Outrage Speech: Was the Left Right?

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik at the post-shooting press conference. Source: AP.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s widely-reported observation that hate speech was partially responsible for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) has prompted several heated discussions on this blog, as well as other venues.

Let me say one thing, because people tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.

Paul Krugman took this further:

Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.

And there’s a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you’ll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won’t hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and you will.

On this blog and elsewhere, the discussion devolved into a predictable round of tu quoque, where commenters who identified themselves as conservative accused the left of just as much outrage speech as the right.

For example, conservative blogger Barry Secrest fired back:

The [Department of Homeland Security] report [cited by Krugman] “typically” failed to take into account the fact that virtually every terrorist attack and instance of extreme violence perpetrated had been repeatedly administered by denizens of the Left, to include the authoritarian Jihadists and a now deranged environmentalist wackoism.

He then proceeded to list, in some detail, President Obama’s alleged outrage speech including “calls for violence.” Do the readers of this blog see any examples of outrage speech in the examples cited in Secrest’s blog? Res ipsa loquitur.

Blogger Vyan at Daily Kos then listed examples of alleged calls for violence on Fox News, and documented their outrage at Krugman’s column.

The connection between “outrage speech” and violence may be tentative, at best. One aspect of the phenomenon that’s amenable to analysis, however, is whether the right does it more than the left, or whether they are equally culpable.

Keith Olbermann. Source: HuffPo.

This question was approached by Tufts University professors Sarah Sobieraj and Jeffrey Barry in an article titled “From Incivility to Outrage: Political Discourse in Blogs, Talk Radio, and Cable News,” and published in the February, 2011, issue of the peer-reviewed journal Political Communication. (Because of the extended lead time between the submission and publication of research findings, we can be sure that this study was initiated well before the current controversy. The data were gathered in the spring of 2009.)

The variables measured by the Tufts researchers were:

  • insulting language
  • name calling
  • misrepresentative exaggeration

Glenn Beck. Source: New York Times.

Amazingly, 100% of evening cable TV shows, 98.8% of talk radio programs and 82.8% of blog posts contained examples of what the researchers call “outrage speech.” They noted some cases where the incidents of outrage occurred at a rate of more than one per minute.

Is one side of the political debate more likely to engage in outrage speech than the other? Yes, and by a wide margin. From the article:

Our data indicate that the right uses decidedly more outrage speech than the left. Taken as a whole, liberal content is quite nasty in character, following the outrage model of emotional, dramatic and judgment-laden speech. Conservatives, however, are even nastier.

The data showed the political right engaging in an average of 15.57 outrage acts per case, while the left engaged in 10.32 acts per case.

So, while there is plenty of blame to go around, and a general reduction in political outrage speech might leave both sides with much less to say, this study makes it clear that the outrage speech on the right is more prevalent than on the left.


About Monotreme

Monotreme is an unabashedly liberal dog lover, writer, and former scientist who now teaches at a University in an almost-square state out West somewhere. http://www.logarchism.com | http://www.sevendeadlysynapses.com
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73 Responses to Outrage Speech: Was the Left Right?

  1. GROG says:

    On this blog and elsewhere, the discussion devolved into a predictable round of “tu quoque”, where commenters who identified themselves as conservative accused the left of just as much outrage speech as the right.

    You call it “tu quoque”. I call it pointing out hyprocrisy.

  2. Gator says:

    As a libertarian I encompass parts of both sides of the spectrum. I am fiscally very conservative and socially very liberal. Someone is always lying about one of my positions or another. There does seem to be incrementally a little more from the right, but I would posit that when you have the left saying “Well, we did it 10,000 times, but they did it 15,000 times so we are better” that is a case of using raw stats to make a point that has no merit. Because when you look at the raw numbers of occurences in the media, you are looking at 10s or 100s of thousands of instances. So trying to justify one sides’ behaviour, or vilify the other is foolish. They both lie like grifters and use inflammatory rhetoric to try and gain an advantage.

    The left is no less guilty than the right. You either participate in a behaviour, or you do not. There are no “degrees” of guilt. Using these #s to try to demonstrate that there are is wrong. That would be akin to saying “You killed 50 people, I only killed 30, so you are the TRUE murderer.”

  3. Mule Rider says:

    “That would be akin to saying “You killed 50 people, I only killed 30, so you are the TRUE murderer.””

