Can we please stop the pious high mindedness that says that this tea bagger BS is just part of the discourse? It's not, and John Adams and all of the other founding fathers they allegedly revere would slap them in prison, or worse, for the kinds of seditious acts that inspired todays violence. Sarah Palin is the one that put Gabby Giffords in the gun's crosshairs of this heinous assassin.
The news world is exploding right now at the news of the tragedy in Arizona. Rep. Giffords was shot in the head, dozens of others injured, and a judge and a 9 year old child, among others killed. All by an armed maniac in a state that is so aggressive about the right to bear arms that they enacted a law that allows people to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Under the auspices of allowing people to protect themselves from criminals.
It's strange, I thought that's why we had a police force.
Certainly there couldn't possibly be any link to all of this passionate defense of a single amendment of the constitution and gun ownership and today's shooting though, right? No link at all.
That image up there is from SarahPac's "Take back the 20" website, a PAC for reality tv star/tea party darling and most definitely NOT a presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. Good luck trying to find it though, almost immediately after the shooting the website was scrubbed and removed, even from the Wayback Machine and Archive.org. Allegedly in the interests of good taste, which would be a rare instance of empathy from a person/organization that has shown little of that, ever. But also a way to mitagate culpability too. It certainly raises some scary questions as well.
The disclosure here is that since it's a PAC, Sarah Palin does not control it, but the thing is... the tea parties leaders, or defacto leaders need to be held accountable for this kind of thing and they aren't. How can somebody with that kind of national prominence again and again urge her followers to "reload and aim at Democrats" in fundraising messages and get away with it?
Awww... isn't that cute how they made each of the targets a GUN'S CROSSHAIRS? Look at #4.
That is NOT ok.
Look, I'm not claiming that this borderline seditious graphic designed to solicit donations from poor people towards their political enemies is linked to the terrible tragedy caused by Jared Lee Loughner's violent crime. That would be as dangerous as the bile and populist rage drummed up by these people on a daily basis. But how is this organization, and sorry folks, it IS an organization, able to get away with all of this violent imagery without being checked on it on a daily basis? The idea is to be controversial, because controversial sells, but at some point all of that controversy becomes dangerous to the national climate.
We've been there for awhile.
This isn't a bunch of hilariously and sadly mis-spelled signs, or people not really realizing what "tea bagging" has become in the popular lexicon. This is not people in doofy uncle sam outfits or protesting at paying taxes for vital municipal services. "An illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority and tending to cause the disruption or overthrow of the government." That's sedition.
There's no "just kidding" or "We didn't mean THAT." with this level of angry populism. When you stir up the angry mob and start talking about the right to bear pitchforks and torches, what do you think is going to happen?
Sarah Palin, and every figurehead in the Tea Party movement put a gun's crosshairs on Gabby Giffords, as well as anybody else that is perceived to be in the way.
It's not funny, it's dangerous.
And no matter how repugnant I find their views, no matter how wrong and misguided they may be, I will defend their right to free speech. But falsely shouting fire in a crowded movie theatre over and over again should not be considered free speech, and when people start getting shot it might be time to look at the bigger problem.
Charles Manson never actually killed any of those people, he just told his followers who were the enemies and where they lived.
(note: I originally wrote this for The Huffington Post, but am posting it here because of the time sensitivity.)