In the wake of the shootings in Arizona - should there be limits to freedom of speech?

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In the wake of the shootings in Arizona - should there be limits to freedom of speech?

Hate and militant speech set the environment for the political shootings that took place in the USA this week. Should there be a limit on our freedom of speech?


Yes, but not because of this.

Cueball Cueball's picture

No. This problem is political. It is not a problem that can be resolved through arbitrary measures of repression designed to limit the freedoms of specific factions because they are obnoxious. Limiting speech of the teaparty will only encourage them, and give them cause.


free speech isn't the problem, it's gun culture mixed with right wing racist extremists and a black president and media that are lying to people and a major lack of democracy.


There should be strict laws against hating people - infractions punishable by death.

Also, I think Canada should reconsider its decision not to send troops to Iraq.

It's amazing the kind of crap some irrelevant random shooting in the U.S. produces on an allegedly progressive board.

Sorry, Maysie, am I not allowed to express the opinion that there was no conspiracy, no incitement, no evidence to date - that the U.S. Is simply a brutal anti-human warmongering society which spawns violence from every pore?

West Coast Greeny



 I wonder if there are any grounds for charging Palin for her crosshairs website?

Gabrielle Giffords shooting aftermath may mean changes


Barely a day after the rampage outside Tucson, possible policy changes stemming from the massacre started to emerge as well as charges that the shootings are being politicized.

U.S. Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., said he intends to introduce legislation that would treat potentially threatening language against members of Congress the way it is handled when it involves the president.

During a bipartisan conference call, the U.S. Capitol Police, an agency that handles security for Congress and its visitors in Washington, urged lawmakers to work more closely with their authorities across the country.

In Tucson, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik inveighed against what he sees as issues that contribute to violence like that which left U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords with a massive brain injury, six people dead and 13 others wounded. During a Sunday morning news conference, he called Arizona "the tombstone of the United States of America."

"I have never been a proponent of letting everybody in this state carry weapons under any circumstances that they want, and that's almost where we are," Dupnik said.

He complained that gun laws are too lax, ripped the state Legislature for currently considering legislation to allow firearms on college campuses and lamented that the mentally ill are not institutionalized as often as in the past.

On Saturday, Dupnik said talk radio and some in television have contributed to the overheated politics in the nation today.

U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., criticized Dupnik "for politicizing this thing in such a tragic moment."

Franks said that he doesn't see gun-control measures as a solution and that strong families remain the best way to identify mental problems early on.

"It's not the gun that was the problem. It's whose hands it was in," Franks said. "The central cause is that an unhinged degenerate with no respect for innocent human life has assaulted our Constitution, our freedom and killed and wounded many children of God."

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., called Dupnik's comments Saturday inappropriate.

"I didn't really think that that had any part in a law-enforcement briefing (Saturday) night. It was speculation," Kyl said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" in regard to the shooting suspect's motive. "It's probably giving him too much credit to ascribe a coherent political philosophy to him. We just have to acknowledge that there are mentally unstable people in this country."

Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., appearing on the same program, maintained that politics has turned toxic in the media.

"Far too many broadcasts now and so many outlets have the intent of inciting people to opposition, to anger, to thinking the other side is less than moral," he said. "I think that is a context in which somebody who is mentally unbalanced can somehow feel justified in taking this kind of action. I think we need to . . . be aware that what we say can, in fact, have consequences."

State Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, could not be reached for comment about his bills to allow guns on campus for licensed faculty and students. The state Legislature begins its 2011 session today.

On CNN, Brady said his bill would prohibit the use of threatening language or potentially violent imagery, such as placing crosshairs over the names of members of Congress, as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin did with Giffords last year.

"We need to be closing down this rhetoric," he said.






Interesting - "Democrats" demanding laws to limit criticism of politicians, but too cowardly to call for repealing the 2nd amendment.

I wonder how Democrats - or babblers - would react if someone (make it good - the parent of a child who died because of lack of affordable health care) took a pot-shot against Sarah Palin. Would they be blaming the nonstop hatred and mockery expressed against Palin in the media and elsewhere? Would they view this as an attack on "democracy"? Would they open threads wondering whether we should suppress speech directed against politicians?





Gee I feel sorry for Palin already with people firing pot-shots at her. Those left wing wackos!


