January 8, 2011 | by Peter Rosenstein
Hold Palin accountable for hate speech

I add my thoughts and prayers to the outpouring of sympathy for the families of those who lost their lives and for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ family now praying for her recovery. I share the outrage that all decent people must feel today at this heinous act of violence that left so many dead and Congresswoman Giffords severely injured.

Sarah Palin and those like her using hate-filled language and symbols of violence can no longer escape responsibility for the anger and violence their words and actions incite. The time has come for everyone, on both sides of the political spectrum, to stand up to and shut down those who don’t understand what words mean and how they can incite others to violent acts.

Whether it is hate language directed at LGBT youth, or against immigrants or hate spewed against decent people, whether they are progressives or conservatives, we must begin today to teach everyone, especially our youth, that this is not an acceptable way to carry on a debate or discussion or to share our views with each other.

Only yesterday we saw a video of young men and a young woman viciously beating a man on a D.C. Metro platform. Nobody did anything to come to the man’s aid. These young people obviously thought that this violence was an acceptable way to act or to vent some rage or anger. Clearly they haven’t been taught that this isn’t the way decent people act and when some of our politicians and leaders continue to spew the hate they do, it is no wonder young people assume that inappropriate behavior will be tolerated.

It is up to responsible adults to stand up and say enough is enough. They must agree and then demand that we will not allow people like Palin, who thinks it OK to use gun sights to target politicians for defeat on a map, to do so without being held accountable for their actions. Whether it is an arch conservative like Palin or some liberal politician or activist who uses language to incite people to a degree that can cause violence we must stand up and say to them that their words are unacceptable and that there are better ways in a decent society to handle discourse and demand that all of us use them.

The deaths today at a political event in Tucson, where Rep. Giffords was severely injured, must not be allowed to have happened in vain. The decent people in our society, and we know there are many, must speak out and say no to rhetoric that incites violence. We know that there are many unstable people out there who don’t have the sense to tell the difference between rhetoric and action. It is our responsibility to carry on our discourse in ways that will not incite them.

Those who don’t tone down their rhetoric must take responsibility and be held accountable by others for their words and the actions they incite.

33 Comments
  • Mr. Rosenstein, your post is positively dripping with hatred. I am not a Republican myself, or a tea partier, but I think to seize upon the tragic events in Arizona today to take pot shots at your political enemies is disingenuous at best and disgusting at worst.

    • Mike B, please cite exactly what in Peter’s comments you thinks drips with hatred. He wrote with restraint and urged restraint on others; evidently that message was lost on you. Actually, I think if anything Peter went too far to give the impression that the violent, war-themed rhetoric poisoning our politics is a bipartisan affair. The evidence shows that the problem is predominantly on the right end of the spectrum. If we cannot use an occasion like this to urge people to tone down their overheated rhetoric and to desist from violent imagery, when can we? A person does not have to be directly responsible for a particular crime to be responsible for contributing to the inflammed climate in which it occurred.

  • put sarah plain in jail!

  • Dempsey Alexander

    Thank you for writing what I was thinking . . . as I began to feel (again) that Mrs. Palin is so out of line . . . Once I heard the tragic news today . . .I actually cried ,I was so mad . . .I did feel comfort in reading your thoughts . . .

  • Palin should be hung by her tits for her irresponsible, hate spewing rhetoric which invites violence. This bitch needs to shut up and go away. Free speech is one of our most sacred rights. With free speech comes responsibility, particularly if you are a public figure. Palin has shown herself to be a selfish, self-centered narcissist, who cares nothing for anyone but herself and furthering her own agenda. Today, she sees the results of what she has been sowing for the last two years.

  • in a democratic society Palin’s behaviour is simply not acceptable. Her condolencies do not suffice

  • Anonymous Charlatan

    I agree that the content and tone of a lot of political speech has gone way too far, but we cannot single out anyone in particular, even one as easy to identify as Ms Palin. IMHO, she is simply riding a wave, and would be on a Betty Crocker kick if that appeared to be a better vehicle for her and her assumed talents.

    Let’s simply tone it down, and meet speech with actions that serve to show the idiocy inherent in those that spew this crap…

  • You might mention the names some of the idiots in office and those that ran for office that share Palin’s guilt. Interesting enough that all the guilty parties are all of the so called conservative politicians. Why can’t so many Americans see through The Faux News choir. We need to hold these idiots accountable.

