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More than rhetoric...
October 7, 2004 5:38 AM   Subscribe

More than rhetoric... As the campaign gets more divisive and time grows short incidents of violence are breaking out more and more often. Shots have been fired on more than one occasion, swastikas burned, intimidation and just plain kicking. Hopefully it gets better from here, but somehow I don't think so.
posted by soulhuntre (73 comments total)

 
The "intimidation" link is no longer specific to the article in question, my apologies.

By the way, this is not a partican post, feel free to bring your own examples to the list. I was just struck with how much of this is happening. Or has it always been this way and it's only this year the 'net makes it so easy to stumble across reports?

Clearly this is the most divisive election in my lifetime (38 years) that I am aware of. While I am sure the democracy and the country can handle the strain, it's a bit disturbing how deeply the politics of hate are being used.
posted by soulhuntre at 5:42 AM on October 7, 2004


so what ever happened to the guy who kicked the female protester?
posted by lotsofno at 5:51 AM on October 7, 2004


I haven't seen any definitive identifications of him yet, but I don't follow all the blogs. A few sleuths thought they had him figured out but I don't think anyone managed to "prove" his identity.

Me? I hope they find him and he is charged myself.
posted by soulhuntre at 5:54 AM on October 7, 2004


To be honest I do get very tempted to deface certain Countryside Alliance posters – but only to the end of pointing out, in my neatest handwriting, how horribly erroneous they are.
posted by ed\26h at 5:56 AM on October 7, 2004


Ya gotta watch out for them gun-lovin' democrats.

I take this all with a grain of salt. At this point it's hard to figure out what's real campaign-related violence and what's allegedly staged.
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:10 AM on October 7, 2004


Um, soulhuntre, this hasn't happened only to Republicans.
posted by raysmj at 6:15 AM on October 7, 2004


The politics of division and hatred do tend to incite the simple minded and are targeted and intended for that exact purpose.
I suppose its "hard work" being a uniter and not a divider. John McCain tells stories about how hard some work to create unity where once division cleaved whole communities, parties and nations. [cough]

But, hey, power is its own reward. Once you have power you can say "Who cares what you think" and "Go fuck yourself" with complete impunity and never, never apologize for anything. Lying constantly, no problem! What you gonna do about it punk?
posted by nofundy at 6:19 AM on October 7, 2004


Here's another vandalization of a Democratic HQ for you., Why didn't you try harder to look for these before posting?
posted by raysmj at 6:22 AM on October 7, 2004


This strikes me as pre-emptive spin. Here in central Michigan, the stories I hear (from Democratic friends) are all about someone stealing their Kerry-Edwards signs. Daily Kos had this last month about pro-Bush vandals in Louisiana.
While it's certainly more than plausible that the politics of hate would carry over into defacing property, this chimes too closely with the "Bush-hating" meme circulated by the Republicans as cover for reaction against the administration's policies.
posted by palancik at 6:28 AM on October 7, 2004


Here's another vandalization of a Democratic HQ for you., Why didn't you try harder to look for these before posting?

Why shoud he have to -- does the fact that vandalism at Democratic offices occurred make the vandalism at Republican offices any less disturbing? He specifically disclaimed that this was partisan -- his point was that it seems unusual that there is this level of violence associated with our political process. I'm sure soulhuntre finds your additional links helpful in proving his point.

Rather than making this yet another partisan issue, why not address whether this is occurring as a result of the overall divisive climate -- on either side.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:41 AM on October 7, 2004


"Why didn't you try harder to look for these before posting?"

Hey, I read Kos and I read DU. There haven't been that many stories on them about this. Kos's search function is broke and DU doesn't have one that I could find.

I mentioned specifically that I welcomed other stories and I mentioned the anti-Democrat incident I knew of. If thats not fair enough for you then I'll return the absolutely nothign I charged youf or the post :)

On the other hand I do thing the Democrats doing this is interesting in one way. You don't usually think "Democrat" when some idiot starts shooting things. Thats usually an image painted as a Republican problem.

One could, for fun, imagine the outrage from michael Moore, for instance, if this was happening with egularity to Democratic HQ's.

Screw it, I'm voting for The Gord.
posted by soulhuntre at 6:43 AM on October 7, 2004


From the Swastika article linked to above:

State Republican Party officials claim it's the latest in a series of desperate acts by Democrats.

"Democrats" are doing this? Plus no comment from the State Democratic Party? This doesn't sound like the work of "Democrats" to me. It sounds like the work of "Assholes", who happen to come in all political stripes.
posted by psmealey at 6:49 AM on October 7, 2004


For the record, here's another Republican take on the situation. Sounds a bit overblown/unlikely to me, but I don't live in the States.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:49 AM on October 7, 2004


You don't usually think "Democrat" when some idiot starts shooting things.

Just wanted to see that one more time. :-)

The politics of division and hatred spring from where now?

racism
homophobia
fundamentalism
and on and on and on ...

What ever happened to "I'm a uniter, not a divider" BTW?
posted by nofundy at 6:50 AM on October 7, 2004


1) Though I did once pee on a Caroll Campbell sign, I don't condone violence or vandalism. It isn't only morally wrong, it's bad politics.

2) I'm chuckling at the idea of S&M guy whinging about political roughhousing. It's 'cause we're your Daddy, slut!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:52 AM on October 7, 2004


When I was 15, a friend and I defaced, destroyed, stole or set fire to every single Oliver North for Senate sign in our neighborhood. (Ah, the Glory Days...)

Don't discount the possibility that some - or even most - of these vandals aren't even old enough to vote.
posted by junkbox at 6:53 AM on October 7, 2004


Screw it, I'm voting for The Gord.

I thought he was Canadian. Still, it'd be worth it for the press conferences:

REPORTER: Mr. President, how do you respond to the allegations of unfairness on the part of your administration?

