I know everyone’s really, really excited to blame Sarah Palin for the shooting in Arizona, but it’s pretty clear the guy was just nuts.
Well, yeah, of course he was nuts. That’s precisely the reason Palin is getting heat for it.
Here’s the point, that I think some people who do not regularly follow politics are missing: for a while now, people have been concerned that persistent and repeated use of gun metaphors and warfighting imagery in political talk by Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, et al. were creating the sort of environment that would drive an unbalanced person with a gun to do something like this.
Any sane person should realize that repeatedly saying “Don’t Retreat, Reload” and using crosshairs to mark Democratic candidates’ on a map doesn’t mean Palin actually wanted someone to shoot them. But it wasn’t just one web page, it’s repeated over and over again, and pretty soon this guy who is just nuts is finding encouragement everywhere he looks. Even if you could prove Jared Lee Loughner had never read a word by Sarah Palin, that’s not the point: by giving this kind of talk legitimacy, they allow it to permeate the environment.
To what degree the relevant politicians and pundits are responsible for the shooting is difficult to answer, but the fact that Palin has removed much of the offending material at least acknowledges it is in disgustingly poor taste, as it always has been.