@ Unionist

Yes, I would see an attack on Palin as a political act, and I'd take it just as seriously as the attack that happened yesterday.

As for her critics, have any of them used imagery of guns or anything else that might be considered an incitement to violence in anything they have said about her? I don't like the idea of that kind of threat or intimidation being brought into politics. I don't consider it valid criticism and I don't see any reason for it to be there.

Perhaps it is also a gross infringement on our rights that we can't say "bomb" in an airport. I've usually managed to espress myself even with that reactionary (and probably unneccesary) regulation in place.

To be clear though, my "yes" answer above was because I support some of the limits on speech that we already have in place. As I said, I don't thing there is any need to bring in any new restrictions because of yesterday's murders. Any law made to react to an extreme case like this is usuall not good policy, IMO.



Help for the poor through tax giveaways to the rich. Economic security by breaking people's pensions. Fiscal responsibility by bankrupting the state. Jobs by promoting economic recklessness that has produced a global economic crisis. A better society by promoting gross income disparity. Double and triple the police and prison apparatus to deal with a crime rate that has long been in decline. Better health care by making it available only to those who can afford it. Getting the state out of people's lives by imposing narrow religious views in the schools. Legislating responsibly by abdicating the legislative and budget process to corporate lobbyists. Peace by warmongering.

None of the central goals of American populist right-wingers hold up in rational debate. So a smokescreen is required. Take our country back! Respect the constitution! And... lock and load!

It's had a good run in the past two years, this latest manifestation of right-wing unreason in the United States. But perhaps this is the moment its real nature stands revealed. Like all right-wing populism, that is something it cannot survive.


As far as I can tell, not a peep from the Harper Cons. I think the possible backlash is scaring the shit out of them.

And lying about "crosshairs" is not going to win the Palin folks any brownie points either. Every time that they open their mouths now they will just be digging a deeper hole for themselves.


Giffords Shooting in Arizona May Soften U.S. Political Rhetoric

Sarah Palin

The shooting put a spotlight on Palin. Last year, Giffords was one of 20 Democrats who supported health-care legislation who were targeted on the crosshairs map for defeat by Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC, in last November's elections.

An aide to Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, said the images were never meant to evoke violence. "We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights," Rebecca Mansour told the talk radio host Tammy Bruce in an interview transcribed by the Alaska Dispatch.

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that such images aren't helpful. "These sorts of things, I think, invite the kind of toxic rhetoric that can lead unstable people to believe this is an acceptable response."


  comments from the topp article


This is not a question of right or left, but right and wrong and the populist rants from the tea partying is over as it faces its ugly face in the mirror. Tale a long look, Sarah and co. The party's over. Sip on the tea from under the rock from which you came. Bang on Brian Topp.

I hope you are correct that right wing populism can't survive the light of reason.

But it seems to be doing moderately well here in Canada.

Maybe we need more light and more reason?

This creep was targeting the Democrat because he was following Palin's website asking to target her with a gunsight. The right wing is nasty and their anger has now spilled over into murder. Just like here, Harper wants guns an to wipe out his opposition. They don't want the public to have a choice. Its time Canadians woke up to the horror the extreme right has instore for them.


althought it would be nice to see the rhetoric settle down, I just don't see how it is going to happen given their broad perception of what should be allowed as free speech. But, hey, audacity of hope, and all that.



Say it long and say it Loud,

Your article must be read, shared and discussed to create a course for the future even though it hasn't happened in Canada it is not far from Marc Lepine and we must not be smug.

[edited for formatting by Catchfire]


Ah, maybe Jared is just a "Patriot"
Jared Lee Loughner note reveals aim to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords

Investigators are examining whether far-right organisations played a role in Tucson shooting that killed six people

The FBI director, Robert Mueller, who travelled to Tucson, Arizona, to take charge of the investigation, said that one focus of the inquiry is whether far-right organisations and websites played a role.

"The ubiquitous nature of the internet means that not only threats, but hate speech and other insightful speech is much more readily available to individuals than quite clearly it was eight or 10 or 15 years ago," he said.

Investigators are exploring suspected links between Loughner and an online publication known for its strongly anti-immigrant stance, American Renaissance. It has denied any links to the accused killer.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, one of America's leading trackers of hate crimes, said there are signs in some of Loughner's writings of far-right influence. Mark Potok, the director of research on hate groups at the centre, drew attention to Loughner's online ramblings that reject the US currency.

