Blood Sport

For a moment, let’s pretend that Saturday, January 8, 2011, did not happen. For a moment, pretend no one got shot in Tucson, Arizona. Pretend there never was a flap about the language of our political discourse, and whether that contributed to a shattering tragedy.

Let’s have a conversation about our language anyway.

Do we want to immerse ourselves in the imagery of violence and blood, division and hatred, fear and oppression? Does that really advance sound and reasoned discourse?

I proudly proclaim myself to be an ardent partisan on the Left, advancing classical progressive positions, an old-school liberal of the Kennedy era. Any partisan is going to have blind spots. That is in the nature of having a brain that functions the way human brains do. So no doubt it’s easier for me to see undesirable rhetoric from the Other Side. I’m sure partisans on the Right will assemble examples from the Left.

What purpose does it serve to use the over-the-top language of “tyranny” and “totalitarianism,” or to invoke the ghost of Hitler?  When everyday policy discussions are presented as a struggle of “liberty” against “oppression,” the merits of the actual policy proposals are disregarded, shoved aside, unconsidered. When one side seeks to demonize the other, no room remains for rational conversation.

Even worse: we force our national debate into armed camps—literally as well as metaphorically. The language continues to degenerate into talk of taking up arms, of revolution, of shedding blood. View this as real and present threats, or as mere colorful advertising, whichever you like. Either way, the contest becomes one between Good and Evil, rather than between honestly contrasting approaches to solving our problems.

When one is facing a foe that one truly views as wishing the downfall of all that is holy and good, then the only possible course is of unyielding opposition, and perhaps even literal open warfare. Is this truly the direction we wish to move our nation? Do we really want to cause our fellow citizens to shed their blood over tax rates or banking regulations? Do we really even want to envision that?

There is a continuum in this language, from mere bluster and insult, to open calls for secession and for revolt, putting opponents into the crosshairs of one’s shotgun, and feeding our soil with the blood of fellow Americans. How literally and seriously do we take this imagery? We can probably accept that anyone hurling an insults actually means to be insulting. But at what point along that continuum do we stop and say, “They’re not serious. No one would really start shooting at political opponents. Not in America!

And yet, when those who use this language are encouraged to admit it’s mere hyperbole, they seldom do. They’ll insist, in ominous tones, “No, I mean it. Revolt is an option. If things keep going this way, we will engage in Second Amendment Remedies…”

So why should we not take the purveyors of this language at their word, and treat them as we would any terrorist? For that is what this languages does. It is designed and intended to invoke terror. Do we dare to not take it seriously? Or is “taking it seriously” just another example of demonizing the opposition?

Let’s return to the Real World. Yes, Saturday, January 8, 2011, did happen. Since then, many on the Left have called for more reasonable language in our national conversation. This call has been resisted by many on the Right. Much of that resistance has itself taken the form of still more rhetoric of unreasoned hatred. We’ve been deflected into a debate over the detestable charge of “blood libel.” Instead of talking rationally about rational talk, another rhetorical bombshell has been thrown to detour us into still more insane accusations.

Why does the Right resist calls to civility with such defensive passion? Why try to paint itself as victims even in a struggle to achieve reasoned discourse? Here’s my theory: the Right today has nothing else to offer. They have no policy, no suggestions for actually moving our nation forward. They have only fear and a call to fear. They cannot discuss the challenges we face in rational terms, because they have no rational argument to make.

To my friends on the Right, I say: Prove me wrong. Show me that there is substance on the Right, and not mere mudslinging and violence. Don’t get defensive, don’t launch into schoolyard counter-taunts of “Well, you do it too!” Let’s see if we can have a conversation thread, perhaps about the upcoming House vote on health care—by all the Gods, please, even just one conversation thread—that doesn’t use any of the Luntz potty terms (“Porkulus,” “Obamacare,” “tyranny,” “Socialism,” etc.).

Prove you can converse rationally, without invoking the specter of violence, and without presenting our contrasting approaches to America’s problems as if it were a battle between liberty and oppression.

I dare you.


About dcpetterson

D. C. Petterson is a novelist and a software consultant in Minnesota who has been writing science fiction since the age of six. He lives with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and two lizards, and insists that grandchildren are the reward for having survived teenagers. When not writing stories or software, he plays guitar, engages in political debate, and reads a lot of history and physics texts for fun.
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54 Responses to Blood Sport

  1. filistro says:

    Good title, DC, and a thoughtful provocative article, too..

    Something I’ve been musing over lately (thanks to Sarah Palin, I guess) is this growing Republican obsession with BLOOD. Where does it come from, and what does it mean?

    We’ve all seen the Teaper signs advising us that “the tree of liberty has to be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” They LOVE that saying.

    But there’s also Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) in August of 2009, telling her fellow Republicans “we need to slit our wrists, put them together and become blood brothers in our opposition to the health care bill.”

    Phil Gingrey, (R-GA) Sept 12 2010, called for a covenant from Republicans, “signed in blood if necessary” to oppose any attempt to prevent the extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the rich.

    Steve King (R-IA) Sept. 20 2010, demanded a “blood oath” from Minority Leader Boehner to shut down the govt. in the new legislature if Dem policies could not be stopped in any other way.

    And then, right on cue, Sarah Palin accuses her political opponents of “blood libel.”

