By the way, apropos targeting metaphors and the like
VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu
Thu Apr 1 09:13:36 PDT 2010
I think what we're seeing here is that there is (1) a fortunately small amount of violence and a slightly larger amount of vandalism by extremists and fools on the left and the right, (2) a slightly larger amount of truly violent or extremist rhetoric on both sides, whether calling people Nazis or mentioning "browning automatics" (by the way, I couldn't find details on the "browning automatic" statement, but I assume that it wasn't from a politician, and that Michael's claim is just that some politicians saw it, and presumably more than just one instance of it, and didn't properly condemn it), and (3) a large amount of normal politics-as-war metaphor from both sides, which really isn't intended to or likely to produce violence (though which we might still think we'd be better off without).
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Curtis, Michael K.
Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2010 4:29 AM
To: Nelson Lund; conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: RE: By the way, apropos targeting metaphors and the like
I missed the source of candidate Obama's if they bring a knife, we bring a gun. Can someone supply it. I don't countenance this sort of rhetoric. It is a step removed from if Brown can't stop health care legislation a browning automatic can. But unfortunate. But the president as Hitler, etc. strikes me as dangerous rhetoric, whoever utters it-left, right or wherever. Because if you begin to believe that stuff, then violence seems reasonable. To me Bush was a particularly awful president who did huge damage to the country (the way others no doubt see Obama) but he was obviously not a Hitler, by any stretch. Such comments in a climate of threats, brick throwing through windows, etc. are even more worrisome, so I hope they-and the Browning automatic signs-- are being toned down now. By the way, brick throwing was a Nazi and Communist tactic as I recall. And violence was a tactic of a fringe of the anti-war movement during the Vietnam war. It hurt the anti war movement as flag burning did.
Similarly a national health care plan is not reasonably treated at Nazism or Communism, unless just about every advanced Western democracy is really Communist or Nazi, which seems as absurd as Bush as Hitler. Using words in these ways contributes to paranoia, not intelligent deliberation. Such use is unfortunate as matter of the Constitution outside the Court.
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Nelson Lund
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 2:56 PM
To: 'conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu'
Subject: Re: By the way, apropos targeting metaphors and the like
The first arrest for a death threat turns out to involve a threat against a Republican:
So far, I haven't heard any claims that harsh rhetoric by Democrats created a climate that leads to such crimes.
Volokh, Eugene wrote:
To then-candidate Obama's "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," President Obama's warning about people with "pitchforks" coming for business executives if it weren't for his Administration, and the White House's advice to "punch back twice as hard," let me add two more items:
(1) A recently uncovered 2004 Democratic Leadership Committee map with targets on the states that the DLC urges targeting, the headline "Targeting Strategy," and a caption that starts, "Behind Enemy Lines." See http://www.verumserum.com/?p=13647 .
(2) A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee site, http://www.dccc.org/content/recovery (also pointed to by the page I just linked to above), with targets on the districts of targeted Republican congressmen. Click on each target to see the congressman's photo and name, and the title "Targeted Republican."
Now I wouldn't suggest that any of these are reprehensible "fomenting or encouraging" "vandalism and violence." None of these, I think, are intended to or likely to lead to vandalism or violence; they are just normal political rhetoric. But since some think that "Fire Pelosi" with flames in the background of a picture of Pelosi, or the Sarah Palin map with the cross-hairs on districts that are being targeted, qualifies as such "fomenting or encouraging," and since the question was raised whether Democratic and Republican readers have tried to do this to the same extent, I thought these examples were worth noting. I expect there are plenty of others; but it's not easy to search for them, since they haven't led to much public comment precisely because they are normal political rhetoric.
Also, on the separate topic of speech by the rank and file, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6b1VOAATNk, containing quite a compilation of "Bush as Hitler" and similar statements. Naturally these are cherry-picked by the creator of the video, and not representative of critics of Bush generally; but my sense is that the same is true with Obama as Hitler statements.
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