    Exactly. And I think there are many more examples/analogies you can use.

    So what if you only tell 2 lies for every 3 some other guy tells. You’re both liars.

  4. Mule Rider says:

    Also (and I hate to play this card), but I have to take a study that finds conservative “outrage speech” outnumbers liberal “outrage speech” by a 3-to-2 margin with a HUGE grain of salt seeing as how it’s a product of academia – left-leaning as it may be – especially from a private (and formerly liberal arts college in the heart of New England.

  5. Brian says:

    I’m kinda torn here. I want to point and scream and say “The Right is doing it 50% more, they’re the bad guys! See?”

    On the other hand, can’t we try and just tone it down across the board? To quote Jon Stewart at his rally last year “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” The finger pointing doesn’t solve anything. I’d rather go back to the days where people could argue points without being compared to Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Satan.

  6. GROG says:

    @Gator,

    As a socially liberal libertarian, where do you come down on abortion? Are you for the liberties and rights of unborn human life or the mother? Just curious.

  7. Justsayin' says:

    So Grog why do you hate the female so much? Why do you think her life doesn’t amount to a hill of beans? Why is it any of your business what I do with my ownself, I don’t give a crap about what you do with yours? That’s as civil as I can possibly get with this topic.

  8. Gator says:

    Grog

    I abhor abortions. I wish there were no abortions necessary. I support a womans’ right to choose.

    Having said that, I believe that there should be a delineation point during the pregnancy cycle, beyond which point only medically necessary emergency procedures would be allowed. I think that technology can determine within an acceptable degree of accuracy, the gestational age of the fetus. At that point where you have a self sustaining life capable of living ex-utero (around 24-25 weeks), abortions should not be an option (excluding the emergencies referenced above).

    I think the “murder” accusations carry far more weight when you have a viable baby as opposed to a cluster of cells. I have far more sympathy for people who oppose late term abortions, than for those who simply oppose all abortions.

  9. mclever says:

    To me, many of the Left’s excuses for their own “outrage” speech amount to arguments of self defense. “They did it first! They’re worse!” The problem with that argument from my perspective, is that self defense is only legally justified if the person doesn’t instigate or continue the incident. The Right may have started it, but there are some on the Left who are certainly continuing it. If the volume in the Right speaker of your stereo system is stuck on 10, turning up the volume on the Left does nothing to lower the overall noise level.

    The other aspect of “outrage” speech that makes it difficult to discuss is that things that seem outrageous or insulting to one person often seem innocuous or trifling to another. A lot of speech is situational. A joke about a man’s small dick amongst girlfriends is cause for giggling. The same joke made man to man would be fightin’ words. This is also true for “code speech” or “dog-whistle” politics where the target group hears the intended insult clearly while the main audience may not even realize an insult was made. This is the sort of confusion that makes it funny to call GWB a chimp but racist to call Patrick Ewing a gorilla.

    And a big part of it is that if someone knows you have a contrary opinion and they expect you to be condescending or insulting, then that’s what they’ll hear almost regardless of what you say. I personally try very hard to be respectful and fair, but I’ve recently been told that I’m insulting, alienating, and offensive when I voice my opinions. From what I can tell, the only way not to be would be for me to say nothing at all.

  10. Mule Rider says:

    “So what if you only tell 2 lies for every 3 some other guy tells. You’re both liars.”

    To the person who “thumbs-downed” this comment, I’d love to hear what it is about it that you dislike (or, perhaps, disagree with?) Are you disputing the notion the someone who lies only 2/3rds as often as someone else is still a liar? Or do you simply dislike being told that (truth hurts, doesn’t it)? I’d love to hear your refutation.

  11. Gator says:

    Grog

    As a libertarian, I can be personally against something, find it tragic and sad, even believe it to be morally reprehensible in some instances, and yet not believe that it is within the purview of the government to legislate or regulate the activity. Being a libertarian does not mean I agree with the exercising of all rights. It doesn’t mean that I approve of or condone any particular behaviour. It means that I don’t believe that I or the government have the right to prevent you from exercising those rights.

  12. mclever says:

    Mule,

    I wasn’t the thumb-downer, but I can offer a thought… Sometimes it’s not a matter of quantity but of quality…

    Suppose your three lies were:
    – No, those pants don’t make you look fat.
    – Love the new haircut!
    – I’m busy this weekend.