    It’s very odd. Why this fascination with BLOOD? Is it arcane Christian symbolism of some kind? A dog-whistle call for violent insurrection? One thing that’s certain… all this is more than just coincidence. There must be some kind of meaning to it.

  2. Bart DePalma says:

    Do we want to immerse ourselves in the imagery of violence and blood, division and hatred, fear and oppression?

    Division in political discourse is unavoidable.

    Descriptions of government oppressions are pretty much per for the course as well.

    Fear, hatred, blood and violence are only part of discourse when the people are denied democratic and legal remedies for government oppressions and are considering revolution.

    What purpose does it serve to use the over-the-top language of “tyranny” and “totalitarianism,” or to invoke the ghost of Hitler?

    To correctly identify and analogize the government oppression at issue.

    When everyday policy discussions are presented as a struggle of “liberty” against “oppression,” the merits of the actual policy proposals are disregarded, shoved aside, unconsidered.

    All of human politics has been a never ending debate over the space allocated for individual liberty and government power. This allocation goes directly to the merits of a policy proposal.

    The language continues to degenerate into talk of taking up arms, of revolution, of shedding blood.

    Really? Who has been calling for actual armed revolution since the Weathermen and Black Panthers?

    Invoking the principles for which we fought during the American Revolution or using the imagery of our Revolution is not remotely the same thing as calling for actual armed revolution.

    The Tea Party in particular and conservatives and libertarians in general first petitioned their representatives and then voted unresponsive representatives out of power. No calls for actual violence nor any perpetration of actual violence.

    Sharon Angle’s comment about “Second Amendment remedies” was offered as the alternative if elections do not work. If elections are taken away from us, there should and will be a Second Amendment remedy.

    The only threats of actual violence were made by SEIU and ACORN thugs against bank employees in sPring 2009. The only actual political violence was inflicted by SEIU thugs against Tea Party protestors in Tampa and St. Louis.

    You folks on the left claiming to desire civility did not murmur one peep of protest at these actual threats and violence from supporters of the Dem government. Indeed, Missouri Dems congratulated SEIU for their efforts after they put a vendor in the hospital.

    With the exception of Oklahoma City, nearly every example of political violence comes from the left. None of which are followed by protests by the guardians of civility on the left.

    Clean up your own behavior before you presume to lecture us about ours.

  3. dcpetterson says:

    Bart, I want to thank you for providing an example of precisely the meaningless and senseless nonsense I was talking about. I feared, for a moment, that I would be challenged to prove that anyone on the Right truly used that sort of despicable and vile rhetoric. I guess I didn’t have to worry.

    Clearly too, you’re not up to the challenge of having a conversation on rational grounds. Thank you for helping to confirm my theory that at least some on the Right don’t converse rationally because they have nothing rational to say.

    When invited to speak civilly in an effort to reach toward true solutions to America’s difficulties, you instead increase the level of your paranoid and inflammatory language. Thank you again, I wasn’t sure I could find an example of anyone so clearly irrational.

  4. dcpetterson says:

    Fear, hatred, blood and violence are only part of discourse when the people are denied democratic and legal remedies for government oppressions and are considering revolution.

    Since “the people” are not being “denied democratic and legal remedies for government oppressions” in America, this is rather a moot point.

    I could ask if your statement should be taken to imply that there really are people today who are “considering revolution”. If so, that would imply some of your friends actually are thinking about committing violence, a charge you have frequently denied. If not, then you are just using incendiary language with no actual meaning, another charge you have frequently denied. But the question isn’t worth asking, because either way, your answer will consist of little more than repetitions of the same rhetoric.

    No calls for actual violence nor any perpetration of actual violence.

    You make this claim elsewhere in your comment as well. Jean had a post on the Free Forum Friday thread (January 15, 2011 at 11:08) that rather proves you wrong.

    If elections are taken away from us, there should and will be a Second Amendment remedy.

    Since no one has suggested “taking elections away,” this seems like a rather pointless point to make — unless the idea was simply to stress a gun fetish.

    Your “You too!” arguments are equally pointless. I’d agree that vile rhetoric from anyone is vile. My suggestion is to instead attempt a rational conversation, which you have demonstrated an inability to do.

    Your insistence that the Right has never threatened violence seems disingenuous at best. There is no other way to interpret signs such as “We came unarmed — THIS TIME!” If you want us to think of these and other imagery of blood and guns and revolution as no more than political theater, then we’ll be free to laugh at you from now on. Because it’s not very good political theater, neither clever nor intelligent, and does nothing to address America’s actual issues.

  5. shortchain says:

    So, according to Bart, all that is necessary to co-opt the language and imagery of violence is to claim that one is being denied their rights to democratic redress of their grievances.

    That’s right, there’s only a claim, no evidence — in fact, given the last election, it would appear that the aggrieved right got more than it deserved in the way of democratic redress, in the manner of a pendulum swing.

    Shall we then, on the left, claim that our democratic redress has been denied because, like the right, we lost an election, and our representatives are compromising with the GOP?

  6. Bartbuster says:

    Sharon Angle’s comment about “Second Amendment remedies” was offered as the alternative if elections do not work. If elections are taken away from us, there should and will be a Second Amendment remedy.

