Sunday, January 09, 2011

Gunning for Giffords: The events in Tuscon chill one's soul. All of us who call ourselves human and who live in one of the freest nations on earth must be staggered by the carnage that occurred in that city which resembled more of the wild west from which Tuscon was born. Many are focusing on the electric explosive current coursing through the veins of the contemporary politics of our nation. The Internet we know is filled with violent speech most especially on the extremist right calling for the elimination of Democrats. In the coming days there can be no doubt that media will be concentrating on this sad fact of the incivility of American political discourse today.

Michael Moore recently sent to his supporters his Twitter blog about this dastardly event. If you Google his name you will see his opinion and even an opinion by Keith Olbermann about this sad occurrence which Moore posted on his page as well. The link is:

Specifically and most importantly, Sarah Palin's cross-hairs post during the 2010 election cycle (sent to me by a relative) appears in the writings of the great conservative-leaning journalist Andrew Sullivan (See link below). It is sickening evidence, indeed, that our prominent public figures are contributing to this hateful social climate which is bringing in a tsunami of grief and unprecedented gun violence to this nation. Palin's site which she used targeted Representative Gabrielle Giffords of the 8th District in Tuscon and many others elsewhere to be in the cross-hairs marked for elimination.

I am questioning whether any of the injured or any of the family of those who perished could bring suit against most particularly uber prominent political personalities such as Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, and the microphone for them Fox News, they have used to make millions. I believe their rancid public rhetoric against Democrats and other progressives comes perilously close to encouraging malice, violence against them and even treason against our country.

Free speech is one thing but yelling fire in a crowded theater is unacceptable and our Supreme Court under Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said so. The 1919 unanimous decision by the Court in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919) established free speech limits which exist even to this day. This case used the "clear and present danger" yardstick to limit just how far one can go if one by their speech could endanger the public safety. The Court stated and I quote:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

I believe there are limits especially for public figures as to the embedded and implied violence of their speech which could encourage the tinderbox that is our nation to ignite. They are to me guilty of contributing by their violent rhetoric to the horrendous occurrences and attempted assassination of a Representative of the U.S. House. Whether Palin, Beck, and many others on the right not the least of which is Fox News can be indicted for contributing to this national catastrophe remains to be seen.

The 9 year old girl who was killed in this mayhem was born amazingly on 9/11. If that is not a metaphorical fact of what violence has done to this nation than nothing is.

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