    Suppose my two lies were:
    – I didn’t kill that woman. I saw that man pull the trigger and kill her. Absolutely, I’m certain it was him.
    – I have no idea what happened to the $1 million that’s missing from your bank account.

    Who’s the bigger liar?

  13. Mule Rider says:

    “Who’s the bigger liar?”

    Don’t know if “bigger” is the proper word to use, but I think it’s obvious that lies about murder and large quantities of stolen money, in a purely secular sense, are “worse” than white lies about hairstyles and how someone fits into their pants. However, I just pointed out the two were still liars – which is a true statement – and someone seems to not like (or disagree with) that statement. I’m just asking them to back it up with an explanation.

    On a completely unrelated note but on the topic of lying – since I qualified the above lies in a “secular” manner – there is an interesting debate about lying from a religious/moral perspective. Traditionally, it’s been a core teaching of the Christian faith that all lying – just like all sin – is equal and none is “worse” than the other. However, some Christian hermeneutic scholars now insist that the lying addressed directly in the Ten Commandments was very specific about being against false accusations and statments (thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor) with malicious intent and not about the kind of “white lies” you mentioned that are not meant to be malicious (in fact, maybe even the opposite). There are even occasions where lying is definitely permissable. If you or a family member were about to be the victim of a crime, isn’t it reasonable to think that it’s okay to tell that person something false to possibly keep them from killing/robbing/abducting/hurting you?

    So maybe there really are degrees of lying with some right/okay while most others are clearly wrong. Anyway, that was just a sidebar I thought I’d share.

  14. Gator says:

    mclever

    The problem is that the sensational and silly lies from both sides are a small part of the problem. It’s the day to day lying about relatively mundane stuff that makes up the bulk of this noise. Policy arguments, taxation arguments etc. all are subject to these outrageous talking point arguments. No reasoned discussion. Nothing is too mundane to be spun up into a talking point. Look at those #s… 100% of the evening cable shows! This is a truly bi-partisan problem.

  15. mclever says:

    Mule,

    However, some Christian hermeneutic scholars now insist that the lying addressed directly in the Ten Commandments was very specific about being against false accusations and statements (thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor) with malicious intent and not about the kind of “white lies” you mentioned that are not meant to be malicious (in fact, maybe even the opposite). There are even occasions where lying is definitely permissible.

    Interesting sidebar and thanks for sharing it. 🙂 I’ve heard similar arguments made before in the context of “Do unto others” and the admonishment generally to be loving and kind rather than hurtful. The strict “all lies are equally bad” interpretation always seemed overly pharisaical to me.

    Do you have a particular scholar you can point to? Hermeneutics and theology are topics that interest me…

  16. mclever says:

    Gator,

    I agree that the descent into mere talking-point blather is a big part of the problem, because people aren’t discussing. They’re just shouting spin at one another.

    “Oh, it’s not technically a lie because…” B.S.

  17. GROG says:

    Gator,

    Thanks for your explanation. I don’t want to turn this into an abortion discussion, but I was genuinely interested in the Libertarian stance.

  18. Mule Rider says:

    “Do you have a particular scholar you can point to? Hermeneutics and theology are topics that interest me…”

    Not any in particular but a quick Google of ‘lying vs. bearing false witness’ will get you started. Some are fairly casual observations like this one:

    http://www.lawrencehelm.com/2010/05/lying-versus-bearing-false-witness.html

    Finding ones where the Hebrew/Greek/English/whatever are broken down more painstakingly is difficult, but they’re out there. Just can’t think of any offhand but I’ve seen them before.

  19. Gator says:

    Sadly apropos to todays discussion:

    NYU Fellow Nir Rosen Resigns After Bashing Lara Logan on Twitter Updated 28 mins ago
    February 16, 2011 11:19am Updated February 16, 2011 12:33pm2commentsshareprint
    Journalist and NYU Fellow, Nir Rosen resigned from his position and apologized profusely via Twitter on Wednesday

    As others criticized Rosen for his comments he reportedly tweeted, “yes yes its wrong what happened to her. of course. i dont support that but, it would have been funny if it happened to anderson too.”

    Those tweets and several others have since been deleted.

    Rosen went on to tweet a series of updates in which he first defended his comments:

    “jesus christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger,” he said via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

    Just a few minutes later he tweeted, “i apologize for being insensitive, its always wrong, thats obvious, but i’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she will get.”

    Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20110216/greenwich-village-soho/nir-rosen-resigns-from-nyu-after-bashing-lara-logan-on-twitter#ixzz1E98SWfO1

    and there is this:

    “Progressive” Rallyists Call for Lynching of Clarence Thomas

    mclever I believe these put the lie to the idea that this is a Conservative/Rep/Tea Party issue. Both sides have gone well past the line.

  20. mclever says:

    Thanks, Mule. Helm’s article fits with other arguments that I’ve seen on the topic of lying and legalism/morality. I’ll do some digging… If you do stumble across anything, send it my way! 🙂

  21. Gator says:

    Grog

    Don’t know that is “the Libertarian” position. That is my position as a libertarian (small L). I speak only for myself.

  22. mclever says:

    @Gator

    Where did I say it was only a Conservative/Rep/Tea Party issue. In my very first comment, I think I made the point rather plainly that even if “they” started it, that those on the left have moved beyond “self defense” and are now continuing it.

    I agree. Both sides have crossed the line. We could argue about who is “worse” or “more guilty” of it, but neither side wants to back down lest the other be declared the “winner”.

    Instead of nitpicking over who is the worse offender, in my opinion, the real question therefore should be:

    How do we de-escalate the rhetoric while letting both sides “win”?

  23. GROG says:

    Gator,

    Understood.

  24. Brian says:

    When I see stupid stuff like that, I wish Mr. Rogers were still around.

  25. mclever says:

    One more comment, Gator, because you posted that clip from an obviously fringe individual.

    There will always be elements of the extreme fringe who say incendiary, hateful, over-the-top things. These fringe characters may be cast as Right or Left or whatever. If respectful, reasonable debate is honored, then those fringe folks are marginalized and ignored, rather than given prime-time slots on a nationwide TV network.

    Just something to consider, especially when we’re trying to figure out how to de-escalate and restore sane discussion in our national political sphere.

  26. mclever says:

    Brian, won’t you be my neighbor? 🙂

  27. Number Seven says:

    Calling for a lynching is way over the line. However, I would support investigations for possible impeachment for Thomas.

  28. Gator says:

    mclever

    I’m having trouble with posts. Didn’t see yours agreeing until post-post if you will. Sorry I belaboured the point. They both did got to the subject at hand, though.

    But again, my apologies!

  29. NotImpressed says:

    The raw numbers don’t tell the story.

    And sure, there are a few whackos all over. Eliminate the 10 most offensive people on each side. Also, eliminate anything more than 10 years old. Times change.

    What you’re left with is the Left sometimes saying something impolite. While the Right has been dependably and habitually calling for hate and violence and jingoism, while trying either to deny doing it, or saying “Well, you do it too!!”

    A years’ worth of Rachel Maddow’s ridicule does not equal a single episode of Glenn Back’s hate. And no amount of “You too!” will make it so.

  30. shortchain says:

    Right. Because some right-wing film editor got somebody (who?) to say something foul on camera, this is equivalent, somehow, to the bile spewed daily, if not hourly, by Beck, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, etc, etc.

    Sure. Got it now. Equivalence established. No more criticism of Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly, Palin, Angle, etc, who constantly speak of “liberals” as not American — hell, not even human.

  31. Gator says:

    Hey SC,

    I see that although Treme’s data showed that 100% of the cable news shows were guilty of this, you somehow managed to miss half of them. You know… the ones that aren’t on Fox. Odd.

    And please feel free to criticize the Fox talking heads. No one suggested otherwise. And feel free to ignore the Tufts data that says the other guys do it as well. Why hold them accountable?

    Partsian blinders secure, commander!

  32. Maine says:

    So I suppose that my offers to build fine Maine made gallows (modular and wood of your choice) would not be appropriate here. Ahhhhhh so much for another growth industry for my poor area. Any one have need for a really big pile of 6×6 and 6×8 timbers?

    We may have made marginal gains in this after Giffords but most likely CPAC eroded most of those. This budget bill battle will pretty much raise the ante again. You have yet to see ugly until this plays out. On Thomas that too will get much worse if he does not recuse himself from upcoming action. It looks as though those lines are already being drawn in the sand.

    But stand by for the mother of all vitriolic moments in our history when this battle of budget chicken shuts down the government. At this point more a when than an if and looming soon. What was the old barker cry? You ain’t seen nothin yet folks.

