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Letters to the Editor

Civil discourse

January 17, 2011

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To the editor:

The current debate over public discourse and its role in the Tucson shootings deserves some attention. Sheriff Dupnik, Paul Krugman, Sarah Palin, President Obama and Charles Krauthammer present differing views on the matter. Dupnik and Krugman blame the climate of hatred toward public figures as contributing causes of political violence and possibly this shooting. The others disagree.

The president, speaking at the memorial in Tucson, reminded us that we can’t know exactly what triggered the attacks. Yet he called for more civility in public discourse to “help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them (the victims) proud.”

Palin and Krauthammer wouldn’t go even that far. Palin undercut her own claim by accusing those who raised the possibility of a connection of manufacturing “a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.” How this is supposed to incite people who, she had just claimed, act on their own was left unclear. Krauthammer simply denied the power of suggestion.

While we may never know how influential the daily flood of vitriolic and ad hominem political speech in America was on this particular atrocity, it seems likely that it influenced it and almost certain that the current climate of speech acts as a distraction from a badly needed, calm consideration of the merits of public policies like banking reform, health care, education, and economic justice, to name just four.

Comments

Flap Doodle 3 years, 3 months ago

"...they govern poorly." Well, the current regime's first two years have proven that.

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pace 3 years, 3 months ago

I don't agree that we should not talk about or ask for civil discourse because a man who shot people is clearly deranged. I don't think the climate of hate is something to ignore. Trolls can shout in meetings, derail conversations, but they govern poorly.

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arc400 3 years, 3 months ago

First I read Sheriff Dupnik's comments. Then I read Rush Limbaugh's rebuttal. Then I read an article in the Wall Street Journal which was basically a paraphrase of Limbaugh's comments. (The Wall Street Journal, I thought, parroting Rush Limbaugh?) Then I looked up who owns The Wall Street Journal since 2007. News Corporation. And who is that? Rupert Murdoch. Mystery solved.

When is America going to put an end to the rule of Rupert Murdoch? People are worried about whether Obama was born in the U.S.? What about Murdoch? Restore the Fairness Doctrine and say no to propaganda on all sides.

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prospector 3 years, 3 months ago

In the name of civil discourse

Darn Bea!

Thanks

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pace 3 years, 3 months ago

Goody, we don't have to resort to reason, logic or cooperation. The discussion has nothing to do with any community reaction to political dysfunction. I was worried an age of reason was going to break out. shweww that was close. thanks.

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Curiouspectator 3 years, 3 months ago

I've been a silent observer of this site for some time..sometimes enlightening, frustrating, entertaining and provocative. I've never posted before. I read the LTEs including Dolph, Reed, Pitts and Shewmon et al. and I'm finally posting after 3 years of reading all posts fairly and silently. Here's the thing with the Tuscon massacre...Jared Loughner was MENTALLY ILL, not POLITICALLY ILL. His illness was entirely unrelated to this event, it represented an opportunity with a $15 taxi ride to the Safeway to reach his fame as an exquisite example of Nihilism. How in the world this propogated the type of bipartisan finger-pointing it did is beyond me. I wish a licensed psychologist would've posted the fact that this was not left or right...just wrong. I pray for the families that were affected. Stop your damn bickering and for God's sake spare me the "can't we just get along?" comments. You can't "get along" with psychopaths--Comments regarding "why can't we get along?" are political and belong on a different forum. This was a clear and simple tragedy born of insanity. End of subject.

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pace 3 years, 3 months ago

Boy the two "sides" can agree they are fighting. Big problems if they quit fighting so much and get to work on the problems how are they going tell who won the game. It is tedious that neither side is obsessing about jobs and foreclosures except as tools in the game of which party is cool. How about neither.

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Starlight 3 years, 3 months ago

"Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation." Mark Twain

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independant1 3 years, 3 months ago

politics, civil discourse or civil? i don't think so - if history is any indicator of future performance

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George Lippencott 3 years, 3 months ago

Once more into the jaws of death go I. I listened in real time to the sheriffs press conference and I read Mr. Krugman’s comments. They did indeed abhor uncivil dialogue. They also clearly and unequivocally in the language I have spoken all my life blamed the “right” for promulgating it. The response of the right to include Ms Palin was, to the extent I have heard it or read about, a disclaimer–not of the incivility – but to point out the incivility is a shared activity with the left.

Now blogging on the LJW world has made me keenly aware that there are miscreants on both sides. What has surprised me is that we apparently do not have a shared definition of what is uncivil. Some elements of the left throw around terms such as bigot, racist, homophobe and the like at the drop of a hat. I have concluded that many of those using such terms do not see their comments as uncivil but the “truth”. Of course, those on the right do not perceive themselves that way.