    What a pantload. No one ever suggested taking away elections. Angle’s comments were in response to LOSING an election.

  7. dcpetterson says:

    @shortchain
    So, according to Bart, all that is necessary to co-opt the language and imagery of violence is to claim that one is being denied their rights to democratic redress of their grievances.

    We should also note that “using the language and imagery of violence” is to be claimed as something other than “actually threatening violence.” George Orwell had a lot to say about this sort of use of language. Nineteen Eighty-Four seems to be the manual for generating Frank Luntz talking points.

  8. dcpetterson says:

    @Bartbuster
    No one ever suggested taking away elections. Angle’s comments were in response to LOSING an election.

    To some on the Right, “losing an election” is the same thing as “being denied democratic and legal remedies for government oppressions,” because “losing” is the same as “being oppressed.”

    Oh, for a rational conservative to converse with! I still hold out hope that such beings exist.

  9. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:

    Let me spell this out for you once again:

    1) Political speech addressing political policy divisions and government oppressions – petty and otherwise – are the stuff of healthy small “d” (if apparently no longer large “D”) democratic debate. If you don’t like the “incivility” of political speech challenging the legitimacy of your preferred policies, tough shit. Switch the channel to Friends.

    2) Political speech calling for armed revolution to change a government which refuses to enact the will of the People and infringes on the liberties of the People is perfectly legitimate if the remedies of elections and the rule of law are unavailable. Your suggestion otherwise is a repudiation of a founding principle of our Republic.

    3) The Tea Party/conservatives/libertarians never called for armed revolution nor acted to carry out armed revolution or any other sort of actual violence BECAUSE we were able to exercise the remedies of elections and hopefully the rule of law finding various acts of this government unconstitutional.

    Once you self appointed guardians of political civility on the left clean up the actual calls for violence and actual acts of violence on the left, then you can lecture me about using the term “tyranny” to describe tyrannical acts of government.

  10. Jean says:

    To answer Jonathon on an earlier thread,

    Jonathon said:

    Is there any evidence that “gun imagery” or Palin’s crosshairs or Angle statement about “second ammendment remedies” has ever led to any violence? Because if there is evidence that those things have led to violence, shouldn’t we also immediately force Hollywood to ban “gun imagery” and scenes of violence in movies? Same with the video game industry.

    See, Jonathan, you can’t have it both ways. Either words inspire or they don’t. Either imagery inspires or it doesn’t. If Palin honestly felt that that her crosshairs map played no part in this, she would not have taken it off of her site immediately after these events unfolded.

    If you tell people to bear arms, re-load, to use 2nd Amendment remedies, eventually someone is going to do just that. Now, can we draw a straight line from this incident to all of the violent rhetoric spouted by the right? No…. but, is that really an excuse to keep using it? Are we going to wait until we CAN draw a straight line from a crazy’s violent outburst to a Republican candidate or candidates? Doesn’t seem like the best idea. If anything, it should consider a warning. There are unhinged individuals out there and the last thing these unhinged folks need is people in prominent positions egging them on. That’s all the left has been saying from the start. Words do have consequences.

  11. filistro says:

    Bart, I am re-posting Jean’s well-compiled list of right-wing political violence over the past two years. Please retract immediately your false statement above that With the exception of Oklahoma City, nearly every example of political violence comes from the left. That is a lie. I submit that you cannot provide a similar list of left-wing political violence. If you have even a scrap of the kind of decency and intellectual seriousness that DC is asking for, you will apologize for your gross misstatement of fact.

    – July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how “liberals” are “destroying America,” walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

    – October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

    – December 2008: A pair of “Patriot” movement radicals — the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted “to attack the political infrastructure” — threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.

    – December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear “dirty bomb” in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.

    – January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

    – February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

    – April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.

    – April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama’s purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

    – May 2009: A “sovereign citizen” named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

    – June 2009: A Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protester named James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.

    – February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one “domestic terrorism” too.)

    – March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

    – March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

    – May 2010: A “sovereign citizen” from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

    – May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

    – May 2010: Two “sovereign citizens” named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

    – July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.

    – September 2010: A Concord, N.C., man is arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. The man, 26-year–old Justin Carl Moose, referred to himself as the “Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant.

  12. dcpetterson says:

    Bart, let me spell out some basic civics. (Emphasis below is mine.)

    1) Political speech addressing political policy divisions and government oppressions – petty and otherwise – are the stuff of healthy small “d” (if apparently no longer large “D”) democratic debate. If you don’t like the “incivility” of political speech challenging the legitimacy of your preferred policies, tough shit. Switch the channel to Friends.

    Challenging the effectiveness or possible results of a suggested policy is one thing. Challenging its legitimacy is something else. Because you disagree with policy, you are trying to claim those you disagree with are wielding illegitimate power, and are even oppressing you. This is utter nonsense. You lost an election. There is nothing “illegitimate” or “oppressive” about that. Get over it.

    2) Political speech calling for armed revolution to change a government which refuses to enact the will of the People and infringes on the liberties of the People is perfectly legitimate if the remedies of elections and the rule of law are unavailable. Your suggestion otherwise is a repudiation of a founding principle of our Republic.

