"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Jan 8, 2011

Words and Violence

Sarah Palin's "targeted list" did not kill anyone. Whether or not she acts like a contemptible douchebag who panders to the manufactured fears, and the worst instincts, of easily manipulated jacques, she did not put a gun in the Arizona shooter's hand. She did not develop his apparent paranoia. She did not program him to kill anyone. She did not produce his rambling YouTube videos. She has probably never met him, or heard of him until today.

"Vitriol" does not give a person the capacity to kill, or the incapacity to empathize with one's intended victim.

Violence - the capacity for violence - pre-exists its so-called incitements. The ability to do harm pre-exists the ability to believe lies. It probably predates human language, as a matter of evolution, and as a result of modern existence. As most parents will tell, a baby understands rage and frustration long before she can speak or comprehend her parents' words. Frustration - and the violent emotional expression of the same - does not arise in reaction to the alleged provocations embedded in the mere veneer of language. It takes a tremendous arrogance - and a blindness to suffering - to assume that the words cause the frustration, cause the hurt, cause the mind damaging harm. The rage exists long before it comes into contact with its so-called provocations.

And that fact, friends, the fetishists of power rush to obscure.

To capacity to do harm exists as a human one.

Perhaps only the conceit of a self-deceptive civilization could presume otherwise, could assume that words, disconnected from the already extant feelings, rages and frustrations of thwarted lives, have a magic power to transform women and men into murdering monsters.

That very civilization persists by grinding up, thwarting, raping, robbing, pillaging, burning, bombing, policing, imprisoning, educating, owning, degrading and otherwise humiliating the many who serve the few. Frustration and rage condition the multitudes, because the lives we live and the brains through which we perceive the world suffer harm, obstruction, depression and dehumanization as native functions of the civilizational claims to our existences.

We live as subjects of power.

Power which invests tremendous treasure - our own stolen labor, and the wealth created by those who came before us - in breaking us to obedience.

Can you think of a better, more primal, more appropriate reaction to this all-consuming maw of civilization than rage and frustration? Than the desire to strike down those who rule?

I can't.

And I know why those who rule, and those who apologize for them, cannot think of anything worse...


Landru said...

Well, it's been real, Jack. Be well.

Jack Crow said...


I just read your own post. I'm not responding to you, if that matters, but to something shown on the Boston NBC affiliate after the Jets-Colts game, blaming Sarah Palin's election target for this man's actions.

We don't agree, I imagine - but I've no animosity to you, or to your own argument.

With respect,


Landru said...

We've coexisted in mutual respect. I trust (and did, when I commented) that if you were responding to me, you'd have linked me, or at least otherwise said so.

DPirate said...

That guy trying to get people to read his blog or something?

I think a much more appropriate reaction is to focus on civilization. The people at the top of it may be assholes, but really they are as much prisoners as the rest of us. Earth needs a reboot. It'll get it, and we won't be here for round two.

Jack Crow said...

No, D. Much respect to Landru. It was, if I read him correctly, his way of rather politely disagreeing with me. He has his complicities, to quote BDR, and I have mine. I think we understand each other by way of an emotional Venn diagram which describes what overlaps and what does not.

As for civilization - I don't know of any solution.

davidly said...

Incitement to violence and murder is part of the job description of the offices she's sought and seeks. Not that that makes it right, by my estimation, but still.

Jack Crow said...


an unpopular sentiment, I imagine, but no less accurate for all that



Richard said...

Sarah Palin and the Tea Party scene now find themselves in the position of Wilmer at the end of The Maltese Falcon, a scapegoat is needed to deflect the public from more troubling reflections upon the relationship of US violence at home and abroad, and, like Wilmer, they have conducted themselves in such a way as to make the accusation credible. Indeed, like Wilmer, they are not scapegoats, they are complicit in the legitimization of our government's violence, but they are merely minor players in a much larger enterprise.

Jack Crow said...


Brilliant insight. The spectacular media organs did not miss a beat. From shooting ----> Palin, without a pause. Pre-packaged narrative?



Michael- said...

"Incitements" and human natures co-exist: each playing off each other, in feedback loops of actualization. To excuse Palin's (implicit) call to violence, or to ignore the very real affect it had on the killer is to miss the complexity inherent to the situation Jack.

I agree with much of what you say Jack, and truly no disrespect, but humans are not islands to themselves; we exist enmeshed in webs of significance and generate our behaviors from the confluence of social and personal realities.

Her "targeting" of Gabrielle deeply influenced the killer. That cannot be explained away, no matter how much we want to appeal to individualism as the master trope of responsibility.

Jack Crow said...

Show the connection, Michael. Show the influence. Don't imply it. Don't presume it. Don't tell it.

Show me.

Show me how exactly Sarah Palin's digital flyer for the targeting of campaign districts for electoral defeat "influenced" Mr. Loughner into murdering six people.

The exact way it happened.

Your claim is your burden to prove, not mine to assume for you.

Jack Crow said...

I have seen Mrs. Palin's poster. I did not shoot anyone today.

I have read Bakunin (armed uprising), Marx (revolution), Gramsci (uprising), Red Emma (armed uprising, revolution), Lucy Parsons (the murder of the rich), Alexander Berkman (armed uprising).