I am surprised about one thing that I will mention here. As a repeated recipient of the censure of the left because of my involvement in military activities, I have always associated them with a strong desire for peace and harmony. If I were correct, it would seem that there is a greater burden on those of the left to tolerate the perceived slurs of the right and return the dialogue to a more moderate nature. Am I wrong?

In the absence of Ms Jones, my kindergarten teacher, and her peace making ability; how can we bridge that gap?

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CorkyHundley 3 years, 3 months ago

I miss the "civil discourse" after the Katrina flood. Both politcal parties were at peace with one another and the media respected that peace.

On the other hand,

The lack of peace and quiet after the earthquake in Haiti is unnerving.

What would the Republican MLK say if he heard the relentless coverage of the constant media reports today on his birthday.

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jayhawklawrence 3 years, 3 months ago

It is inevitable that no matter what kind of safeguards we put into effect, we cannot eliminate tragedy from life. We can only continue to try.

One area where we can do a much better job is in how we respond to a tragic event.

It appears to me that true public minded and selfless leaders would not politicize a tragedy such as what happened in Arizona. Yet we see this happening. These are the people we need to remove from office in the next election.

A greater tragedy following the 9/11 disaster was the politicization of the event in order to advance different political agendas and individual careers. Bottom line was ego and misdirected ambitions. Many enjoyed great profits financially from the tragedy and the politics.

The American people want something different. They see that leadership is different from politics. Politics is something you cannot trust anymore, if you ever could. What American people want is reliable information and honest discussion and debate. Discussion and debate...two things.

The system has to show that it is working because we believe in the system. If it is not working the politicians have to be removed from office.

Imagine what goes on in the minds of our children in their critical formative years when they listen to the stuff that goes on. I don't think we are teaching them the right things. I don't believe an extreme leftist agenda or an extreme right winger position is a good thing for our kids. I don't like the lack of respect for authority and the way our kids are being taught to have a cynical opinion of our history. They are not being taught enough about our values and our ideals and our heroes.

They are not old enough to remember the ones that I knew who fought in WWII. Innocent farm boys who saved our country and the stories of the ones who came before us. We should want them to love their country and be willing to sacrifice to make it better. America should be a light in this world not a place where peole cannot reason and discuss in a civil manner.

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Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/us/16loughner.html?_r=3&adxnnl=1&pagewanted=3&adxnnlx=1295272816-mzPTbiXmgfYK5d56DmiDjg

"He became intrigued by antigovernment conspiracy theories, including that the Sept. 11 attacks were perpetrated by the government and that the country’s central banking system was enslaving its citizens. His anger would well up at the sight of President George W. Bush, or in discussing what he considered to be the nefarious designs of government. "

Vitriol... Palins fault... Rush Limbaugh! O my!

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Ray Parker 3 years, 3 months ago

At a pro-life demonstration planned by the Naples Pro-Life Council in Fort Myers, FL outside the home of abortionist quack Philip Waterman, a car jumped a curb, ran through a street sign, and ran over a pro-lifer holding a protest sign. The injured man survived the impact and was rushed to Lee Memorial Hospital. This was likely no accident. Pro-lifers have been hit by vehicles before, notably one by a vehicle driven by Tiller’s hired abortionist quack LeRoy Carhart in Wichita, KS.

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beatrice 3 years, 3 months ago

Interesting story on the sheriff who kicked all this off:

"I'd been feeling those things for years," Dupnik said in an interview with The Arizona Republic. "I decided to say what I was feeling."

... He added, "I'm 75 years old. Thirty years sheriff, 52 years a cop. Maybe I've earned the right to speak my mind."

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/01/17/20110117gabrielle-giffords-clarence-dupnik.html

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matthewlyon 3 years, 3 months ago

"I think it is possible that Loughner was affected by everything... "

That's not possible. No individual can be exposed to everything.

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matthewlyon 3 years, 3 months ago

Do you believe Loughner was affected by "propagandists"? If so, which propagandists? The NYT reported yesterday that he is a Bush hater. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/us/16loughner.html?_r=3&adxnnl=1&pagewanted=3&adxnnlx=1295272816-mzPTbiXmgfYK5d56DmiDjg

It has also been reported that Loughner is a 9/11 truther. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gutbUc8KWEv3iMUewPN445D4uSYw?docId=c09a07a17e1b4aaa82815779cbf6f758

Do you you think it's possible that the extreme rhetoric used by liberals during the Bush years influenced Loughner?