    Since this Administration is in no way “infringing on the liberties of the People,” you are merely making offensive and inflammatory noises of the sort we’ve been decrying. In America, the “Will of the People” is carried out by electing Representatives who enact and execute and adjudicate laws. Again, you lost an election. Therefore, the policies you prefer didn’t get implemented. That’s the way democracy works, in case you didn’t know. Your suggestion otherwise is a repudiation of a founding principle of our Republic.

    3) The Tea Party/conservatives/libertarians never called for armed revolution nor acted to carry out armed revolution or any other sort of actual violence BECAUSE we were able to exercise the remedies of elections and hopefully the rule of law finding various acts of this government unconstitutional.

    So, answer this clearly — if the 2010 election had gone the other way, would you now be advocating revolt? If you lose elections, do you feel it is your right to engage in violence? Before the election, was the rhetoric of the Tea Party to be taken as a threat to engage in violence if they did not win several seats? Yes or no.

  13. dcpetterson says:

    And, lest the point be lost — Bart is continuing to use precisely the sort of inflammatory rhetoric we’re discussing. Its purpose is to deflect conversations away from any discussion of policy proposals — because Bart cannot discuss those rationally. Instead, he wishes to prevent those who are undecided from considering policies with which he disagrees.

  14. Bart DePalma says:

    filistro says: “Please retract immediately your false statement above that With the exception of Oklahoma City, nearly every example of political violence comes from the left.”

    Unlike you, I have no trouble retracting inaccurate posts. I was referring to violence against political leaders. However, my post was broader than that. I withdraw it.

  15. dcpetterson says:

    Bart:
    I was referring to violence against political leaders.

    Nonsense. More lies.
    Bart, January 15, 2011 at 13:14

    The only threats of actual violence were made by SEIU and ACORN thugs against bank employees in sPring 2009. The only actual political violence was inflicted by SEIU thugs against Tea Party protestors in Tampa and St. Louis.

    These were not “political leaders.” You were talking about violence in general. You now get to apologize for this new lie.

  16. Bartbuster says:

    There aren’t enough hours in the day for Baghdad Bart to apologize for all his lies.

  17. Bart DePalma says:

    BD: 1) Political speech addressing political policy divisions and government oppressions – petty and otherwise – are the stuff of healthy small “d” (if apparently no longer large “D”) democratic debate. If you don’t like the “incivility” of political speech challenging the legitimacy of your preferred policies, tough shit. Switch the channel to Friends.

    DC: Challenging the effectiveness or possible results of a suggested policy is one thing. Challenging its legitimacy is something else. Because you disagree with policy, you are trying to claim those you disagree with are wielding illegitimate power, and are even oppressing you. This is utter nonsense. You lost an election. There is nothing “illegitimate” or “oppressive” about that. Get over it.

    The fact that voters elected a political representative is not even prima facie evidence that the polices that representative enacts after election of legitimate. Polices which are contrary to the expressed will of the representative’s constituents, infringe upon the liberties of the constituents or are otherwise a violation of the Constitution’s limits on that representative’s powers are per se illegitimate. Moreover, when the representative runs on one set of policies and then enacts contrary policies, you have the political version of what would be civil and criminal consumer fraud if perpetrated by a business.

    BD: 2) Political speech calling for armed revolution to change a government which refuses to enact the will of the People and infringes on the liberties of the People is perfectly legitimate if the remedies of elections and the rule of law are unavailable. Your suggestion otherwise is a repudiation of a founding principle of our Republic.

    Since this Administration is in no way “infringing on the liberties of the People,” you are merely making offensive and inflammatory noises of the sort we’ve been decrying.

    As I am currently outlining the Obamacare chapters in my book, let’s use that legislation as an example. The Congress does not have the Article I power to compel me to purchase health insurance whose coverage is set by the government and whose price and thus coverage is limited by the government. In 2014, your freedom to contract to obtain the health insurance of your preference is gone. This is only the most basic summary of the Obamacare control over your health insurance and thus health care choices. My biggest challenge is boiling down all various infringements of this 2000+ page bill and subsequent regulations into only two chapters.

    BD: 3) The Tea Party/conservatives/libertarians never called for armed revolution nor acted to carry out armed revolution or any other sort of actual violence BECAUSE we were able to exercise the remedies of elections and hopefully the rule of law finding various acts of this government unconstitutional.

    So, answer this clearly — if the 2010 election had gone the other way, would you now be advocating revolt?

    No. The election remedy remains. A number of individual races did go the other way, like Nevada reelecting Harry Reid. Sharon Angle did not call for a revolution because she lost that election and neither is the Tea Party. We simply need to work harder educating voters as to why policies which enable the government to run their lives are wrong and those who advocate those policies should be voted out of office.

  18. filistro says:

    @Bart… Unlike you, I have no trouble retracting inaccurate posts. .. I withdraw it.

    Thank you. Though it would have been nice if your retraction had been a bit more gracious since your very admission (plus the list Jean compiled) proves I was NOT “inaccurate” in my original post.

    Clearly the overheated rhetoric on the right IS already inciting unhinged people to commit acts of political violence. We have an actual, documented list of such incidents.

    And since, as DC points out, you and your fellow travelers lack the intellectual honesty and self-examination necessary to even recognize what you are doing (let alone dial it back) we are destined to see more of this… and worse.

    What a terrible thing to do to a country you profess to love.