"At one point, Loughner refers disparagingly to 'currency that's not backed by gold or silver'. The idea that silver and gold are the only 'constitutional' money is widespread in the anti-government 'Patriot' movement that produced so much violence in the 1990s," he said.

Potok said the Patriot movement believes that paper money issued by the government is not legal tender. He said there were also clues to Loughner's thinking in his internet postings in which he accused the government of "mind control on the people by controlling grammar".

Potok said that fits with the theory of a Patriot conspiracy theorist who claims that the government uses grammar to "enslave" Americans.

On Loughner's first encounter with Giffords, at a constituency event in 2007, he is reported to have asked her: "How do you know words mean anything?"

A former friend told the Wall Street Journal that he became "aggravated" when Giffords responded in Spanish before moving on with the meeting.

Other organisations monitoring extremist groups have noted that Loughner spoke despairingly of a "second American constitution", a reference used by some extreme rightwingers to post-civil war constitutional amendments that ended slavery and gave former slaves citizenship.

"One thing that seems clear is that Giffords, who was terribly wounded but survived, was the nearest and most obvious representative of 'the government' that Loughner could find. Another is that he likely absorbed some of his anger from the vitriolic political atmosphere in the United States in general and Arizona in particular," said Potok.

Acquaintances of Loughner have related hearing him rant about issues such as the national currency and language control.

Lynda Sorenson, 52, who attended a community college algebra class with Loughner last year, wrote emails to friends describing him causing disruption and expressing fears that he might be dangerous.

"We do have one student in the class who was disruptive today, I'm not certain yet if he was on drugs (as one person surmised) or disturbed. He scares me a bit. The teacher tried to throw him out and he refused to go, so I talked to the teacher afterward. Hopefully he will be out of class very soon, and not come back with an automatic weapon," Sorenson wrote on 1 June.

A fortnight later, Sorenson said of Loughner: "We have a mentally unstable person in the class that scares the living crap out of me. He is one of those whose picture you see on the news, after he has come into class with an automatic weapon. Everyone interviewed would say, 'Yeah, he was in my math class and he was really weird.' I sit by the door with my purse handy. If you see it on the news one night, know that I got out fast ..."

Loughner was later asked to leave the class.



Jared Lee Loughner: erratic, disturbed and prone to rightwing rants

Loughner echoes concerns of Tea Party movement in videos that reveal fears about government brainwashing


In the US, where hate rules at the ballot box, this tragedy has been coming for a long time

The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords may lead to the temporary hibernation of rightwing rage, but it is encoded in conservative DNA


As to the future, some things will change, at least for a while. Sarah Palin will be deeply diminished by this. Speaking about the now well-known cross-hairs imagery over the map of Giffords' congressional district on Palin's website, Giffords herself last year expressed concern about "consequences". Palin pooh-poohed this at the time. Her unctuous and hypocritical "prayer" for Giffords and the other victims will mollify only those who think she can do no wrong. But in general, this hastens that blessed day when we no longer have to pay attention to her self-serving lies and idiocies.

Republicans and even Tea Partiers will have the sense - again, for a while - to steer clear of directly gun-related rhetoric. We won't be hearing much in the near term about "second amendment remedies" and insurrection and so forth. But this will be temporary. Guns are simply too central to the mythology of the American right, as is the idea of liberty being wrested from tyrants only at gunpoint. For the American right to stop talking about armed insurrection would be like American liberals dropping the subjects of race and gender. It's too encoded in conservative DNA.

In addition, contemporary American conservatism has been utterly arrested by this ridiculous paranoid fantasy that our government is a tyranny. Here was Republican Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia, speaking in Washington last April on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing: "Fellow patriots, we have a lot of domestic enemies of the constitution, and they're right down the Mall, in the Congress of the United States - and right down Independence Avenue in the White House that belongs to us. It's not about my ability to hunt, which I love to do. It's not about the ability for me to protect my family and property against criminals, which we have the right to do. But it's all about us protecting ourselves from a tyrannical government." The year before, this same Broun singled out then-Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, as one such "domestic enemy of the constitution". He was re-elected last November with 67% of the vote.