PRESIDENT GORD: Chicken head resemble you.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:57 AM on October 7, 2004


As an aside, I've never quite understood the point of campaign lawn signs. I suppose the underlying principle is the same as any other advertising; get your name out there. But I can't imagine that anyone has ever been driving along and made up their mind to vote for a particular candidate because they read a sign in someone's front lawn. Unless they're the sort of voter who simply likes to go along with the winner, and having more signs up than your opponent will sway them to your side. Which I suppose is entirely possible, come to think of it. *sigh* Democracy is depressing these days...
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:58 AM on October 7, 2004


I've never quite understood the point of campaign lawn signs.

It's basically a form of subculture or tribal self-identification, or something like that. It's been a few years since Soc 202, so I have forgotten the jargon. It really has little to do with advertising for the candidate.
posted by psmealey at 7:05 AM on October 7, 2004


...In the general election that is, when name recognition is not a problem. In the primaries or for local races, it could be more for advertising's sake. Personally, I took to putting a Dean sign in my window last winter, just to get the word out in my working class neighborhood that I was living in Chicago at the time. I didn't have a strong allegiance to Dean, but I found him interesting, and he was still relatively obscure at the time. I thought it worthwhile to do that little bit to get some name recognition out there for him.

As far as today, I do have a Kerry bumper sticker on my car (no lawn sign), but I live in a very red county in anotherwise blue state, so it's more of a "fuck you" than anything else.
posted by psmealey at 7:20 AM on October 7, 2004


In my long-ago youth there was a candidate named Denis running for something or other. Several of my fellow high-school freshmen were convinced that if they could only change that "D" to a "P" -- through industrious application of colored pens -- they would have accomplished something with their lives.

I made up some excuse about needing to get another beer and ambled off to try to pick up a foreign exchange student...
posted by mmahaffie at 7:28 AM on October 7, 2004


What ever happened to "I'm a uniter, not a divider" BTW?

What ever happened to 'I graduated with an MBA and I'll run this country like a business'?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:37 AM on October 7, 2004


the kalamazoo gazette mentioned a few days ago that sign stealing is way up from previous elections ... it's hard to say, but it looks like both sides are getting hit fairly evenly

just think, idiots ... in the time it took to steal a sign you could have helped someone register to vote ... or driven someone to the polls nov 2
posted by pyramid termite at 7:37 AM on October 7, 2004


'I graduated with an MBA and I'll run this country like a business'?

He did. He's just running like he ran his former businesses. Lesson No. 1 in terms of electing an MBA President: check references.
posted by psmealey at 7:50 AM on October 7, 2004


Good post, soulhuntre. I have to admit to being sorely tempted by a Hummer with a W'04 sticker. I did instinctively look around for a nice big rock, but I thought of the dog shit smeared on my parents' anti-war signs, and their trampled garden and stolen Kerry sign.

Personally, I predict more tension after November 2nd. Both sides seem so convinced their candidate will win.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:26 AM on October 7, 2004


I agree, this campaign sign stealing is a little ridiculous. What we need is a resurgence of Weathermen style tactics, and blown up government buildings, if non-violent violence is really to be tried and true. (Although I bet the Weathermen would be prosecuted today as terrorists, and locked up at Guantanomo, you reckon?)
posted by iamck at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2004


You better watch which candidate you endorse or things could get very nasty. Everyone knows that if you don't support Dear Leader then you must support Osama Saddam! Just ask Annthrax Coulter!

So, where is this division and hatred coming from again?

Ann Coulter
Rush Limbaugh
Sean Hannity
and on and on and on ....

Don't start a fight you can't finish and don't talk trash you can't back up. Some simpleton will eventually take your mad ravings seriously.
For example:
Timothy McVeigh - right wing terrorist killer

Matthew Shepherd - innocent victim of right wing incited homophobic hatred

Eric Rudolph - racist murderer and religious fundie terrorist

and on and on and on ...
posted by nofundy at 8:33 AM on October 7, 2004


Clearly this is the most divisive election in my lifetime (38 years) that I am aware of.

i'd like to hear some thoughts on this, and not just more stories about which side tends to be more vandalism-prone.

i'm 30, and i've only been really paying attention to presidential elections since i was about 16. it doesn't seem like any of the past administrations/campaigns were this divisive. i've spoken to a number of people who feel that it would be unwise to put kerry/edwards stickers on their cars b/c of where they live and/or work.

i was watching abc's wife swap last night (yeah, i know: on mefi you're only supposed to admit to watching pbs, c-span, and sports, so by admitting i watch a reality show i've lost all credibility...), and 1 of the families was from south carolina, proudly confederate flag-flying, hunting and fishing types. the other was a "hippy" family, tree hugging, animal rights activists. it wasn't mentioned in the show, but i'd be willing to bet a large sum of money that the one family is solidly pro-bush, the other pro-kerry.

these two families were absolutely unable to find common ground. they had nothing good to say to or about each other, at all. people of similar ages, born in the same country, same socioeconomic class...and they couldn't relate. (i have to add: the "left" family made more of an effort to reach out to the south carolinians than the south carolinians made to reach out to them).

that angered, frightened, and saddened me. i know i shouldn't take too much from a tv show, but it's all too easy to imagine that the antagonism i saw on that show is easily reproduced throughout the u.s.a. right now.

what the hell happened? what's going on?
posted by lord_wolf at 8:39 AM on October 7, 2004


nofundy, the point of the post is that people on every side of the political have been acting like assholes around this election. But if you want to believe that the right has a monopoly on asinine behavior, you go right ahead. Call me when Helter Skelter finally comes down fast, OK?
posted by jonmc at 8:40 AM on October 7, 2004


I'm not going to say that we're two steps short of Kristallnacht, but this unchecked anger just ain't a good thing. People are ultimately responsible for their own behavior, there are some pretty irresponsible voices in the media that just keep dumping fuel on it. It's not leading anywhere that any of us should want to go.
posted by psmealey at 8:52 AM on October 7, 2004


So, where is this division and hatred coming from again?

