Surely the facts can be rearranged.
“During Tucson’s first rush hour since a weekend shooting left six people dead and 14 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, talk radio hosts pushed back against arguments that their heated political rhetoric had played a role in the tragedy.
Phone calls poured in to stations across the dial to denounce Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik of Pima County, who said at a news conference over the weekend that Arizona had become “the mecca for prejudice and bigotry” and that local TV and radio hosts should do some “soul-searching.”
The radio hosts struck a defensive, even embattled tone at times on Monday. They said Saturday’s shooting had nothing to do with either their broadcasts or the state’s tense political environment; they read e-mails over the air that were critical of their political stances, and some spoke about death threats they had received.
All agreed that Sheriff Dupnik had embarrassed Arizona and unfairly denigrated talk radio by linking it with the shooting.
“There isn’t any correlation,” said Jon Justice, who hosts a highly rated program on KQTH (104.1-FM) in Tucson. “It’s like blaming Jodie Foster for the individual who shot Ronald Reagan.” “
“Garret Lewis, host of “The Morning Ritual” on KNST (790-AM) in Tucson, said Sherriff Dupnik’s comments had “incited stupidity around the world.”
“People have the image now that we’re a bunch of racist bigots and there are shootouts in the streets,” Mr. Lewis said. “Again, he has absolutely no proof that any of this is true.”
Steve, a caller on Mr. Justice’s show, said Mr. Dupnik’s statements “showed him for the buffoon he is.”
Later, a caller named Lee said the sheriff was “a blithering idiot.” Caller after caller came up with their own colorful descriptions.
In the incredulous language of talk radio, Mr. Justice defended his show and dismissed the notion that Arizona’s political culture had served as the backdrop to the shooting or an inspiration for the suspect, Jared L. Loughner.
“This is a crazy person!” he said. “Politics is out the window — you’re a nutbag! No amount of controlling talk radio is going to change that!”
“People need to go and point fingers,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but some people do. They have to find somebody to demonize.”
Mr. Justice, who has made issues like his opposition to Tucson’s ethnic studies programs for Latinos, his concerns about illegal immigration from Mexico and his disapproval of the Obama administration’s health care law a staple of his program, did not discuss those issues Monday.
Barry Young, the host of a morning show on KFYI (550-AM) in Phoenix, said: “They are telling us that we have to make sure our words and phrases don’t incite crazy people. I have one problem with that: They’re crazy.” “
Liza and the Pets know just how you feel dear.
“Some callers, however, made it clear that they believed that the state’s conservative-leaning radio hosts bore some responsibility.
“You ought to be ashamed,” Dale said on Mr. Justice’s program. “You are part of the problem.”
Mr. Justice, his voice cracking, responded, “There’s nothing I have said on this radio station that could have inspired” Mr. Loughner.
A caller who identified himself as Rick told the host Mike Gallagher of KKNT (960-AM) in Phoenix that “individuals like yourself instill fear” in people.
“Was Jared Loughner a Mike Gallagher listener?” the host asked. “You’re dishonest, Rick.”
On “Wake Up Tucson” on KVOI (1030-AM), the hosts said their political conversations were more reasoned than inflammatory.
“When we take an issue on, we really, really understand where we’re going,” said Joe Higgins.
“Ninety-nine percent of the stuff that we’ve ever talked about, we’re dead on,” said his partner, Chris DeSimone. “We’re constantly doing our homework.”
On “The Morning Ritual,” it was barely light outside when Mr. Lewis began knocking down arguments that gun control laws should be tightened in response to the shooting. “We can’t always depend on the police, the sheriff’s department or anyone else to protect us,” he said. “At some point, we have to do it ourselves.”
Among the sponsors on several programs Monday were gun shops and gun shows, including the Crossroads of the West Gun Show, which is scheduled for the Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson this weekend.”
“Most callers to the shows Monday morning agreed with the hosts and defended their right to speak.
“I don’t know what you did wrong,” said a caller to Mr. Justice’s show named John. “Keep the freedom of speech going.”
But while most radio hosts sought to stay clear of political partisanship, Rush Limbaugh said Monday afternoon on his show that seeking to connect the shooting with radio talk shows — which are dominated by conservatives — was part of a Democratic strategy.
“It is our right and our duty to criticize the people who have put the fate of our country in peril,” Mr. Limbaugh said.”
