Shut up or I will kill you

That is the message being clearly repeated by defeated Tea Party activists, and it is not all words.

Some time over the last couple of days, Tea Party activist Harry Weisiger, of Nashville Tennessee apparently tried to kill an adult male and a ten year old girl because they were driving in a car with an Obama/Biden bumper sticker. (source) Is this the follow up on the threats encouraged by Michele Bachmann last fall, which led violent-tending morons like my close personal friend Josh the Tea Bagger to show up at Obama rallies "armed and dangerous" (see this)?

There are so many ironies associated with this recent spate of Tea Bagging that it is hard to keep track. We have seen recent stories and polls indicating that the average tea bagger does not want government involvement in health care, but does want whatever government handouts he or she can get. We see Michele Bachmann and others accusing Democrats of inciting the violence that clearly and overtly Bachmann and others have been inciting themselves over the last two years.

And everywhere we see chickens. Coming home. Roosting.

Over the next few months, as we approach the election season, this violence is likely to continue and to increase in frequency. Eventually someone sympathetic: a child, a cute person, a mother of four, whatever, is going to get killed by a teabagger. That death will be added to the security guard gunned down last year and those who died in the air plane attack on the IRS offices just a few weeks ago, and to the reproductive health workers who have been killed over the last few years, and eventually people will start to weave together, in their minds, a pattern that matches the reality our society has been in partial denial of over the last few months: There is absolutely no difference between Harry Weisiger, Timothy McVeigh, and Michele Bachmann other than the body count they are directly responsible for.

No difference.

Do you have a bumper sticker on your car that might enrage one of these misanthropic criminals? Well, my advice to you is to either prepare to be the recipient of political violence, or .... shut up.

I wonder what will happen in my neighborhood when people start putting the bumper stickers of whoever is selected to run against Osama bin Bachmann?

Hey.... that gives me an idea for a bumper sticker...

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When actual domestic terrorists, all of them rightwing, threaten or attack, the police are nowhere to be found.

But let a progressive wear a teeshirt that makes fun of Bush or Cheney, and the police will arrest him, book him, let him make bail, then over time drop some or all of the charges, or coerce him into pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit in order to win his freedom, leaving him with an arrest record at least, and maybe a conviction.

No cop will speak up about his department throwing in with the wrong side, so all their hands are dirty, every single one.

By Rose Colored Glasses (not verified) on 26 Mar 2010 #permalink

I'll second Rose on that.

Heck, the Rethugricans have made heroes of traitors & crooks like Ollie North & G. Gordon Liddy for years. How much of a stretch is it really to include Timothy McVeigh and David Koresh in their hall of fame?

I think it's high time somebody found some quotes from McVeigh, Koresh, Bachmann, and Coulter and did a "Who Said That?" contest.

Comparing Obama to Hitler makes absolutely no sense at all. I mean, it's real forgot-your-meds irrational. But the rhetoric of the violent right wingers and our right-wing pols is pretty much of a set.

Donna, you're talking to the wrong people. When you find me examples of people attacking the tea partiers, I'll worry about the left-wing hyperbole. Until then, I'll assume the audience can handle the miniscule amounts being dealt here.

The right-wing, on the other hand, clearly can't deal with what they're being handled. Go deal with that if you want a right-wing party left to align yourself with. Now.

Donna B. ... we clearly disagree on this, and you're wrong and I'm right. Michele O.B. Bachmann is no less connected to the growing teabagging rhetoric and violence than her namesake Osama is, though they are on a different scale and Michele is late to the game. A car is considered a deadly weapon. Michele Bachmann really did instruct her followers to show up at political events armed with guns. Yes, this really is a case of shut up or I'll kill you.

But, I do want to tell you that I respect your opinion and I especially appreciate the fact that you are not an anonymous sock puppet who just showed up to throw around shit. If people don't like what you say here, they can visit your blog and check it out and maybe find areas of agreement, or even disagreement. So I appreciate that.

Do you have a bumper sticker on your car that might enrage one of these misanthropic criminals

Luckily I live in a baby-eating-socialist-commie-hippy town, so I'm more worried about pissing off some kombucha*-drinking-homeopath-loving-BO-infested-vegan. Luckily there biggest weapon is "intent" they may try to place on my water supply, or maybe some distance-unhealing

*I actually like kombucha, though. I don't beleive it has much more medicinal value than vinegar ('cause that's what it essentially is) but it can be refreshing.

Shut up or I will kill you

It works, too. Look at how far the Overton window has already moved. Compare and contrast Minneapolis in 2008 with Chicago in 1968 on the "tolerance of free speech" front [1]. Look at how easy to cow the would-be protesters are today.

We've been well-prepared for this by two full generations of "stranger danger," kids-wrapped-in-cotton, risk-aversion training all across the social spectrum. Take a survey of bumper stickers, then put the word out that there are faceless nutcases who will use an RPG on a car with an UnAmerican bumper sticker. Resurvey.

Once the most aggressive have silenced any opposition, it doesn't take long to shift the general public into compliance. It's happened plenty of times before and we're well along the road now (as witness the remarkable lack of challenge that flagrant lies encounter.)

