weight and meaning coming from both sides of the gun rights debate. If I threaten to shoot you, I will bet my ass that you’ll feel a whole lot more uncomfortable with it if I’m holding a gun than if I’m not. These are factors you cannot ignore in this conversation, at least if you hope to make a valid point to anyone but your usual audience, and if that’s all you’re aiming for, you’re just sucking up.

“As Charles Krauthammer masterfully explained:” ... “The likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann...”

Charles Krauthammer? Michele Bachmann? Really?? This is the company you offer for Sarah Palin in her defense?

Charles Krauthammer has never “masterfully” explained anything that I’ve ever heard. In fact, let’s just shut down his justification of torture right here: A. If you’re that sure that by torturing one, you’ll be able to save many, you must already have enough information to act on something. Get it? Again, if you’re that sure of what information that man can provide to you, then you should have no reason to torture him. B. It’s never okay unless it’d be okay to do it to you.

Now, Michele Bachmann??? Do you really not understand that criticism of her need have nothing whatsoever to do with rhetoric or “battle imagery?” My favorite Michele Bachmann quote, from a 2009 interview with a Minnesota radio station: “And the real concern is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward....” For crying out loud, President Obama is not going to put our young people into re-education camps. That is not “rhetorical,” much less harmless. That is nothing but self-serving, irresponsible pandering to the most ignorant, paranoid, conservative-conditioned people she could possibly get to listen and then, of course, be afraid enough to run out and vote for her. There is nothing mistakable, or defensible, about those words, and they are typical of her, and of Sarah Palin. Individual responsibility, indeed. Please see your own Ecclesiastes quote above.

“What would be good to see less of is thoroughly nasty and disrespectful hate spewings that don't deserve to be called rhetoric.”

Ya think??!!

“Opponents of the Tea Party and conservative leaders would do well to focus on looking for facts instead of reading into rhetoric messages that just aren't there.”

Aren’t there??? MY WIFE received a piece of mail at our home from now-Governor Bill Haslam’s campaign vowing to “protect the traditional family.” It was addressed TO HER FAMILY, not “our neighbor,” not “current occupant,” but to “The Farr Household.”

First, “protect?” Again with this need to “protect” the "traditional" family? Seriously? The only time something needs “protecting” is if it’s being threatened, if it is in danger. This is not my biased, petty, liberal little opinion; these are the meanings of words agreed upon long before I ever used them.

Second, WE -- “The Farr Household” -- are not one of the “traditional” families you’re vowing to protect. By process of elimination, we must then be one of the non-traditional families from whom the traditional families need to be protected.

How dare anyone suggest that we have read anything into that “rhetoric message” that was not there? It’s there in bold freaking print, and how dare anyone talk about individual responsibility without being either willing or able to recognize where all it’s lacking?

“Remember, a fear of subliminal conspiracy in words is part of what drove Jared Loughner insane.”

Maybe...just maybe...that’s the point.

One person was crazy and violent that morning in Tucson. One person directly caused the deaths of several innocent people and devastated the lives of so many more. But there is more than enough laziness, ignorance, arrogance, self-absorption, unaccountability, and yes, blame, to go around, a few times; and Loughner’s own responsibility does not absolve anyone else of theirs. Look around. We're all still here together.