  33. mclever says:

    Apology accepted, Gator. 🙂

    So, now that we’ve admitted that there are fringe freaks who say stoopid things, what do we do about cleaning up the “mainstream” conversation?

  34. shortchain says:

    Gator,

    I don’t see “insulting language”, “misrepresentative exaggeration”, and “name calling” as the variables we need to look at. I don’t even see such things as “outrage speech”.

    I’m think more along the lines of “demonization”, “dehumanizing”, “threatening or suggesting violence” are the more proper things to measure.

    So, interesting as this study might be, it doesn’t really answer the question. My own experience, which I cannot transfer to you, indicates to me that the overwhelming majority of this, especially as practiced by people in positions of influence, occurs on the right.

  35. mclever,

    How do we de-escalate the rhetoric while letting both sides “win”?

    Not to be a wet blanket, but I don’t think that’s possible. De-escalation, maybe, but not with a win-win.

  36. GROG says:

    The absurdity of this whole conversation is that the Giffords shooting had absolutely nothing, zero, nada, zilch, to do with vitriolic speech or anything Palin or Angle or Beck ever said or did.

  37. Justsayin' says:

    Poor Grog, he thought he would take up the “Bart Mantel” , Yes Grog the nasty, bad rhetoric that the right throws up hourly, did have something to do with the shooter going off the rails. Folks with mental issues don’t need a whole lot to convince them that they are doing the right thing. Now because you don’t believe it, doesn’t mean that it ain’t so.

  38. GROG,

    the Giffords shooting had absolutely nothing, zero, nada, zilch, to do with vitriolic speech or anything Palin or Angle or Beck ever said or did.

    And you know this because…?

    See, you’re going to be speculating in the same way as so many others have. I, for one, won’t categorically eliminate vitriolic speech from the list of causative factors. And unless you’re a trained psychiatrist who has personally spoken to him, I’m not going to believe you when you give absolute assurances of the causes of the shooting. Even then, I’d be mighty skeptical. Establishing causation in behaviors is hardly an exact science.

  39. Mainer says:

    Number one Grog let us wait until the whole court thing plays out before deciding what did and did not contribute to the Giffords story. I have no better idea than you do. Number two I was the one that used the Giffords event as a bench mark. Things seemed to quiet down for a few days after it by all concerned.

    And Mule was that a slam about us New Englanders? Guess us New Englanders aren’t real Americans so any thing coming out of here is suspect? Ok I may well be but there are a crap load of conservatives up here they must count for some thing…….oh I get it double whammy here to be a New Englander and a progressive that is two strikes and you are out. By the way Tufts is pretty conservative. In some ways it is a high end trade school and churns out worker bees for things like the state department. Dentists, MD’s and Vets tend to be kind of that way.

    Hell Mule I could move to your neck of the woods and pollute the gene pool down there with progressivism………just offering. We could be neighbors even, now wouldn’t you just love that? How do you feel about animals? Just out of curiosity does any one know exactly where the whole not real Americans thing started? I know Palin gets some claim but I didn’t think she started it.

  40. Gator says:

    The problem with guys like Laughner is that they are a pathology in search of a trigger. So causation or triggering mechanisms are generally irrelevant. Diagnosis and treatment or segregation are the only possible mitigants. They are bombs with fuses of unknown length, but the fuses are burning and the bombs will explode eventually.

    And you cannot stifle speech in the misguided hope of avoiding lunacy. Silence doesn’t prevent psychosis.

  41. Mr. Universe says:

    @GROG

    Again, I disagree. While we don’t know what motivated Giffords shooter (for example, his parents could have listened to Limbaugh everyday). But Angle’s message was pretty clear. There’s nothing ambiguous about calling for ‘Second amendment remedies’ to oppose political positions you don’t like. You might argue that taking Harry Reid ‘out’ was a metaphor but given the fact that it was uttered in the same statement makes that doubtful.

    And I’m pretty sure everyone got the former Governor of Alaska’s meaning behind ‘reload’.

    When you create a permissive atmosphere by encouraging people to revolt with such language, most sane individuals will shake their heads and dismiss it. But there’s always that one…

    So indirectly, I think they had a little to do with it.

  42. NotImpressed says:

    By the way, it doesn’t matter if the Giffords shooting had anything to do with the vile and violent speech we hear daily from the Right. I want to know if talking about revolution and spilling the blood of our countrymen and elected officials because we we’re whining about paying our taxes is really the sort of message we want to send. We’ve just seen what it looks like when the blood of a Congresswoman is spilled. And the innocents standing next to her. Do we want this to be part of our political speech? Do we REALLY want to hold this up as something desirable?

