Recently, a friend posted a video clip to her facebook page. This clip is a compilation of tweets posted on twitter, arranged music video style, and uploaded to youtube depicting "death threats" against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. The "story" is reported by FoxNews. A few blogs, like this one, have picked it up, criticizing democrats, the "Far Left Loons," union activists, and most especially the mainline, liberal media for failing to report on this "story."
The criticisms are about what one would expect from these sources: "liberals are mindless idiots", "democrats are ruining the country", "the liberal media once again plays favorites, demonizing Sarah Palin and the Tea Party while ignoring vitriolic hate speech and calls to violence of the left by failing to report on this 'story'."
Let me be clear on a few points:
1. I'm a registered Democrat
2. I'm really far to the left
3. I find calls to violence offensive regardless of who's calling
However, I find the notion that a few tweets by a couple of people is somehow newsworthy because it uses violent rhetoric ridiculous. And I find it grossly offensive that this "story" is being contrasted to the comments made by the liberal media in the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt; comments that, while calling out Sarah Palin and the Tea Party specifically, also chastised those on the left for their use of violent rhetoric in the past, repudiated their own past use of violent rhetoric, and called for increased civility in public discourse.
Here's why I find this "story" offensive:
Having watched the video, and looked at the twitter accounts of every individual who has a tweet represented, we have a total of 13 tweets represents 12 individual accounts with a grand total of 1,347 followers, and only one twitter user makes any mention in their biographical information that might indicate a political affiliation, and it's "progressive."
6 of these tweets actually call for violence.
4 of these tweets wish Scott Walker would die.
3 of these tweets draw the conclusion that someone is likely take violent action against Scott Walker for his policies.
This is contrasted with Sarah Palin's twitter account which has 421,622 followers. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are household names. They are well known political activists who spend billions of dollars on political ads to put their names on television. They go on talk shows, news shows, participate in televised debates, and have historically made significant calls for violence in what they deemed colorful speech that no one could be expected to take seriously.
Do I believe that the hateful rhetoric of the right has contributed to a climate of hate? Yes. As has the hateful rhetoric of the left. Anytime we use hate speech we contribute to a climate of violence regardless of where we fall on the political spectrum--assuming we count ourselves on that spectrum at all.
Do I believe Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are responsible for the violent actions of others? No. We each make our own choices. We are influenced, certainly, by any number of factors. Ultimately, however, we choose how we act and react.
Do I believe that a few tweets by a dozen people who are followed by 0.00000449% of the US population is newsworthy? Definitely not.
Because, you know, if that were the case, then my local news channel failing to report on the amazing recipes I perfect and share with all of you is a gross oversight of liberal media. When's FoxNews going to knock on my door?