  19. dcpetterson says:

    Bart:

    The fact that voters elected a political representative is not even prima facie evidence that the polices that representative enacts after election of legitimate.

    Nor is the fact that you disagree with a policy any prima facie evidence that it is illegitimate. In fact, “policy” cannot be either “legitimate” or “illegitimate.” Use of this language is intentionally perverse.

    Polices which are contrary to the expressed will of the representative’s constituents, infringe upon the liberties of the constituents or are otherwise a violation of the Constitution’s limits on that representative’s powers are per se illegitimate.

    ::: sigh :::

    No. You are simply wrong on all counts. You need more civics lessons.

    “Polices which are contrary to the expressed will of the representative’s constituents” are simply unpopular, and the constituents have the chance to express their opinion on it at the next election.

    Policies which “infringe upon the liberties of the constituents or are otherwise a violation of the Constitution’s limits on that representative’s powers” are unconstitutional, and this is remedied by our courts.

    None of this has anything to do with a policy being “legitimate.”

    Moreover, when the representative runs on one set of policies and then enacts contrary policies, you have the political version of what would be civil and criminal consumer fraud if perpetrated by a business.

    ::: sigh :::

    And you claim to be a lawyer? Please cite the applicable law that the politician in question has broken. I won’t defend the actions you describe. But I will say that someone who opposed a particular candidate in the first place, and has shown a tendency to misrepresent that politician’s positions, is not a person who is qualified to judge whether that politician has kept his or her promises.

    The Congress does not have the Article I power to compel me to purchase health insurance whose coverage is set by the government and whose price and thus coverage is limited by the government.

    Fortunately, you are empowered only to have an opinion on this. But the question is decided, not by you, but by the Federal courts. And at any rate, even if you are correct on this issue, this has nothing to do with your language of “tyranny” or “infringing on the liberties of the People.” Your terminology is inflammatory and absurd. Your argument, whether correct or not, can be made rationally, without attempting to evoke faux moral or patriotic outrage.

    I asked”if the 2010 election had gone the other way, would you now be advocating revolt?” You answered:

    No. The election remedy remains.

    In America, of course, this is always the case. So the Teaper talk about “Second Amendment remedies” is always nothing other than unnecessary inflammatory nonsense. And that is the point.

    And therein endeth the lesson. Please take notes.

  20. dcpetterson says:

    And Bart, you long ago gave up the right to bleat about the “will of the people.”

    You opposed both the “public option” and the single-player idea for health care reform, both of which were overwhelmingly favored by a majority of the public.

    You opposed repeal of DADT, which was overwhelmingly favored by a majority of the public.

    You supported extension of the Bush tax cuts on people who make over $250,000, which was overwhelmingly opposed by a majority of the public.

    You opposed enactment of the START treaty, which was overwhelmingly favored by a majority of the public.

    Even today, you support repeal of PPACA. A majority of the public wants either to keep it, or to enhance it.

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

    Your rhetoric about “the will of the People” is simply another example of overheated and overblown meaningless inflammatory rhetoric — which, in this case, is additionally hypocritical and dishonest.

  21. shortchain says:

    How is Bart’s irrational imputation of tyranny and ignoring the will of the people that much different from Jared Loughner’s beliefs?

  22. dcpetterson says:

    @shortchain
    How is Bart’s irrational imputation of tyranny and ignoring the will of the people that much different from Jared Loughner’s beliefs?

    I think you make an important point. But it need not be particularized to Bart.

    I think the paranoid fantasies about the eeevil gubmint are a shared delusion, a symptom of an acute psychotic condition, which leads people to (among other things) join the Tea Party. Not that all Teapers necessarily share this particular psychotic condition. But I suspect this syndrome is one that pushes people toward those sorts of organizations and political philosophies.

    It is also a meme pushed heavily and reinforced by certain media personalities and outlets — Beck, Limbaugh, FOX “News”, and so on. Whether these outlets are a cause or contributing factor, or whether the people who run them are simply opportunists who pander to this audience, I don’t know. But there most assuredly is a correlation.

    That these also are the people using the incendiary rhetoric is important. This mode of expression of the paranoia is certainly taught by those media outlets. It’s all pretty interesting, from a psycho-social context.

  23. shiloh says:

    Barted ~ Fear, hatred, blood and violence are only part of discourse when the people are denied democratic and legal remedies for government oppressions and are considering revolution.

    Again Bartles feel free to stop whining at any time and let the record show Bart is totally in favor of violence er an anarchist ie (((blood and violence))).

    Better watch out Bart as the FBI/CIA now has you on record as a tar/feather/rails 😛 wannabe rebel w/out a cause revolutionary er All Hat, No Cattle blowhard! 😀

    Cry me a river …

    take care

  24. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Who’s this “Bart” y’all keep going on about?

  25. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:

    Polices which are contrary to the expressed will of the representative’s constituents” are not illegitimate, they are simply unpopular.

    Classic.

  26. dcpetterson says:

    Bart:

    Well, duh. Do you have a dictionary?

    By the way, how do constituents express their “will” in our democracy?

    Don’t answer. I will.

    At the ballot box.

    So if The People elect a representative, that means ….

    Well, you fill it in.

    You’re trying to substitute your will for the will of the American public.