    Defend that idea, you guys on the Right.

  43. GROG says:

    Michael,

    You’re right. I cannot say categorically that vitriolic speech from the right did not cause Giffords to get shot. So I retract that.

    But you can no more eliminate Loughner having a soggy bowl of fruit loops for breakfast as a reason for his actions than you can right wing speech.

    As justsayin pointed out…..“Folks with mental issues don’t need a whole lot to convince them that they are doing the right thing.”

  44. Mr. Universe says:

    Also as I pointed out in a previous article, twisted individuals don’t often have a specific motivation but they can be inspired by heightened emotional circumstances. Occasionally, they’re just mad as in an irrational fixation of Jodie Foster or Son of Sam getting instructions from his dog.

  45. Mainer says:

    “Folks with mental issues don’t need a whole lot to convince them that they are doing the right thing.”

    Yup and it seems we see it more and more in congress with each passing day.

  46. GROG says:

    @Mr. U
    There’s nothing ambiguous about calling for ‘Second amendment remedies’ to oppose political positions you don’t like.

    I know we’ve been over this before, but Angle did not “call for” Second amendment remedies. She warned against against them.

    She said, “I hope that’s not where we’re going,”

    How can that be construed as “calling for” 2nd ammendment remedies?

    And a politician can’t say “take out”, as in take out of office, because a deranged lunatic might be listening?

  47. mostlyilurk says:

    “By the way, it doesn’t matter if the Giffords shooting had anything to do with the vile and violent speech we hear daily from the Right. I want to know if talking about revolution and spilling the blood of our countrymen and elected officials because we we’re whining about paying our taxes is really the sort of message we want to send. We’ve just seen what it looks like when the blood of a Congresswoman is spilled. And the innocents standing next to her. Do we want this to be part of our political speech? Do we REALLY want to hold this up as something desirable?”

    I really think this bears repeating – so very well said.

  48. shortchain says:

    Actually, what GROG said is not accurate about whether Laughner had a soggy bowl of froot-loops has as much to do with his actions as anything. People who are sanity-challenged certainly don’t need as much reason as the rest of us may (to varying degrees) in order to act irrationally, but there is a logic to their illogic, although it may be incomprehensible to most of us.

    We can’t know what precise stimuli produced the actions in question, and how many of these stimuli were due to reverberations inside his skull, but we can be sure that some stimuli there were. And stimuli in the direction of encouraging violence are the last thing you want in someone on the wrong side of rational.

  49. Monotreme says:

    I’m generally happy with the direction this discussion has taken. I like that we can disagree and still be respectful of each other’s opinions. It’s exactly what we’re trying to establish at this site.

    I would like to clarify one thing. I wouldn’t want my words in the original post to be construed as justifying noise from the left side of the aisle any more than I would justify noise from the right. It’s all noise, as mclever has pointed out.

    I’m aghast that virtually 100% of the cable shows surveyed in this study found instances of outrage speech. Clearly, it’s the crystal meth of speech. It works, but at a tremendous cost to our society.

    I wish as a nation, left and right, that we could find a way to tone it down. We have some pretty huge problems to solve in the upcoming century that can’t be solved by shouting at each other.

  50. GROG says:

    SC said: And stimuli in the direction of encouraging violence are the last thing you want in someone on the wrong side of rational.

    You mean like talking about taking guns to knife fights? That kind of stimuli?

  51. Mr. Universe says:

    Tomayto, Tomahto, GROG.

    Warning that there could be second amendment remedies is the same thing as threatening to use them. Sure it’s a veiled threat but a threat nonetheless. Everybody got what she meant.

  52. Mr. Universe says:

    Not completely off topic because I’m certain there was plenty of inflammatory rhetoric (in Arabic) going on, but I think it’s horrible what happened to Lara Logan of CBS. Sad when you manage to pull off a revolution but you have to take it out on the messengers.

  53. Mainer says:

    You know Grog you haven’t paid me your protection money this month…….this is a nice little business you have built here……..it would be a shame if some low life came in here and burnt it down………..fine family you have their Grog………too bad you don’t see things our way……….yup fine family……be a pitty if some thing was to happen to them.

