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December 21, 2014

Tough Rhetoric Does Not Cause Violence

I see folks handing around the Tweetable Guide To Media Myths And Left-wing Violence in the wake of the murder of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu yesterday. Some folks are sending it around in protest of the claims from media and the authorities that anti-police rhetoric should not take the blame for this atrocity. But that's not quite the point of the Tweetable Guide.

My problem with media coverage of violence is that the media and sometimes even public authorities reflexively and without any evidence blame conservatives and conservative ideas for violence. And that ignorant blaming of conservatives always seems to turn out to be incorrect later. After those two issues comes my final point: much of the high-profile violence that gets blamed on conservatives actually come from folks in at least one (and sometimes more than one) category: crazy, leftist, or Islamist.

Nasty rhetoric may contribute to a crazy killer or leftist killer or Islamist killer's self-justification for his actions. But it generally is not the cause of premeditated violence. We should be cautious about blaming the anti-police rhetoric that followed the grand jury verdicts in Ferguson and on Staten Island without more evidence. That's what the media does to us and it usually turns out wrong.

If it is true that Ismaaiyl Brinsley was motivated by rhetoric then that is a really big deal. But I don't know why he killed those police officers and neither do you yet. Generally, however, rhetoric doesn't just set somebody off. Wait for more facts. And, if you're betting, he'll probably fall into one of the other categories when this all shakes out.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 11:23 AM

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