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 26 Mar 2010 #permalink

The media is going to keep the average person from figuring out who's inciting the violence. Yesterday on NBC nightly news, they equated the death threats by teabaggers to someone calling a Republican congressman a racist. And, guess which one they read on the air?

Here's one I found:

"Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system? I hope it doesn't come to that, but it might."

Bachmann, Coulter, or McVeigh?

Interestingly, searching for McVeigh quotes brought up quotes by Ann Coulter. Here's one:

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

D. C. Sessions, I'm waiting for your footnote...

Moving from the New York City suburbs where I've lived all my life to the relatively safe, reliably blue, ex-NYer, old fart section of southeastern Florida within two weeks, I have definitely had concerns about my bumper stickers when I drive through the Carolinas, Georgia, and northern Florida.
I'll be staying overnight at a South Carolina motel and plan to park rear in and take my chances.

My 2009 Altima is festooned with a Darwin Fish plaque, an FSM plaque (no teabagger would figure that one out, but they'd know it was evil), a small rainbow flag sticker with the words 'Proud Ally' on it, and a regulation-sized bumper sticker 'Another Straight Person for Gay Rights'.

If I make it through Georgia alive, you'll see me on Facebook as soon as I hook up my computer.
But NO RABID ASSHATS will cow me into hiding who I am.

By czarina flo g (not verified) on 26 Mar 2010 #permalink

Flo, I don't think you'll have a problem in Georgia, and if you are staying mostly coastal, you'll probably be OK.

Except for South Carolina.

Maybe Lou will chime in here with some more specific advice? Or, he can meet you in North Carolina and escort you to the Georgia line?


D. C. Sessions, I'm waiting for your footnote...

Oops. Comment edit FAIL -- it turned into the following sentence and I didn't pull the reference.

OT: pseudonymity is one of those things. Anyone who really wants to figure out my alternate 'nyms (this is my meatspace name) just needs to look for the footnotes. I'm not hard to identify.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 26 Mar 2010 #permalink

Not too many people were talking about this back in November--the obvious problem is that the masses weren't as large then, and they were't as deranged as they are now. However, there were some, even on the right, who were beginning to speak out against the right-wing terrorists. On an episode of Rachel Maddow in November, Franklin Schaeffer talked about the murder of Dr. George Tiller, and about Psalm 109:8, which is being plastered everywhere. It reads: âLet his days be few; and let another take his office.â The verse immediately following says: âLet his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.â

So this has been building for quite some time. Some people haven't wanted to appear to be Chicken Little, so a lot of them didn't bother to say much at the time, but now the extreme right-wing hate is in critical mass, and it's going to get worse before it end, and might end in a great deal of blood.

(Link to YouTube and Rachel Maddow clip:…)

People are inciting violence, what with carrying guns everywhere, using emotionally-charged epithets, and there is no one who will do anything about it, at least not evident yet. There is supposed to be a Tea Party/Palinite rally tomorrow in Harry Reid's hometown of Searchlight, Nevada tomorrow, with allegedly 10,000 people. Now most of us know that they likely won't get anything near that in numbers, but the town of Searchlight has a population of 800, and even 1000 people coming is likely to strain their resources. The town is essentially a one street town, and there are only 2 hotels, neither of which can sustain a group of even that size (1000), and there are limited RV hookups as well. I feel certain that there will be a great deal of tension that will likely be so brittle a pin drop could break it. We will have to see what develops.

Seriously... someone is worried about driving through S. Carolina because of a bumper sticker? Worry about the drunks and sleepy drivers.

And don't speed. VA and SC both are unforgiving for that in the same way that Chicago and DC are unforgiving about proper parking.

It's a matter of personal taste, but I will never put a bumper sticker for/against anything on my car. I think all of them are tacky.

Stephanie Z -- I make similar comments regarding right wing hyperbole on right wing sites... and get responses similar to yours. I'm equally offended by both sides. It's a toss-up whether I'd use the Glen Beck or Keith Olbermann show as an emetic.

Greg -- one of the reasons I keep reading here is because you're so upfront about being right all the time. :-)

Seriously... someone is worried about driving through S. Carolina because of a bumper sticker?

See, it works.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 26 Mar 2010 #permalink

D.C - it works as a joke. At least I'm giggling. You want fear? Try I64 through the mountains in foggy weather. Or I20 across W Texas when the sight of another human (regardless his ideology) is comforting.

Fake fear, fake bravery. Worthy of mockery.

Greg, I haven't read through the comments, but the post disgusts me. At least in terms of the dipshits who are carrying firearms. While I am a gun toting redneck, I am not of their political thought. I am a bit more of a liberal gun toting redneck. Yes, it is an oxymoron, I may be the outlier on the data points. But, even though I am far from the crap that you are discussing, and evidently there are some teabaggers(salad tossers) here, I don't subscribe to their crap.

I believe someone rattled my chain...

I'm happy to do escort duty through the Tarheel state, but I don't guarantee that it'll do anyone much good.

Oh, whoops. Reading comprehension FAIL on my part. It's been awhile since I've scooted through our evenmorepsychotic neighbor to the south, I'm not sure what advice to offer other than, "keep your head down and watch the rearview".