    There are threats and there are threats.

  54. Brian says:

    GROG,

    When I heard that about 2nd amendment remedies, it sounded like someone saying, “It’d be a shame if your house were to burn down…”

  55. Brian and Mainer,
    It seems more than one person got that impression. I did, too.

  56. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    Sure. If you need to scour the speeches of Obama to find something to call out, absolutely, he should have said something like, “if the Republicans pull a knife, we should call the police.”

  57. GROG says:

    Mainer and Brian,

    If one really, really disliked Republicans and really, really, disliked Sharon Angle, then I could see how one could come to that conclusion.

    But to suggest that Loughner shot Giffords in the head at point blank range because of Angle’s 2nd amendment remedies remark, I think is a bit of a stretch.

  58. mclever says:

    shortchain,

    Besides, the “gun to a knife-fight” expression came as a response to criticisms directed at Obama suggesting he was unwilling to use his best rhetorical arguments and negotiation strategies. A common criticism was that he would “bring a knife to a gun-fight,” which is a well-known, well-trodden analogy for underperforming in a debate.

    If that’s the only example they have of Obama inappropriately implying violence in politics, then I gotta say I’m not overawed by it. It doesn’t suggest a political target, especially not anyone in particular. It doesn’t suggest that anyone else should “reload” or arm themselves with real weapons. He’s not demonizing or dehumanizing anyone. He’s not suggesting it’s anyone’s patriotic duty to take someone else out. It’s not couched in revolutionary terminology. Etc. etc. etc.

    I’m sure if Obama had it to say over again, he might have made a wiser choice of words. Given that he generally doesn’t engage in violent “cowboy” rhetoric, I highly doubt that anyone hearing that phrase thought he meant there was a literal knife fight going on. If there’s no literal knife fight, then no literal gun, obviously. (Then again, maybe I just don’t know what goes on behind closed doors in DC politics…)

  59. mclever says:

    GROG,

    I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that any single particular remark drove Loughner to his reprehensible acts. The argument that I’m hearing seems to be that a pattern of violent rhetoric has created an atmosphere where an unstable person might find it easier to consider such acts as reasonable.

  60. shortchain says:

    mclever,

    Yes, I know the context of that comment — and so does GROG, as it has been explained to him a couple of times now.

    I expect he’ll still trot it out every time the subject of violent speech comes up, and pretend that it compares with “reload!”.

  61. Brian says:

    Even if I were to take the position that she wasn’t making a veiled threat, how does her statement help in moving the country forward? And please don’t respond with “they do it too!” I get it, both sides do it, I’m not defending either side.

    How do making comments about people resorting to 2nd amendment remedies help with anything? Or for that matter, calling someone a socialist, fascist, satanist, or whatever?

  62. Mr. Universe says:

    (Then again, maybe I just don’t know what goes on behind closed doors in DC politics…)

    Does seem like they ought to install red carpet to hide all the blood that’s metaphorically spilled in the chamber.

  63. NotImpressed says:

    “I know we’ve been over this before, but Angle did not “call for” Second amendment remedies. She warned against against them. ”

    You must be joking. She’s the one who brought it up. There was no reason for her to mention “Second Amendment Remedies” unless she wanted that to be part of the conversion.

    It’s like FOX does all the time. On the crawl : “Is Obama really a U.S. citizen?” Not saying he isn’t. Just making goddam sure the viewers are wondering. Just implying it might be reasonable to think he isn’t. Same here. Not recommending the violent overthrow of the government. Just absolutely positively no doubt no question making certain the people listening are thinking about it.

    This is dishonesty in its most offensive form. Coupled with the implied underhanded dishonest threat, it is one of the abusive forms of political speech. And the Right does it almost constantly.

    “There may be people in the Congress with anti-American attitudes.” (“Anti-” American being even worse than “Un-“American.) “It’s not up to me to tell Americans what to think about whether President Obama is a Muslim.” (implying he might be; and we all know, radical Islam is the only real threat America faces today). “The Goernor of Hawaii said Obama was born there, and that’s good enough for me.” (Not, “Yes, of course he’s an American citizen! It is absurd to think otherwise!” but “what’s good enough for me doesn’t mean it’s established fact. You go ahead and wonder if you want.”)

    Republicans are doing their best to undermine our legitimate government. While trying to maintain plausible deniability. The dishonesty is stunning.

