Sarah Palin Crosshairs: Kill the Myth

Update: I thought about this some more after reading your comments. Here’s my revised take.

Some delusional dimwit with a gun went on a shooting rampage yesterday, killing three seniors, one third grader and three others, and shooting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head.

Anyone who points a finger at Sarah Palin for the shooting is equally delusional.

Let me back up by saying I’m not a Palin fan. I see her as an attractive politician who lures in conservatives with her right-wing rhetoric, is missing a few bricks in the ethics department, tends to spew rather than speak, and looks really good in hunting gear. Palin has star appeal, especially for her target crowd. But pointing a finger at her to explain 22-year-old Jared Loughner’s deadly shooting spree is both ignorant and dangerous.

The graphic above is the current point of contention for the Palin-did-it’ers. Palin, encouraging Tea Party victories in last year’s elections, published it to “target” pro-health care reform Democrats. A proud moose shooter, Palin generally likes to use hunting terms to express her ideology. In that sense, this graphic was business as usual.

But was Palin subliminally encouraging her more trigger-happy followers to actually pull out their pieces, the way a revolutionary would? Hardly, unless you happen to be an obsessed, angry end-of-roper like Loughner. Or if you’re a member of the media looking to build up a myth in order to drive traffic.

In the myth lies the problem. Palin et al. like using hunting terminology to further their causes. Judging by her actions, Palin is more interested in legitimate political success (i.e. an election win) than starting a revolution. In that sense, there is no intrinsic controversy.

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But if we create one, we empower Palin’s more aggressive followers. We create polarity. Those Palin followers who are the most fed up start to own the idea that Palin is more of a revolutionary than she actually is. They take a stance on one side of the fabricated issue.

Liberals, on the other hand, give Palin and all of her followers a more radical and demonized label than they actually deserve. Palin and Tea Partiers become killers by association. Both sides distort the facts to create ideological warfare.

The most intelligent thing anyone can do right now is drop the myth that there was any serious suggestion in Palin’s crosshairs ad. Bottom line, it was a hunting analogy that served her audience well, like a niche product. Only the most delusional people–the same ones who think that, say, the UN is trying to control them via implanted transmitters–would see it otherwise.

Let’s not popularize this delusion in order to justify more aggression and violence. If we do, we fall into the same dynamic that Sarajevo, Rwanda and many more countries fell victim to before their wars. When it comes to mindless mythology, nobody wins.

  • Vasily

    As far as I can tell, there is absolutely zero evidence at this point in time that Loughner was inspired by Sarah Palin, or by the Tea Parties, or by anything like a halfway sane political position on issues. By making a statement like “…Hardly, unless you happen to be an obsessed, angry end-of-roper like Loughner..” you’re perpetuating the rush to judgment I see everywhere on the news today. It would be nice if everyone held their opinions regarding his motives until someone’s had a chance to do a real analysis of his electronic trail and the distorted world between his ears.

  • smor

    I couldn’t disagree more with your analysis. Palin may having nothing to do with what happened, but she is part of a movement that creates a lot of hateful energy, a sense of having to save the country from the traitorous left. I have yet to witness an effort on her part to unify as a country, to promote civil discourse or anything like that. Every speech, every interview, sounds like a war cry. People like her are not leaders, they are cheerleaders for whatever their cause is. Again: Even if her stupid map was never on the shooters mind, it is worth thinking about the way politicians and public figures condone violence, figuratively speaking of course, and potential consequences from that.

  • rob

    Well said. I’m no Palin fan either, but this is not her responsibility.

  • rjs

    basically i agree, it’s really a virginia tech wacho all over again…but there is still no place for this kind of shit in our heated politics:

  • BPReader

    What’s with the backpedalling? Palin pal Sharron Angle talked about “second amendment remedies” when she didn’t like election outcomes, and this is what they look like. By banging the drum of the language of gun violence (“Lock and load! We’re gunning for them! Don’t retreat – reload!”) she reaped what she was sowing.

    If she’s so proud of the things she said, why did she spend today hiding and deleting them?

  • Vasily

    Agreed … neither is there a place for similar crap on the left (I could post a whole list of over-the-top provocative s**t from progressive sites, but that’s beside the point).

    Regarding your “basically”: Either Loughner was inspired by the Tea Party movement, or he wasn’t. Once there’s evidence to the contrary, fine. Until then, the left should not use Loughner to further their political ends. Example: I saw a young man in grunge gear holding a candle at a vigil for Giffords, and rather than speaking to what her life meant, he took the opportunity to trash Sarah Palin who apparently is responsible for all of America’s ills now that Bush is out of office. Using a tragedy for political ends in this way is obscene.

