The one thing I'll say for her; at least this time, someone got her to modulate a bit. Here is a video that Caribou Barbie released this morning, to — what the hell DID she think she was doing by releasing this video?
The first thing you'll notice is that the former half-term governor of Alaska apparently has two tones of voice available; screeching and patronizing. Thankfully, she gave up "screeching" on this one. But what she says shows a breathtaking cluelessness. This is a profoundly ignorant woman.
The media, including this humble blog, have taken her and the far right to task over the past five days for the increased vitriol in their tone when it comes to political debate. Among many things people have noted has been Sarah Palin's use of a graphic on her Facebook page, out there last March, "targeting" a number of Democratic politicians, and putting their Districts in "crosshairs."
Anyone who knows the history of this country would understand that such imagery evokes exactly the wrong message. Violence has no place in our society, and in a peaceful country, which is what most of us aspire to, violent rhetoric should be left to war movies and video games. It should have no place in the public debate. I have a video of George Bush being interviewed by Matt Lauer about 4 years ago, and since I put it up, it's had nearly a million hits, and several thousand comments. There have been numerous calls by those leaving comments, calling for the deaths of both Bush and Lauer, and I remove every one of them as soon as I see it. Regardless of how you feel about their personal politics, calling for, or even wishing for, anyone's death has no place in a civilized society.
The history of politics in this country is not exactly bloodless. Besides the numerous wars we've been involved in, we're not exactly strangers to political assassination and bloodshed in pursuit of a political cause. The vast majority of Americans are very peaceful, and law-abiding, and would never hurt another, and we want our politics to reflect us. And the vast majority of us want our politicians to represent us, not some psycho fringe group that doesn't reflect American values, but instead bastardizes them.
And that is what Caribou Barbie represents. She represents a fringe mentality that used to be relegated to the fringes of the political debate, but which has become a very loud, very shrill and very un-American force in our politics. She is apparently unable to understand American history, and why political violence disgusts most people, and why we blame people like her, Jesse Kelly and Sharron Angle (who mysteriously dropped out of the running for a state senate appointment in Nevada over the last couple of days — wonder why?) for helping to create an environment that emboldens people like this little asshole in Arizona to take lives for political purposes. And her misuse of the term "blood libel" to describe people who question her judgment shows someone who is absolutely insensitive and, well, profoundly stupid.
Why does someone so incredibly clueless have such a shrill and overpowering voice in American politics? That's a question for another column, but it should make you shudder.
Caribou Barbie and the numerous idiots out there who are just like her, are trying desperately to absolve themselves of any guilt in last Saturday's massacre, and the only way to do that is to absolve themselves of any responsibility, as well.
People like her must understand that "free speech isn't free." I know it's a cliche, but it became a cliche because it's true. It doesn't refer only to the fact that many people have died to protect it. It also means that, while you are able to say almost anything without prior restraint, speaking freely doesn't absolve anyone of the responsibility for the consequences of their exercise of "free speech." Got it?
I am very aware of what I write on this blog, and I choose my words very carefully as a result. For example, I don't use the name of the shooter from last Saturday, even though I am free to do so, because I don't want to acknowledge his existence. I want him locked in a cell and forgotten. And I would never even THINK of using violent imagery in referring to Caribou Barbie, because I don't think it has a place in our national discourse. I was only five when JFK was shot and killed, so I only have dim memories of Dan Rather standing on top of the Book Depository, and my mom and grandmother crying for a couple of days. But I remember when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed very vividly, I remember where I was when George Wallace was shot, less than 30 miles from where I was living at the time, and I can tell you exactly where I was when Frank Reynolds broke into General Hospital to tell us that Ronald Reagan had been shot. The very concept of mixing violent imagery and politics literally sickens me. Yet, here we have a prominent American politician who is actually giving excuses as to why none of us should object to her form of debate. These kinds of people used to be on the political fringes, folks; how in the hell did they get to be a major part of the political debate?
I don't know why the right wing doesn't get this. Free speech works for all. You have the right to use violent rhetoric in political debate, and everyone else has the right to call you on it. No one has the right to say what they want without response. It is not a violation of your free speech rights for others to note that you're full of shit. It is an exercise of my free speech rights to note that the political climate created by Caribou Barbie, Jesse Kelly, Sharron Angle, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others might have led to this asshole putting a gun to the head of Gabby Giffords. My statement to that effect doesn't violate anyone else's free speech rights. Sheriff Dupnik and I are simply noting that rights come with responsibility, and that words have consequences.