  • Sarah Palin has been a sarcastic, demeaning, name-calling “celebrity since we first saw her. The “retreat and reload” and targeted maps has been DISCUSSED CONSTANTLY BUT NO ONE HAS PUT HER IN HER PLACE. Her negative and irritating behavior have influenced many. In addition, She blatantly is provided a stage to attack anyone she wants. Palin gave Michelle Bachman the stage and now both “trash” our president daily. The rhetoric gets worse and worries me. Just yesterday, Sarah palin exclaimed nationally that President Obama is “purposely” out to destroy the economy in our country”. The interviewer verified with Palin, “You said purposely?” Palin replied, “…Of course…” Sarah palin and he sidekick Bachmann need to be removed from any spotlihght. They are both embarrassing and dangerous to our county’s well-being.

  • We need the media to stop giving Sara airhead Palin any air time. She is a self centered hateful individual who is trying to hold on to her 15 minutes of fame; a quitter…..who should be held accountable for hate speech and using a “target” on individuals which allows demented people to cause situations like in Arizona. My thoughts and prayers to all of those impacted by this tragedy.

  • I do hope your happy with yourself Sara your a disgrace to everything this country stands for, you and the rest at fox, fatty Russ and the alcoholic Glenn Beck and Tea Party now you have blood on your hands and it won’t go away. Sara what were you thinking placing cross hairs on people who represent out govt. Do you think there are like the Caribou’s that you shoot in Alaska. Please lets disband the tea party they are hate mongers spreading violence in this country.Sleep well Sara, Glenn, Russ and tea party some day you will answer to someone greater. Sara do use a favor just go away your an idiot.

  • The shooter in this incident should be tried as a domestic terrorist. His actions are no more, nor less, than those of the 9/11 terrorists. The goal is the same: kill those you disagree with, cause terror.

    Sarah Palin and her ilk NEED to be brought up on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism. Her words and her writing are the ROOT of this awful tragedy. She may not ahve placed the gun in the terrorist’s hands, but SHE painted the gunsights on the victim’s image. SHE is responsible for the level of violence demonstrated by her followers.

    The killer in today’s shooting is a traitor to his country, no more, no less. He is unable to function within a democratic society. he certainly does not BELONG in one.

    Sarah Palin, and her ilk, are the same. They threaten and use scare tactics, against anyone who disagrees with THEIR view of how things should be. They are incapable of functioning within a modern democracy. They should be treated as the terrorist supporters they are. Sarah Palin is a traitor to the United States and everything it stands for. As such, she belongs either in jail or in front of a firing squad for her crime. Let her be judged by a jury of good Americans. Let her suffer the consequences of her inability to function within the system.

    No one should take the law into their own hands. And NO one should be advocating that either. Sarah Palin has been doing the latter, and encouraging her followers to do the former.

    • Pastor Carlos Ortiz of Hispanic Outreach Obama Worship Centers

      Our Hispanic Obama church can clean up society and make it good. We came to D.C. to make things right for you.

  • “Whether it is an arch conservative like Palin or some liberal politician or activist who uses language to incite people to a degree that can cause violence”
    I am so sick of these false comparisons. Name one mainstream liberal politician who has used language to incite violence.

    • Thanks for your response. I was extremely bothered with the comparison. I can’t think of a notable liberal who is putting those he/she disagrees with in cross-hairs.

  • The Arizona attack inspires all Americans of conscience to stand in solidarity with its victims and to stop bullying, hate, and intimidation.
    Join candlelight vigil Sun., Jan. 9, at dusk,from 5 to 6 p.m., at Peace Fountain, Dupont Circle, D.C.

    Bipartisan cast of brief speakers from AZ, immigrant rights, LGBT, and interfaith leadership. Bring candle, warm wraps, family and friends.

  • Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, … about Arizona:”When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. …unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice & bigotry.

    Maybe it’s time to look to the Southern Poverty Law Center for ideas…What can we do to hold those with hate speech that advocate violence accountable?
    http://www.splcenter.org/what-we-do

  • I am a registered republican in Tallahassee Florida. I have watched sarah Palins constant slander of the president and the democratic party and although she did not ask this idiot to do what he did, her constant illiterate babble perpetuates this kind of response form unstable people. She might as well superimpose a moose head over people she is trying to put down and pull the trigger herself. Is this what she meant by “we all nee to reload”? She can not grasp the issues so she just spouts hate. I’m embarrassed when people say she is going to be the next republican Candidate for president. She does not represent change. she is a politician with an agenda and because she is an illiterate f–k she is being identified by all the disenfranchised, lazy, why doesn’t the government give me, illiterate people who think guns will solve the problem. I can expect nothing great form my party if she is all they have to offer. You can not expect to unite a party when you have people like her in the running. I’m becoming independent.