This kind of rhetoric will go into hibernation now, but only for a bit. Because not only is it too central to rightwing mythology; it is central to Republican electoral strategy. This is one of those things that no one says, because it can't really and truly be proved forensically, but everyone knows. Get people to hate liberals. Get them to think not only that liberals have ideas for the country that are wrong - get them to believe that liberals despise the country and are actively attempting to hasten its demise. Say progressivism isn't just invalid or even dangerous, but "evil" and a "cancer," as Glenn Beck says. Fear gets people to the ballot box.

Direct responsibility for what happened Saturday? No. Mentally ill people are mentally ill. The Beatles weren't responsible for the messages that Charles Manson heard in their music. But there's a difference. Paul McCartney had no earthly reason to think that an innocent song about a fairground ride (Helter Skelter) would lead a man to commit barbarous acts of murder. Today's Republicans and conservative commentators, however, surely understand the fire they're playing with. But they do it, and a tragedy like Saturday's won't stop them, as long as they can maintain a phoney plausible deniability and as long as hate continues to pay dividends at the ballot box.


I'm curious about Jared's family situation. Apparently he still lived with his parents. I'm sure we are going to hear they had no idea there was a problem.


The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords highlights the 'man-up' culture in US politics

In a country that sees violent masculinity as the ideal, it's no wonder this rhetoric resonates


What's not being discussed, however, is that a fair amount of this violent language and imagery is coming from female politicians on the right. Giffords was a "target" on a map created by Sarah Palin's political action committee - Giffords's district was marked with an image of gun cross hairs. In a March interview that would prove eerily prescient, the congresswoman criticised the image, telling MSNBC: "When people do that, they've gotta realise there's consequences to that action."

In June, Nevada politician and former Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle suggested that if Congress "keeps going the way it is", people would turn toward "second amendment remedies". (The second amendment of the US constitution outlines the right of Americans to bear arms.) And in an interview with a local Nevada paper, Angle said: "The nation is arming ... If we don't win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?"

Stephen Ducat, author of The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity, says that masculine and violent language is often used in elections and campaigns - especially by men on the right - because of a fear of being perceived as feminine. In a sexist society, what could be worse than being called a girl? So it doesn't seem unlikely that conservative female politicians feel the need to peddle their ideas in gendered and violent language in order to fit in with the masculinised right.

After all, the phrase - and sentiment - "man up" was one of the most popular in the 2010 elections. In the Colorado Senate primary, Republican Jane Norton accused her opponent of not being "man enough"; in the Delaware Senate primary, Republican Christine O'Donnell said that her opponent was "unmanly"; Angle told Harry Reid to "man up"; and Palin praised Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer as having "the cojones that our president does not have" to enforce immigration laws.

In a country that sees masculinity - especially violent masculinity - as the ideal, it's no wonder that this type of language resonates. But it's a sad state of affairs when women in politics have to resort to using the same gendered stereotypes that kept all women out of public service for so long.

Palin staffers now say that their target list wasn't an allusion to guns. Spokesperson Rebecca Mansour told a radio host that they were meant to be "cross hairs that you would see on a map" and that there was "nothing irresponsible about our graphic". Yet the same day that Palin posted the image to her Facebook page she tweeted: "Commonsense Conservatives and lovers of America: "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" Pls see my Facebook page." The target map was the only image posted to her account that day.


I think Jared had out performed most of his classmates, been fed propaganda since childhood, not had acess to free mental healthcare or the cheapest(therefore hated by big-pharms) small drug Lithium(6cents per day). It is a class war, I think he's a slave run a muck. He may have killed innocents but he is a symptom of what happens when you grow people in debt bondage with no future. Jeez, he reminds me of the poor guys that tried to do symbolic logic without food but he did not even get to take the logic classes.

How long will it take to get back that sense of connectedness that the congress woman was trying to build? We don't have time for re-criminations! What if he thought he was striking against aparthied Isreal? Hell, that's the core of Barry Goldwater country; the origin of the looney right; more 'retired spys' per square foot than Maryland.

I think I just read an article about how to recruit a suicide bomber; he fits it to the tens. If he was in my E. Van neighborhood he'd be too busy to go all bongo. Furthermore, he'd care about the little ones.


