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Of Madmen, Mass Killers, and Politics

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Charles Cooke of NRO observes today:

Bill Clinton didn't just blame Timothy McVeigh's actions on Rush Limbaugh and others at the time, but came back 15 years later for a another shot at the apple, libeling the Tea Party in the process. In 2010, both Dana Milbank and the Daily Kos went so far as to write pieces about a shooting that never happened, blaming the attempt on Glenn Beck. Piers Morgan happily asked Gabby Giffords's husband whether he had received an apology from Sarah Palin, and was astonished when the answer was "no."

The attempt to blame conservatives and/or Second Amendment advocates for mass murder by deranged people has an unfortunately long history.  That's the bad part.  The good part is people of normal intelligence don't buy it.  The even better part, in a sick sort of way, is that it can be turned on its purveryors.

This is brought home by the story, currently in the news, of Christoper Dorner, the former Los Angeles policeman who went on a murder rampage, evidently as "revenge" for his having been fired from the force.

Many readers will remember that, when Jared Loughner shot then-Representative Giffords and numerous other people in a Tucson shopping center, there were immediate rumblings that he was somehow affiliated with, or at the minimum inspired by, right-wing groups.  Indeed, the New York Times itself joined the party.

The party was admittedly short-lived.  It soon became clear that Loughner was a schizophrenic with no political motivation.

What makes this relevant today, as the NRO story points out, is the fact that Dorner was very much interested in politics  --  but not the right-wing kind.  Dorner put up on his Facebook page his "killer's manifesto," which the mainstream media know all about.  As Cooke observes:

In the combined 3,240 words of the lead stories from the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Associated Press, there is no mention whatsoever of the political contents of Dorner's screed. Even the BBC ignores the inconvenient bits. They all mention the manifesto, of course -- just not what's in it, even in New York Times' specific post about the document

There's no mention of the extensive sections praising gun control, nor of the author's appreciation for Piers Morgan, Dianne Feinstein, and President Obama. There's nothing on his hatred for the NRA and Wayne LaPierre, whom Dorner calls a "a vile and inhumane piece of s***" whose defense of the right to bear arms justifies his "immediate and distant family" to "die horrific deaths in front of" him. There's no reference to Dorner's commendations of the "great work" of "Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, Pat Harvey, Brian Williams, Soledad Obrien, Wolf Blitzer, Meredith Viera, Tavis Smiley, and Anderson Cooper."

Cooke continues:

None of the people that Dorner mentions are guilty of anything whatsoever. But let me ask an earnest question: Had the killer instead praised Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, President George W. Bush, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA, and Proposition 8, and slammed the collection of journalists that he praised, perhaps singling out Piers Morgan for particular attention on the basis of his gun-control advocacy, what do you think the media's reaction would have been...?

I'm almost certain that there would have been discussions of the "far right," of "talk radio," and of the dangers inherent in "conservative media." I'm almost certain that, as the New York Times reported after the Giffords shooting, "Democrats" would have "denounced the fierce partisan atmosphere." I'm almost certain that the shootings would have been used to tie defenders of the Second Amendment to violence -- however tendentiously. I'm almost certain that the manifesto would have been grafted onto everyone to the right of Arlen Specter and taken as a tacit list of their views.

My friend Paul Mirengoff of Powerline is, once again, the adult in the room:

This sort of opportunism is, among other things, an effort to undermine robust speech by one's political opponent. Everyone -- Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Piers Morgan, whomever -- should feel free strongly to advocate their positions without worrying about being blamed if a madman distorts them into some sort of justification for their deranged framework. Only if the speaker advocates violence is the speaker to blame if his speech inspires violence.

Unfortunately, the MSM plays by these rules only when doing so suits its ideological purposes.

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