Saturday, January 8, 2011

Response to Imagery on Palin's Site as a Plausible Mechanism for the Death of Rep. Griffords (D-Ariz.)

I've been seeing in the Blogosphere a lot of people yelling about Palin and a recent "cover-up" of imagery on her website that seems to be connected to the death of

I dislike the term cover-up in this regard as it makes it seem like they're hiding something; it strikes me more, in this situation, as a realization by at least SOMEONE on staff that leaving up that material in the wake of the incident seems a bit callous. I left a larger comment on the Slacktivist comment thread on the incident (in context here). If you haven't, also read the information at Talking Points Memo, as the comment requires a bit of knowledge of the description of the killer given in a couple articles. Particularly check the section on the killer's videos, which seem to reveal him as paranoid, possibly schizophrenic.

Here's the comment in its entirety, pasted below.

I'm honestly not sure what to make of the imagery. I abhor it but I honestly can't see this being politically motivated for the sake of the Republicans -- not least of all because it makes them look really, really bad. I feel like they're in a Catch-22. Had a Republican gotten elected to the district, I still feel like this would have gone down; my ONE possible reason for suspecting otherwise would be that specific individuals (who WERE politically motivated) were trying to manipulate the killer, knowing about his YouTube videos and the like. The videos themselves don't show any particular partisan allegiance, more of a mistrust of politicians in general, making it seem unlikely to me that he'd be that interested in viewing Palin's site or being interested in what she had to say on anything. Griffords was in town, she was newly elected, and this guy was in the right place to do the worst possible thing.

But let's play this out. A heinous and atrocious act has been committed by a crazed individual for whatever reason against the newly-elected Republican senator. Realizing that this sort of imagery and content seems remarkably callous in the wake of this event, it's quickly taken down. I imagine seeing a whole bunch of bloggers and commenters, though maybe in some sense that the imagery is finally gone, still angry and disgusted that Palin and co. have only done so since they'd been put on the defensive -- that is, that they only realize it's wrong because they were the party on the receiving end, and it still makes them look bad. Leaving it up seems even MORE callous to me if only because this sort of outcry started in the first place.

In any case it's a good point that putting up even very vague imagery like that has the potential to bite you in the butt very quickly.

The problem has to run a lot deeper, I say to anyone quick to mark Palin's site as the smoking gun for this. Before today I didn't realize this content was on either of their sites (perhaps due to my contempt for Palin as a public, political figure), but I am aware of the fact that the debate in public channels has gotten very angry and very poorly informed in general. Aside from the fact that -- as mentioned above -- Fox News is so far removed from reality that it's despicable and nauseating, most of the news media seems a bit afraid to report facts as facts, lest they be accused of partisanship. Nobody in the mass media willing to, in an electon where FISCAL REPSONSIBILITY is the rallying cry, actually work out the math for viewers to get some estimation of whether or not a certain policy is effective legislation, smoke in the wind, or even economically harmful. Instead, sound bites, which do little to nothing to inform an average citizen of the nuances regarding what are, to be honest, often difficult and confusing political issues, rule the day. Obstruction is the political order of the day.

Blaming Palin doesn't help much either because it once again replaces what's clearly a festering sore on the way that politics and campaigning is done in this country with a quick soundbite and easy solution that only seems, to my mind, to be the barest tip of the iceberg, and (much like the matter of wishing for the death penalty for the suspected killer) reeks of needing someone quick and easy to nail when the culpability is gargantuan. Compared to a lot of what else is said, to me at least, a few gun sights on a map of the US seems almost laughable to me. Add to the fact that Palin is overall not very popular, especially outside of her party, and it just seems a bit shortsighted to point out THAT as the moment that it went too far. It went too far a long time ago and a whole lot of people just went along for the ride.

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