Ann Coulter
Rush Limbaugh
Sean Hannity

Al Franken
Ted Rall
nofundy
Molly Ivins
Jim Hightower

and on and on and on ....
posted by MikeMc at 9:02 AM on October 7, 2004


Clearly there are idiots that belong to every possible party affiliation, but I don't think Rall, Ivins and Hightower are analogous to Coulter, Hannity and Limbaugh. You may disagree, but there's a huge difference between people taking issue with words and actions of the specific people in the Administration and its media apparatus, and the latter group, which is more apt to globally blame and demonize "liberals" for all of society's ills.
posted by psmealey at 9:09 AM on October 7, 2004


So, where is this division and hatred coming from again?

How could I forget...

Michael Moore!!!!!
posted by MikeMc at 9:10 AM on October 7, 2004


psmealey, I've heard plenty of people on the left (here and elsewhere) blame "the right" for everything up to and including tooth decay and traffic jams. The difference between the Coulters and the Ralls is that, at this particular point in time, the Coulters have a bigger audience because they're more mediagenic. But neither side gets a free pass for assholedom from me.
posted by jonmc at 9:24 AM on October 7, 2004


MikeMc: show me the hate in nofundy's posts, i'm having trouble seeing it.
posted by y0bhgu0d at 9:34 AM on October 7, 2004


The difference between the Coulters and the Ralls is that, at this particular point in time, the Coulters have a bigger audience because they're more mediagenic.

No, the difference is, and you should know this if you'd been paying attention, that some advocate violence while others do not. Surely it isn't necessary to provide links to back this up yet again?

Whatsamatta' jonmc, your left wing broken today? Do you truly believe there's any equivalence between Coulter and Rall in their statements? Get real and do your homework.
posted by nofundy at 9:36 AM on October 7, 2004


jonmc, I don't think that the Left has anywhere close to an monopoly on assholism, I just didn't think it was quite fair to compare the two troikas cited by MikeMc. Ann Coulter and Rx Limbaugh literally accuse ordinary liberals of treason on a daily basis. I have never heard Molly Ivins or Jim Hightower direct that level of venom at everyday conservatives.

You may think I'm splitting hairs, but when it's okay to spew that kind of trash about average joe liberal on the airwaves (I think politicos are more or less fair game, even though I personally hate the negative stuff regardless of whom it's targeting), the kind of vandalism and other stupidity that was mentioned above seems to become more permissible. "Coarsening the debate" and all that.
posted by psmealey at 9:37 AM on October 7, 2004


I do think the U.S. is increasingly fragmented and it worries me. I hate to say it, but I really don't think I could sit down and share dinner with a family that was voting for Alan Keyes or Tom Delay. I'm pretty sure their supports would say the same about old gay me.

The Stars and Bars are just one symbol of division (I'm sorry but that flag is just a passive agressive way of saying 'fuck you, I don't really want to get along'), but there are many more subtle codes that divide us.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 9:39 AM on October 7, 2004


Youth hate crimes plummet during Clinton Presidency, surge during Bush years : "......Studies by hate-crime experts like Jack Levin, director of Northeastern University's Brudnick Center and co-author of the new book, Why We Hate, show that incidents perpetrated by youngsters, which became more frequent from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, "plummeted" during the Clinton years.

But since 9/11, the number of hate crimes by kids has risen sharply — and they appear to be more brutal than ever. "What we're seeing," says Eric Ward, a longtime observer of extremist youth who works at Chicago's Center for New Community, "is a more militant, street-fighter culture." "


jonmc - let's bring bring some statistics to bear on the debate, eh ? - Most hate and bias crimes in the US - though largely committed by individuals (mostly young men although hate crimes by young women are on the increase) - are associated with the US far right, either actual groups or it's ideologies.

This has been established - quite exhaustively. See below.

Criminal Justice Resources : Hate Crime


For example - US Hate crimes, 1995-2002 ( "Hate Crimes statistics collected by the FBI under the Uniform Crime Reporting program. Please Note that these figures represent Incidents, and not Offenses or Victims or Known Offenders. This means that other charts on the web may show other figures. These figures are based on the FBI reports" )

Those aren't explicitly "political"......or are they ?

The Hate Crimes Research Network has a rather long list of recent books and articles - from the last decade or so - on hate crimes.

NOTE : What are the Aggregate Patterns of Hate Crime in the U.S.? Most hate crime perpetrators are not members of organized hate groups (Garafolo 1997, Martin 1996).

· Hate crime perpetrators tend to be young men acting in informal groups (Martin 1995).

· While hate crimes are perpetrated by individuals, typically they are expressed by groups (Levin and McDevitt, 1993).


See also : White Supremacist, Antisemitic, and Race Hate Groups in the U.S.

What is the History of Bias-Motivated Violence?

Southern Poverty law center : Active US Hate Groups, 2003 - National Map

"This fact sheet draws on consultations with Jack Levin, director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University, and Erica Broido, associate director for legal affairs at the Anti-Defamation League. "

__________________

Surge in Hate Crimes against LGBT Community
Documented in Second Half of 2003

posted by troutfishing at 9:49 AM on October 7, 2004


Whatsamatta' jonmc, your left wing broken today?

Actually, no, despite my back spasms (on the lower right side of my back, oddly enough) I'll be dragging myself to the post office to go register to vote, as an independent, but I'm voting Kerry.

Equivalence isn't the word for the relationship the Coulter/Hannity/Limbaughs and Ted Rall/Michale Moores have with eachother. It's more symbiosis. They need eachother to live. It's one long ping-pong game of outrage and offense between them. And all of us are gulity of being hypnotized by the damn ball going back and forth instead of thinking for ourselves.

