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The answer, of course, is to make political points out of a tragedy. Too many modern politicians and their lackeys in the press feel obligated to exploit every tragedy for their own political gain.

That is obscene. It is indecent. It should not be countenanced by the fair-minded.

A common refrain is that today's political discourse is too violent, that it dehumanizes those "on the other side," and actually encourages violence among our most unstable.

I have no quarrel with criticizing violent imagery. I have criticized sports writers and commentators for an overruse of military metaphor: "They are in a battle out there," "the offense really needs to step up its aerial attack," "another bomb from way downtown!"

But to suggest violent metaphor and dehumanizing language is a problem unique to modern times is simply incorrect.

In the 1800's, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disreali said of his political rival, William Ewart Gladstone, "If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune, and if anybody pulled him out that, I suppose, would be a calamity."

Giles Strachey, a British writer who died in 1932, said of David Lloyd George, a politican, "My one ardent desire is that after the war he should be publicly castrated in front of Nurse Cavell’s statue."

Abraham Lincoln received a letter from a citizen that said, "God damn your god damned old hellfired god damned soul to hell god damn you and god damn your god damned family’s god damned hellfired god damned soul to hell and good damnation god damn them and god damn your god damned friends to hell."

Violent discourse is not new.

Even beyond mere rhetoric, we have historically had actual violence between our political leaders. In 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner with a cane on the Senate floor. In 1804, the sitting Vice-President, Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamiltion, engaged in a duel. Hamilton died as a result of a gunshot wound from the Vice-President.

We no longer have beatings in Congress or duels between national political figures. The suggestion that we are somehow more violent than ever is untenable.

As usual, too much of our modern, mainstream commentary is unconcerned with history or facts. It is more concerned with exaggeration, fear-mongering, and of course, a need for more government control.


On the state of modern political discourse.

In the wake of the horrible tragedy in Arizona yesterday, many commentators of all persuasions have speculated on the political beliefs of the shooter.
As if it mattered.
Based on the videos he posted online, the man was not able to put together a coherent thought. Why should anyone give a whit about a madman’s political beliefs?
The answer, of course, is to make political points out of a tragedy. Too many modern politicians and their lackeys in the press feel obligated to exploit every tragedy for their own political gain.
That is obscene. It is indecent. It should not be countenanced by the fair-minded.
A common refrain is that today’s political discourse is too violent, that it dehumanizes those “on the other side,” and actually encourages violence among our most unstable.
I have no quarrel with criticizing violent imagery. I have criticized sports writers and commentators for an overruse of military metaphor: “They are in a battle out there,” “the offense really needs to step up its aerial attack,” “another bomb from way downtown!”
But to suggest violent metaphor and dehumanizing language is a problem unique to modern times is simply incorrect.
In the 1800’s, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disreali said of his political rival, William Ewart Gladstone, “If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune, and if anybody pulled him out that, I suppose, would be a calamity.”
Giles Strachey, a British writer who died in 1932, said of David Lloyd George, a politican, “My one ardent desire is that after the war he should be publicly castrated in front of Nurse Cavell’s statue.”
Abraham Lincoln received a letter from a citizen that said, “God damn your god damned old hellfired god damned soul to hell god damn you and god damn your god damned family’s god damned hellfired god damned soul to hell and good damnation god damn them and god damn your god damned friends to hell.”
Violent discourse is not new.
Even beyond mere rhetoric, we have historically had actual violence between our political leaders. In 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner with a cane on the Senate floor. In 1804, the sitting Vice-President, Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamiltion, engaged in a duel. Hamilton died as a result of a gunshot wound from the Vice-President.
We no longer have beatings in Congress or duels between national political figures. The suggestion that we are somehow more violent than ever is untenable.
As usual, too much of our modern, mainstream commentary is unconcerned with history or facts. It is more concerned with exaggeration, fear-mongering, and of course, a need for more government control.