Douchebag Decree: Tucson Shooting Link Roundup


By now most of you have heard about the shooting last Saturday in Tucson that involved Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents. In the wake of the shooting, much has been made of a crosshairs graphic Sarah Palin used to target Giffords' seat in the house, and the media has raised a lot of questions about whether it and other violent political rhetoric and imagery had anything to do with the shooter's actions.

Obviously this was a really terrible act of violence, and it was perpetrated for reasons that are still ambiguous. There is currently no way to know definitively whether alleged shooter Jared Loughner, who some have suggested struggles with schizophrenia, was influenced by violent rhetoric to shoot Giffords. But a really interesting debate has sprung up around the use of violent language in politics and whether it should be curtailed in light of the shooting. Then, of course, in the midst of this debate, Palin with her unfailing subtlety and sensitivity decided to use the term "blood libel" to characterize suggestions that her rhetoric might have had something to do with the shooting.

Since violence like this goes beyond the term "douche-y", and since it would be much too obvious to award the Decree to Palin (let's just call her an honorary Douchebag for life), I thought I'd do a roundup of some of the most interesting and the douchiest discussions of violence, rhetoric, and totally inappropriate anti-Semitic references that have come up over the last few days.

First, the douchebags:

Political commentator Andrew Breitbart, apropos of nothing, gets flippant about rape:

Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post argues that the political climate couldn't possibly have had anything to do with Loughner's actions since people with mental illnesses don't live in the world:

The New York Times thinks it's important that you know about Loughner's defense lawyer's fashion choices, lest her "pageboy haircut" trick you into thinking she's not smart enough for the case:

A former Bush speechwriter claims that marijuana use could have "aggravated" Loughner's desire to commit violence, and that pot can cause schizophrenia. Personally I've never seen marijuana aggravate much except the desire to find and eat snacks, but here you go:
(via The Raw Story)

Congressman Robert Brady goes on Here & Now to talk about his attempt to pass a law against language and symbols seen as threatening to federal officials. His response to Robin Young's concerns that this law would violate the first amendment: "You gotta be careful what you say." He also mentions that Congresswoman Giffords is a "very classy, very nice lady," which gives her "the express her views."

On a douche-free note, here are a few smart, engaging perspectives on the Tucson shooting that deserve to be read:

As usual, Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown has a supersmart take on the issues at hand. Read her "FAQ" about the shooting:

Jill at Feministe makes some good points about how our culture lazily links mental illness and crime:

Glenn Greenwald at Salon argues that unfortunately, tragedies like this one often lead to knee-jerk calls for more governmental power and restriction of civil liberties (hear that, Robert Brady?)

Obviously these are just a few of the many, many articles being written about the Tuscon tragedy. What have you been reading?

by Lindsay Baltus
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7 Comments Have Been Posted


I live in Tucson, and my world has been rocked by this tragedy, in the worst possible way. I have more thoughts about it than I can possibly get into here.

I connected pretty strongly with <a href=" piece</a>, also by Sady Doyle, about the god-awful Breitbart comments. While s.e. smith compiled a <a href=" list</a> of pieces critiquing the "He's just crazy!" refrain, I've yet to see satisfying analyses of the way the <a href="">loner myth</a> is being utilized or the manner in which examining political culture is getting conflated with unfair scapegoating. I'd also be curious to read more critical left-wing responses to Obama's speech yesterday; I went to see it and left with thoroughly mixed feelings about what had been said.

Live with schizo-affective

Live with schizo-affective disorder, and for what it's worth, lived a number of years in Arizona. So I've been following a lot of the commentary on this. I feel that what people aren't seeming to really connect to is that yes, people with these types of mental illnesses certainly can be aware of politics, current events and such. Some fixate on them, others care nothing about them. Some fixate on religion. Some feel a certain sort of attachment to some aspect of pop culture.

However, while he may have had knowledge of politics, from what I read on his videos, he's looking at politics on a level that's not on most people's usual "right wing left wing" spectrum. He's talking about mind control utilized on a grand scale, not simply by one political party or figure. Doctors label this as "atypical perception". Fair enough, since most don't typically perceive in this way.

A friend said Laughner had encountered Gifford at a press conference a year ago and that he'd nursed a grudge because in his opinion she'd "failed to sufficiently answer a question he'd asked." It's possible that this may have been motivated by what he imagined to be a personal slight rather than anything political. The bottom line is, despite so many people on the right and left both itching to point fingers, he's been reticent on his motives, ideology, or even his opinion of Sarah Palin. Honestly I wish more people would look at this as exactly why healthcare reform (which Gifford was a proponent of) is so important, and why there needs to be better treatment for those who are mentally ill.

Correlation does not mean causation

"But is correlation causation?

Increasingly experts seem to be saying: 'Yes.'"

-David Frum


petition to indict Sarah Palin

A lot of people (Democrats, Republicans, and None of the Above) are concerned that Muslims urging the kind of violent retaliation Palin wished on her political opponents would have been jailed before they had the opportunity to target incumbent Congress people with gun sights. In the name of equal justice, there is a petition at which calls for the Dept of Justice to indict Palin for incitement to violence.

Check out the Daily Show on Jan. 10th (if you haven't yet)

Jon Stewart's take on the Tucson incident this past Monday was refreshing, and the one I agree with the most. Whereas different political media outlets are going the offensive route of figuring out whether the shooter's liberal or conservative to shoehorn blame on the left or the right, Stewart instead urged that the political rhetoric needs to be more toned down to raise red flags toward any potentially troubled individual. As it is, the stuff you hear on Fox News or MSNBC, or really any political debate on Youtube comments or Facebook (or for that matter, any forum with people that have too much time on their hands and too much nchecked anger to defuse) are nearly indistinguishable to the madmen ramblings contained inside manifestos, juch as Jared Loughner's. Beefing up gun control won't do anything, and even with an increased access to med care, we can't treat these people who need professional help if we can't recognize that they need it (because they won't discover it on their own). And bravo for Jon Stewart to being classier about this matter than "real" political commentators. What does that say about our current political environment?


"A former Bush speechwriter claims that marijuana use could have "aggravated" Loughner's desire to commit violence, and that pot can cause schizophrenia. <b>Personally I've never seen marijuana aggravate much except the desire to find and eat snacks, but here you go.</b>"

I really needed that laugh. Thanks, Lindsay.

Village Voice bloggers on the shootings

Jen Doll has written a great column on the <i>Village Voice</i> blog site called "Gabrielle Giffords Is a Woman: Here's Why It Matters".

Also: Roy Edroso, author of the witty blog "The <i>Voice</i> Explores the Right-Wing Blogosphere", has posted two columns about the right's reaction to the Tucson shootings. Both are well worth reading.

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