I've left Molly Ivins, Al Franken and Jim Hightower out since I actually like some of their stuff, and they have the crucial ingredient of a sense of humor.

psmealey: I agree with you on coarsening the debate but we have nobody to blame but ourselves for lapping it up. Whether we're fuming at Limbaugh or "ditto" ing at him, we're still lapping it up.

I hate to say it, but I really don't think I could sit down and share dinner with a family that was voting for Alan Keyes or Tom Delay. I'm pretty sure their supports would say the same about old gay me.

Well, Keyes probably dines at The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe but I can see your point with those two extreme cases. But I've had pleasant social interactions with people all over the political spectrum. When we start broadening those divides (in our head at least) we start to veiw the "opposition" as voracious boogiemen out to steal our children and flouridate our water and then the Coulter types gain power. But that's just my theory.
posted by jonmc at 9:52 AM on October 7, 2004


Once you have power you can say "Who cares what you think" and "Go fuck yourself" with complete impunity and never, never apologize for anything. Lying constantly, no problem! What you gonna do about it punk?

Did it occur to anyone else that you can freely replace "power" with "internet" in that sentence?
posted by Krrrlson at 10:21 AM on October 7, 2004


jonmc - Dave Niewert has exhaustively chronicled the rise of the US far right - and the increase in hate crimes associated with far right ideologies (the majority of hate crimes) - since the late '80s or early 90's.

Politically and ideologically associated hate crimes in the US are as old as the nation, but the increase in US hate crimes in the last decade and a half, at least, has come from the US far right - and, as Niewert argues, in part from increasingly extreme Republican/right wing rhetoric.

The Religious Right and Anti-Gay Speech:
In their Own Words
: ""Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals."
Dr. Paul Cameron, a "scientist" often quoted by religious right groups, speaking at the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference."

Bush Opposed Texas hate crimes bill : because it would have covered gays and lesbians. (Salon.com)

"Blessed are the Peacemakers" - Jesus

__________________________________

The Impact of Hate Violence on Victims - A study



Dave Niewert, at Orcinus has some things to say on this :

"The Rise of Pseudo Fascism
Part 1:
The Morphing of the Conservative Movement

Part 2: The Architecture of fascism
Part 3: The Pseudo-Fascist Campaign"

(more from Orcinus/Niewert)

".....Ann Coulter: "Insofar as the survival of the Republic is threatened by the election of John Kerry, I'd say 2004 is as big as it gets."

Amazon.com: "Is there one standout issue, and why does it make a difference? What are the most crucial issues?"

Coulter: "I repeat: The survival of the Republic is threatened by the election of John Kerry. I'd say that's the big one."

... Amazon.com: "What would a Kerry administration mean?"

Coulter: "Quite possibly the destruction of the Republic."

Talk about staying "on message.
"

Now, it doesn't take a majority of the country to make widespread belief in this meme a serious problem. I mean, if you believed that the very survival of the nation itself rested on defeating John Kerry, wouldn't you be willing to resort to just about anything to prevent it?

The mainstream conservatives who propagate this belief -- from Bush to Cheney on down -- are effectively radicalizing their supporters, at least those who take their pronouncements as Gospel. Anymore, that's about 30 percent of the population -- a minority, but sizeable enough to be a serious problem.

And believe me, it is getting nasty out there.

We've already seen, of course, incidents of arson and vandalism directed at Democratic campaign offices; assaults on protesters at Bush/ Cheney appearances; and generally ratcheted-up levels of political thuggery.

Look: There's always a certain amount of nastiness in any election, and it's usually an equal-opportunity situation. Certain conservatives haven't enjoyed any monopoly on nastiness, this year or any other.

But the increased levels of threats, intimidation, and dirty tricks like sign theft, as well as the sheer number of problems, are heavily on the Republican side this year, especially in rural and suburban districts.

It's being directly encouraged by such pseudo -fascist threads as the "Democrats=terrorists" theme, as well as incidents such as Dick Cheney telling Pat Leahy, "Go fuck yourself" on the Senate floor -- and then not only refusing to apologize for it, but clearly recommending it as a course of action.

Longtime readers are aware I've been cataloguing the rise of this eliminationist nastiness for some time, and will continue to do so here. The latest updates, in fact, are indicative of another ratchet-step forward in an increasingly violent and intimidating approach to the 2004 campaign, particularly on the ground level. It's a level that hasn't raised itself to being newsworthy on a broad scale; but like a low-grade fever, it can be a harbinger as well."

posted by troutfishing at 10:40 AM on October 7, 2004


Trout, I don't disagree, I was merely making a different point.

But I think it was IF Stone who said (and I'm probably mangling this quote): "what politics needs a coalition between progressives and conservatives. And I mean genuine conservatives, not the religious fanatics, crypto-fascists and nuts who call themselves that."
posted by jonmc at 10:54 AM on October 7, 2004


Perhaps the swastika burning at Repub headquarters was just an early test run for a W. victory party.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 11:15 AM on October 7, 2004


jonmc - that's cool. I just felt like framing this discussion because to assert equivalence between the behavior of the US left and right over the last one or two decades is absurd.

That said, I've no doubt that there is left-on-right violence aggression, but I'm pretty sure the majority of hate crime overall is still coming from the right - and goaded on by specific hate groups as well as vicious right wing rhetoric such as this : "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

Anne Coulter, National Review Online, Sept. 13, 2002

"When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors."