Giffords shooting: an act of political violence in a polarised country

America is more polarised under Obama than it has been in four decades: the week he was elected gun sales leapt 50%


Among Loughner's proported influences was The Communist Manifesto, something I can bet a red cent more than a few people here have read. Now that's inflammatory political material if there ever was such a thing--how about banning that? And then Rabble allowed a thread like this, which was noticed by at least one right-wing blogger:

I'm really amazed the moderators allowed that thread to continue. Advocating change of government by force is totally illegal, and could expose Babble and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to criminal charges. Forget theorizing about what should and shouldn't be illegal--these posters already broke the law. You can bet that more than a few gleeful conservatives ratted out Rabble to the RCMP.


Arizona shooting: Wild west politics

Every Republican and media loudmouth who has flirted with insurrectionary rhetoric should examine their consciences

 In many countries, an event like this might shock the political class into collective determination to change the tone. It is a measure of how different American politics has now become that it is hard to expect any such thing.


NorthReport wrote:

I'm curious about Jared's family situation. Apparently he still lived with his parents. I'm sure we are going to hear they had no idea there was a problem.


In depression days, the family that can't live together loses. We should all pull together in these hard times but it is hard for people to lose the paradym of behavior when it was good times. The more a family group can do to beat the barons of debt the better. Actually, the more we as a group create meaningful work for our kids, the better.


The previous quote by Topp makes sense. Deflection is the biggest ally of the right-wing. Harper is cold stone rationale in his thinking. But Harper needs to wear what happened in Arizona as well. Rather than dissect what Harper's policies are actually doing, we are given some bogeyman to throw stones at.


The problem we are faced with is that there are many, many people that that have bot into this kind of messaging.
Arizona shootings: Will Barack Obama stand up to the Left's shameful exploitation of a national tragedy?


milo204 wrote:

free speech isn't the problem, it's gun culture mixed with right wing racist extremists and a black president and media that are lying to people and a major lack of democracy.

This.  And I would add, a fractured and inequitable health care system that may have resulted in lack of treatment for a seriously ill person.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Just popping in to say that language such as "go all bongo" to describe someone who may or may not have been diagnosed with a mental illness is not okay on babble. babblers who have used such language in the previous threads, and this one, need to stop it. Thank you.


How is Gabrielle doing - has anyone heard the latest?

Maysie Maysie's picture

Just wanted to let everyone know that if this doesn't get back on topic, I will close this and invite people to post comments in the new part 3 thread.


Agree with Cueball: this is a political problem. And requires political solutions.

Trying to ban inciteful speech in the US would just fan the flames.

It is wrong headed to even try, but if you did- you would quickly find that you couldidentify where to draw the line.

That line is hard enough to find when you are talking about speech that impacts particular identified and identifiable groups of people. Just try conceptualizing it when your goal is to stop 'stoking of the general political climate'.

It is a non starter, not to mention an attempt would make things worse.


"insightful speech", North Report? Really? From the Guardian?


Also, you're quoting large tracts of articles, which may be violating copyright.


Also, the way you post articles without any quote marks or tags makes it confusing to understand where your commentary begins/ends in relation to the article you're reproducing.

Bec.De.Corbin Bec.De.Corbin's picture


My base answer to the question in the thread heading is NO.


Perhaps this could be applied to everyone, not just elected Congress members or federal officials.

Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pennsylvania, said he will introduce legislation making it a federal crime for a person to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a member of Congress or a federal official.




NorthReport wrote:

Perhaps this could be applied to everyone, not just elected Congress members or federal officials.

Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pennsylvania, said he will introduce legislation making it a federal crime for a person to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a member of Congress or a federal official.

Why, of course! And then we could also support a law allowing first use of nuclear weapons by the U.S., but only if it's really truly necessary as a last resort!

I'm sure with the right wording, such a law will be used wisely by the U.S. government and judicial system, and certainly never to suppress popular movements.



The question is not freedom of speech, and Brady's legislation would violate it.

The problem is the media, specifically talk (hate) radio.  No one has the right to have a radio show where they can say anything they want.  Lack of standards and consequences, including firing and loss of license, has caused these right-wing hatemongers to proliferate.  In the U.S., up to the late 80's, there was a fairness doctrine, requiring the presentation of opposing viewpoints on the theory that because the airways were owned by the public, there should be a broad spectrum of viewpoints.  Once that was ended, the rise of the Rush Limbaughs began.