  • This is really scary and I don’t understand why people are resorting to violence. After this incident I hope people wake up and realize crazy acts of violence is not the way to go against any groups. It should not be acceptable. I do my fare share of reading comments and it seems that so many folks have violence in their minds and I don’t understand where folks get this kind of attitude. I only pray that someday people wake up and realize that violence is not the way to go and if they decide to take action they have strict consequences to deal with.

  • As much as I would love to see Palin held responsible, doing so will make her a martyr and even more powerful.

  • Palin is shameless, Palin is disgusting, Palin should be held responsible for her vile name calling. Palin is nothing but a grifter and a disgusting women!

  • “Palin should be hung by her tits for her irresponsible, hate spewing rhetoric which invites violence.” Um, am I the only person who sees the hypocrisy in this statement?! You are just as responsible as she is.

  • you people are shameless Do you get paid to write this bull I guess you are all Liberals working to destroy your country.

    • The world is full of nut cases like the guy in Tuscon. Its the religious extremists among us like snake handler Palin who incite them.

      When you hear their rhetoric wrapped in a flag, as seen in the quote above, you know you have a real problem. Next we will have the strom troopers of the republcian right marching in the streets at night, also carryign torches to incite demonic possession. As hitler did.

      if you go read Mein kampf, you will see the parallels between the republican and hitler, and how he duped tens of milions of people . the parallels are so interesting.

      And go read “christian fascists” by chris Hedges. He btw has a Dr. of Dvinity degree, anythign but an aethist. But he explains how the christian right wing who gave us slavery, the KKK, and segregation – the bible thumpers of the republcian party base, now spread all over America, plan to turn america into a christian theorcracy where no one is safe.

      As for fox news, I recorded several of their shows last year. Looking at them frame by frame , you find all kids of hate type messages eg Kill Obamacare” in yellow lettering on a red background.

      If youlook at the TV you dont’ see it, its called subliminal advertising. But over time ti makes an impression and explains part of how the republicans are the ones destroying this nation for greed of the super-rich and our own taliban.

  • People, I know this is upsetting for all of us, but please look at the fact that this guy was stalking Giffords in 2007, before anybody knew who Palin was, that he is mentally disturbed. He also burns flags, is an atheist, says he will never stand with God, and reads the communist Manifesto. Hardly sounds like a Palin supporter. Spreading this hate and dishonesty only makes you look bad. Not to mention Democrats also use target maps. Please, learn stuff before spouting hate.

  • No one on the left protested at the hundreds of protesters calling for GWB to be killed. Zombietime has literally hundreds of photos of GWB’s likeness being burned, shot and hung by Libs. Didn’t hear any of them calling for more civility then so they have no credibility now. http://www.zombietime.com/zomblog/?p=621

  • Folks, may we please remember what “incitement” means in U.S. law? The U.S. Supreme Court has held that incitement happens only when “such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” In other words, the three elements are intent, imminence, and likelihood. The “bad tendency” test has been rejected.

  • Palin and the First Amendment had nothing to do with the Arizona shooting.

    But the big question now is about Obama. Is he dumping the Left?

    He rebukes his left-wing for blaming the Arizona shooting on the American Right; extends the Bush tax cuts, reduces the payroll tax; installs a former Fortune 500 CEO and Commerce Secretary as his new Chief of Staff; is ready to sign at least three free-trade acts, confront the ultra-liberal teacher’s union; and appear on FOX NEWS with Bill O’Rielly… :-D

  • Hitler only killed on person by his own hand during wwii – a niece who rejected his advances.

    His words killed 55 million. Palin knows it. As someone said – don’t diicount that woman”, let me add as we discouted hitler.

    Its time we have a life sentence – maybe in a mental institution for people like her.

  • isn’t it interesting how a number of republican haters are here. Are thy probably getting their rocks off – not likely. they know there are fiscally conservative gays – I have no quarrel with them = we’d have an interesting discussion, maybe agree or disagree.

    But the repub game re gay people (I’m a big str8 supporter of the social justice issue of our time) is to give gays a morsel – maybe explaining the repeal of DADT.

    And after 2012 if the repubs gain total control, gays will remember that there were some Jews who for whatever reason supported hitler.

    Until their number came up.

    I’d be real real careful. To me this sounds like the old communist line about American capitalists…………..

    the capitalists will be glad to sell us the rope with which we will hang them.

    And we are actually doing it – not selling them rope, but with our balance of payments problem selling them ownership of America, and then control of our foreign policy.

    I dont think they want war. They just want to dominate the world economy, .

    • I really screwup that one at 3:15 am. I meant republicans who hate gays, not republican haters ,w hich actually means dems who hate repubs. I’d make a really lousys lawyer.

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