Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords was targeted by Sarah Palin's Don't Retreat, Reload Map

Source: Telegraph

This image was pulled from Sara Palin's Facebook page.
Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic congresswoman, was shot in the head at point blank range by a gunman who opened fire on a public meeting that she was holding in Tucson, Arizona today. At least 11 others including some of her staff members were reported to have been injured, some seriously, and there were reports that between four and six people had died. There were conflicting reports over whether Miss Gifford had herself been killed.

On March 23, Sarah Palin tweeted "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead -RELOAD!' Pls see my Facebook page." and posted a map on her Facebook page. The map included images of gun sights to identify 20 House Democrats who were seeking reelection and were vulnerable because they backed the new health care law.

Congresswoman Giffords is a gun-owner and supporter of the right to bear arms.

UPDATE Jan 10: Giffords was asked about Palin's map shortly after it was posted and she made these statements in an appearance on MSNBC.

"We're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is that the way she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action."

Chuck Todd mentioned on of the arguments that has been made frequently, "In fairness, campaign rhetoric and war rhetoric have been interchangeable for years."

Giffords responded, "In the years that some of my colleagues have served, 20-30 years, they've never seen it like this."

Savannah Guthrie asked Giffords, "Are you concerned that Democrats might be using this as a political opportunity?"

Giffords responded, "I don't think of it that way. That's certainly not what we're doing."

Giffords appeared on The Daily Rundown on MSNBC.

UPDATE Jan 10: Palin posted a statement on her Facebook page: My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice. -Sarah Palin

UPDATE Jan 10: The Arizona Star reported that Jessy Kelly, Gifford's opponent held a campaign event that invited supporters to shoot an M16. Kelly's website has a stern-looking photo of the former Marine in military garb holding his weapon. It includes the headline: "Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly."

UPDATE Jan 10: This Talking Points Memo article reports that an aide to Sarah Palin claims the crosshairs depicted in her now-infamous target list of Democrats were not actually gun-sights, and that it's "obscene" and "appalling" to blame Palin for the shooting.

UPDATE Jan 11: Palin herself referred to the crosshairs on her map as "bullseye" icons in a Nov 4 tweet, "Remember months ago 'bullseye' icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin' incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate;T'aint bad)"

UPDATE Jan 11: On Monday, Glenn Beck told his radio audience that Palin sent him a message in which she said:

"I hate violence. I hate war. Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence. Thanks for all you do to send the message of truth and love and God as the answer."

Other Examples Of Gun Images Used In Political Discourse:

This political campaign ad is called "Dead Aim" and ran in West Virginia.
Last fall, to show his separation from President Obama, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) aired a television commercial that included footage of him firing a rifle shot into a copy of the cap-and-trade energy bill that was pinned, targetlike, on a tree.

On Monday, Manchin said he probably wouldn't use the ad in today's post-Tucson environment and called for the nation to come together. About the ad, he said, "The act of a deranged madman who commits a horrific act should not and cannot be confused with a metaphor about a piece of legislation. I have never targeted an individual, and I never would."

A Wall Street Journal blog reported that Obama said the following at a campaign rally in June of 2008:

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said at a Philadelphia fundraiser Friday night. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

The following violent quotes come from The Democratic Strategist blog and are not substantiated by links to actual news stories:

Sharron Angle: "second amendment remedies".

Rush Limbaugh: "I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus--living fossils--so we we'll never forget what these people stood for."

Ann Coulter: "My only regret with Tim McVeigh is that he did not go to the New York Times building"

Glen Beck: "Hang on, let me just tell you what I'm thinking. I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could."

Eric Erickson ( "At what point do [people] get off the couch, march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?"

Michael Savage: "I say round liberals up and hang em' high. When I hear someone's in the civil rights business, I oil up my AR-25."

Dick Morris: "Those crazies in Montana who say 'we're going to kill ATF agents because the UN's going to take over.' Well, they're beginning to have a case."

G. Gorden Liddy (broadcasting advice on how to kill law enforcement officers): "...head-shots, they are wearing body armor, head shots... or shoot for the groin."