Coulter, Address to Conservative Political Action Conference, January 2002 (see also : Tom Tomorrow

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

- Coulter, New York Observer, Aug. 20, 2002

"....It would be easy to dismiss Coulter as a sort of right wing Howard Stern "shock pundit." But this underestimates the impact that Coulter, Limbaugh, O'Reilly and their ilk have on extending the boundaries of acceptable hate and threats of violence in America. The Bush administration takes advantage of this new expanded range of intimidation by declaring that opposing Bush is equivalent to supporting terrorism, or that to oppose Bush on the war is "to aid the enemy." "

Take Them at Their Words: Shocking, Amusing and Baffling Quotations From the GOP and Their Friends 1994-2004 - "a wide-angle snapshot of the moral values Republicans and their allies proudly embrace." :

"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good." -- Randall Terry, the New Republic, 8/1/1994

"Ideally, it would have been nice to have a few phalanxes of policemen with machine guns and mow them down." -- Talk-radio host Bob Grant of New York's WABC, commenting on the Gay Pride Parade, Boston Globe, 4/29/95

"You know if there was any piece of legislation I would pass it would be to blow up colleges of education. I know that's not politically correct ..." -- Reid Lyon, National Institute of Child Health and Development, Excelgov.org, 11/19/02
posted by troutfishing at 11:24 AM on October 7, 2004


I've heard those same quotes, and I'm sure some enterprising conservative could round up some equally asinine and combative quotes from the fringe left.

And I'm here to tell you, that despite all the media exposure Rupert Murdoch likes to give these people, they are still truly fringe players. I consider myself someone who gets around and meets people and I have yet to meet anybody who considers them anything other than buffoons. And that includes conservatives I've met.

The best idea for American politics would be to lets the cuckoos go cackle amonst themselves (however entertaining they might be) and let reasonable people, who are still most of us get on with the business of having a nation.

Although, when I worked at a bookstore Bob Grant did do an instore apperance. The crowd that showed up was sparse but weird. The NAACP protested outside. A black co-worker of mine was peppered with questions about how he could "allow" this,as he walked out to get lunch. He replied "My black ass is just trying to make a living. Leave me be." Then I had a female non-employee freind ask Grant if he honestly believed (as he'd been quoted as saying) that MLK, JR was a "scumbag." He replied with a diatribe about free speech. She said she agreed and understood about free speech, but wanted a real answer. He kept gibbering. He was also really tiny and waxy looking
posted by jonmc at 11:41 AM on October 7, 2004


Coincidence, or how the bank robbery was pulled off? - In an unexpected twist, a bank directly across the street from the headquarters was robbed as KPD officers were busy investigating at the scene of the shooting.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:57 AM on October 7, 2004


Equivalence isn't the word for the relationship the Coulter/Hannity/Limbaughs and Ted Rall/Michale Moores have with eachother. It's more symbiosis.

Thank you. I wasn't so much trying to accuse those I mentioned of being "hatemongers" as to point out that they are the "other side of the coin". The whole Bill O'Reilly - Al Franken war of words was the best thing to happen to either one of them recently, afterall there's no such thing as bad publicity. As jonmc said it's symbiosis, if there were no Limbaugh or Hannity there would be no outcry for a voice like Al Franken to "balance" the airwaves.
posted by MikeMc at 12:04 PM on October 7, 2004


they are still truly fringe players

I don't disagree with this and neither do any of my Republican friends, with whom I discuss this kind of thing quite frequently. However, they do have a strange effect on the left. I know quite a few liberals the believe that Coulter, Grant, Michael Savage and to some degree, Fred Phelps, give voice to what actually does lurk inside black heart of the conservative. Interestingly, these people do more to demonize conservatives in the minds of some liberals than the other way around. I don't buy it myself, as I still hold onto the notion that most people are essentially charitable and kind of heart, but I have heard this kind of thing quite a bit.
posted by psmealey at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2004


From working on a highly publicized Congressional election campaign. When the candidates were neck n neck in the polls, these types of aggressive behaviors were seen more by both candidates. ymmv It's going to be one hell of a close election looking at these signs.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:14 PM on October 7, 2004


psmealey - Would you consider Dick Cheney, as he told Pat Leahy on the floor of the US Senate to "Go Fuck Yourself", to be on the "fringe". Would Cheney's refusal to apologize be "fringe" as well ?

You're painting in black and white, but there is no "average" conservative just as there is no "average" liberal, and in any case the a single political axis obscures as much as it reveals.

But I haven't seen ANY of those here on this thread who are asserting a left/right equivalence in politically associated violence and hate speech actually produce any substantial evidence for this claim.

"I've heard those same quotes, and I'm sure some enterprising conservative could round up some equally asinine and combative quotes from the fringe left." - jonmc, many of these quotes are far from the fringe.

Anyone whose words get broadcast to millions of people - such as Coulter's - is by definition not "fringe".

We're not talking about psychotic drunks on benders ranting on streetcorners. We're talking about politicians, talk show hosts, and religious leaders whose words reach many millions of people.

I've got a brother with a wife and four kids. They listen to these messages. Ten of millions of Americans do.

I challenge you outright to produce analogous quotes from people on the left who are in similar positions of prominence.

I don't think you can, and I don't think you can support your assertion of equivalence.

__________________________

"Gays spit on Jesus" - "They are totalitarians who accuse everyone that disagrees with them of "hatred." Even as they masquerade under the banner of tolerance, they spit on the most sacred Person revered and worshipped by millions. They mock our religious symbols, deride our beliefs, and even desecrate our churches and sacraments. " - - THE ASSAULT ON CHRISTIANS BY THE MILITANT HOMOSEXUAL MOVEMENT, by Steven A. Schwalm, Family Research Council

Christian Identity and Christian America : Hate and Violence on the Religious Right

Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham - Nov 16 2001: "We're not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God, and I believe it [Islam] is a very evil and wicked religion."

"At about 39 minutes into a 2002-NOV-10 broadcast, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart referred to the Prophet Muhammad as a "sex deviant," "pervert," and "pedophile." ...."He also called for the expulsion of all foreign Muslim university students in the United States and for profiling of airline passengers 'with a diaper on their head and a fan-belt around their waist.' Of American Muslims, Swaggart said: 'We ought to tell every other Moslem (sic) living in this nation that if you say one word, you're gone.' "

......The latest round began in June, when the Rev. Jerry Vines, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention--the nation's largest Protestant denomination, with 15 million members--described Islam's founder as a "demon-possessed pedophile."

