U.S. public says Giffords shooting, rhetoric unrelated

January 11, 2011

RTXWDK6_Comp-150x150Most Americans see no relation between the attempted assassination of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the political tactic of lacing vitriolic rhetoric with firearms analogies.

That’s the conclusion of a CBS News poll that found most Republicans (69 pct), most independents (56 pct) and even a plurality of Democrats (49 pct) believe the two phenomena unrelated.

Those numbers add up to 57 percent of Americans overall — a true majority though not quite big enough to break a Senate filibuster.

The survey, which has a 4 percentage point margin of error, did not ask whether graphic images of rifle cross-hairs, references to finding a Second Amendment solution to congressional reform and similar ballistic gimmickry should continue in force or get booted (not fired) fromRTXWE5N_Comp-150x150 political marketing departments in the interests of public safety.

Giffords’ accused assailant, Jared Loughner, is described as a mentally disturbed loner who used a semi-automatic pistol with an extended ammunition clip to kill six people and wound 14 others on a sunny Saturday in Arizona. He was subdued only when he stopped to reload.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says troubled loners are vulnerable to anger-stirring rhetoric and notes that there’s an army of people out there who are just like Loughner.

The response to the shootings in Congress has been powerful enough to unite lawmakers in the interests of their own safety.  Otherwise there’s been lots of finger-pointing and pontificating, which is always helpful as everyone knows.

USA/The CBS poll suggests the country may believe itself to be confronting nothing more than another high-profile nut-with-a-gun incident.  In which case, we might expect public attention to leave the auditorium soon after the customary hand-wringing ceremonies are over.

Then the vitriol can return safely to center stage.

Reuters Photo and Graphics Credits: Rick Wilking  (Hospital Memorial and Prayer Service); Reuters Graphics (Bullet Trajectory)

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5 comments

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If the United States wants to continue cannibalizing itself, history won’t stand in its way. The right to bear arms (with inadequate security checks), free speech (with no accountability), free markets (with no limits)… such concepts don’t mean anything to the universe. Harmony is the one rule. Nature won’t care if humans or bean sprouts rule the Earth, it will balance accordingly. What a fascinating thing it would be to, for the first time, choose love as our philosophy, see where that takes us.

Posted by TrufSamich | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, I cannot look past the fact that politics in America has become politics of hate. The Democrats hate the Republicans, The Liberal Democrates hate the conservative Democrates, The Tea parties seem to hate anyone who is not them.

Nothing is getting done because nobody wants to work together. The Political parties need to be held accountable for spawning this hate.

Posted by dymaxion | Report as abusive

You speak the truth there TrufSamich. Maybe the earth will make room for human beans? -)

The power of Peace and love … not just for the 60′s to embrace.

Posted by hsvkitty | Report as abusive

Let’s see.. there is an attempted assassination of a politician at a political event by a guy who has posted some pretty out there political opinions.. Why would anyone think it had anything to do with politics?

Posted by CarolynM | Report as abusive

Sara Palin doesn’t get invited to political rallies because of her intellect but because she can “energize” some people, and she doesn’t refrain from using images that have nothing to do with democracy. Instead, she calls voters to reload. When Obama supporters booed his opponent at campaign rallies he immediately told them to stop (“we don’t need that – we need your vote”). But then, why even bother comparing the two!

Posted by frank654 | Report as abusive