Hate speech and the Arizona massacre

Gabrielle Giffords, a democratic congresswoman from Arizona, was gun downed while speaking to constituents on a street corner in Tuscon January 8. Six others, including a 9 year old girl, were killed and 14 were wounded. A 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughney was arrested. For a peek into the politics of hate and vitriol that surrounded her re-election campaign, see a video of the Tuscon Tea Party rally held October 2010 featuring Gifford’s opponent and former marine Jesse Kelly.

At 1.20 minutes Kelly says: ” Liberty is what we believe in this country. These people that think they’re better than us that look down on us every single day, tell us what kind of health care to buy, they take over industries, and if you dare to stand up to the government, they call us a mob. We’re about to show them what a mob looks like on November 2.” Later he asks the crowd ” Aren’t you sick of having people spit in your face everyday?” Kelly also held a campaign event where he invited people to “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” Kelly was endorsed by Sarah Palin who put a symbol of a rifle scope’s cross hairs around Giffords. No one can say what drove Loughney to murder, or at what moment, rhetoric leads to action. But the pieces are all in play and have been seen before in the killings of abortion providers — a combination of readily available weapons — Loughney’s gun was legally purchased — and a constant stream of publicly sanctioned hate filled speech which encourages a sense of righteousness, entitlement and victimhood.

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