I cringe whenever something like this happens and people immediately start calling for limits on free speech and pointing blame where it doesnt' belong. Accoring to everything presented to date, this man had serious mental health issues. This is based on his writings, videos on youtube, myspace, etc. It keeps getting mentioned that one of his favourite books was The Communist Manifesto...should we blame commununists or ban that book?

Josh, a "fairness doctrine" wherever implemented works both ways. Left-wing media would also be forced to present the right-wing perspective. Who judges whether a perspective is actually being represented? Have you seen the threads around here about what actually is Progressive? Also, in the 80s, there was no internet. This guy obviously spent a lot of time on the internet, so would every single website be required to present an opposing view? Would you want forced to present or tolerate right-wing views?

In Canada, we have laws against inciting violence. I am not sure about the situation in the US in regards to these, but in my view this is the legal approach to take. As unionist alludes to, there is also violence as portrayed in culture. Movies, TV, video games, etc., etc. problems are solved by violence. Something I have not heard anyone else mention is the current fame-obsessed culture. Perhaps some of this guy's motivation was instant fame? 




Radio and television are different than other forms of media.  Only there do you need a license to operate and, as least in the U.S., you're supposed to operate in the "public interest."  I remember when there was a fairness doctrine, and it worked fine.  There was still point of view "talk radio," and it still skewed right.  But you the hosts were more restrained, and round the clock campaining for or against a candidate, without an opposing candidate being given the right of some time to respond, did not place.  As it does now in many places.  I've never come across progressive commercial radio.  The only stations that were, or are, were noncommercial.


As to cringing- maybe at the misguided thoughts. But don't worry about this going anywhere. What minimal legs it would have [with much less in the US, because of stronger civil libertarian sentiments that bridge the ideological polarization]... no one could even write a workable piece of proposed legislation around this.

And josh is right that as far as discourse goes talk radio is a huge problem- with the caveat that even elected officals say plenty of grotesquely inflamatory things that they dont need talk radio for a bully pulpit.

But the notion of a fairness doctrine is a civil society understanding- not something amenable to legislation. And that particular genie is long gone out of the bottle.


Regulation through the FTC control of licences would be easier than trying to control through banning inciting speech.

But the better term would be the oxymoronic- less impossible to do.


Ghislaine wrote:

Josh, a "fairness doctrine" wherever implemented works both ways. Left-wing media would also be forced to present the right-wing perspective. Who judges whether a perspective is actually being represented? Have you seen the threads around here about what actually is Progressive? Also, in the 80s, there was no internet. This guy obviously spent a lot of time on the internet, so would every single website be required to present an opposing view? Would you want forced to present or tolerate right-wing views?

I don't think it means presenting someone else's perspective at all. And end to personal attacks and intimidation would suffice, I think. You can say pretty much anything, and put forward completely slanted ideas without resorting to those tactics.

For me there are two levels that breach proper discourse:

First, is refusing to recognize the legitimacy of people you disagree with. While I don't think that is criminal I think it undermines social order and threatens all of us, because how do we expect to listen to someone if we aren't willing to do the same. I think it is particularly dangerous when applied to public figures - again, not just politicians, journalists and community leaders as well. The example most in my mind, which I mentioned already, is Harper's painting elected Bloc members as traitors whom no one should deal with.

Secondly is the threat of violence. Which I think is far worse, and is in spirit, criminal. While I would hope people could restrain themselves from that kind of rhetoric without the threat of law, I think it is completely unacceptable anywhere.

And before I get responses that this will restrain people from responding in kind from violent attack from opponents, do we really want or need to go there in the context of party politics? If we don't want to make it more of a war zone, let's try not to add to the notion that it is a war, or it will become a self-fulfiling prophecy.

First thing I would do before passing any restrictive laws? Get the cameras out of the house of commons and they would have a lot less reason to act like they needed to upstage one another.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

I don't think there should be limits to free speech.

BUT,in the media whether it be open mouth radio or any other political commentary on our air waves or newspapers,hateful,inciteful rhetoric should be dealt with much in the same way as a 'nut' writing out a manifesto or confession in a social media site or publicly calling for the assassination of someone.

In the latter part of the preceding paragraph,we all ready have heard from Tom Flanagan on a national news show call for an assassination without any criminal charge....But someone shows a nipple on television and the outrage ripples on for a decade.

