AZ Shooting

Blaming Sarah Palin for the deadly attacks in Arizona this weekend seems a bit premature to me. Violent rhetoric can lead to horrific actions: point well taken.

But adding to the case against her is this now infamous map, which was used in last years’ midterm elections. It shows twenty House seats up for reëlection that were held by members who voted for Obama’s healthcare reform law. The smoking gun: each district she identified is labeled by a sniper-style crosshair.

Rep. Giffords, whose brain was brushed by the gunman’s bullet, knew about the map and appeared on MSNBC to talk about it.

But of course Palin isn’t responsible for the killings. As Sherrie Gore, a supporter writing on Palin’s Facebook page sees it:

Of course they are going to blame Palin – which is preposterous!!! It was VERY obvious that “crosshairs” map and the comments by Palin were regarding the election process – taking back the seats via VOTES – not bullets.

Sherrie Gore is right. It’s obvious to us that Palin’s campaign didn’t mean for the cross-hairs to be taken as an actual call to arms. As abhorrent as we may find it, most of us understand the metaphor she’s invoking with a motto like “Don’t Retreat, Reload.”

We know Palin isn’t calling for an armed militia to storm the White House. Which is why I think rushing to blame Palin’s violent language for physical action isn’t digging deep enough.

We know what Palin’s map wasn’t intended to be a call for violence because most of us have an accurate perception of reality. But not everyone is sane, and we can’t have an argument about the effect of Palin’s rhetoric starting with the assumption that everybody is.