Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Peter Sprigg Advises: Don't Be Too Extreme

Peter Sprigg, senior fellow at the Family Research Council hate group and advisor to Montgomery County Maryland Public Schools, had these words to say on the Christian Broadcasting Network about the suggestion that rightwing rhetoric has anything to do with the mass murder in Arizona.
I think it's absurd really to say that any political rhetoric contributed to this particular event. Now certainly, it's always a good time for us to reflect on our rhetoric, that we not be too extreme, and that our discourse be civil when we discuss public policy issues. But on the other hand, I don't think something like this should be used to prevent a vigorous debate of the issues, and people when they're discussing issues are always going to use symbolic language, metaphors, and so forth and if we stripped all of those away from our language then it would be very difficult to even conduct debate. I think it is unfortunate however that liberals are saying that the rhetoric is worse on the conservative side, I don't agree with that, I think that there's extreme rhetoric on both sides.

As if anyone opposes symbolic language and metaphors. No, Peter, I think the issue is when people suggest killing people who disagree with them.

Asked a question about how Christians are supposed to express themselves, Sprigg says:
... Sometimes people will accuse of us hate because we speak the truth. But the most loving thing we can do is to speak the truth, we do need to be aware of our rhetoric and so forth, but not to demean people as individuals, but to disapprove of a behavior such as abortion or homosexual conduct is not the same as demeaning people as individuals and it's certainly not encouraging violence against them.

I am assuming that our readers know who Peter Sprigg is and understand the hypocrisy of what he is saying here.

BTW, someone linked to a very good discussion of this topic in our comments. Read this: Giving Rational Cover to Irrational Acts. Well put.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am assuming that our readers know who Peter Sprigg is"


he's a repeatedly re-appointed member of the county committee advising the MCPS Board on sex ed curriculum

he's been nominated for awards for his public service

sounds like he had some sensible things to say here, extending his public service

January 12, 2011 5:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's another sensible commentary, this one about how the liberal left has messed themselves up again

the public will long remember the glee with which liberals tried to exploit this tragedy:

"The charge: The Tucson massacre is a consequence of the "climate of hate" created by Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Obamacare opponents and sundry other liberal betes noires.

The verdict: Rarely in American political discourse has there been a charge so reckless, so scurrilous and so unsupported by evidence.

As killers go, Jared Loughner is not reticent. Yet among all his writings, postings, videos and other ravings - and in all the testimony from all the people who knew him - there is not a single reference to any of these supposed accessories to murder.

Not only is there no evidence that Loughner was impelled to violence by any of those upon whom Paul Krugman, Keith Olbermann, the New York Times, the Tucson sheriff and other rabid partisans are fixated. There is no evidence that he was responding to anything, political or otherwise, outside of his own head.

A climate of hate? This man lived within his very own private climate. "His thoughts were unrelated to anything in our world," said the teacher of Loughner's philosophy class at Pima Community College. "He was very disconnected from reality," said classmate Lydian Ali. "You know how it is when you talk to someone who's mentally ill and they're just not there?" said neighbor Jason Johnson. "It was like he was in his own world."

His ravings, said one high school classmate, were interspersed with "unnerving, long stupors of silence" during which he would "stare fixedly at his buddies," reported the Wall Street Journal. His own writings are confused, incoherent, punctuated with private numerology and inscrutable taxonomy. He warns of government brainwashing and thought control through "grammar." He was obsessed with "conscious dreaming," a fairly good synonym for hallucinations.

This is not political behavior. These are the signs of a clinical thought disorder - ideas disconnected from each other, incoherent, delusional, detached from reality.

These are all the hallmarks of a paranoid schizophrenic. And a dangerous one. A classmate found him so terrifyingly mentally disturbed that, she e-mailed friends and family, she expected to find his picture on TV after his perpetrating a mass murder. This was no idle speculation: In class "I sit by the door with my purse handy" so that she could get out fast when the shooting began.

January 12, 2011 5:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Furthermore, the available evidence dates Loughner's fixation on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to at least 2007, when he attended a town hall of hers and felt slighted by her response. In 2007, no one had heard of Sarah Palin. Glenn Beck was still toiling on Headline News. There was no Tea Party or health-care reform. The only climate of hate was the pervasive post-Iraq campaign of vilification of George W. Bush, nicely captured by a New Republic editor who had begun an article thus: "I hate President George W. Bush. There, I said it."

Finally, the charge that the metaphors used by Palin and others were inciting violence is ridiculous. Everyone uses warlike metaphors in describing politics. When Barack Obama said at a 2008 fundraiser in Philadelphia, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," he was hardly inciting violence.

Why? Because fighting and warfare are the most routine of political metaphors. And for obvious reasons. Historically speaking, all democratic politics is a sublimation of the ancient route to power - military conquest. That's why the language persists. That's why we say without any self-consciousness such things as "battleground states" or "targeting" opponents. Indeed, the very word for an electoral contest - "campaign" - is an appropriation from warfare.

When profiles of Obama's first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, noted that he once sent a dead fish to a pollster who displeased him, a characteristically subtle statement carrying more than a whiff of malice and murder, it was considered a charming example of excessive - and creative - political enthusiasm. When Senate candidate Joe Manchin dispensed with metaphor and simply fired a bullet through the cap-and-trade bill - while intoning, "I'll take dead aim at [it]" - he was hardly assailed with complaints about violations of civil discourse or invitations to murder.

