Archive for January 12th, 2011
Sister Sarah, who seems to communicate now only through tweets and Facebook posts, has a new video up on her Facebook site. WC freely admits he has a very difficult time watching The Quitter’s videos. Her voice provokes a fingernails-on-the-chalkboard reaction in WC. It’s not just the Mickey-Mouse-on-helium voice or the fake upper midwest accent; it’s the whole package. The non sequiturs, the appeals to ignorance, the word salad. It takes WC back to his teaching days, when he had to listen to and grade high school students in public speaking classes.
WC watched the whole sordid effort. As a result, WC’s lingering nausea may be coloring this post. But its seems to WC that, in the best case, Caribou Barbie has acquired a pernicious case of foot in mouth disease; in the worst case, she is guilty of a shocking attack on Jews in general and the gravely injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in particular.
Alaska’s Shame said, in part:
But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
At least that’s the best that WC can transcribe her statement. Sister Sarah certainly said “manufacture a blood libel.” Now maybe Palin is simply off refudiating again, but the phrase “blood libel” has any number of horrible meanings, none of which is even slightly appropriate in this context.
“Blood libel,” in one sense, is the evil, deliberate lie that Jews use the blood of Christian children in Jewish religious rituals. So Palin, a famously, arrogantly fundamentalist Christian, is dredging up anti-Semite fabrications, when talking about an attack on a Jewish Congresswoman?
The broader meaning is even worse. It traces to Matthew 27:24-25.
24. When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”
25. And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
(King James version, via Passage Lookup)
That passage has been taken by Christians for centuries to mean that the Jewish people collectively and for perpetuity bear direct responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ and were therefore fair game for persecution and extermination. It has been used to justify pogroms, expulsions and discrimination. It has fed horrible Christian myths, such as those circulating in the middle ages, that Jews kidnapped and sacrificed Christian children to use their blood during Passover commemorations.
Again, Rep. Giffords is Jewish. Sarah Palin has the unmitigated gall to refer to “blood libel” in this situation and then call anyone else “reprehensible”?
As for “incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn,” WC thinks that those “pundits” may have touched one of Sarah’s nerves. WC certainly hasn’t called for hatred or violence. Paul Krugman hasn’t called for hatred or violence. It’s exactly the opposite: most commentators have called for political debate that avoids violent metaphors, that doesn’t involve rifle crosshairs on elections districts, that doesn’t involve references to “Second Amendment Solutions,” that doesn’t involve firing automatic weapons at election rallies. Caribou Barbie has taken calls for reason and turned them into calls for “hatred and violence.”
WC suspects that, like Rush Limbaugh, she sees calls for less violent, less incendiary campaigning as personal attacks on her inflammatory rhetoric. And that there may even be a twinge of a guilty conscience operating. After all, the infamous Sarahpac crosshairs advert came down very quickly after the shootings.
And then there’s The Quitter’s reference to dueling. If Sarah had paid any attention in American History classes, she’d know that the most famous duel in American history occurred on July 11, 1804, when Vice President Aaron Burr shot and fatally wounded former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. That incident, and the public reaction to it, contributed greatly to the anti-dueling movement, and the eventual criminalization of the conduct.
Why not do the same here? Can we use this tragedy as a good reason to ratchet down the obscenely high violence of American political rhetoric? Can we learn from this awful tragedy?
Two personal notes to Ms. “Reload”:
(1) Please read this. Do you have the courage to answer?
(2) You don’t have to answer. In fact, why not just shut up? You’ve got foot in mouth disease, and each time you open your mouth you just make things worse.
On Monday, while Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was struggling for her life, Rush Limbaugh said:
And the first thought, the desperate hope that the losers in November of 2010 had, was that they could revitalize their political fortunes because of this unfortunate shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona. That was the most important thing to them — and that, to me, is sick.
Actually, that didn’t happen. What Limbaugh is doing is projecting his values, his techniques, his approaches to a tragedy, onto others. Not everyone is capable of swimming that far down in the cesspool. And he is simply lying. Even if he is not capable of feeling genuine grief and compassion, others are.
Limbaugh went on to claim,
Their first objective and first priority was to try to make an association between this nut and Sarah Palin. What? That’s absolutely… You talk about insane? This guy doesn’t know Sarah Palin. She doesn’t know him. The really weak, flimsy, balsawood-type attempts to link this guy to Sarah Palin?
This is a nice example of the fallacy of misdirection, sometimes called the “straw man” argument. Combined with a couple of non-sequiturs. It’s utterly irrelevant whether they know each other. Nor are the links to Palin; the links are to the attitudes, the violent metaphors, that Palin and Limbaugh espouse. Clearly, those links troubled Palin or she wouldn’t have been taking down her cross-hair target map just hours after the shootings. Limbaugh probably isn’t as smart as he thinks he is, but he’s smart enough to know what he is doing here: raising a straw man argument.
Speaking on his radio show Tuesday, Limbaugh said that Loughner was getting coddled by those damn liberals:
What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country. He’s sitting there in jail. He knows what’s going on, he knows that…the Democrat party is attempting to find anybody but him to blame. He knows if he plays his cards right, he’s just a victim. He’s the latest in a never-ending parade of victims brought about by the unfairness of America…this guy clearly understands he’s getting all the attention and he understands he’s got a political party doing everything it can, plus a local sheriff doing everything that they can to make sure he’s not convicted of murder – but something lesser.
Limbaugh has a slightly subtler form of fallacy going here. Any thinking American would be appalled looking at the smirking skinhead in Loughner’s mug shot. But by definition, you can’t know what a mentally ill person is thinking. Even so, Limbaugh has taken his view of the world and projected it onto a madman. In Limbaugh’s view of the world, the bad guys – the Democrats – want every criminal to go scot-free. The world view is absurd, but that doesn’t stop Limbaugh from seeing it in a madman’s smirk.
It’s a fairly canny law and order pitch. But it’s premise is that Loughner is thinking rationally. That’s unlikely. Anyway, WC has a prediction for Mr. Limbaugh: Loughner won’t be out of prison or a prison hospital again in this lifetime. Loughner may or may not get the death penalty. WC would prefer Loughner be cured of his mental illness, and then spend his life rotting in prison.
Limbaugh, never one to avoid a passing cheap shot, also flails at Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff responsible for dealing with the Arizona shootings. Sheriff Dupnik said, it’s “the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business.” Limbaugh understands that Sheriff Dupnik is criticizing Limbaugh and his noisy colleagues. So Limbaugh, without a shred of evidence. accuses Sheriff Dupnik of being soft on crime. An obvious ad hominem fallacy. Standard fare for Limbaugh.
Why anyone listens to this windbag is beyond WC. He exudes a cloud of lies, hate, distortions and slander. He’s purely incapable of recognizing, let alone admitting, that Sheriff Dupnik as exactly right. He’s the problem; not a solution.