The news programs, newspapers, editorial pages, and blogosphere are full of the story of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, many focusing on the increasingly harsh political rhetoric we’ve seen:
WASHINGTON — The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others at a neighborhood meeting in Arizona on Saturday set off what is likely to be a wrenching debate over anger and violence in American politics.
While the exact motivations of the suspect in the shootings remained unclear, an Internet site tied to the man, Jared Lee Loughner, contained antigovernment ramblings. And regardless of what led to the episode, it quickly focused attention on the degree to which inflammatory language, threats and implicit instigations to violence have become a steady undercurrent in the nation’s political culture.
I don’t want to get too deeply into this story; this blog is not a hot news of the day blog. For a roundup of blogospheric commentary I’d direct your attention to this one by my friend Joe Gandelman, who covers the subject with his usual excellence. I would also like to hold out the post of my blog-friend Steve Hynd on the subject for praise:
Various individuals are frantically trying to make connections between Loughner and either the right-wing Palinite tea party movement or ultra-left radicals, depending upon their own partisan bias.
We at Newshoggers will try not to do that. It’s way too early to make such pronouncements, both in terms of evidence and of good taste. Apparenty the shooter was arrested so we’ll all find out in good time.
Our deepest condolences to the bereaved and best wishes to the injured and their families.
There is one word I’d like to add. I have already seen multiple newspaper columns and blog posts condemning one or the other person for their harsh and inflammatory rhetoric, frequently, ironically, by those with the most opaque partisan blinders. I genuinely wish I were seeing more pledges to eschew harsh and inflammatory rhetoric rather than condemnations of it on the part of political adversaries.
Moderation has more than a single dimension. Not only is there moderation in policy, something quite different than mechanical compromise or meeting halfway, but there is moderation in tone. In my view we need more of both.
James Joyner has a fine post in which he puts one of the communications that has been sharply criticised into perspective. In the post, too, he notes a puzzling post by James Fallows which to my eye portrays itself as a critique of pat explanations for violence by people with complicated and irrational motives while suggesting just such a pat explanation in its peroration.