  64. NotImpressed says:

    mclever, “It doesn’t suggest that anyone else should “reload” or arm themselves with real weapons.”

    The funny thing is, when pressed on their violent rhetoric, lots of conservatives say, “Oh, I meant that as a joke? You didn’t think I meant to encourage violence, did you??” So then you ask, “Does this mean you’re willing to drop the gun slogans, and the revolution rhetoric? Or at least, are you willing to say that you never ever intend for that to be taken seriously? Are you willing to say that actual political use of those guns is permanently off the table?” I have not heard a single conservative take that pledge.

    They know their slogans and rhetoric are over the top. But none of them have the courage either to disavow such language, or to stand behind it. They waffle and wiffle and insist on the right to imply they will, in fact, engage in armed revolt.

    GROG, here’s your chance. You say no one on the Right ever meant to imply actual violence. Are you willing to say, for you personally, that you will never use this sort of language? Are you willing to say, for you personally, that you will never ever really consider engaging in violent revolt? I dare you.

  65. NotImpressed says:

    I know we’ve been over this before, but Angle did not “call for” Second amendment remedies. She warned against against them.
    She said, “I hope that’s not where we’re going,”

    No. A thousand times no. She did not “warn against” violent revolution (which she masked with the phrase “second amendment remedies.” I’m glad that no one here pretends she meant something else by that phrase.) She warned against the current policies of the U.S government, implying that she and her friends would, in fact, engage in violent revolution if the country keeps following policies they disapprove of.

    She was not warning against violence. She was threatening violence. Please don’t insult our intelligence by pretending otherwise. We aren’t that easily distracted from what she actually said.

  66. WA7th says:

    How do we de-escalate the rhetoric while letting both sides “win”?

    Uhmm…. I’m thinkin’…. Gimme a sec’…. (C’mon, what would Jesus nuke? What would Jesus nuke?)

    Nuke tea party rallies, along with any nearby counter-demonstrators, and very politely blame Canada for it. That would take out something near a 3/2 ratio, while uniting the remaining over-outrageable citizens against a common enemy.

  67. Number Seven says:

    WTF, no more thumbs up or down?

    Bad call, imo.

    Be seeing you….

  68. Mr. Universe says:

    @#7

    RE: Rating feature.

    We discovered it could be abused (you could stuff the ballot box in a manner of speaking). I had hoped it could be used as a community moderation tool but WordPress doesn’t allow us to do that. If I can get WordPress to fix it so that only one vote per IP address is allowed, we might bring it back.

  69. Mainer says:

    Sharon Angle was the poster geriatric of all that is wrong with American politics. I have suggested in the past that to get to the root of a problem just follow the money and that would be true in this case as well but with Sharron it would be particularly valuable to determine who her handlers were during the campaign for I seriously doubt that the women was capable of cogent thought let alone considered malice.

    Some time in the near future when the lady is calmly residing in the home for incontenent politicians some one will catch her in a lucid moment and ask about her comments on second amendment solutions. If she remembers them at all we may learn who programed her to say them in vain hope of cowering an electorate. Having Sharon not talk to the press was not a tactic born of arogrance but of desperation of having a candidate get that far knowing so little of whence she spake.

    Robert Byrd could be considered in his dotage a Sharon Angle with out daggers.

  70. Pingback: Tweets that mention Outrage Speech: Was the Left Right? | 538 Refugees -- Topsy.com

  71. Number Seven says:

    Mr U, I hope it can be brought back.

    Funny thing is I tried to stuff it but it only allowed me one vote per topic. I thought it worked very well.

  72. Mr. Universe says:

    @#7

    You could vote multiple times; just not in the same visit to the site. I tested it over a few days.

  73. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    “Going around half-cocked”
    “To shoot one’s wad” (In the sense of a futile effort, for all you dirty-minded types)
    “Bring a knife to a gunfight”

    There are many gun related colloquialisms out there, left over from a earlier time. But “second amendment remedies” AIN’T one of them. Gimme a break!

    The right, the so called “Christian” right, with NO comparable Left wing examples, from the anti-choice movement in the US certainly DO espouse violence and MURDER, and they affirmatively act on it. Repeatedly. Exercising their “second amendment remedies”. Domestic terrorism. Anti-abortion jihadists, and they DO NOT get the same treatment for their verbal and published threats that is given to the Islamists.

    Sorry, excusers, but reality.

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