The Carolinas are beautiful, it's a shame they're so systemically infected with the jesus virus. J'ville is on my last nerve, frankly. With the exception of the college campus, it's sickening. I spend as much time on campus as I can these days. I'm hoping all the time I'm about to spend in Wilmington will be somewhat refreshing, being a Uni town and all.

...of course, the last time I was on campus at Dub was to see that smug lying sack of shit, Michael Behe, so take that for what it's worth.

Lou: Maybe you can just tailgate flo really close so no one can see her bumper stickers.

BGT: I do wish gun owners would understand that while a hefty number of progressives/liberals would like to see fewer guns, or even see guns just dry up and blow away like dust, that does not mean that the same number of progressives/liberals really care about serious gun restrictions. We are very annoyed by the complete evisceration of virtually any effort to keep track of things and limit the absurd ease with which guns can be acquired and accessed, but this really is not a satanic toboggan slide into some sort of gun-free hell.

We just want all five year old girls to be trained that they always take the first shot with the "toy" gun their dad left on the coffee table at their father, before assuming it is a toy. Darwinian processes and all that.

But actually, the point I wanted to make is that many liberal/progressive people are gun owners/hunters etc.

You're tarring a whole group of people for the kind of cluefree behaviour exhibited by the fringe morons on both sides of the fence. Agree or not with their opinions, there is *zero* evidence that the purported events you're describing are anything other than the idiots that collect at the outskirts of every organization.

There appears to be a concerted effort among the
political Left and many mainstream media people to demonize and marginalize the expanding citizen-based movement known as the tea party movement. This effort flows from both a fear of what these tea parties represent and a contempt for everyday Americans. But those ordinary citizens are poised to be the ones laughing when itâs all over, when democracy takes its course.

There seems to be a consensus now among the liberal elite when it comes to the tea parties. Senior administration officials deride them, as do liberal congressional Democrats. These elitists characterize the tea partiers as extremists, some drawing analogies between these ordinary citizens and right-wing militias, fanatics, and religious zealots. Some members of Congress are even saying that these tea party people are racist, which is pretty much the worst label that can be slapped on you in modern politics.

And many leftist talking heads in the media parrot this message, with their own biting editorial, adding that some in the tea party crowd are dangerous. Some talking heads, including some Hollywood actors and others who donât seem to have any credentials as policy analysts but are nonetheless given air time, are really playing up the racism angle, and even suggest that some tea party attendees may be domestic terrorists.

Try the decaf, people.

Agents of big government and their boosters in the mainstream media seem determined to throw cold water on this growing grassroots movement that is a reaction to the Obama administrationâs power grab of the growth and expansion of this countryâs central government.

Thereâs a great deal of diversity among tea party people. Some just want lower taxes, and some also want less regulation. Still others are pro-life voters or Christian conservatives that also want fiscal responsibility. Many others push for conservative judges, while still others hold up signs calling for a restoration of American sovereignty, or protecting Americaâs borders, or defeating cap and trade or card check.

But they all have two things in common: They all want smaller government, and oppose the trampling of the Constitution embodied in these efforts to radically expand the size and scope of government. And as part of that desire, they want this utterly-ludicrous spending binge to end before it bankrupts all of us.

Thereâs nothing extremist about that agenda, because common sense is never extreme.

Are there some people attending tea party rallies who are intemperate in their remarks? Sure. Whenever you get tens of thousands of regular folks together, youâll always get a few who makes comments that they should reconsider. Even then, nothing weâve seen is worse than the truly outrageous statements that weâve heard from the Left in recent years about President Bush or Republicans.

Having been engaged in many gatherings of the tea party crowd, itâs offensive that many in the mainstream media are engaging in a systematic effort to marginalize American citizens who are simply trying to take a stand for individual libertyâa stand in opposition to big-government expansion. Also one of us speaking as an African-American (Blackwell), itâs especially insulting to suggest that these peopleâs opposition to President Obama is driven by racism.

Americaâs history of grassroots activism goes back to the founding of our republic. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people includes as a necessary element those same average, ordinary people being able to gather and speak out. This freedom to assemble was considered so essential to a free nation that our Founders put it in the First Amendment, right alongside the freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Ironically, these rights are set side-by-side with the freedom of the press, as well. The leftists in the media would do well to remember that their liberty to be a free press comes from the same constitutional amendment as the tea party crowdâs liberty to gather together.

And our elected leaders would do well to remember that the First Amendment exists to protect average people from the government, not the other way around.

By Themisticles (not verified) on 26 Mar 2010 #permalink

There was more than a little hyperbole in my stated concerns of driving through So. Carolina, although I'll remember to make the irony broader next time ~ and certainly the Harry Weisiger incident should sober rational minds a tad.

However, in the late 90's when I traversed the same route to visit my Dad in southeastern Florida; that time not alone but with my ex-husband, a black man; we had numerous incidents of aggressive tailgating, cutting off, racial slurs shouted out of windows and a nice keying at a convenience store.
I admit many NYers have a jaundiced view of the South, and I am guilty of this prejudice, though fully aware that it is a prejudice.