    There’s a singular lack of reason on both sides at this point, and without reason, (as the fox said) chaos reigns.

  • The mentally unbalanced and criminally insane are with us always. American politics is a rough and tumble arena with highly charged rhetoric. It always has been and always will be; and the politically unscrupulous will always seek to take advantage of events like the Oklahoma bombing or the Arizona shootings. What we must do at times like these, however, is focus not on politics but on the facts of the situation and what practical things we can learn from them. Can we protect members of Congress from this kind of attack? If we build walls between our representatives and senators and the people they represent, what effect will it have on our democracy? This is a time for cool heads, rational thought, and objective analysis. Our thoughts and prayers should be with the victims and their families. Our words and actions going forward should be those we would expect from a crime-scene investigator, not those we would expect from an ambulance chaser.

  • Dwyer Jones

    Every time Sarah Palin shows up in public, she should be booed off the stage, out of the house, and out of the state. She and her kind are would-be terrorist sociopaths that are clearly a danger to our democracy and to the rule of law. They must be treated like the criminals and crazies that they are, and denied access to public office and the public airwaves. STOP PALIN NOW!!!!

  • Denise

    “The most intelligent thing anyone can do right now is drop the myth that there was any serious suggestion in Palin’s crosshairs ad. Bottom line, it was a hunting analogy that served her audience well, like a niche product. Only the most delusional people–the same ones who think that, say, the UN is trying to control them via implanted transmitters–would see it otherwise. ”
    Sure we should just ignore statements made by idiots who have their faces on camera every chance they get. I always ignore problems and wait for them to go away. Of course those with the implanted transmitters pay close attention and act off these suggestions. But then the Palinss, Boehners, and Angles of the world don’t have sense enough to know this; it requires a brain

  • ubetcha

    let’s pretend no one is responsible except the whacko. yeah that’ll let us all keep insulting each other and still sleep well. let’s pretend we had nothing to do with it.

  • Grizdave

    You are only half right. While there is no direct link (at this time), the rhetoric is completely out of line, and does let the fringe believe that there should/could be ‘solution’ that is ‘second amendment’ related (another of palin et al’s talking points).

  • Hfactor

    While clearly this shooter had some mental health issues that led to his behavior and is, ultimately, responsible for this atrocious act, provocateurs like Glen Beck and Sarah Palin should know that the rhetoric they spew, laden with words like “reload” and likening the opposition to “Hitler”, have potentially deadly consequences. Palin and her aides insistence that Palin’s previous rhetoric or use of rifle targets was “misunderstood” is inherently dubious and should carry no weight with the well reasoned public.

  • maleva

    Palin is dangerous, is trying to incite civil war, is bad for America. Nothing is positive about Palin and her family, Bristol the Pistol? uh
    Palin is bad for America, we need to read her the Riot Act and put her in jail where she belongs.

    Never never never will be President of the USA.


    Sounds like an echo from the past, say around 1930’s —-Germany, —————-you didn’t leap from a family line named Goebbels by any chance?

    Ofcoarse Sara’s hate politics caused this death—as will your comments putting it in a shadow as you have.

  • John

    Um, no. You’re entirely wrong. Regardless of what some lunatic does, how can this kind of advertising be allowed in a civil society?

  • Tom

    Unfortunately, it is always the ‘delusional dimwits’ who respond to such things. Irresponsibly portraying the targeting with crosshairs is just one more piece to a puzzle that incites violence. Those who use such metaphors without considering the influence they might have on the ‘delusional dimwits’ of the world are ‘delusion dimwits’ themselves.

    It’s not Palin’s fault that this crackpot did what he did, but to say that she had no part in the creation of a violent atmosphere — within which the probablilitiy of such atrocicities increase — is itself delusional.

  • gary

    Not one to point fingers….but take a weak minded heavily influenced child , give him access to weapons, and help to stir the pot of political rhetoric with hunting analogy, and you have Tuscon’s tragedy. Sara Palin is NOT the answer to the problem, she is the problem.

  • billyzero

    You’re wrong. Inflammatory speech like Palin’s has consequences. When Palin preaches to the lowest element about tyranny and revolution using words like target and reload, a tragedy like AZ can almost be expected.
    Palin needs to own this tragedy but of course that will never happen. If Palin (and others) can’t tone down their rhetoric, then media has the responsibility to not air their incitements.
    This has gone way beyond the theoretical. It’s time for the adults to start controlling the children.

