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.

Written by Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.