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mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by mirandaceleste

The violent rhetoric of the Tea Partiers and their ilk absolutely needs to stop. They'll undoubtedly respond to any such suggestion with "but we have the right to say whatever we want!" And, yes, they do (although the First Amendment isn't absolute), and I'd never suggest that such speech should be outlawed. However, with rights come responsibilities, and, in the case of the First Amendment, one of those responsibilities is being aware of the potential consequences of what you say.

This is especially true of those who have power, influence, and receive a great deal of coverage by the mainstream media. When such individuals use rhetoric that expresses hate and bigotry, and when they directly and/or indirectly condone and encourage violence, they contribute to an atmosphere in which hate and violence are both tolerated and normalized. And although the vast majority of individuals within this atmosphere of vitriolic and violent rhetoric will never commit violent acts, there exists a small minority who are eager to express their rage and hatred, and need only the tiniest amount of encouragement in order to commit violent acts that have horrifying real-life consequences.

Regardless of whether or not this particular murderer was directly influenced by the atmosphere of hatred and violence that the Tea Partiers have created, there's no denying that he, and all Americans, now live in a society in which the fringe has become mainstream, and in which violent rhetoric is no longer treated with the disdain it deserves. For this reason (and for many others), the violent rhetoric must stop. And, until it does, the Tea Partiers and their ilk must not be allowed to deny that they are, however indirectly, partially to blame for these horrifying acts. Their rhetoric has real-life consequences, and they need to realize that before this gets any more out of hand.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 17:33:39 UTC | #576135