  • david lee

    i say we DO hold her accountable. let’s charge her as an accomplice to murder. whatever it takes to get rid of this twit is fine with me. it’s time she hangs. i believe she called the crosshairs “surveyor’s symbols.” are we supposed to believe this? does the most illiterate politician/pundit think we are more stupid than she? LET’S PUT A CROSS HAIRS ON WASILLA.

  • Drea

    OK, assuming there is no room for this kind of rhetoric, and it is indeed dangerous, should government create a law banning certain language and/or insinuations? I have trouble reconciling Palin speak, which is open to interpretation, with the idea and necessity of free speech.

  • Vasily

    And you have zero proof that there will ever be a direct link established between Loughner’s insane act and the heated rhetoric. His act was a product of his psychosis and paranoia, not the result of listening to heated rhetoric on the right (his politics seem at this point to have been more left wing than right wing, in any case). Was Al Gore responsible for the Unabomber’s crimes? We do have direct evidence that Kaczynski was influenced by his environmental writings – a copy of Earth in the Balance was found in his cabin. Was Martin Scorsese responsible for Hinckley’s assassination attempt on Reagan? He was heavily influenced by the Travis Bickle character in that film. And regarding heated rhetoric, don’t fool yourself: the hands of the left are filthy with it. Nina Totenberg wished AIDS on Jess Helms. And Barak Obama said of the Republicans during the Presidential campaign: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” Maybe that’s what set off Loughner. Just sayin.’ ;)

  • deo

    Oh yeah, poooooooooooor $arah….this must be awful FOR HER.

  • Ednor

    Really quite amazing that you can’t see the irresponsibility of this graphic. Palin is a master at pandering to her adoring tea party devotees, and to suggest that a person would have to be as deranged as Gifford’s would-be assassin to think that this so somehow connected gives you about as much credibility as the hypocritical mouth-breathers that make up the bulk of the tea party movement.

  • mrkleen

    Instead of using this tragedy as an opportunity to re-frame the debate, Sarah Palin has spent the weekend trying to scrub instances of “lock and load” – and this map with crosshair targets from her many websites. She could have helped to unify the sides in this political debate, but instead tried to claim she never said THIS or never insinuated THAT.

    She may not be to blame – but she isnt helping the situation in any way, shape or form.

  • Dustin

    She did not cause the violence, but her hateful, fear-mongering incites resentment among the general public, and actual hate and conspiratorial paranoia amongst that small suggestible unstable segment of our population. She is a political puppet that needs to be held responsible for her SUGGESTIVE INFLUENCE.

  • Richard Anderson

    Your comments would have carried so much more gravity without the gratuitous cheap shots at Palin to establish your anti-Palin bonefides. Those remarks are much more appropriate to Obama. Palin was a hugely successful mayor and governor who actually had real legislative achievements, not a vapid empty suit rhetorician who only gave speeches and won elections without actual achievement.

  • Tony

    Right wing babble speaking of joining forces in a revolutionary sense and that our country is changing from a replublic to a socialist and we all must fight to fix that ugh it goes on and on mix that with Palins “don’t retreat reload” yes thats a quote! Along with her website that had this (politicians) name and crosshairs on a map Well to me its a reasonable assupmtion to believe that this wacko had been poisoned by these comments and redric. Was it political? You have to be a total idot to think otherwise. It was a (politician) that was shot in the head during a (political) rally soooo duh … also it was that politician that he obviously came there to confront she was in fact the first to be shot. People have been convicted of crimes with less circumstancial evidence. So yes it is a reasonable assumption 1. that this was (political) 2. Palin website did contain the (politicians name) with a map that included crosshairs pointed over that (politicians) district 3. That Palins use of redric such as “don’t retreat reload” are sufficent for me to believe it possable/reasonable that this persons motives where swayed by these items and that they may have led to the end result, and I do not consider myself delusional.

  • HNTX

    i say we DO hold her accountable. let’s charge her as an accomplice to murder. whatever it takes to get rid of this twit is fine with me. it’s time she hangs. i believe she called the crosshairs “surveyor’s symbols.” are we supposed to believe this? does the most illiterate politician/pundit think we are more stupid than she? LET’S PUT A CROSS HAIRS ON WASILLA.

    … that being said, now is someone gonna take her out and hold you accountable for accomplice to murder due to your post on here? I think not..