......Maury Davis, pastor of Cornerstone Church, began the first sermon in the series Sunday, titled ''Hard Questions — Real Answers. Islam … The Evil Religion.'' - ''I want to go on record as telling you that I believe the greatest threat to the American way of life, to the Constitution of the United States of America and to the gospel of Jesus Christ, is the religion of Islam as it stands today,'' Davis said from his pulpit on Sunday to an audience of about 2,000. The four sermons will be broadcast on the Inspiration Network, a national cable Christian television show that reaches 15 million viewers, according to its Web site."

I could go on all day about Christian hate speech by Graham, Buckley, Hinn, Falwell, Swaggart, Baldwin....Christian hate speech - whether against muslims, Gays - or whomever - is not "fringe".

It's now almost as American as overbaked, rancid apple pie.

And, individual acts of violence follow in due course - because the overall culture has given them legitimacy.

As those who are asserting equivalence on this thread are doing, I'd say.
posted by troutfishing at 12:46 PM on October 7, 2004


I've heard those same quotes, and I'm sure some enterprising conservative could round up some equally asinine and combative quotes from the fringe left.
Funny how no one ever does tho, isn't it? We all can pull violent threats and actual cases of violence out of the news, the radio, and internet, coming from the Right (some even staged to smear the left), yet i've yet to hear any left-wing pundit call for violence, or internment of conservatives, or that they're traitors or should be thrown out of the country, or exterminated, etc....

If you think they're not sending real messages to their listeners, you're sadly mistaken. Out of the millions of people who listen to them daily, you only need one or two McVeighs to do real damage.

Show me the equivalent, continual threats from the left like we have coming from the right, jon--they don't exist. Assuming they do is a grave mistake.
posted by amberglow at 1:03 PM on October 7, 2004


You know, The Ramones had different political beliefs from each other and still managed to work together and create some amazing music. The band wouldn't have been nearly as great without both Joey and Johnny. I'm just saying.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:12 PM on October 7, 2004


No, there isn't the same level of threats, no which is one reason I'm still on the left but there's no shortage of hateful and/or stupid rhetoric from the likes of Andrea Dworkin, and Louis Farrakhan. One feeds the other, literally.

Out of the millions of people who listen to them daily, you only need one or two McVeighs to do real damage.

There's also people who've stuck shotguns in their mouth because Judas Preist told them to. What're you proposing, that no one "potentially dangerous" be allowed to become popular? That's a slippery slope, man.
posted by jonmc at 1:19 PM on October 7, 2004


I could go on all day about Christian hate speech by Graham, Buckley, Hinn, Falwell, Swaggart, Baldwin....Christian hate speech - whether against muslims, Gays - or whomever - is not "fringe".

Troutfishing I'll go along with your assertions about the evangelical whack jobs listed above but... William F. Buckley Jr. as a far-right, foaming at the mouth born-again hatemonger? Not on his worst day. I'm no fan of Hannity or O'Reilly but I give WFB his props for being a class act. I've drifted away from the Right in recent years but I still hold Buckley in great esteem and have always considered him to be the voice of reason on the conservative scene.
posted by MikeMc at 1:23 PM on October 7, 2004


Go easy, trout, I wasn't one of the ones trying to equivocate the Coulters with the Frankens. I'm on your side, more or less. I do believe the voices on the right are much more corrosive than those on the left. I was just noting the effect that the extremes have on increasing the spite on both sides of the aisle.
posted by psmealey at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2004


Here's how it works - (Metafilter 32747) Becoming Evil : Boston WTKK-FM radio's Jay Severin advocates genocide of American-Muslims : over at FreeRepublic.com, Freepers concured - Genocide, expulsion, and pogroms for all American Muslims, they screamed.

______________________

Recently in Rwanda : In the years up to 1994, many journalists allied themselves with Hutu extremists who planned and carried out the genocide. A magazine called Kangura, or Wake Him Up!, published screeds denigrating Tutsis as a subhuman race that aimed to destroy Rwanda, and urged Hutus to arm themselves. As the genocide got underway on April 6, 1994, the radio station RTLM filled the airwaves with vitriol, even broadcasting the names of individual Tutsis and their hiding places. Confirming the media's murderous role, the UN war crimes tribunal for Rwanda in December convicted key figures from the magazine and the radio station of incitement to genocide. (posted by matteo at 1:54 PM PST on April 27, 2004)

______________________

Also see Metafilter 31683, American Taliban plans theocracy - soon Theocracy Watch reports on the religious right's takeover of the Republican Party......On the agenda - "The civil government of our nation, its laws, institutions, and practices must therefore be conformed to the principles of Biblical law as revealed in the Old and New Testaments".

That sounds exactly like the Taliban's project to me - a literalist theocracy.

Metafilter 30808 - The Politics of Treason "Even outraged leaders within its ranks say that the Democratic Party has been playing with treason in an attempt to destroy the nation´s wartime Republican president.....it started shortly after the liberation of Iraq when Senate Democrats asked the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to examine whether faulty intelligence might have led President George W. Bush to mislead Congress and the public about the urgency of toppling Saddam Hussein. The committee chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), agreed to a probe in light of the panel's nonpartisan tradition since its founding in the 1970s. But in a sharp break with tradition, the Democrats on the committee, led by Vice Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and pushed behind the scenes by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), decided to turn the probe into a savage and bitterly partisan weapon against the White House." (Moonie-owned Insight Magazine) - 'mkay then. On that logic, half of the Republicans in the Senate are now guilty of treason - Don Rumsfeld too.

