“In Defense of Inflamed Rhetoric”

But it’s worth remembering that the government initiates violence against its own citizens every day in this country, citizens who pose no threat or harm to anyone else. The particular policy that leads to the sort of violence you see in these videos is supported by nearly all of the politicians and pundits decrying anti-government rhetoric on the news channels this morning.

Violence, Government Violence, and Anti-Government Rhetoric,” by Radley Balko, Hit & Run, January 9, 2011

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.

In Defense of Inflamed Rhetoric,” by Jack Shafer, Slate, January 10, 2011

How do you take one of the most shocking and revolting murder sprees in memory and make it even more disturbing? By immediately pouncing on its supposed root causes for the most transparently partisan of gains.
. . .
Given Loughner’s fixation on grammar and the supposed lack of literacy evinced by most Americans, maybe William Safire and S.I. Hayakawa should be held responsible.

Like Matt Welch and Jack Shafer, I don’t think that today’s political rhetoric is particularly overheated or vitriolic and, even if it were, I don’t think that would be a problem. I suspect that most people are like me in that they respond to folks who actually believe something and are willing to fight for it when it comes to a particular political issue. I don’t like bipartisanship, which usually means that all of us get screwed, but it’s easy enough to respect someone you virulently disagree with if you think they are arguing in good faith.

The Giffords Shooting, The Instant Politicization of Everything, & Why Americans Increasingly Hate Dems & Reps,” by Nick Gillespie, Hit & Run, January 10, 2011

The worst outcome would be for all dissent to become suspect. “Anti-government” is a concept used, essentially, to stifle debate, by conflating reasonable criticisms with the actions of lunatics. Both — of course! — are “anti-government,” and both are therefore guilty. It should be obvious what sort of agenda this furthers: Everything “government” is good.

Government and Violence,” by Jason Kuznicki, Cato, January 10 , 2011

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