    And you have the audacity to accuse other people of being totalitarians?

    Your arrogance and hypocrisy know no end, do they?

  27. dcpetterson says:

    It is amazing to me that Teapers seem to want to substitute mob rule — or maybe Scott Rasmussen — for the Constitution. And then they claim to respect the Constitution that they are throwing in the trash. And they defend the use of offensive imagery and rhetoric that directly contradicts the Constitution.

    Opinion polls and incendiary town-hall meetings and FOX “News” are mentioned no where in the Constitution. Substituting these avenues for the ballot box is in direct contradiction to the intent of our Founders.

    It is time to end the insane and inflammatory noise that is drowning out American ideals, and crippling American democracy.

  28. Number Seven says:

    Speaking of time… next time someone comes up to you and asks ‘do you know what time it is’, say yes and walk away….

    Sorry, been watching too much George Carlin on netflix, if you are a subscriber, all of his HBO shows are available.

    RIP George, you are missed

    Back to the OP.

    I’ve given up. There simply is no convincing those on the Trite Wing how their inflamitory language over the last thirty years has culminated in the tragedy of last Saturday. They will never get it. Never.

    My fear now is: what next?

  29. erik says:

    ‘You’re trying to substitute your will for the will of the American public.
    And you have the audacity to accuse other people of being totalitarians?”

    Bart DePalma — spokesman for we, the American people. God help us all.

  30. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:

    I believe you correctly summarize progressive civics:

    1) Candidates for political office can and should lie about the policies they intend to enact if elected. After all, political fraud is not a lie. Caveat emptor.

    2) If elected, any Dem and her policies are automatically legitimate. After all, if you were stupid enough to believe us during the campaign, you deserve what you get.

    3) Then Dems enact policies opposed by their constituents, such policies are not illegitimate, they are merely unpopular. After all, the voters will eventually get over it.

    4) If the constituents voice their anger at the Dem representative for enacting policies they oppose, these ingrates are creating an atmosphere of “violence and blood, division and hatred, fear and oppression.” These citizens should be slandered into silence. After all, we cannot have more Tucsons.

    5) Although voters may fire Dem representatives in the next election, such elections are never repudiations of progressive policies. Rather, Dem losses are always the fault of a GOP economy or an atmosphere of “violence and blood, division and hatred, fear and oppression.” After all, everyone DC knows supports progressive policies.

    6) Because voters never repudiate progressive policies, GOP governments cannot repeal such policies even though they won office campaigning on repeal. After all, the voters don’t want to move backwards.

    Did I miss anything?

  31. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    Just a question: where, in the Constitution, is it either expressly stated or implied that the elected representatives are to attempt to divine the “will of the people” and then carry it out?

    “Did I miss anything?” — pretty much everything. Your willful misreading of DC’s statements is comical.

    And of course, the people elected last November were elected to turn the economy around and create jobs. Where are the jobs? Where are the programs that will create jobs?

  32. Todd Dugdale says:

    BDP wrote:
    If you don’t like the “incivility” of political speech challenging the legitimacy of your preferred policies, tough shit. Switch the channel to Friends.

    Have you considered telling that to Palin? This is someone who, for all intents and purposes, claims that she can say whatever she likes in the name of free speech, but anyone criticising her should just shut the hell up.

    Perhaps, if Palin doesn’t like the “incivility” of media discourse, she should simply “switch the channel to Friends”.

    All that you are doing here is re-defining “incivility” so as to exclude any discourse from the Right. If the Right does it, it’s just free speech directed against “illegitimate authority”. If anyone else does it, it’s “inflammatory” and a justification to do whatever you like.

    Where in the Constitution does it say that, if you cast yourselves as ‘the good guys’, then you are exempt from the rules?

  33. Bart DePalma says:

    shortchain says: Just a question: where, in the Constitution, is it either expressly stated or implied that the elected representatives are to attempt to divine the “will of the people” and then carry it out?

    Are you serious?

    Who establishes the Constitution limiting the government and is thus sovereign over the government? Just so you would not miss it, the first three words of the Constitution are written far larger than the rest.

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    Who elects the Congress and the President?

    What is the term the Constitution uses for a member of the House of Representatives? (Hint, hint) Who does that member represent? What does it mean to represent someone?

    The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object. Thomas Jefferson

  34. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    You do realize that the people who established the Constitution are now dead?

    Or did you get in your time machine, go back in time, get elected to a state legislature, vote to approve it, then come back?

    Thus your blather about who “establishes” the Constitution (whatever the hell that may mean, in the fetid swamp of your mind) is meaningless, in the context of my question. It doesn’t say anything about “will of the people”.

    Notice that Representatives are elected to represent, not to blindly follow the will of the people.

    “Represent” does not mean what you apparently wish. So sad, I know how disappointed you become in words when they do that.

    I see no answers to my questions in your reply. Perhaps you should substitute real thinking for the wishful kind.

  35. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    The actual tenet is, I believe, that government is only legitimate when it governs by the consent of the governed. It’s quite odd how these little modifications of long-understood civics pop up in your rants.

  36. Todd Dugdale says:

    BDP wrote:
    What is the term the Constitution uses for a member of the House of Representatives? (Hint, hint) Who does that member represent? What does it mean to represent someone?