  • tank

    Inflammatory speech like Palin’s has consequences. When Palin preaches to the lowest element about tyranny and revolution using words like target and reload, a tragedy like AZ can almost be expected.
    I say after something like this happens they need to Charge
    the people that started it…Free Speach doesnt mean telling the USA to grab your Guns an act…Put them in JAIL for awaile mybe wake these Idiots up, if not Back to Jail…or What every-one needs to cary a GUN all the time omg. Is it was left to me Jail for 3 Years, bye bye Palin.

  • TechMonkey

    c’mon man .. She CLEARLY was tying her message guns. Right in the facebook crosshair page is the phrase “This is just the first salvo in a fight” .. ‘Salvo’ is about gun ammunition, not a surveyors symbol .. Does Palin and her right leaning tea bigots think we are stupid? There is no doubt that the divisive politics of today incite violence, and the Palin / Beck / Limbaughs of the world are making millions throwing gas on the fire.

  • Scarfan

    Right, only the left can make and understand the nuance and subtlety of political rhetoric. When the right uses it and hears it one can only assume it will cause some one to go on a killing spree. In this case it was so overt it caused a left winger to shoot at other left wingers. Think about what would have happened if a right winger had seen Sarah Palins cross hair graphic. We should just kill Palin now so senseless acts of violence like this will never happen again.

  • I spend a lot of my professional life getting people to understand the power of their language. And as a mother, when my kids were little, I said over and over, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, and words can really harm you.”

  • Palin for Prez

    Palin cannot be instantly assumed to be the cause of this. You’ve heard of Columbine… is that Palin’s fault because doesn’t support gun control? Democrats are just as filthy with their rhetoric. It’s pathetic that noone can accept it. Palin is an actively outdoors woman and uses gun references to tick you democrats off and it works and you let her. There is such thing as coincidence!!!!

  • Joe

    Our collective intelligence is guided by our leaders from all fields. Including sports, media, education, music, politics etc. The leaders are the ones that shape the headlines and in some way the map of how we view reality and the world. Of course they have influence on people and the masses to some meaningful degree. Sarah Palin clearly can’t undersand this. It was not directly her fault, but she is one of the most feebleminded politicians out there. With her attitude of not showing up and appologizing for this, she is clearly showing what kind of obsolete human being she has become.

  • But you can understand why the libs are angry. The crosshairs can easily be seen as “go kill these dems”. You can’t threaten someone like that. She obviously didn’t want anyone shot, but she needs to come clean and be truthfully reflective on the language and imagery she has used.

  • Donita Devance

    Thank you TomMyfun. It was a poor choice of words. She didn’t intend for a nut job to kill people but our leaders have to be reeasonable with their speech because it can easily be miscontrued. By the same token Obama must refrain from saying things like “bring a gun to a knife fight.” My problem with Palin is the revisionist stance. Her folks are saying that the sights on the districts she wanted to take over in 2010 depicted a surveyors scope and not the crosshairs of a rife scope. Okay. So the phrase, “Lock and load! We’re gunning for them! Don’t retreat – reload!” is surveyor speak for what????

  • Sheila

    It is very sad to me that those on the left are the ones who want to take freedom of speech away. As a conservative I believe we all have a right to vocalize, nonviolently or opinions. If this country takes those rights away, we no longer will be the country that our founders established.
    Sarah Palin has always use hunting terminology and to take that right away would be wrong…none of us would want to have our rights taken away and for otheres to determine wheather what we way is right or wrong.

  • Tony

    Richard Anderson Why is Palin not Gov. today? Why are the people (rather small in numbers) of Alaska glad she is not? Um yeah polls show this … Also what was her great achievment while in public office? Sonny Bono was a mayor too lol !! Sooooo Whattttt …. and Obama well I will wait patiently to see the results of his efforts. But yes I am one of those people who believe alot of whats wrong today is due in (great) part to the prior administration. An administration I may add that not once refused a single spending bill out before it. An admisitration that seperated itself soooo far from its own party platform that we now have these fractions of what used to be a republican party now calling themselves the Tea Party.

  • Tony

    Additionally, If Palin wants to stand on the freedom of speach pulpit then she should back her redric not run from it. The fact that she removed all of these graphics and redric (after the fact) should speak as lound as the poison she was spealing out. I would have had more respect for her if she stood by her position and went on camera and said hey this guy was a nut job and he did not to see or hear anything from anyone else to be influenced to do what he did. I guess freedom of speach that these Tea Partiers announce only appears and dissapears when its convienat to them and thier situation. If you ever want to be a Persident Sarah Palin you need to get a back bone. Tweets and Myspace posts do not cut it :) It’s very impersonel and lets face it anyone could be posting them on her behalf ;)

  • Jon

    You said “Judging by her actions, Palin is more interested in legitimate political success (i.e. an election win) than starting a revolution. In that sense, there is no intrinsic controversy.”