My 'fear' may have been partially exaggerated for the purposes of my initial blog comment, but my bravery, as well as my reality-checks, are quite real; thank you.

Thanks for the fun suggestion, Greg, of having Lou (do I know him; even in an 'Internet way'?) escort me through the nasty fundamentalist wilds along I95, lol, and thanks, Lou, for the gallant tongue-in-cheek positive response.

By czarina flo g (not verified) on 26 Mar 2010 #permalink

Greg, my seven year old already has been trained not to point even toy guns at something they do not want to go away forever (killed).

Believe me, I well understand your frustrations that crazy people also get to keep firearms as well. I grew up in MS, so I have seen plenty of folks that should have had any sharp objects, much less a firearm, or even fireworks. (insert redneck joke that includes "hey yall, watch this!!)

Having firearms in the house is something akin to being an owner of a nuclear weapon. Thankfully, I don't have a son, I have a daughter. There isn't as much pressure on them here, and they get the usual girls can't handle dangerous items.

When mine is older, I will teach her proper firearms safety, and hopefully how to be a good marks-woman. If she isn't a good shot, at least she will understand the safety aspects, and will be able to understand when she is around someone who is an idiot. I can't stop all of them, but at least I can teach her not to be one, and to get the hell out of dodge when she does encounter the classic redneck idiot.

Flo, if you don't know Lou you need to know Lou.

And, yes, as a fellow new yorker who traveled through the south (in a VW type 3, as hippies, in the 70s, for example) I totally get what you are saying. It isn't really an exaggeration to say that your bumper stickers are dangerous. But you obviously don't expect to actually get harassed for that. But over time,there are circumstances that bring on more trouble, and there are rare things that happen .. rarely. This conversation shouldn't even be happening. I think that's the key point. We should not have to even worry a little about this, and the fact that we do is unacceptable.

Greg @ 30

very much in agreement

I partly agree with Themisticles, in that it is grossly inaccurate to tar everyone with a particular political viewpoint with the brush of the most extreme and vicious.

In my experience the rank and file on both sides of the political spectrum can be quite bigoted and intolerant. You'll get some people on the right saying that anyone who supports expanding government programs or gun control is obviously a barely disguised Stalinist who wants to turn the USA into a totalitarian dictatorship. Then you'll get some people on the left saying that anyone who supports a continuing US military presence in Iraq or Afghanistan is obviously a bloodthirsty imperialist who wants to kill as many people as possible, or that anyone who is opposed to government welfare programs is a cold-hearted monster who enjoys the sight of people starving in the streets. Both of these are equally absurd and insulting as far as I'm concerned.

What does bother me is that some elected officials and media personalities are using paranoid rhetoric and even hinting at the possibility of violence in a way that I would normally expect only from the fringe. That's almost criminally irresponsible. It's also entirely disproportionate to the disputes at hand. It's not difficult to explain why you are opposed to, say, the new healthcare plans without going into paranoia about plots to ruin the country and practically threatening violence if you don't get your way.

I might have missed something, but I don't remember hearing about Bush or Cheney or other prominent Republicans getting a massive increase in death threats over the Iraq war, in spite of how much they were (and are) hated. I don't remember any significant Democratic politicians or media figures hinting that that blood might need to be shed to stop them from carrying out their policies. There was some paranoia and threats of violence, but I don't think it came from elected officials or media types with a national audience. It seems to me like some of the Republicans now have escalated partisan differences to a higher level, a level that has not been seen at the national level for many decades, probably since the 1930s at least.

In my experience the rank and file on both sides

but there are more than two sides. Or parts, anyway. The teabaggers are part of the spectrum that explicity advocates threatening langauge and violence. It is not that just some of them do it. They all do it. That is what they are, the ones who do that. That's they call themselves teabaggers (they link themselves to dressing up as indians and going down to the harbor, taking other people's property, and polluting the harbor with it and beating up a few security guards along the way).

Sorry, Greg, you're wrong here.

I'm not particularly a sympathizer with the tea party agenda (though I do agree about the need for government to restrict itself to constitutional limits, which both parties have violated).

But the thing is, you don't have *any* evidence, whatsoever, to support your assertion that *every* member of the tea parties are flat out advocates of violence. There's a lot of shit slung, on all sides, by the morons on the fringes (from both parties), who revel in nothing more than being flaming assholes. That's their stock in trade, and by giving in to it, you diminish your own argument.

I tend toward the independent category. I believe that there are valid points presented by members of all of the participants in our system, and I also believe that there are a whole bunch of clue free dick stains that claim to represent all of the participants in the system.

As an additional note, I'll just say that anyone who depends on the use of a derogatory term for their ideological opponents (teabagger, libtard, rethuglican, hitler, etc.), has voluntarily surrendered any credibility they might otherwise have in their argument.

Every time someone resorts to name calling, it is an unambiguous indication that that person has no real, meaningful, argument about the position they're supporting. Either you can support your position with an intelligent and factually supported discourse, or you're just another 13 year old bully.

By Themisticles (not verified) on 26 Mar 2010 #permalink

But the thing is, you don't have *any* evidence, whatsoever, to support your assertion that *every* member of the tea parties are flat out advocates of violence.