“In the wake of the horrendous shooting rampage in Tucson, why isn’t anyone talking about banning “Mein Kampf”? Or “The Communist Manifesto”? Or for that matter, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan” or “The Phantom Tollbooth”? “
Or Michael Moore
“After all, unlike Sarah Palin’s absurdly infamous Facebook map with crosshairs on congressional districts that some pundits have blamed for the violence, we have some evidence — suspect Jared Lee Loughner’s own words — that these books were a direct influence on him.
And to listen to partisan ghouls such as Keith Olbermann exploiting this horrific crime, any rhetoric or writing or images that contributed to it must be stopped and those who don’t accept blame and then repent (specifically Palin) must be, in his words, “dismissed from politics.” “
Never knew Keith was British
“Note: It’s already evident from evidence found by the authorities and from interviews with the alleged killer’s friends and acquaintances that Loughner had fixated on Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords since 2007, long before anyone heard of the “tea parties” or, in most cases, Palin. Moreover, his grievance with Giffords appears to be unrelated to any coherent — or even incoherent — ideological platform. Rather, it drew on the bilious stew of resentments this young man cultivated as he lost his grip on reality.
Indeed, according to a fascinating interview in Mother Jones with one of Loughner’s close friends, this twisted soul was apparently an ardent believer in “lucid dreaming,” in which he could control an alternate “Matrix”-style reality.”
Aha! It’s Keanu’s fault!
“Something similar seems to be taking hold in more respectable quarters. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman insists he wasn’t surprised this happened because he saw it coming, even though the facts in this dimension don’t support his premonitions.”
Still trapped in The Matrix, eh Jonah?
“But rather than beat up on those who’ve migrated from the reality-based community, it might be worthwhile to take them at their word. If these people seriously believe that the tea parties and Palin’s “lock and load” rhetoric are to blame, then what shall we do about it?”
Bill Maher has a few suggestions.
“It’s hard to find a serious answer. For most of these ideological ambulance chasers, it seems enough to lay the blame at Republican or right-wing feet in an effort to anathematize ideas they don’t like.
But that’s shortsighted. Misplaced panics like this have a momentum and logic all their own. Already Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-Pa.) has drafted legislation to ban the use of symbols or language that could foster violence. “The rhetoric is just ramped up so negatively, so high, that we have got to shut this down,” he told CNN.
That opens the bidding. The question is, where will it end?”
How about here?
“If the alleged shooter was inspired by a movie or TV show, as any number of murderers have been over the years, would those blaming the tea parties join with social conservatives in blaming Hollywood? Would they celebrate new laws to “shut down” such fare?
Mark David Chapman, the madman who murdered John Lennon, claimed to be in no small part inspired by “The Catcher in the Rye.” Should that be banned? Or if not, should we “dismiss” from public life anyone who doesn’t denounce J.D. Salinger?”
WHEN Catcher in the Rye author JD Salinger died last January, many US literary figures were quick to publicly lament his passing. Not Bret Easton Ellis, who tweeted the following: “Yeah!! Thank God he’s finally dead. I’ve been waiting for this day for-fucking-ever. Party tonight!!!”
“When the subject of censorship or the “chilling” of free expression comes up in other contexts, the very idea that books, movies or TV can be blamed for the actions of the criminal or the deranged is met with unbridled scorn. It’s nonsense. If books can inspire us positively, surely they can inspire us negatively too. But we understand that we don’t blame books for the rare demons who feed on them.”
It’s all Sondheim’s fault.
“No doubt this will cause eye-rolling among those who simply want to keep the focus on demonizing conservatives and never bother to think ahead about the consequences of their misplaced hysteria. One noble exception is Slate’s Jack Shafer, who probably goes further than I would when he writes, “Any call to cool ‘inflammatory’ speech is a call to police all speech, and I can’t think of anybody in government, politics, business or the press that I would trust with that power.”
“Meanwhile, many proud liberals, not to mention dedicated journalists, see no problem with fueling a mass panic over our “political discourse.” The fact that liberal rhetoric and images are often just as “extreme” is irrelevant. Also irrelevant is any violence that might be linked to such rhetoric. And the fact that the shooting suspect’s motivations may lay in a reality of his own design? That’s irrelevant too.”
Only to you dear.
“These critics’ aim is simply to exploit this horror as an opportunity to yell “shut up” at their political opponents.”
Ordinarily that would be a Little Richard cue. But I’m giving this one to the Talking Heads.