Monday, April 06, 2009

Responding to Alex Koppelman.


Saturday morning brought news of what's being described as "the worst police shooting in the modern history of Pittsburgh." A 22-year-old man named Richard Poplawski allegedly shot and killed three police officers who'd come to his house in response to a domestic disturbance call from his mother.

There's a political angle to this story, as Poplawski was apparently concerned that the Obama administration planned to radically diminish the freedom of American citizens, taking away both First and Second Amendment rights, among other things. And liberal bloggers have been running with this angle. At Firedoglake, for instance, Blue Texan wrote that Fox News host Glenn Beck and NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre have "blood on their hands." On Twitter, the DailyKos' Markos Moulitsas opined, "When we were out of power, we organized to win the next election. Conservatives, apparently, prefer to talk 'revolution' and kill cops."

This sort of thing happens almost every time there's a crime like this with a political element to it. One side goes on the attack, claiming their opponents are responsible for the deaths, while the other counterattacks, saying their opponents are just exploiting the tragedy. And then, when the shoe's on the other foot, the same drama plays out -- right accusing left, left accusing right, and plenty of hypocrisy all around. It's probably time to just declare this sort of political exploitation of tragedy ghoulish, and to forswear it, no matter who's responsible.

First, I find the equivalence here exceedingly lazy. When was the last time some left-winger killed a bunch of people armed with talking points provided by say, Rachel Maddow or the ACLU? I don't remember one either.

And Alex, who has been kind to this blog and who I like a lot, is missing the point. It goes without saying that the shooter is the responsible party. But to suggest that the non-stop fear-mongering by the NRA and right-wing media figures like Beck are in no way culpable here is problematic, since the shooter's very specific views about Obama banning guns are their meat and potatoes. And have been for decades.

In reply to a comment at FDL, in a post about Michelle Bachmann, I wrote,
It’s precisely because there are armed paranoid crazies out there that people in media or leadership positions like Bachmann use mass media responsibly.
To attribute no cause and effect or connection between all of this right-wing poison being pumped through the nation's airwaves and computers and acts of violence like we've seen in Pittsburgh and Knoxville is simply to deny the power of mass media.

If you keep telling people over and over that we've been taken over by a dark enemy, a crypto Muslim socialist/fascist, who will strip your guns away, enslave you via taxation, and brainwash your children in government gulags, how do you think the unhinged ones will eventually respond?

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