Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Violent Rhetoric Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 Violent Rhetoric
"[If you're a] college football fan, you're familiar with Chris Ault and Nevada. Obviously it's an offense that he has invented, basically, and it's often been termed the "pistol offense". Well, we apologize for any confusion it may cause today, but, in our small way of showing some respect to the tragedy yesterday, we're not going to be referring to it as the "pistol" offense today. It will be the "Nevada formation", and it is a good one, a well-executed offense, and tough to stop."
-- ESPN announcer Bob Wischusen, December 15, 2012, at the New Mexico Bowl, referring to the December 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Ault is the football head coach of the University of Nevada Wolf Pack.

Comment: In deference to an ESPN directive to show respect for the Sandy Hook tragedy, Wischusen was trying to avoid violent rhetoric. Although he avoided the term "pistol", he still wound up using the word "executed". Was this directive necessary, given that violent rhetoric in this context is clearly meant to be metaphorical? Or was such rhetoric inappropriate so close to the tragedy while people were still in shock and mourning?

HOFFA: This is just the first round of a battle that will divide this state. We're going to have a civil war in this state

BALDWIN: [A]s you wage this civil war, what does this mean for unionized workers moving forward in Michigan?
HOFFA: Well, it means we have got to work hard, but basically we're going to challenge this in court. We have done this in other states, and we're going to basically get this on the ballot, eventually, within the year and basically vote this thing down again.
-- Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, Jr., December 11, 2012, during interview with CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin.

Comment: Hoffa is indulging in violent rhetoric, though his response to Baldwin's question clarifies that he means it to be taken metaphorically.

REPORTER [unidentified]: Quick question on Michigan and the right-to-work debate, which has gotten a bit testy today on the House floor. There’s one Democrat, Doug Geiss, who said today that if this right-to-work initiative is signed into law, “there will be blood.” Since the President weighed in yesterday, and obviously made his feelings known, but has talked about changing the tone here in Washington and around the country, does the White House feel any obligation to tell fellow Democrats to debate this issue, but debate it in a peaceful and sort of --
CARNEY: The President believes in debate that’s civil. I haven’t seen those comments and I’m not sure that they mean what some would interpret them to mean. I just haven’t seen them. You heard the President talk about his views. He has always opposed the so-called right-to-work laws. As he said, those laws are generally political and not economic. They’re more about the right to earn less pay than they are helpful to our economy. And he presented those views yesterday in Michigan.
-- White House briefing with Press Secretary Jay Carney, December 11, 2012.

Comment: Carney seems to be suggesting that Geiss' words may have been meant metaphorically, not literally. Given Geiss' reference to the Battle of the Overpass -- a violent incident between members of the United Auto Workers union and Ford Motor Company security guards in the 1930's in Michigan -- is the literal interpretation of his violent, "there will be blood" rhetoric more appropriate? Notice that Carney ultimately refuses to denounce Geiss' remarks, which is consistent with the Obama administration's refusal to denounce allies for name-calling and uncivil rhetoric, and inconsistent with their claim to believe "in debate that's civil". The Obama administration tends only to denounce uncivil rhetoric from their opponents.

"[A]nd we're going to pass something that will undo a hundred years of labor relations. And there will be blood. There will be repercussions. We will relive the Battle of the Overpass".
-- State Rep. Douglas Geiss (D-Taylor and Romulus, MI), December 11, 2012, on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives.

Comment: Geiss is indulging in violent rhetoric, and "war" rhetoric in particular. The Battle of the Overpass was a violent incident between members of the United Auto Workers union and Ford Motor Company security guards in the 1930's in Michigan.

"What do you do to a school yard bully? You punch them in the face. Do you think any of these people on talk radio, if they’re punched in the face by a Republican nominee, do you think they would push back? No, they’re cowards. They're bullies. Punch them in the face, and they back off. Bullies do that. Mitt Romney -- and we said it non-stop for two years -- he would never stand up to these bullies. And so they framed his campaign and he got his tail whipped."
-- TV pundit Joe Scarborough, December 10, 2012, on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

Comment: Scarborough is criticizing talk radio (and other) pundits who say things that amount to name-calling. So, in a sense, he's advocating civility. However, he's resorting to violent rhetoric and (it seems) saying that people should resist these pundits by retaliating in kind. He is also faulting GOP presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) for failing to police the speech of his supporters. This is a fair criticism, though it's a mistake -- of the "only my opponent" variety -- to think that only Romney was guilty of that failing (President Barack Obama also failed to police the rhetoric of his supporters, as well).

SCHULTZ: The Boehner proposal on its merit, characterize it for us.
PELOSI: Well, I think it is an assault on the middle class, on our seniors, on our investments in the future.
-- House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), December 4, 2012, during an interview with TV pundit Ed Schultz. Pelosi is referring to a fiscal proposal by Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH).

Comment: Pelosi is indulging in violent rhetoric.

"Folks, there is an all-out assault -- forget the word "rich." There's an all-out assault on successful people. There is an all-out assault on prosperity and the future is that government will determine prosperity and will assign it, and they'll also punish it."
-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, November 29, 2012.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric, in that Limbaugh is likening the behavior of Democrats to assault. Limbaugh is also demonizing Democrats, saying that they want to punish success.

"Well, [Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)] lost 11 of the Tea Party guys, but he's got then 70 guys who didn't go to Congress to limit government, they came there to stop it. So, how do you deal with guys who came to stop government, or Grover wondering the earth in his white robes, saying he wanted to drown government in the bathtub? I hope he slips in there with it. We'll put some soap in the tub. Throw it in there."
-- Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), November 27, 2012.

Comment: Simpson is referring to political advocate Grover Norquist, who said that he hoped to get government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub". Simpson is piggy-backing on Norquist's violent rhetoric to engage in the same.

"These Tea Bag bastards -- who by the way, I just wish they would all just go away -- or, like in Passover, I just wish there was an angel of the Lord that would pass over -- instead of killing the first born in all the households of Egypt just wipe out all the Tea Baggers. Just, you know, the terrible swift sword, just [mimics sound of sword] -- lop their heads off!"
-- Radio pundit Mike Malloy, November 26, 2012.

Comment: Malloy's slurs amount to name-calling, and his Biblical allusion is violent rhetoric.

SCHULTZ: Republicans are also giving off clues about an upcoming deal. Several House and Senate Republicans are openly rejecting an anti-tax pledge of Gorver Norquist. But as Sen Lindsey Graham [R-SC] says, rejecting the pledge comes with strings attached.
GRAHAM: I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.
SCHULTZ: OK, so get out the gun and hold it to our head, right? Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers are giving the impression that a deal can be reached as long as there are cuts that are near and dear to a lot of Americans: Medicare and Medicaid.
-- TV pundit Ed Schultz, November 26, 2012, responding to comments by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Comment: Schultz is describing the situation -- in which government programs may be cut -- with violent rhetoric.

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