UPDATE Jan 11: My Opinion Several Days After The Shooting:

First of all, my heart goes out to those who were personally affected by this tragedy and all who morn the loss of those who were killed. I wish Gabby Giffords a speedy recovery and I hope she is eventually able to regain her speech and motor skills and she can return to serving her country if that is her desire.

I also want to acknowledge that these metaphorical slogans are quite creative and they have probably resulted in a significant increase in voter turnout. I also want to make it abundantly clear that the violent rhetoric mentioned in this article is protected in the US as "Free Speech". I believe that that nothing illegal has happened and everybody has the right to say these types of things. The First Amendment gives Sarah Palin and others the right to free speech and protects the "Don't Retreat, Raload" rhetoric. Freedom of speech is generally protected unless the speaker intends to incite a violation of the law that is both imminent and likely. See the Supreme Court Ruling in Brandenburg v. Ohio regarding the Imminent Lawless Action test that is applied to First Amendment protection of free speech.

Since Palin has not ruled out a run for president in 2012, I think she has a responsibility to issue some sort of statement condemning the shooter and the events in Tucson and I think she needs to openly admit that her map uses the image of gun sights. I believe that her silence on this issue is interpreted by most people as cowardice and that she cannot be taken seriously as a political candidate. I believe that her silence and refusal to respond to these challenges could cost her more political capital than the map and violent rhetoric did in the first place. In my view, this incident puts Palin firmly in the category of political commentator and completely eliminates her as a serious contender for any political office. She has reached a point, at least in my mind, where she is no more than an entertainer who can be compared to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

I don't think Jared Loughner was directly motivated by Sarah Palin or anybody else's violent rhetoric. I think he was just a very disturbed, chemically imbalanced and mentally unstable individual. His decision to go on a shooting during Giffords' public appearance probably had little to do with the violent rhetoric he heard from radio, TV and print media. But I can guarantee that this violent rhetoric didn't help matters at all. I think Tucson's top lawman, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said it best,

"I'd just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths, about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous."

You can read more about Dupnik at CBC.

And finally, I wish that our nation didn't have to repeatedly suffer through these types of manicures in places like Columbine and Virginia Tech. I feel that these senseless acts of murder and destruction all could have been prevented, and I wish more people had reached out to Jared Loughner and the other shooters to help them through their problems. Lives could have been spared if somebody had offered Loughner more support and psychological help when he exhibited signs of dangerous behavior. Many people saw the warning signs, and it appears that everybody dealt with Loughner's scary behavior by expelling him from school and blocking him from virtually all interaction with society. As healthy and wealthy members of society we can do much better to help those who are less healthy and less wealthy.

UPDATE Jan 12: Sarah Palin posted a video on her Facebook page in which she lashed out at critics for manufacturing "blood libel" with claims she bore some responsibility for the attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

Palin's choice of words is apparently offensive because "blood libel" is a term used in connection with anti-semetic rhetoric. The blood libel myth dates back to the 12th century, when Jews were first falsely accused of kidnapping Christian children to re-enact the martyrdom of Jesus Christ. Throughout history it was used to justify violence against Jews, from pogroms to the Holocaust.

UPDATE Jan 17: Sarah Palin appeared on Sean Hannity's show.

This is Palin's first television appearance since the shootings.

Palin said that her use of "blood libel" referred to those "falsely accused of having blood on their hands."

Palin and Hannity also discussed this Targeting Strategy map on as an example of how Democrats and liberals have used similar gun terminology.

Palin vowed to keep speaking out with her message that the country is headed in the wrong direction and she says "They're not going to shut me up."


  1. Back in June 2010, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's Republican opponent Jesse Kelly had an event at which voters could shoot an assault rifle with the candidate, promoted as thus: “Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.’ It is believed by friends of the family that Loughner attended that event.

  2. Bahasan, thanks for your comment. This must be newsworthy, but I haven't seen it mentioned on popular sites or TV. Could you possibly offer a source for your information? I would love to read more about this.


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