by Jules Minus
The Caucus: Palin Calls Criticism ‘Blood Libel’
[Via NYT > NYTimes.com Home]
Sarah Palin used an emotionally laden phrase in a video denunciation of journalists and pundits who blamed political rhetoric for the shootings.
:Let’s start off with this, a comment by Palin that tries to support the proposition that there is no connection between violence and hatred and the works of pundit, journalists or politicians:
Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.
That proposition may be true but her rhetoric is quite wrong. Of course, the vast majority of what has been written by journalists, pundits and leaders has been for leaders to tone down the rhetoric because words can have consequences. When specific people are mentioned, it has been the talk show hosts, the pundits and the political leaders who are examined. Not all the citizens of the state, the people who listen to talk radio,, not the people who vote or any of the other examples she discusses. This is a classic straw man argument. It misrepresents an opponent’s position. Classic logical fallacy.
But, here is the inconsistent part . She first states that the incident bears no connection to the heated vitriol heard daily. That its actions stand on their own and that what is talked about has no effect on creating hatred and violence. She then makes a statement that completely contradicts this proposition.
The quote that is getting all the attention, which was its purpose of course, is:
Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
Now most are concentrating on the atrocious use of blood libel, a historically loaded word with explosive ramifications when a Jew was almost assassinated. She is appropriating a phrase with very specific meaning and applying it in a way that completely twists it in ways to make people angry. That is reprehensible.
But it is the second part of the sentence I want to focus on. She states that the pundits on the other side who manufactured this libel are inciting violence and hatred by what THEY write. That they are only pretending to condemn the violence while actually working to incite it.
So, conservative hate radio – just free speech. Liberal pundits commenting about hate radio – inciting hatred and violence.
My side – no connection between vitriolic speech and violence. Their side – direct connection between rhetoric and violence.
My speech – independent of violence. Criticism of my speech – incites violence.
Using the term ‘blood libel’ – civil speech. Telling politicians to be more civil in their speech – inciting hatred.
As she rails against liberals for falsely saying that political speech can cause violence, she accuses them of using political speech to cause violence. Situational ethics is not something I find appealing in a politician.
I guess her argument is smart politics but it is disturbingly dumb rhetoric. I really dislike dumb rhetoric.