Editorial: Palin's reflection on danger of words
America remains horrified concerning the tragic shooting Saturday of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others at an Arizona supermarket.
Following Saturday's shooting, the outspoken Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik issued a plea for politicians and pundits in the media to dial down the rhetoric. He said in his opinion that part of the blame of the rampage was the overheated "vitriol" of recent politics.
Some liberal pundits quickly followed by blaming Sarah Palin for her previous Facebook map targeting Giffords' district and others with gun sights on a map. We should point out that some liberal politicians have used similar gun sight artwork before as well.
Frankly, the use of any gun sight artwork in any political ad and/or literature is inappropriate and reflects poor judgment. However, all politicians, including Palin and others, as well as citizens have the right under the First Amendment to use any artwork they choose.
Meanwhile Palin issued a seven-and-a-half-minute video denunciation of critics of her use of gun sight artwork and instead blamed media pundits and journalists for "blood libel." She once again showed poor judgment.
Palin reached back centuries to the term of "blood libel" that she did not know the definition of or truly understand. "Blood libel" dates back to the 12th century in England and Europe, where Christians believed Jews kidnapped and killed children to obtain their blood. The term is considered emblematic of anti-Semitism.
First, Palin made an claim that she was a word victim of the Arizona shootings rhetoric. This is a rather ironic claim. By her own statement, Palin claims the words of her critics have harmed and endangered her.
Is that not a basic admission that words or symbols people use can have negative impact? The answer is simply -- yes.
As Giffords said following Palin's release of the gun sight ad, "there are consequences" in people's words. How prophetic!
Second, Palin claimed that she had a First Amendment right to vigorously debate by using gun sight advertising, her classic line "Don't retreat, just reload" and other rhetoric. However, she claimed her critics were somehow out of line and infringing on her rights with their criticism of her.
Are not the opinions of Palin's critics protected speech as well under the same First Amendment?
The answer is simply -- yes.
Palin has used poor judgment in her gun-term rhetoric as well in her "blood libel" defense. Both judgments are coming back to roost on this Alaskan politician.