    So, you are saying that the will of the people is expressed through the electoral process.
    Yet, when the results of that process run counter to your views, the entire method of this expression is illegitimate and the result is “tyranny”.

    The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government
    …except when the will of the people elects someone that you disagree with.
    Then, you flip your dictionary open to the word “tyranny” and scribble in a new definition, so as to allow you to ignore the will of the people.

    I wish that I could call such a rhetorical diversion to be fascinating, but instead it ends up sounding merely self-serving and convenient.

  37. Monotreme says:

    It’s time for me to trot out my favorite Jonah Goldberg quote. (I can agree with conservative perspectives much of the time.)

    “[I]n its purest form democracy allows for 51 percent of the people to pee in the cornflakes of 49 percent of the people whenever they so choose. The American constitutional order, on the other hand, recognizes democracy as a qualified good, necessarily tempered by republican and constitutional safeguards. As the heirs to classical liberalism, American conservatives in particular have long emphasized the importance of individual rights even when they come at the expense of what ‘the people’ want. “

    Source: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/217579/pick-your-own-crap-jonah-goldberg

  38. Bart DePalma says:

    SC: Notice that Representatives are elected to represent, not to blindly follow the will of the people.

    To represent means to implement the will of the people you represent. When I represent a client as an attorney, I can be disbarred for substituting my will for their’s. If we elected “rulers,” then you might have a point.

    Todd:

    I have made it clear repeatedly that representatives are required to enact the will of their constituents. My opinion of that will is irrelevant. As I have posted before, Nancy Pelosi does a magnificent job of representing the will of her leftist district. Stop misrepresenting what I post.

  39. Monotreme says:

    When I represent a client as an attorney, I can be disbarred for substituting my will for their’s [sic].

    Then you’re an attorney, not a member of Congress. News flash: the verb “to represent” has many different meanings which depend on context.

  40. erik says:

    BDP:
    “the first three words of the Constitution are written far larger than the rest.”

    And you and those on your side of the political spectrum are “We”? No, my friend.
    Left, right , and middle—we are ALL “WE”. I’m reasonably certain that “WE” (the big WE, not the small, ideologically narrow ‘we’ have not decided that our government doesn’t represent “our” wishes.

    “I” may agree with “you” that government on the left and the right is not functioning effectively (see poll numbers on public opinion of Congress). “I” may agree with “you” that something has to be done to remedy that. But I’m not fool enough to believe it’s not representing the electorate’s wishes. And I don’t believe it should be overturned. As one of “the people” (“WE”) , I don’t believe that our government is tyrannical. That kinc of conclusion is not in proportion to reality.

    I believe that you have a conservative disease: You believe that you know what’s right for everyone. It’s up to you and your kind to make that decision. You believe that if you repeat your memes, eventually everyone will believe them. Let’s hope that, as usual, you’re not ‘right’.

  41. Todd Dugdale says:

    BDP wrote:
    I have made it clear repeatedly that representatives are required to enact the will of their constituents.

    Yet, somehow, the President is different? That is what you are saying, in effect. He was elected by the “will of the people”. Your only response to this is either that the people were ‘fooled’ (repeatedly by both Parties), or that the “real” people failed to exercise their electoral remedy. You haven’t specified which of these scenarios is the “real” situation, however, beyond offering re-definitions of terms.

    My opinion of that will is irrelevant.

    Or more precisely, it is irrelevant only when you wish it to be. You invoke that “will” speciously to support your premises, and turn it around to employ as a blunt instrument when that “will” puts someone in office that you disagree with. In any case, it is obviously relevant to a discussion of your opinion – which is what I was addressing.

    Stop misrepresenting what I post.
    I am simply pointing out the logical inconsistencies in what you post. You want to “have it both ways”. I refuse to grant you that privilege.

  42. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    Perhaps you would like to look up the verb “represent” and show us where it removes free will from the person doing the representation.

    Oh, and an attorney who does absolutely nothing but passively follow the will of the client is not much of a counsel, counselor.

  43. dcpetterson says:

    Bart, you long ago gave up the right to bleat about the “will of the people.”

    You opposed both the “public option” and the single-player idea for health care reform, both of which were overwhelmingly favored by a majority of the public.

    You opposed repeal of DADT, which was overwhelmingly favored by a majority of the public.

    You supported extension of the Bush tax cuts on people who make over $250,000, which was overwhelmingly opposed by a majority of the public.

    You opposed enactment of the START treaty, which was overwhelmingly favored by a majority of the public.

    Even today, you support repeal of PPACA. A majority of the public wants either to keep it, or to enhance it.

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

    Your rhetoric about “the will of the People” is simply another example of overheated and overblown meaningless inflammatory rhetoric — which, in this case, is additionally hypocritical and dishonest.

  44. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Since I’m ignoring Bart DePalma, will someone here please remind one of those buck-toothed, haystem-chomping, drooling, cross-eyed morons that occasionally post idiotic comments on this blog that “We the People”, by Article II, Section 1, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Constitution of the United States of America DO NOT, repeat “DO NOT” elect the President of the United States.

    For anyone who supposedly passed law school, and presumes to offer opinions on our government, it should be expected that they know this fundamental fact. If, and by empirical evidence – since, they DONT know this fundamental fact, ANYTHING ELSE they may opine may be dismissed as ignorant prattle.