So, the standard is suddenly that every single member of a party (to the extent that one can define membership in a party that, in fact, does not exist) must "flat out" advocate a particular posiiton in order for that position to characterize the party.

No. That is not the standard for ANY position for ANY party anywhere or in history.

I'm right. Sorry, sad that it is true, but I'm right.

See, the thing is, the game is up for the teapartiers. McVeigh is essentially the founding father, and Bachmann, with all four of her defective neurons, is the spiritual leader, and Palin is the fallen hero.

I didn't make it. I didn't break it.

But I can see it.

I'll tell you what.

When you equally condemn the violent rhetoric from every source (Bush is Hitler, Obama is the antichrist, threats against republicans, threats against democrats, etc.), I might be convinced to give you the benefit of the doubt.

See, the thing is, you're attempting to evade the *FACT* that this kind of fringe, extreme, behaviour is endemic among *every* politicized group in the world. Period. End of story.

My point is (and this applies to *all* parties) that you have to *factually* demonstrate that the behaviour that you are condemning is representative of the *majority* of the group (or non group, as it may be) that you're targeting.

And, since you claim to have a scientifically based view of the world, I don't think that it is particularly onerous to require you to present your point of view in scientific fashion.

Show proof.

Provide clear and unambiguous evidence (e.g. actual video rather than a news report) that more than 50% of any particular group (tea party, etc.) is guilty of this kind of eggregious behaviour.

I didn't believe it of the radical 'Bush is Hitler' cretins, and I don't believe it of the tea partiers.

If you truly believe that McVeigh is the 'founding father' of the tea parties, then you also have to believe that the Weather Underground is the founding father of the current administration.

Both of those arguments are pretty specious, and you're a sad little child if you believe either one.

Here's what I see:

I see (in your posts) someone who is ideologically opposed to anyone who does not agree, in toto, with your world view. It is clearly apparent that you cannot conceive of anyone (who you regard as rational) who would disagree with some point of yours.

In that sense, you are no better than the rabid conservatives who blather on about Jesus and 'the awesome' Bush, etc.

Here's what you're missing:

There is some truth on both sides of the aisle. Go ahead, take a deep breath, I know it hurts to admit it at first, but it's about honesty, and it's the first step to true enlightenment.

Additionally, there is a pretty substantial amount of unmitigated bullshit on both sides of the aisle. If you're as smart as you present yourself to be, you should have no trouble making the distinction.

I do not believe that the members of the various tea parties are entirely right. I do not believe that they are entirely wrong, either. If you filter past the noise and the chants, and the occasional moron spewing stupidity, you'll find that there is a grain of truth in their arguments, just as there is a grain of truth in most other postitions, as well.

The belief that one's side is the only one with all the right answers reeks of hubris and is ultimately doomed to failure.

If you truly are a scientist (in spirit if not in fact), you are, by definition, going to have a preference for evidence and fact, backed by unbiased observation. You should use that method in this case, as well, instead of your kneejerk reactions to something you feel compelled to disagree with.

By Themisticles (not verified) on 26 Mar 2010 #permalink

Of course, if scientists actually displayed the degree of sophistication of classification Themisticles is resorting to in her/his attempt to appear loftily above the fray, we'd consider the platypus to be a duck.

Oh, that's clever.

Do you have something against facts?

Or are you one of those who processes their observations through their 'it feels right to me' filter?

Facts are facts. Is that too hard for you to grasp?

I'm not asking for magic. Show me evidence. Clear, unambiguous evidence. You know, like chemistry or physics, or gravity.

If you're making a statement about some event that you witnessed, you should be able to document that clearly and repeatably in a manner that doesn't require suspension of disbelief.

If you're just passing on something you heard from a friend of a friend, I've got an alien landing zone I'd like to sell you.

By Themisticles (not verified) on 26 Mar 2010 #permalink

How about we politely remind conservatives that the second amendment and the right to use lethal force in self-defense apply to both sides?

By Katharine (not verified) on 27 Mar 2010 #permalink

Fuck, but teabaggers are stupid.

I prefer enemies that at least have a brain, even if they're totally deranged. Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are more deserving of respect than these idiots.

By Katharine (not verified) on 27 Mar 2010 #permalink

You call _that_ a bumper sticker?

THIS is a bumper sticker:
(from 1990).

Before that, I had an "Impeach the President" sticker (that was 1973) when I drove across country in my old Peugeot with an Italian 10-speed on the back, full beard, and hair down to my shoulderblades. Before there were so many Interstates, you actually met people when you went on a long drive.

My point is (and this applies to *all* parties) that you have to *factually* demonstrate that the behaviour that you are condemning is representative of the *majority* of the group (or non group, as it may be) that you're targeting.

You're just picking a requirement like that because you know there's no data to support it, or if there is it'll be hard to get to and difficult to interpret (which leads to even more wiggle room, if someone does find it).

That requirement is a red herring anyway. Because membership in the teabagger movement is voluntary, the people who consider themselves teabaggers are implicitly agreeing with the statements of their popularly decided leaders. If their leaders say something they disagree with, the teabaggers can leave the movement or be vocal about their disagreement. Silence means implicit consent.