In this asinine video, Barbie decries the very concept that "political rhetoric" could have had anything to do with this "despicable" crime. She also refers to this jackass as "apolitical." I've read the ramblings on his web site, and let me tell you; his politics is screwy, and he doesn't seem to have a cogent belief system, but he is anything BUT "apolitical."
More importantly, is she psychic? No one knows why this guy tried to shoot Congressperson Giffords. Since he was taken into custody, police tell us he's said almost nothing. Therefore, for her to dismiss the possibility that political rhetoric had something to do with this is absolutely clueless. It's possible it didn't. But it's also possible that it did. And that's what should bother her.
Here is a highly regarded figure in a major political party, and it is entirely possible that some of the things that she, her supporters, and many she supported have said and done created an environment wherein this (admittedly nuts) shooter felt it was okay to shoot Congresswoman Giffords. Does she really think no one really noticed that Giffords' opponent Jesse Kelly, who was heavily supported by her PAC, the Tea Party and the Republican Party, held fundraisers promising to let donors "take out" Giffords by shooting off an M-16 in return for a donation? If she thought no one noticed her Tweet encouraging followers to "re-load" against the Democrats or her Facebook posting featuring crosshairs over a number of Congressional Districts, including Giffords', then why did she leave them up until just after the shooting? For that matter, if she felt there was no way they had any impact, why did she take them down right after the shooting? Seems to me there was a little "oops" going on there.
This woman really needs to learn about our history, and she also needs to be more aware of where she is in history. She asks, I presume rhetorically, when debate has been less heated, and refers back to a time when duels were conducted between political rivals. Seriously, she actually said that.
The last prominent politician to conduct a duel that I'm aware of was Andrew Jackson, almost 200 years ago. There may have been a few others, but I think we can all agree that, in the last century and a half or so, at least since the Civil War, they have not been the norm. And in the post-World War II era, the entire world took a step back and re-evaluated its politics in the wake of the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese disaster. And I always thought the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union meant that democracy had triumphed and the power of the people as a whole had been certified.
Besides, the fact that this woman even issued a video means that she thinks of herself as a "leader" of sorts, so doesn't that imbue her with a responsibility to raise the level of debate in our politics? Isn't the purpose of a leader to lead, and not just follow what everyone else does?
Think about it; Caribou Barbie, instead of asking our forgiveness for any part she may have had in creating the environment that may have led to last week's massacre, is actually asking us for permission to continue using the same tactics over and over. She is actually asserting her right to be as nasty and use as much violent rhetoric as she wishes, and absolving herself of any responsibility for any negative effects her words or actions might cause.
But here's a clue, Barbie; words and actions have consequences, and you are not off the hook until such time as some other asshole targets his Congressperson shouting "I am from the Tea Party and I worship Sarah Palin!" We are ALL culpable for creating the current climate, including me. I have not been forceful enough in denouncing such rhetoric, and I have not done enough to contribute to a civilized political debate on my end. Now, I'm not talking about referring to you as "Caribou Barbie" or referring to the dipshits the right keeps electing to Congress as "dipshits" I'm talking about violent, intolerant rhetoric that is specifically designed to provide red meat to the un-American fringes of our society. And Caribou Barbie does that in spades. I don't engage in it myself — in fact, I actively avoid it — but I could do more to quash it, and I will from now on.
In a country dominated by self-serving hacks, this woman is by far the most despicable of the lot. She doesn't get to employ violent and incendiary rhetoric in a campaign, and then pretend the slate is wiped clean on Election Day, as she seems to think is the case. She's out there making tons of money from illiterate and ignorant slobs who think the government's coming to take everything they have, precisely because people like her tell them they are, and they spend money they don't have to buy guns they don't need, because people like her keep throwing them red meat, making them think they need them. And when a few of them actually go beyond the slightly paranoid phase and actually act out, she wants to be absolved of responsibility for everything she says. Sorry, but that's not free speech. The First Amendment means the government can't come after you for what you say. But individuals can go after you for the consequences of what you say.
She should be afraid. if it turns out that this moronic shooter had even bookmarked her Facebook page on his browser, or was following her tweets, the families of the massacre victims should sue her, and use this video as Exhibit A.
She's asking for permission to be as intolerant and hateful as she wants to be, with no responsibility for the consequences.
I say we deny her that permission.