If I,or anyone else,were to publicly call for the murder of a politician,a policeman or a private person,I'd be arrested.

But I guess it all depends on WHO you are calling for their heads.

It reminds me a bit of television,movies,video games and music where you have groups of people in government who want to blame violence as residual effects from that media.

Sort of like how Judas Priest was almost thrown in jail because of a couple of losers who listened to a song,claimed to hear a message which doesn't exist in the song,and proceeded to shoot themselves.

In a sane world,Flanagan and the mouth breathers who have a soap box in people's living rooms and kitchens,would be criminally charged with inciting violence.

Just as an experiment,make up a web site with pictures of the men and women of the extreme right with their faces in targets and type in the word 'assassination' under it and see how long it takes before a SWAT team kicks down your door.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Just to add something.

The fact that Harper has been silent sends a message,to me anyway,that he doesn't see much wrong with this...Maybe if the victims were Israeli soldiers,it would be a different story

I'm convinced that,whether they admit it or not,they believe that this will 'scare' dissenting voices.

Didn't I hear somewhere where King Harper was quoted as liking to see the fear in the eyes of his opponents?


there IS a limits to freedom of speech in Canada. People would not be shooting other people if they had more stability and positive attention in their lives, including mental health care and a job. Thats what it comes down to, i will repeat it 1000 times if i had to.


takeitslowly wrote:

there IS a limits to freedom of speech in Canada.

And for the most part, that is a good thing.

@ alan smithee

While the SWAT team is an overreaction, I wouldn't want to attempt your proposed online experiment because I think it is over the line of what SHOULD be done. And the fact that some people get away with it does not make it right.

Last I heard though, police did open an investigation into Tom Flanagan's statements.


Is it?

I have much more to fear from the unambiguously 'sane' people than I do from people like the Arizona killer.

Let alone the biggest dangers being posed by the well known certifiably sane people like Sarah Palin and Tony Clement... even if we are talking about the potential of more 'foot soldier' killers out there, we've got more to worry about from the ones that do not have mental health issues.

Lou Arab Lou Arab's picture

The more I think about it, the more I think that progressives who are tying the shooting to political speech are wrong.

I don't believe this is about speech, it's about access to guns and gun control.  People with mental health problems exist everywhere - but in the US, they live in a culture and society with easy access to deadly weapons.  That's a problem.

I didn't buy it when people blamed the Columbine School shootings on Jim Carroll (author of the Basketball diaries).  In the book, Carroll writes about fantasies of going into school and shooting a machine gun in the air.  In the move (which I've not seen) apparently, the gun is pointed at students.  The shooters at Columbine referenced Carroll's work, and he got blamed.  I didn't buy it then, and I don't buy it now that Republicans are responsible.

Even if political speech leads to violent action, it's near impossible to police and control.

Let's be honest, some progressives are thinking that blaming Sarah Palin and the Republicans for this will result in some kind of partisan gain. It won't.  It may even backfire.  People who vote for the Tea Party will not be swayed by the arguments being made.  They will see right through them and likely just get madder at the left for making them.  All Palin and the Republicans have to do is say "We are horrified by this tragedy.  We can't be held responsible for the actions of one person.  We are disgusted by the attempts to politicize this event." I bet the fundraising letters are already drafted. 

And that's before anyone even digs up all the examples of the media and the Democratic Party using battle terms in political discussion.

It would be smarter, and would do more good, for progressives to talk about the shooting in terms of it being a gun control issue.  When Ronald Regan was shot, it resulted in the Brady Bill.  When Dec 6th happened in Canada, we got the gun registry.  Shootings like what happened in Arizona are exactly why the US needs better gun control.  Shootings like that happen all the time in the US, but seldom with the kind of attention paid to them like this one.

If the left in the US use this to push gun control, I suspect they would ultimatly get the partisan boost they are attempting to gain after the Republicans push back. 

They would also be doing the right thing.

So I'd like to see the Democrats push for better gun control (even if just an incremental measure) rather than use this as an ill advised (and doomed) tactic to gain political traction against Sarah Palin.


You mean like here:


See this blog post for use of the bulls eye and targeting rhetoric by Democrats:




George Victor

Social convention in Canada keeps folks from expressing murderous urges.

Where/when did social convention in the U.S. find it acceptable...even humorous? 


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