Because Sarah Palin is one of the leaders of the teabagger movement, when she puts things like this on her official Facebook page, and no teabaggers vocally disapprove of it, that means that they agree with "targetting" Democrat representatives in the next election. That ad is in terrible taste, especially to anyone who understands gun safety - you only put crosshairs on things you intend to kill.

Further, if you look at the postings on teabagger blogs, you get things like this. How many other teabaggers do you see disagreeing in the comments? A few. How many other teabaggers do you see saying "no, this is absolutely wrong - political defeat should never be countered with physical violence"? Almost none. The closest any of them come to disagreeing is "I agree with the sentiment, but we probably shouldn't do this".

So, really, it seems like the teabagger zeitgiest is one of violence. Would you happen to have links to teabagger blogs or articles by teabagger leaders saying something along the lines of "no guys, don't break windows, don't be violent - that's not how you're supposed to do democracy"?

Themisticles, I agree with a lot of what you're saying, which is why I'm disappointed that you're flirting with some name-calling and stereotyping yourself. "Liberal elite" and "elitists" are smears, and they're just as bad as "libtard" or "rethuglican." They're smears because they encapsulate a whole range of false and insulting generalizations about leftists, including and especially the idea that the political left have "contempt for everyday Americans."

First of all, most of the leftists I know are perfectly willing to acknowledge that the tea partiers are a heterogeneous group and that some of them have legitimate concerns. We are not filled with "contempt for everyday Americans." We hold positions which are minority viewpoints in many parts of America, but we are entirely capable of disagreeing with those other Americans while still respecting them as fellow citizens.

More to the point, the political left is made up of "everyday Americans" just as much as the political right and the tea parties and the independents are. There are leftist college professors, sure, but there are also leftist grandmas and leftist Joe Six-Packs (and the leftist professors and reporters count as "ordinary Americans" just as much as the Joe Six-Packs and grandmas do). "Everyday Americans" is one small step away from "real Americans," the Palinesque language which implies that urbanites and leftists (and especially left-wing intellectuals) are 'fake Americans' who have no legitimate right to vote or govern.

I don't think you intended to imply any of those things. In this case, you seem to be applying the terms "liberal elite" and "elitists" to politicians and the media in particular. Even so, many people have used those terms to paint a false and insulting picture of *all* non-conservatives, so they should be off the table in reasonable discussions.

By Brock Samson (not verified) on 27 Mar 2010 #permalink

See, the thing is, you're attempting to evade the *FACT* that this kind of fringe, extreme, behaviour is endemic among *every* politicized group in the world. Period. End of story.

Fact: This is not true.

Fact: This is an example of manufactured balance.

Fact: Manufactured balance is a smokescreen for inappropriate rhetoric and behavior.

Fact: You are wrong, that is all.

Themisticles -

You are full of shit and bluster. You might have a point if Greg was quoting a few guys who are making these sorts of statements from their mom's basement. The problem with your position is that it is the fucking leaders, the voices of the tea baggers, who are advocating violence.

Greg has actually provided very good evidence for making this generalization about the tea baggers. If you think it is an unfair characterization, provide us with examples of leaders and voices of the tea baggers who are speaking out against the rhetoric of violence.

Put up, or shut the fuck up.

As I may have said elsewhere: The progressive movement is occasionally embarrassed by its lunatic fringe; similarly, the lunatic movement is occasionally embarrassed by its conservative fringe.

One of the last public hearing I participated in was in the western North Carolina. I have been to many, as is my job, but this one was like stepping into a teabagger rally. Once the Q&A session opened up, shouts about rights, liberty, and constitution began what was to be a long night. I was called Hitler a couple times. One guy informed us that he brought his guns in his car. The local River Keeper and a guy from some conservation organization were there and they were both repeatedly called treehuggers in a deragotory fashion. Etc, etc, etc.

It was just like being at a rally. I recognized half of everything they shouted as being a talking point from Fox News - it was clear as day.

And what was the hearing for? An extra 5' buffer along some tributaries. One old lady said she would fight until she died to stop an extra 5' buffer. Bull-fucking-shit lady. Those ignorant fools were only as enraged as they are because of the Glenn Becks on the TV world. It's obvious and needs to stop.

You all are crazy! No one is telling the tea party people to go and kill anyone. Oh wait not like Bruce Springsteen who compared bush to Hitler? or said we need to remove bush by any means! Yeah democrats are peace loving hippies who just want to smoke pot and eat granola. Get a life liberals and think for your self.

Killing people isn't the method being used to achieve their goal, which would make them terrorists. Their goal is to kill people by depriving them of healthcare, which makes them murderers.

Slight difference.

Joshua, there is, in fact, a great deal of violent rhetoric coming from even the elected representatives whom the teabaggers claim for their own. There is talk of actively "resisting tyranny," of being "armed and dangerous," of "targeting" legislators who voted for HCR, of fighting "traitors," of "secession" and "civil war."

Now, you can, of course, point to these things and call them merely rhetoric, not intended to be taken literally. You'd even have a point. But only up until the literal violence starts, which it has. Months ago, actually.