I have never shoot anyone in the head. Ever.

I have listened to Barack Obama (sky robot and fiat assassination ordering murderer), George Bush (warmongering butcher), Rush Limbaugh (racist, hypocrite, warhawk), Liddy (fascist agitator), Reagan (warmongering B actor, wetwork promoting friend of fascists), She Who Must Not Be Named (Falklands, fiat murders), Bill Clinton (cruise missile commander in chief, and the shameless, brutal destroyer of Beograde) and Janet Reno (murderer of children).

I have never committed a single one of their acts.

I have read Mein Kampf. I did not become a Nazi racist. I have read Golda Meir's Autobiography. I did not become a Zionist Fascist.

I have listened to hours and hours of CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and cable news programming. I have not shot anyone in the head.


insane veri-word: supsyco

Michael- said...

the poster (and website) did not cause him to shoot - it added ideological (psychological, moral) force to his desire to shoot. "influence" is not either/or, but AND. It is the combination of factors that led Loughner to kill.

In your case, there factors don't line up - hence Palin's posters provide relatively no influence on you in terms of 'pushing' you to decide to act in messed up ways. But you are not Loughner. You can't generalize human susceptibility to influence by your own (strong) capacity to think for yourself. MANY people are profoundly influenced by ideology.

You combine Loughner, X, Y and Z - and a Palin call to target, "take out" or otherwise eliminate Gabrielle - and the tipping point might just have been murder.

Again, causality is never a simply issue, especially when considering subconscious and conscious dynamics, but there are mountains of empirical evidence to demonstrate that "ideology" (and implicit signals) DO impact people's consciousness, especially unstable people, and catalyze behavior.

Look at John Lennon's murderer, his literary influences are well documented and his personal journals indicate the profound impact they had on his thinking.

But if you want to justify Palin's "targeting" as completely ineffectual, and assert that all people are immune to suggestibility then that's an uphill (unsupported by research) 'battle' you will have to fight.

Palin didn't "cause" him to shoot, but her ideology and implicit signals DOES have an impact on those who worship her.

Jack Crow said...

The problem with writing in the wee hours with an already Stoopid Brain, michael, and a case of insomnia - is that sometimes I don't re-read before I hit the "publish" button. My first reply to you seems really, really hostile.

I'm sorry about that. I was looking to question the underlying assumption that rhetoric directly causes people to act, not mouth off like an angry asshat.

Please accept my apologies.

David K Wayne said...

Although I agree that it's dumb to directly blame Palin for the shooter, words and images DO have an influence. She's sold herself as a 'spokesperson' for deluded, hate-mongering liars and along with Fox news made the craziness 'mainstream' (therefore redefining the 'centre'). It's the dark art of propaganda. It's ideology. It sets one class/race/gender of person against another, desensitizes us to widespread suffering and REAL government atrocity, turns catastrophic wars into points of 'principle' and renders 'democracy' a babbling hall of mirrors where one mound of bullshit competes with another on certain (media) terms.

I'm personally disturbed by how many people I meet who configure their 'own' ideas according to what newspapers/TV confirm to them day in, day out. Not only did it give us (the UK) this government, it also directly led to the right-wing madness of the previous one. It also confirms to the affluent and stupid what a jolly good thing it is.

We all respond differently to certain stimulus (some of the books I own wouldn't look good to suspicious cops!), but 'they' still spend billions to create consensus among certain audiences. Not least their century-long efforts to atomize and confuse collective frustration and alienation. That 'consensus' just feeds on itself in a self-confirming loop. Its always 'sold' (and obscured) western imperialism, and its also led to genocide in the case of Nazi germany Rwanda etc. As much as religion (if not more), it takes a certain amount of intellectual strength to think outside its inoctrination.

Michael- said...

No problem Jack. You are a passionate fellow, and I appreciate that above all else. Even in disagreement I can respect your views.

And, to be fair, you have a solid point about individual choice and responsibility - only, like i already said above, humans are not islands; we are vulnerable to myriad of influences. Rhetoric NEVER “directly causes” people to do horrid things, but it does influence.

davidly said...

michael- is right that Palin's words make a difference in society and can even be a tipping point.

Jack is more right that ordering soldiers to kill is less responsible and can also be the tipping point in an imperial nation's collective consciousness.

So, in theory, Palin and the president share the responsibility, though I'd say the latter has caused much more avoidable innocent murder.

But I think Jack summarized it better in the post.

Michael- said...

davidly, agreed.

Maybe it's the whole culture of insanity (systemic killing, random killing, bank-dominating, etc, etc, etc,.) that we are swimming in, that is beginning to reach a tipping point?

Loughner, Palin, and Obama are symptoms of a much larger pathology...

See more context re causality: here

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin is the perfect anti-matter to the ...err, ahhh... matter ...as it were... of Barack Obama and The Transcendent Bipartisan Biracial Post-Bigotry Post-Redneck Transubstantiation of the Willing and Sacred... the Democrats.

She has fuck-all to do with people getting shot in Arizona or anywhere else she isn't presently standing and firing a weapon.

I find the extent to which I'll like or admire a person is pretty quickly indicated by his or her public statements about Sarah Palin -- how her name is said, in what context.