Health Care Reform in the Crosshairs, when I opined that Sarah Palin’s political ads with crosshairs superimposed on selected congressional districts were acceptable political discourse. Click on the link above to view the image that accompanied the post.
A reader sent me a private email suggesting that the crosshairs image was distasteful, particularly as one of the crosshairs was placed over Congresswoman Giffords’ district. The congresswoman was attacked by an evil murderer, and we all pray for her continued recovery and for the other victims and their families of this unspeakable attack.
In the private commenter’s own words, I think you should take down Sarah Palin's targets map on your most recent blog post. I don't understand its connection to what you're writing in any case. But the targets are aimed at congressional districts, one of which is Rep. Giffords’. Since she was actually shot and almost died, in seems a bit distasteful... This reader gave me a relevant link, which I provide here for those interested.
I had no knowledge of the location of the crosshairs, but I think that the image was the right one for the post. Should I remove it as was suggested? I am inclined to leave it be, as I do not believe that this ad can be rationally linked to the subsequent senseless violence that occurred. Moreover, military and firearm metaphors are omnipresent, as my recent post notes. Should they all be stricken from our lexicon? Sporting events are often reported and described in military terms, as are so many other events in our society. How many times do we read or personally describe an athletic outcome as a massacre? If we sanitize our communication to remove words, phrases and images that could also exist in a violent context, then life would be rather bland. In addition, we would argue until the end of time whether a particular phrase was over the decency threshold, an issue that our courts wrestle with every day.
Even the president recently described Governor Scott Walker’s plan to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public union members as an ‘assault on unions’. I guess that the word assault was deemed acceptable by the administration and passed through focus group review. A week after the president spoke, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis remarked at a speech to the Democratic National Committee on February 27th, “We help those embattled states right now where public employees are under assault.”
The liberal organization Moveon.org issued this statement to rally protesters against efforts to curtail union collective bargaining rights.
“We demand an end to the attacks on worker's rights and public services across the country.”
In my state of Ohio, where Governor Kasich is also pushing back against unions, protesters’ statements include:
“Kill the bill.”
“They’re trying to take away what we fought for all of these years.”
The italics in the above quotes are mine.
Obviously, there is speech that is over the line. I agree with the commenter’s implication that just because we have the right to express certain speech, doesn’t mean that it is right to do so. However, I believe that if removing the crosshair image from my post is considered the proper standard, then we will be censoring vast amounts of expression that deserves to be heard.
I thank this reader, whom I know personally, for offering her view to me, and now to the readers. I hope that they will share their views here also. Was the crosshairs image over the line? Should I take aim it and take it out? Let me rephrase that incendiary query. Should I gently and respectfully delete it?