Did Manchin push Loughner over the top? Did Emanuel's little Mafia imitation create a climate for political violence? The very questions are absurd - unless you're the New York Times and you substitute the name Sarah Palin.

The origins of Loughner's delusions are clear: mental illness. What are the origins of Krugman's?

January 12, 2011 5:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

journalists are coming up with more and more Dem gems of violent metaphor:

"Even before George W. Bush was elected president, the kill-Bush talk and imagery started.

When Governor Bush was delivering his 2000 convention speech, Craig Kilborn, a CBS talk-show host, showed him on the screen with the words "SNIPERS WANTED."

Six years later, Bill Maher, the comedian-pundit, was having a conversation with John Kerry. He asked the senator what he had gotten his wife for her birthday. Kerry answered that he had taken her to Vermont. Maher said, "You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone." (New Hampshire is an early primary state, of course.) Kerry said, "Or I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone."

This is the same Kerry who joked in 1988, "Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush is shot, they're to shoot Quayle."

Also in 2006, the New York comptroller, Alan Hevesi, spoke to graduating students at Queens College. He said that his fellow Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, would "put a bullet between the president's eyes if he could get away with it."

Just this past October, then-Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania told the Times-Tribune of Scranton: "That [Rick] Scott down there that's running for governor of Florida. Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him."

Here are the jaunty opening paragraphs of a New York Times news story dated Dec. 26, 1995:

As the Rev. Al Sharpton strode through Harlem toward Sylvia's restaurant, the greetings of passers-by followed him down Lenox Avenue.

"Hey, Reverend Al, you going to kill Giuliani?" one man shouted, in a joking reference to the latest confrontation between Mr. Sharpton and the Mayor.

Mr. Sharpton waved silently and walked on.

January 12, 2011 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr./Mrs./Ms "Anonymous"

PLEASE...just shut up for once in your life! Your ego gets in the way of your saying anything sane and sensible. Just shut up!

January 12, 2011 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More Violent Democrats: Now former Congressman Paul Kanjorski on Florida Governor Rick Scott: “PUT HIM AGAINST THE WALL AND SHOOT HIM."

January 12, 2011 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin said Wednesday that the journalists and pundits who blame the political right for the act of "monstrous criminality" in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday are committing a "blood libel."

The former Alaska governor, in a seven-minute video, mourned the tragic shootings that took the lives of six people and wounded 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). But she said the rampage was the act of a "single evil man" who gunned down peaceful citizens. She said she moved from puzzlement to "concern" as reaction to the incident in some quarters blamed conservative rhetoric for provoking the violence caused by "this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal."

Violent acts, such as the shootings in Arizona, "stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them," Palin said. In remarks posted on the website Vimeo, Palin said the media "should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn."

Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and a relentless critic of President Obama, has also taken heat for a campaign map she posted last year showing a number of vulnerable Democratic congressional districts in rifle cross-hairs.

After the incident Saturday, the Daily Kos, a widely-ready left wing website which took issue with Palin's political map, tweeted "Mission Accomplished Sarah Palin." On MSNBC, Keith Olbermann called on Republicans to repudiate Palin and he made references to targeting political opponents with "bullseyes over their faces," though the Palin graphic did no such thing. In the Huffington Post Saturday, former Sen. Gary Hart denounced "violent words and phrases" in political speech and concluded "today we have seen the results of this rhetoric." Hart ran for president as a Democrat in 1984 and 1988.

The responsibility for terrible acts rests with the individual criminal, Palin said Wednesday, "not collectively with all of the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election."

January 12, 2011 11:51 AM  
Anonymous lionel bartham said...

that Peter Spriggs is an amazingly perceptive fellow, I must say

January 12, 2011 2:34 PM  
Anonymous voodoo daddy said...

oh yeah, man

he's one cooool cat!

January 12, 2011 2:59 PM  
Anonymous One man's *truth* is just that said...

It's wrong to equate joking with what Palin says or what Beck rants about day after day or to point to a single statement by a Democratic Congressman who few outside his district have ever heard of.

Palin and Beck and other FOX talking heads influence many right wing nuts and have for years, with ill-advised talk of reloading, aiming through crosshairs, burning in effigy, poisoning politicians they disagree with and the like.

As to claiming politicians' and pundits' words do not lead to consequences, you should check with the widow of Dr. George TIller, who was gunned down at church one Sunday morning as he worshipped with his faith's community.

Did Peter Sprigg, his family and church pray for Dr. Tiller and his family and friends too or did he, like the shooter, feel that killer's action was justifiable given what Sprigg calls "the truth?"

What's needed now are words of healing and coming together, not Sprigg's words of defensiveness.

January 15, 2011 11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

while I don't condone Tiller's shooting, he was hardly an innocent victim like Giffords

he destroyed human life in a way that horrifies all civilized people

January 19, 2011 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"he destroyed human life in a way that horrifies all civilized people"
Therein lies the crux of the argument: human life begins at birth. Do you support the death penalty, "Anonymous"? Do you favor wars that destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people?
When you take a stand against these government-sponsored death penalties, you might speak with some credibility about life.

January 20, 2011 9:17 PM  

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