They hate them and bait them. No wonder a Democratic congresswoman was shot in Tucson

When Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot yesterday, I immediately thought that ultimate responsibility for the shooting lay with the hate-speech of America’s right-wing media, its pundits and their allies. After all, seemingly insane ideas and impulses have to come from somewhere.

The sheriff of Tucson, Clarence Dupnik, was spot on when he said “Arizona has become the Mecca of racism and bigotry”. Recently the state passed anti-immigration law SB1070 which permitted the police to stop and search anyone they suspected of being an illegal immigrant. Indeed, the sheriff of Maricopa County, the notorious Joseph Arpaio has been at the centre of this firestorm. But Arpaio is currently facing charges of abusing his power. His views on immigrants are well known and he is even lionized in this country by people who really ought to know better.

Since the complete deregulation of broadcasting under Reagan in the 1980’s, American television and radio networks no longer have to pretend to be unbiased. The deregulation of the airwaves allowed the likes of Rush Limbaugh and others to indulge in their favourite past-time of free-form hate-speech. They bait liberals and welcome listeners on air who call for their deaths.  Ann Coulter’s books, for instance, depict Democrats as “dangerous” and  “stupid”.  Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News typically subjects liberals to hectoring and abuse.  The language and tone used by these so-called broadcasters often verges on the violent.  Their sole aim is to dehumanize their opponents.  During the congressional election campaign, freaky Sarah Palin produced this crosshair picture on her website.

Note that the picture has Gabrielle Giffords as one of the ‘targets’. The Daily Mirror says,

Controversial Republican politician Sarah Palin hurriedly removed a map of America with a cross-hair target over Mrs Giffords’s Congress seat from her Facebook profile.

I don’t think the FBI will be visiting her any time soon but this sort of thing is clearly irresponsible and dangerous. But is Britain free from this liberal/red/whatever-baiting? No. Recently, Hannan and Delingpole of the Telegraph have run blogs that bait and smear their opponents. A recent blog from Delingtroll asks “Why did God give Liberals annoying, whiny voices”? Make no mistake this sort of thing comes directly from the American right. His book, 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy has a title that could have sprung from the foetid brain of Ann Coulter.  Yet Delingtroll and Hannan both claim that only left is capable of hate. What these two wannabe hate-jocks want to do is to remould Britain along the lines of the US. I suppose we can be grateful for the fact that no one in this country has used the sort of imagery that Palin has used.

The response from the Telegraph’s Toby Harnden is characteristically dishonest,

Paul Krugman of the “New York Times” suggests darkly that Giffords was shot because she was “a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona” and “violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate” (those reponsible for such a climate being, of course, Republicans).

Harnden is in denial. He claims to know what motivated the suspect and uses hearsay to support his thesis,

Former classmates talk of “nonsensical outbursts” and a person “on his own planet”. His favourite reading apparently included “Mein Kampf” and “The Communist Manifesto”. My colleague Jon Swaine has a summary here of the raving of a person who most people would judge to be a complete nutcase even if he hadn’t gone out and shot people.

Harnden’s stablemate Jon Swaine claims to have the inside track on Gifford’s assailant, Jared Loughner.

Ms Parker said Loughner had encountered Miss Giffords once before in 2007 and had “asked her a question and he told me she was ‘stupid and unintelligent’.”

However she added that when she had known him, Loughner seemed to be liberal or Left-wing.

How convenient. But this looks like bullshit,

The YouTube account stated that among Loughner’s favourite books, most of which were much-loved classic novels, were Mein Kampf andThe Communist Manifesto.

Only in Hayek’s fevered mind could these two books be mentioned in the same breath. Oddly enough this ‘link’ only appears in the right-wing press. In fact, the New York Daily News doesn’t mention the Communist Manifesto at all.

Loughner lists the Adolf Hitler autobiography, “Mein Kampf,” among his favorite books in an online profile, a list that also includes classics such as “Animal Farm” and “The Odyssey.”

Someone is making things up on this side of the Atlantic. I wonder why? Indeed the Murdoch-owned New York Post also repeats this line about the Communist Manifesto while adding that Loughner likes The Wizard of Oz.

In Britain, there right have been calling for the BBC to be broken up for years alleging ‘bias’ as their prime concern. Recently Murdoch’s News Corp has sought to increase its share in BSkyB which would quite possibly create a news service that closely resembles that of Fox News. The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt appears ambivalent about a possible takeover. Though this Guardian story tells us that he held a private meeting with James Murdoch in June.  Probably because he and his fellow Tories know that once Murdoch gets his hands on BSkyB, the party will have its very own unofficial ministry of information. They can also distance themselves from any strident remarks made on the channel by claiming that BSkyB is a “commercial broadcaster with no ties to the state”.

Irresponsible broadcasting that makes use of hate-speech will inevitably lead to some people believing that they have some sort of  right to take another’s life because a shock-jock or demagogue tells them that ‘liberals’ are responsible for the nation “going to hell in a handcart”.

Loughner also killed 5 others including a 9 year old child and a federal judge.

UPDATE: According to this Murdoch rag,  Loughner was some sort of conspiraloon.

THE suspect being held over Saturday’s shooting of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords may have links to anti-Semitic race hate group American Renaissance.

An internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo quoted by FOX News Channel revealed the gunman – named by the media as Jared Loughner, 22 – is “possibly linked” to American Renaissance.

The group subscribes to an ideology that is “anti-government, anti-immigration, anti -ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic,” according to the DHS memo.

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Filed under Journalism, Media, Society, United States

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