    This is not about Sarah Palin, her intentions or ideals. She put up a map with a gun sight focusing on a congresswoman and that woman was shot. There is an intrinsic controversy because its an image, not a mesage. Images are interpreted by the viewer, not the creator. If Palin wants election wins, there are hundreds of different ways to convey that message. She chose to convey that message with a target, and now she will have to deal with the aftermath of the target being taken literally. Again, the argument is not about Palin’s intention, but her lack of judgement by creating such an image. We can see her further her lack of responsibility by using the term blood libel in her defense. It is about time that Palin take responsibility for her lack of judgement and common sense and accept some of the backlash which has come about in response to her actions. Unfortunately, this will all be forgotten by the time the 2012 elections are underway.

  • Tony

    To Shela: It seems that the ones on the right have you brainwashed into thinking that the ones on the left want to interfear with your freedom of speach. I am not so blind however to be able to identify (fear politics) when I hear it. Remember Shela it was the (ones on the right) that stepped on your freedoms when (they) initiated and passed the Patriot Act. You did not hear the right (then) saying anything about your rights being stripped did you? And um (a wake up call) this country is not even close to what it was when our founding fathers established it. Money is the root of all evil and wrong doing and it is what has deteriorated our political system. Too many special intrests groups, lobyisits deciding on what drugs should be approved by the FDA and which one should not. It was the right that pushed through legislation (prior to Bush leaving office) just to get it in. They where the ones saying if we don’t bail out these banks then this will get worse, TARP funds originated from the right. But you won’t hear these things from Beck, Rush, or those guys. They just want to sell gold at inflated prices and preach at how things will get worse lol !! Sorry about going off topic but I was on a roll lol !!

  • Tony please follow that link to warnings (from the government) about radical right wing threats within the U.S. as usual it turns up (after) something happens.

  • Marc

    So were all you lefties upset and outspoken about the rhetoric used by your side that suggested killing and bombing Bush and others on the right. The whacko who legally purchased a firearm is to blame. Just because your side lost doesn’t give you the right to suddenly cry foul and suggest that language needs to be toned done. Stop your whining.

  • Tony

    @ Marc well Mark fortunatly we still live in a free country (last I checked). So (as Palin would say) we have the right to freedom of speach. So we won’t stop (as you would put it whinning) lol !! And I am not sure who you are refering to as (have lost) but just in case you need a reality check, google this “who’s in the whitehouse now” ;/ Bush was a loser and he is past tense (thank gawd) move on!

  • Funny they keep saying we have to tone down our talk.
    so if this had nothing to so with it why tone down their talk? People who keep saying this had nothing to so with it must have lived with him to know what he watched on tv.
    This kind of talk is all it takes to set some one like him off being it is on the air 24-7. Palin is just part of the problem the whole congress is to blame.

  • bob


  • Tony

    Sarah Who? lol!! Oh yeah she was Gov of the least populated State in America :/ Oh Yeah she was VP nominee for the Republican Party (the reason why the lost). And Oh Yeah that gives her the political clout to be a recognized voice? Take a pill Bob the Dems have been in office two years now and guess what? YOU STILL HAVE UR GUNS DUDE!

  • Tony

    Oh and Bob BTW Fox News is not out there saving your white butt :) look who owns Fox News lol !! Google that and you’ll c he is far from white! It’s idiots like you that r led around like sheep by redric and lies. What r you this year Bob? Republican? Conservative? Tea Party? It’s not a pick choose thing this game of politics :) if it looks like a pig and smells like a pig then R, C, Tea it all boils down to the same animal. The root of all of our current economic situations in this country is this (in a word) the Republican Party) and GWB, Dick Cheney. Never refusing to sing a single spending bill in the 8 years in office, leading our country into a war based on ficticous statements, lies, and inuendo. Read your bible Bob? It will tell you of what comes of powers that do what we have done :) And guess what Bob? Those are all (facts) cold hard (facts). Strange how the (pig) R, C, Tea won’t bring those things up lol !! Soooo Bob don’t be fooled into being an oinker!

  • wes

    What fantasy are the deniers living. This wasn’t a hunting metaphor. She specifically put up the crosshairs site for the people who were committing or threatening acts of violence. Remember when the site came up. There were bricks being thrown through windows, coffins left on lawns, a teabagger tried to murder an Obama supporter, and politicians who supported the HC bill had their lives threatened. Palin then Stated keep up the good work and directed them to her website. You people don’t get to rewrite history.