When that has happened, when the frenzied followers look up at you after spitting on people, after threatening to shoot them, after throwing bricks through windows, after assaulting people for supporting the "wrong" politicians, then your responsibilities change.

That's when it's time for clarity. That's when it's time to describe the political situation in clear words free of the hyperbole that is being so thoroughly misunderstood. That's when you have to tell your adoring fans that, no, you didn't mean it literally. If you don't, if you keep saying the same things despite knowing that your words are being used as a justification for violence, and you don't tell people that you want the violence to stop, then yes, you're inciting violence.

Sorry DuWayne, you're buying the same old bullshit as everyone else.

Greg hasn't produced any kind of clearcut, objective evidence of his position. He's only parroting a bunch of news media reporting. That's not even as reliable as believing that what the guy in the dark alley is selling you isn't stolen.

I'm not denying that there are idiots trying to associate themselves with the tea partiers. Just like there are also idiots on the left (like the 'protesters' at the 2008 St Paul republican convention who threw sandbags off of a bridge onto oncoming cars). That kind of person is a moron, regardless of the side of the aisle they're arguing for.

you want to believe that *every* member of the tea parties are violent sociopaths, based upon the actions of some (very few) hangers on, then you also have to agree that *every* member of the left is also a violent moron who wants to throw deadly objects from a bridge onto innocent motorists.

If you want to convince me, you're not going to do it with breathless 'reporting'.

Show me, unaltered and unedited, unambiguous, video evidence of these events.

I'm strongly of the belief that the vast majority of the various people who protest (regardless of their political leaning), are basically decent people who disagree with the powers that be, and that those who preach (or offer up) outright violence are the minority.

If you want to tar an entire group, based upon the behaviour of the few, then you have to accept that same treatment when the shoe is on the other foot.

I'm not arguing that there aren't morons in the midst of the current protests. What I'm arguing (and what you have *failed* to demonstrate) is that those morons do *not* comprise the majority of the protesters.

PROVE YOUR THESIS! Show me clear, unambiguous evidence (not simply a news report), that more than 50% of the protesters are *actively* promoting or engaging in violent activity.

I don't believe that the sandbag throwing morons at the 2008 convention are representative of the left, and I don't believe that the occasional threat, etc., is representative of the right.

Greg Laden (and you) are posting on a site called 'scienceblogs'. Seems to me that, by definition, you'd be actively interested in presenting a postition based upon objective evidence (you know, like an actual scientist would do).

You're making the claim of endemic violence. The burden of proof is upon you to support your argument, it isn't upon the rest of us to disprove it.

You're trying to claim that the Tea Partiers, as a group, are endemically violent. PROVE IT.

Show *EVIDENCE* that the *MAJORITY* of the members of that party are actively engaged in actual violence. If they really are, you should have no difficulty in presenting that evidence.

If all you can come up with are some assorted news reports (which are perfectly happy to sensationalize anything that might make a news report, regardless of whether it is supported by fact or not), or a handful of morons who shout out obscenities, you don't have a case.

Simply put, neither Greg (nor you) have provided anything like real, objective, evidence that the behaviour you're condemning is a representative characteristic of the group as a whole.

I've said it more than once, I'm not particularly supportive of all of the agenda of the Tea partiers.

What I am, however, is someone who believes in objective *FACT* when it comes to an analysis of these kind of events. And the facts are clear to anyone who doesn't have an ideological axe to grind.

And that fact is that there are, in any group, a small number of idiots who will, by choice or by effect, tarnish the rest of the group by their actions. This always happens.

Show me direct, objective, video recorded, evidence that the *MAJORITY* of the group is engaged in violent activity, or shut the fuck up.

By Themisticles (not verified) on 28 Mar 2010 #permalink

Themisticles, I just hope your fearless leader Michele Bachmann does not hear you denying her. Or she'll incite her followers to kick your ass.

Themisticles, I don't see why anyone should "show (you) direct, objective, video recorded, evidence that the *MAJORITY* of the group is engaged in violent activity, or shut the fuck up." What, no supermajority?

You are arguing that in order for leaders to exhort their followers to be violent, the majority of protesters must engage in violence. That doesn't make any sense. Let me use an example you might understand - the point of Christianity is that Jesus told people the right thing to do, not that the majority of people listening followed those instructions.

Sorry Greg,

Hope you like that tree you're barking up.

I couldn't care less about Bachmann (though she doesn't seem to be quite as stupid as some of the others on both sides).

I notice that you have managed to avoid the real issue here. You're not actually providing proof that the majority of either the right or the left are violent assholes. I guess it doesn't fit your narrative. Maybe you feel better about yourself if you can paint your opponents as being monolithically irrational and violent sociopaths, even though it clearly isn't true.

You *do* know what a majority is, don't you? Maybe that's your problem.

Here's a hint for you, 'the majority' means the larger percentage of. You know, if there are 10 people in your driveway, and two of them are morons (for example, an MSNBC or FOX anchor), that means that eight of them (THE MAJORITY) are not morons. I am presuming that you're able to actually count to eight, otherwise, there's no real benefit to this discussion.