_______________

" "Chelsea is a Clinton. She bears the taint; and though not prosecutable in law, in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored. All the great despotisms of the past - I'm not arguing for despotism as a principle, but they sure knew how to deal with potential trouble - recognized that the families of objectionable citizens were a continuing threat. In Stalin's penal code it was a crime to be the wife or child of an 'enemy of the people.' The Nazis used the same principle, which they called Sippenhaft, 'clan liability.' In Imperial China, enemies of the state were punished 'to the ninth degree': that is, everyone in the offender's own generation would be killed and everyone related via four generations up, to the great-great-grandparents, and four generations down, to the great-great-grandchildren, would also be killed."  - John Derbyshire, National Review, 02-15-01 "
posted by troutfishing at 1:25 PM on October 7, 2004


psmealey - OK, but I bore into that because I feel that this sort of speech is a virulent cultural disease - and that tip-toeing around it's true nature only causes it to spread.

And, although I'd say that John Darbyshire, above, obviously admires Hitler's and Stalin's methods quite a bit, I doubt that most who spew out such foul language really intend to touch off real genocides and mass violence - I'd say they only intend to intimidate. But, sometimes these things have a way of careening out of control.
posted by troutfishing at 1:36 PM on October 7, 2004


Louis Farrakhan

sorry, jonmc. black != on the left, no matter how outspoken against the u.s. government the person in question is.

the nation of islam is highly conservative (according to what conservative means in america). farrakhan has far more in common with the jesse helms than either gentleman would ever be comfortable admitting or discussing.

not to say that i disagree with your point -- also acknowledged by some of the others here -- that there is bile spewed forth by the left, but that really needed to be addressed.

carry on.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:40 PM on October 7, 2004


fair enough, lord wolf, socially speaking the NOI are conservative, perhaps Al Sharpton or Sonny Carson would be better examples.
posted by jonmc at 1:48 PM on October 7, 2004


There must be, like, some extremist American-maoist rhetoric around somewhere that somebody can pull out of the freezer.

That, and a few good internet loony blogrants, and you've got a real movement which clearly influences millions.
posted by troutfishing at 1:48 PM on October 7, 2004


And, surely there must be somebody on the left who advocates genocide.....somewhere ?

Maybe a Google search - "Left wing rhetoric, genocide" would pull up something.......
posted by troutfishing at 1:51 PM on October 7, 2004


Obviously the best thing to do to fringe, hateful elements, is to ignore them. So I'll see if I can't comment on the main thread here and ignore the wing-nuts - with a small quoted exception.

"i was watching abc's wife swap last night (yeah, i know: on mefi you're only supposed to admit to watching pbs, c-span, and sports, so by admitting i watch a reality show i've lost all credibility...), "

I am always amused by those little eddys in the web where folks go so far out of their way to remind everyone they don't have a television. Its like some odd religiously followed inverse status symbol. They are like "I only have one TV, and we keep it locked in the basement under the SUV repellant. We only get it out to watch _______ (insert name of candidate or speaker ) and in case of national emergencies."

"I mean, if you believed that the very survival of the nation itself rested on defeating John Kerry, wouldn't you be willing to resort to just about anything to prevent it?"

Maybe that's the issue. While usually that sort of rhetoric is a Republican extremist thing, this year I hear it more and more from the Democrats as well. The whole concept of "anybody but Bush" by "any means necessary" is a campaign driven negatives not a simple positive factor. That seems to be taking its toll.

"You may disagree, but there's a huge difference between people taking issue with words and actions of the specific people in the Administration and its media apparatus, and the latter group, which is more apt to globally blame and demonize "liberals" for all of society's ills."

I agree there is a difference... but I don't think that's the debate this time around. In this situation to be a Republican is to be branded willfully ignorant or a hate monger. The memes that Republicans are Nazis (mentioned in this thread itself) and that we would deliberately set out to murder homosexuals in total is the kind of stuff that is more common now.

"these two families were absolutely unable to find common ground. they had nothing good to say to or about each other, at all. people of similar ages, born in the same country, same socioeconomic class...and they couldn't relate."

The one episode I saw was a wealthy "liberal" couple and a fairly "conservative" poor family. It sure seemed doomed to failure but then the weirdest thing happened. The chauvinist husband (poor) got a wake up call and the spoiled wife (rich) found a way to come to grips after the usual bullshit.I won't say its a good show - but it was interesting.

"It's not leading anywhere that any of us should want to go."

When we can't even agree on that without some feeling compelled to yell "Hey, blame the Republicans! They are the source of all hate" then we have a increasing problem.
"Personally, I predict more tension after November 2nd. Both sides seem so convinced their candidate will win."

I think it's going to get particularly ugly if the President is re-elected. The meme that Bush "stole" the 2000 election has been played so hard by the left that if he is elected again they will simply fall back on the concept that somehow he "stole" it again. Not wanting to give up the power they have gained groups like A.N.S.W.E.R. will push that meme even harder to create a feeling of disenfranchisement that can be used to justify almost anything.

The saving grace in my mind of a Kerry election may in fact be the restoration of faith in the process of democracy among many of those who have currently bought into the "stolen" meme so deeply that a Bush re-election would send them right out into armed revolution mode. It was almost enough of an incentive for me to support him... but in the end I just can't bring myself to let fear of a violent fringe reactionary group control my vote that way (through fear of their irrational reactions).
posted by soulhuntre at 1:55 PM on October 7, 2004


"PRESIDENT GORD: Chicken head resemble you."
Stockdale was the closest thing we had to the The Gord and we let him slip away :)

"I'm chuckling at the idea of S&M guy whinging about political roughhousing. It's 'cause we're your Daddy, slut!"

I don't think I was whining, I hoped to be discussing. Occasionally we still pull that off here at MeFi and since I didn't say "Micro$oft" it wouldn't work on Slashdot.

By the way, thanks for mentioning that post! I hadn't read it in a while and there was some stuff in there I probably needed to be reminded of again. That and She's such a pretty little thing in those pictures (NSFW btw) and with my ink on her back it just gets better.