    Carry on.

  45. Todd Dugdale says:

    dcpetterson wrote:
    That these also are the people using the incendiary rhetoric is important. This mode of expression of the paranoia is certainly taught by those media outlets. It’s all pretty interesting, from a psycho-social context.

    Spot on, of course.

    It’s a contradictory mix of narratives:
    “We” are powerful and ascendant. “We” are a powerless, persecuted minority.

    These two narratives, selectively employed, can be used to justify virtually anything.
    “We” say the things “we” do because of all the oppression. The Left should shut up, because “we” are extremely powerful.

    An entire network is allowed to tip-toe around the edges of calling for armed insurrection (should it be “necessary”), but the “tyrannical federal government” is exercising too much power. Doesn’t the obvious fact that FNC is allowed to dabble in treason prove that there is no such “tyranny”?

    It’s the same old song from the Right: “You’re free to speak your mind, my friend, as long as you agree with me”.

  46. dcpetterson says:

    In America, the “Will of the People” is expressed at the voting booth. That is the purpose of elections. The Constitution does not anywhere mention hiring Scotty Rasmussen (or some other partisan pollster) to create policies that match Bart’s preferences.

    Bart is partially correct. The American government must follow the Will of the People. But let me repeat : In America, the “Will of the People” is Constitutionally expressed at the voting booth, not in partisan-created public opinion polls

    All the rest of Bart’s argument is meaningless and foolish noise. And Bart has demonstrated that the policies he wants to have us follow are contrary to the Will of the People.

  47. dcpetterson says:

    Bart actually had the gall to write:
    Stop misrepresenting what I post.

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

    My Gods man, I don’t think a single one of your posts has ever accurately represented the people you sometimes quote from!!

    Oh my, I needed that laugh today. Thanks!!

  48. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    It is a lesson in the thought processes of the Founding Fathers that only ONE of the “four” branches (2 in Congress, Exec. and Judicial) of the Federal Government was to be elected by “We the People”. And it remained that way for the first 120 years of this republic, until changed by Amendment to the Constitution in 1913 with the ratification of Amendment XVII.

    So much for the Founding Fathers unwavering, bedrock belief in the wisdom of “We the People”.

  49. Monotreme says:

    Barted:

    Stop misrepresenting what I post.

    Thereby demonstrating that he knows, or should know, the different forms of the verb “to represent”.

  50. dcpetterson says:

    Max,
    So much for the Founding Fathers unwavering, bedrock belief in the wisdom of “We the People”.

    That is a brilliant and vital observation.

    America is not a pure democracy. It is a representative democracy. We the People “do ordain and establish this Constitution”, but do not vote on the issues presented to Congress. Bart wants to violate both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution.

    Bart wants to substitute a Chinese revolution mob-rule anarchy for the Constitution of the United States. It is time to recognize the Tea Party sedition and anti-American mindless mob tyranny for what it is.

    Except that it’s not. They are mistaken, and they are misinformed — and people like Bart intentionally dis-inform them. But they are Americans, and they have a right to be wrong. They have a right to express even the offensive prattle they do. That is the purpose of our Constitution — to insure even offensive and minority speech is protected, because the speech of the majority, and speech that does not offend, needs no protection anyway.

    That Bart intentionally disunderstands the Constitution for the purposes of playing political games should not prevent us from continuing to embrace the American values that the falsely-informed GOteaPers betray. We are Americans, and we are proud.

  51. dcpetterson says:

    erik:
    Left, right , and middle—we are ALL “WE”.

    More true words were never spoken.

    Some on the Right pretend that “We the People” speak with a single voice — theirs. No. “We the People” are a multitude, and we have many views, many voices. If we shut down dissent and plurality and the value of all, as the Right wishes to do, then we destroy America.

    Sometimes the Right wins elections (well, some elections). Sometimes the Left does. Shiloh is right — it is the ebb and flow, low and high tides of America. It is what makes us strong. Our greatness is in our diversity, not in some fantasy of a Single (ultraconservative) Vision.

    The one Vision we do share is Tomorrow. The day after today will be better than yesterday. Our descendants will inherit a better world. And it is up to us — up to We the People — to create that world.

    In our diversity. Together.

  52. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    Late to the convo as usual. It strikes me as odd to void the use of violent rhetoric when discussing the future of a nation that presently wages two wars, uses flying robots to bomb enemies [and their families] off the battlefield, commits acts of industrial sabotage and assassination of civilians in enemy nations, and has a history that involves the violent overthrow of dozens of regimes, many democratically elected, around the globe. We speak of our [foreign] enemies in terms of good/evil and we rightly/wrongly vilify any people or ideas that oppose us. I find it deeply disturbing how shocked we apparently become when this violence/language gets a little too close for comfort.

    So please, let us return to the proper state of things. Our ultra-violence/tribalist language is for export only! For all this violence we waste internally, we cannot project abroad!!!

  53. Eusebio,

    So please, let us return to the proper state of things. Our ultra-violence/tribalist language is for export only! For all this violence we waste internally, we cannot project abroad!!!

    Some of us (I count myself among them) don’t want that language for export, either.

  54. Pingback: Outrage Speech: Was the Left Right? | 538 Refugees

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