Sunday, January 9, 2011

There is a nasty phenomenon in the blogosphere (and I guess we'll add the twittersphere to that as well) that compels people to jump on board to a breaking news item before they've bothered to check their footing (the MSM does it as well, but tends to be a bit slower about it). There's a lot of value -- in traffic and respect -- if you can get in early on an issue, be the person collecting and disseminating information, and best of all, if you can add some data of your own. You will be mentioned. You will be linked. People will look to you in the future.

But there is danger in opportunity. If you hop on the bandwagon in order not to be left behind, you could wind up with a whole lot of egg on your face when you discover that the narrative you've been feverishly and passionately posting on proves false. I've put up posts in the past I regretted owing exactly to this phenomenon -- though precious few and I like to think I've learned my lesson in this regard. My traffic may not be as high as it could be, but I like also to think that I maintain a small degree more of my integrity than I otherwise might have.

You can get your credibility back, but that relies on you doing the right thing when new facts emerge and you show you're better for the mistake.

You know where this is going, right?

Yesterday a horrible crime was perpetrated in Arizona. A real tragedy. And in spite of the fact that it was hours before anything whatsoever was known about the shooter, that didn't stop a whole lot of people from assigning blame. In fact, one could be forgiven for arriving at the conclusion, listening to some people, that the murders were committed by Sarah Palin with the help of the Tea Party.

This reflects nothing about Palin or the Tea Party, and everything about the fevered minds of the people pushing that narrative. It would seem that Palin Derangement Syndrome has trumped the Bush strain in spades. In fact, even after the facts started to emerge, here on the morning of day 2, there remains not just no proof, but no evidence whatsoever that Sarah Palin or the Tea Party had anything whatsoever, even in the fevered mind of the perpetrator, to do with this crime.

Some people seem to simply want to blame Sarah Palin, they need to blame Sarah Palin. But this is really about them and their need to slander someone for political purposes, not about healing the political system or trying to make sense of the senseless. It's slander, pure and simple.

I will refrain in this post from providing all of the multitude of examples from the left that could be twisted for use as blame for political violence, or the actual political violence that has arisen from the left, not the right, in recent years.[I have a good reason for that. There's another internet phenomenon whereby people start defending their side by posting "evidence" of the other side doing what they themselves are accusing others of doing -- argument by irony -- and everyone forgets that that wasn't the point in the first place. Everyone gets so busy rubbing the other side's noses in it that they forget what the point was supposed to be in the first place. I realize that's a bit convoluted, but hopefully you follow.] Others have done that already and I'll link some of it below. It happens to be beside the point in this case.

It's irrelevant to the issue, that is, unless you are one of those who have spent any part of the last 24 hours talking about (or blogging about, or re-tweeting about) Sarah Palin -- a connection, I emphasize, for which there is still no evidence whatsoever -- and failing to mention any examples on the other side of the political divide.

We have a word for people whose fevered minds make connections and assign blame for which there is no evidence -- conspiracy nuts. I'm not sure which is worse, people who may be suffering under a delusion, or people whose minds are so fogged with hatred that they use a blood-soaked tragedy to slander a political enemy who happens to be completely innocent.

Oh, and by the way, on no account do you have to be a Palin "fan" simply to be disgusted by seeing the slander and hatred that are thrown her way.

For further reading:

Legal Insurrection: Two Sicknesses On Display in Arizona

Instapundit roundup: BARACK OBAMA: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

Byron York: Journalists urged caution after Ft. Hood, now race to blame Palin after Arizona shootings

theblogprof: Figures: Man who shot AZ Congresswoman in the head is a left-wing lunatic

The unseemly rush to blame Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and Republicans for murder in Arizona

Palin 'Target' Graphic in Perspective

A disgrace to nuts everwhere

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Slandering Sarah.

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I said what I had to say on Sunday. Krauthammer has the must-read to start the day today: Massacre, followed by libel. It includes the quote of the month: "The origins of Loughner's delusions are clear: mental illness. What are... Read More

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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