Come on. Prove (scientifically) that the majority of people who get involved in protests (right or left) are actively trying to promote or act upon being violent.

Just like the right wing nuts who concentrate on the violence at a republican convention (to the exclusion of the majority who aren't violent), you're concentrating on a minority of assholes to the exclusion of a bunch of others who you may not agree with, but who are simply exercising their freedom of speech to speak out against something they don't like. You *do* support freedom of speech, don't you?

By Themisticles (not verified) on 28 Mar 2010 #permalink

Got news for you Ginger,

The reason I'm stumping for proof, is that I'm offended when any person or party feels like they need to paint the whole of their opposition in a bad light, just because they're the opposition.

You can make all the comments you like about the few loudmouths who want to make it about some kind of 'war', but if you actually are paying attention, you'll notice (again, on both sides) that the idiots are in the minority. And by idiots, I mean those who promote violence, not merely those who disagree with you.

It's simple. No one here, not one single person, has presented any evidence, whatsoever, that the hateful rhetoric, or calls for violence, are, in any way, representative of the position of the majority of the members.

Simply disagreeing with you is not promoting violence, however bad it makes you feel that people don't see things the way that you do.

If your position has actual value, you can communicate that value in a dialogue, without having to resort to strawmen and ad hominem attacks (and that goes for both sides of the issue).

I'm willing to be proven wrong, but so far, it hasn't happened.

SHOW YOUR PROOF. Period. End of story.

By Themisticles (not verified) on 28 Mar 2010 #permalink

So, one person constitutes a majority. Guess that'll be useful to keep in mind in the future.

I'll have to admit that I hadn't come across those 'speeches', but, at best, you've managed to identify one person who is an idiot (and that's assuming that the articles that you present are actually supported by evidence, and are not merely taken out of context). I'll have to dig into them myself to get an opinion, but I'll agree that they don't look good on the face of it, but still, it's only one person (and if you want a counter point, consider Alan Cranston, who just recently stated that we should try to get rid of all Republicans).

What you haven't done, is to prove that the majority of the tea party protesters go along with that. Maybe they do, but probably, they don't. I don't really have a dog in their fight, though I do feel that there's been a rather large overreach in government action recently.

I'm a rational person (or try to be, overall). I'm not going to default to demonizing someone just because they disagree with me. That's a problem I see on both sides of these various issues. Both sides have, for some reason, decided that the other is irredeemably evil, and that if they don't agree with you, they can't possibly have anything of value to say.

That's bullshit.

BTW, either you read Fark, or you spelled 'moron' wrong. :)

By Themisticles (not verified) on 28 Mar 2010 #permalink

Themisticles: Did you read the posts? They are not about one person. If you spent as much time reading and learning as you do spewing and spouting the whole world would be a better place.

I spelled Moran exactly as I intended. That breze you felt by your ear was my joke going over your head.

The reason I'm stumping for proof, is that I'm offended when any person or party feels like they need to paint the whole of their opposition in a bad light, just because they're the opposition.

Oh for fucks sake. The teabaggers aren't the whole of anyone's political opposition, nor are they even the whole of conservatives who appose spending.

None of us are interested in painting them in a bad light because they are the opposition. We are being critical of them as a movement, because the rhetoric coming from their corner is the rhetoric of violence and wingnuttery. We could sit here all day long and post pictures, video and statements by political leaders in the tea party movement. The burden of proof Themisticles, is on you to show a single political leader in the tea party movement condemning those voices that are trying to incite violence.

There is actually a very important question in the middle of all this. Is a spokesperson for a particular political (or religious, or other) viewpoint morally obligated to condemn people who have a viewpoint that is similar in some respects but who advocate more extreme and violent measures?

Paul S. -

If you just mean similar, then I would respond with an unequivocal no. I do not believe they have any responsibility to do so, though if there is a great enough similarity it would probably be a good idea.

But this is not a question of similarity, this is a question of group identity. Here we have people who are identifying with a particular movement, using the same name. If leaders and members of a given movement do not want to be associated with the rhetoric of other leaders and members of that movement, then they must speak out against it or leave.

And I do not believe that people who happen to be Christians should be held to that standard, as there are many very different groups with that label. I think it makes good political sense for them to speak out against more extremist elements who share that overarching label, but I do not think it is reasonable to associate them with the extremists if they don't. That said, in the context of Christianity and religion in general, I do believe that the act of faith enables all other faithful, including the extremists.

This is not something I am unfamiliar with. I used to be very active as a radical environmentalist. I was involved in many protests, including acts of peaceful civil disobedience (not just enviro, I also was involved in cannabis prohibition protests). There were elements in the radical eco movement who went beyond acceptable, peaceful protest and engaged in outright terrorism. While we didn't share the same name, it was extremely important for us to not only disassociate, but also to condemn such actions both strenuously and sincerely.

I think that when people start talking about violence, others who are a part of that movement need to take the time to condemn such rhetoric and/or actions unequivocally. And that does not mean take advantage of the pulpit to speak about your movement - other than to condemn those actions - no "but I understand" or any such bullshit. Equivocation just makes it appear you are insincere.