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Agnostick 3 years, 3 months ago

I went back and re-read Krauthammer's most-recent editorial. He denied a lot of things, especially things pertaining to the political extremists and propogandists he tends to associate with. He never denies the power of suggestion--he barely even references its existence.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

What the voters rejected in 2010 was primarily the collapse of the economy-- ironically, a collapse that was caused primarily by Republicans and their allies on Wall Street (many of whom are DLC/Republican-Lite Democrats.) Obama has been proved himself to be one of those Democrats.

But don't expect Republicans to be able to change spots just because they won control of the House. They'll stick to the same stupid policies that collapsed the economy to begin with, and Obama will be "bipartisan" in going along with that.

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TheYetiSpeaks 3 years, 3 months ago

Remember....If you experience sore throat, scratchy, dry skin, bleeding from the eyes, headaches, an occasional sneeze, that weird thing when you see spots after applying slight pressure to the eyes, hear voices, gout, an erection lasting over four hours, or have been transformed into a newt....consult your doctor immediately.....and blame Sarah Palin, because she's obviously a witch. Someone get the fire ready! I love me a good witch burning!

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Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

Using made up numbers, 10,000,000 Americans saw or heard about Palin's targets placed on congressional districts. Out of that, 9,999,999 people didn't shoot their congressperson.. The sheer numbers lead me to believe the defect was inside the brain of the shooter and not in the freedom of speech Palin exercised. I do see the other 9,999,999 caring about their country and it's future, and that seems to be a good thing.

OTOH, I imagine more than one person did kill somebody so they could get their next hit of meth or crack. I didn't see it reported anywhere, and if anyone has evidence nobody was killed as a result of the war on drugs on that sad day, please feel free to correct me. Yes I blame the war on drugs because when was the last time somebody was killed in a beer deal gone wrong?

But I digress.

Personally, I find the vitriolic speech and opposing opinions refreshing. Intense disagreement forces people to find the best answers without settling for the half measures attained when nobody cares.

Thankfully, vitriolic speech is protected speech. When we all start agreeing, apathy will be the only winner.

As for the killer in this and most cases, let them choose between hanging, firing squad or lethal injection. Violent action against our employees is not the answer in a democracy. We fight with ballots, not guns.

"We fight with ballots, not guns." LOL, vitriol.

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Eybea Opiner 3 years, 3 months ago

By all accounts this weirdo focused on Giffords in (around) 2003 when she failed to answer one of his nonsensical questions about grammar, or the meaning of words, or currency. Long before Sarah Palin or the Tea Party movement.

The killer has been described as "left-leaning" and apolitical, never as conservative or right wing.

The Arizona sheriff and the media seem to want to promote the idea that political speech had something to do with this man's madness.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 3 months ago

No doubt as cato said above, the far-left; many who troll this forum daily, are categorically crazed and infuriated. Mr. O's ratings are going up again, and many who turned away from him are returning. I will never be credited for saying this about him (as I never will for dropping "the anointed one"). But the main emphasis here imho is that the far-left are still out there, wandering around out there in their ideological haze, ticked off to the hilt.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 3 months ago

So it's Palin's fault----again?

Wowie! Such vitriole!

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cato_the_elder 3 years, 3 months ago

The primary reason for the quantities of vitriol and hatred poured out by liberals after the Tucson tragedy is the fact that they're still reeling from the results of the last election, and they're bitter as hell about it. In 2008 a small majority of the electorate lost its common sense and voted for a banner-carrying representative of the far left for president, who did the best he could to make good on his promise to "fundamentally transform America." The American people woke up and rejected his agenda soundly last November. Rather than acknowledging the failure of Obama's economic policies and the American voters' manifest rejection of them in a time of continued high unemployment, the far left still chooses to believe that its agenda was derailed by talk radio and Fox News. It seems that the only one of them who gets it is Obama himself, whose agreement with Republicans on the tax compromise in December was a clear acknowledgment of the road he was going to have to take to stand any chance of re-election in 2012.

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alexsilcox 3 years, 3 months ago

I just heard it on the radio that "Wise Health Insurance" can offer health insurance for just $1 a day any one aware of this ? have anyone purchased insurance through them. I did search for them and found them online.

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matthewlyon 3 years, 3 months ago

"While we may never know how influential the daily flood of vitriolic and ad hominem political speech in America was on this particular atrocity, it seems likely that it influenced it...."

Where's your evidence that it's "likely"? You're making a huge assumption here, which places you in the Krugman category. How unfortunate.

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BigPrune 3 years, 3 months ago

The favorite "talking point" word coming from the Democratic Party national headquarters these days......"vitriolic," Repeat: vitriolic Repeat: vitriolic etc., etc.....and so on and so forth.

Now on to the next letter to the editor, The favorite "talking point" word coming from the Democratic Party national headquarters these days......"vitriolic,".....etc., etc.....

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