By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Talking about the Tucson shootings

I’ll be on “The Emily Rooney Show” today from noon to 1 p.m. (WGBH Radio, 89.7 FM) with Emily and Wendy Kaminer to talk about the Tucson shootings.

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Times lets Palin aide lie about gunsight map


Checking in from the North Shore


  1. Stephen Stein

    Wendy Kaminer comes on and says “we’ll never know if he targeted Giffords.” But Loughlin walked up to Giffords, put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. How much more deliberate can you be? Sheesh!

  2. Stephen Stein

    Your and Adam’s point about Beck et al’s “ju jitsu” was well-made. I heard a cavalcade of right-wing squawk show hosts today wringing their hands about the sheriff’s comments on the poison atmosphere they themselves created. Running like rats.

  3. L.K. Collins

    I did notice Dan wringing his hands on this subject the other day while doing exactly the same thing that he was complaining of…politicizing this heinous act.

    What does that say about Dan?

  4. Stephen Stein

    Josh Marshall’s Guide to the Perplexed, which I copy here pretty much in its entirety for LK’s benefit among others:

    “A list of things it’s probably best not to say simply to avoid misunderstandings or criticisms the next time there’s an attempt on the life of a politician.

    1. Refrain from telling supporters that winning the election may require active exercise of their “second amendment” rights.
    2. Refrain from suggesting it’s time for “armed revolution”, even if Thomas Jefferson once kinda sorta suggested that.
    3. Refrain from holding political fundraisers focused around use of automatic weapons, especially target practices with initials, name or images of your political opponent.
    4. Refrain from telling supporters you want them to be “armed and dangerous.”
    5. Refrain from making campaign posters with opponent’s head in gun sights.
    6. Refrain from saying that bullets will work if ballots don’t.
    7. Suggest that supporters not bring weapons to opponents’ political rallies.”

  5. BP Myers

    @L.K. Collins asks: What does that say about Dan?

    He’s human.

  6. James Orleans

    It is well accepted that advertising (in all its media forms) is very successful in influencing human behavior; corporations have put hundreds of billions of dollars behind this belief. The assertion that political rhetoric, printed maps with crosshairs, violence-suggestive writings, etc. could not have influenced behavior of the type displayed by the Arizona shooter (all the more impressionable because of his imbalanced state of mind), is insupportable. If one rhetorical vehicle is believed to be persuasive and influential, so we must accept that other rhetorical vehicles have equal potential to be, and in ways we may find highly disturbing.

  7. Laurence Glavin

    I’m not a sports fan and never watch the end-of-the-NFL-Season-Bowl yclept the “Super Bowl”. But I follow the media, and it seems as if for several seasons, the network carrying the SB made a point of airing the first episode of a new show starting in January or February right after the game, even taking time out from the commercials that were for many people the raison d’etre for watching the game in the first place to run promos for it. Ooops…in many, even most cases, the shows thus heavily hyped bombed anyway. So at least when it came to persuading millions to watch a particular TV show, the SB wasn’t that influential. Nowadays, it appears there’s no longer a “second season” in mid-winter. New shows can appear or disappear at any time.

  8. Sean Griffin

    “It’s a reasonable question to ask,” Dr. Marvin Swartz, a
    psychiatry professor at Duke University who specializes in how
    environment impacts the behavior of the mentally ill, said in an
    interview this morning. “The nature of someone’s delusions is
    affected by culture. It’s a reasonable line of inquiry to ask, `How
    does a political culture affect the content of people’s

  9. Stephen Stein

    CBS News conducted a poll this week — after the massacre in Tucson — and included this question:
    Do you think it is ever justified for citizens to take violent action against the government, or is it never justified?

    Republican 28% yes, 64% no
    Democrat 11% yes, 81% no
    Independent 11% yes, 81% no

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Stephen: That is such a poorly worded question. I can imagine circumstances under which I would answer “yes,” though they’re so far out there that they’re pretty much inconceivable. So how would I answer? I’d have to think about it.

  10. Stephen Stein

    @Dan, agreed. I’d also like to have seen a control: what would the answers and the party breakdown have been, say, in 2005? Or sometime NOT directly after a massacre.

  11. Mike Benedict

    Many have opined the shootings should NOT be politicized. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

    This tragedy is in fact an IDEAL opportunity to bring some much needed changes to our gun laws, which, best as I can tell, seem to be interpreted as, if one gun is good, an arsenal is better.

    Pres. Clinton signed into law a bill that would have kept an Uzi out of the hands of the alleged shooter. The bill had Reagan’s blessing, and itself was the outgrowth of the shooting of Reagan press secretary Jim Brady. The spineless George Bush allowed the bill to expire in 2004. What a catastrophe. Just as the right to speech doesn’t mean you can yell fire in an crowded theater, the right to gun ownership shouldn’t mean anyone can arm themselves with any amount of artillery at any time.

    A similar episode in Australia years ago brought about real change in that nation’s thinking toward weapons. This should do the same here.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Mike: Agree completely. I’m talking about assigning blame for certain types of rhetoric. We’re learning that Loughner may have taken an interest in the right, but it was the way, far right — leaving Palin in the dust.

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