Besides, Daddy's know something about compassionate violence, so I think this is a topic I am well qualified to discuss... and at least you know I'm not a bible thumper.

Anyway, it's cool to see someone reads that stuff sometimes.
posted by soulhuntre at 2:06 PM on October 7, 2004


"....memes that Republicans are Nazis....and that we would deliberately set out to murder homosexuals in total" (even in part, or not quite deliberately ? ;/ ) soulhuntre, you can choose to take this personally, of course, but I cited specific examples of those on the far right who seem clearly to be proposing mass violence against gays, American-muslims, and others : not quotes, either, from white supremacists or from the ultra right - and the fact that I didn't have a need to wade in and pluck my quotes from that particular morass is in itself telling.

I didn't say that "all Republicans" or "Republicans" were advocating genocide and mass violence : that would be incendiary and irresponsible.

But, publicly expressed, extreme hate speech is heard fairly frequently now in America, and those who speak it rarely pay a penalty. That implies a widespread, tacit cultural tolerance for such sentiments, and also corresponding apathy and denial among those who would disagree.

To ignore - and not to decry - the profusion of examples of hate speech is another form of madness - regardless of which area of the political spectrum that speech comes from.

Words have consequences. They shape thoughts, no ?
_________________________

If a single human goes insane and kills or advocates violence - in general or against whole groups - does that damage the reputation of an entire political tendency ? Of course not. But a hundred ? A thousand ? More ? - And if they are politicians and have radio shows ?

What then? Mass insanity? Does it really matter at all what one calls it ?

Still, language demands referents.

I'm not "spreading a meme" : I'm citing the existence of a distinct trend in American conservatism (and supporting my claim by way of specific examples) - which you, as a conservative, may find it painful to acknowledge - but I'm not equating that trend with all of conservatism.

____________________


However, to ignore such a profusion of examples of hate speech - and regardless of where on the political spectrum that speech originates - can become, in itself, a type of madness. Ignore the trend at your peril ! - Ignore it and - sooner or later - it will gobble up your faction of the party as well :

We sometimes come to resemble that which we willfully deny.
posted by troutfishing at 2:57 PM on October 7, 2004


Off topic, I'd just like to add that local candidate Arthur Anae really should have written his name in lower-case on lawn-signs to deter vandalism.
posted by meech at 3:11 PM on October 7, 2004


And - the alleged spectre of ANSWER aside - American fringe, reactionary movements prone to violence tend to be located on the extreme right : as in the case of William Krar : " "The sodium cyanide device was fully functional and could have killed anyone "within a 30,000 square-foot facility."....Krar's stockpile contained more than 100 explosives, including 60 fully functional pipe bombs, as well as briefcase bombs, land mine components, detonation cord, trip wire and binary explosives; machine guns and other illegal weapons; hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition; and racist, anti-Semitic and antigovernment literature, including Hunter and The Turner Diaries....Krar was/is a bona fide tax protestor who has never been indicted for his tax-related offenses. He is from New Hampshire and has numerous ties to white supremacist and militia groups."

Along those lines, that same linked page has also an interesting bit on a white supremacist academic who was on MSNBC, on the Joe Scarborough show, December 17, 2003 ( "Jared Taylor is one of the leading lights in what is known generically as the "academic" wing of the white-supremacist movement. His magazine, American Renaissance, is one of the leading publications in this field. It is also designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of its certified hate organizations" )

Anyway - when ANSWER starts getting caught with arsenals and huge WMD devices, let me know, eh ?

Otherwise I'll continue to be unimpressed by their alleged threat and - on the other hand - continue to be rather concerned about a movement and ideology which leads people to construct enormous bombs and to assemble huge private arsenals.

Krar warn't planning a duck shoot. Not of ducks, anyway.
posted by troutfishing at 3:15 PM on October 7, 2004


I just can't bring myself to let fear of a violent fringe reactionary group control my vote

Please tell me you appreciate the rich irony in that statement.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:39 PM on October 7, 2004


inpHilltr8r - Something tells me not.
posted by troutfishing at 7:25 PM on October 7, 2004


Congressman Cited for Stealing Yard Signs.
posted by dhartung at 1:35 AM on October 8, 2004


dhartung - Strangely, I'm glad you kept THAT off the front page.

And I'm not sure why.

Anyway, there are times when I'd like to steal yard signs.

But I'm not a Congressman.

Couldn't Pete Sessions just pay somebody else to steal yard signs for him ? What is he - cheap, or something ?

Sheesh. Some people.
posted by troutfishing at 11:33 AM on October 8, 2004


The more tasteful sorts steal garden gnomes.
posted by troutfishing at 11:34 AM on October 8, 2004


"Please tell me you appreciate the rich irony in that statement."

I do indeed... but then I don't consider terrorism to be a fringe group. It has the wholehearted support of millions and a major world religion. It is embodied in nation states. In other words... its a long way from "fringe" to me. But yeah, I thought about that when I wrote it.

"I didn't say that "all Republicans" or "Republicans" were advocating genocide and mass violence : that would be incendiary and irresponsible."

I didn't quote you specifically. I mentioned the meme's - and they do exist.

"But, publicly expressed, extreme hate speech is heard fairly frequently now in America, and those who speak it rarely pay a penalty. That implies a widespread, tacit cultural tolerance for such sentiments, and also corresponding apathy and denial among those who would disagree.

To ignore - and not to decry - the profusion of examples of hate speech is another form of madness - regardless of which area of the political spectrum that speech comes from."


Hence the reason many of us think the terrorist thread is endemic to the whole culture of violence, terrorism and anti-US sentiment that pervades the Middle East - and why fighting that enemy might be more complicated and widespread than just shooting the current leader of a cell or splinter group.
posted by soulhuntre at 3:14 PM on October 8, 2004


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