“The Vitriol Vitriol”

Martin Kaplan of USC’s Norman Lear Center writes at the Jewish Journal of what he fears will be lost in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings.

He writes, “If this tragedy is going to be a teachable moment, the lesson won’t be found by determining whose vitriol is warranted.  It will be found instead in what the vitriol is actually about.  And that, as Sheriff Dupnik nailed it, is “tearing down the government.””

As attention turned over the weekend to some of the vitrioltic rhetoric of the past couple of years, however, Kaplan notes that Dupnik, who called for “soul searching,” was almost immediately marginalized as a liberal mouthpiece.

He writes, “The problem with Sheriff Dupnik’s calling out vitriol, blogged one conservative, was that it was actually “calling out Rush, Glen[n], Sean and Fox!!!!!”  Dupnik was, wrote another, “inciting violence accusing Rush, tea parties, Palin, and Republicans of bigotry and murder.”

“…With Dupnik branded a liberal, the troubling thought that American public discourse had taken a wrong turn had been reduced to garden-variety lefty partisanship.”

He also relates past debates over media violence and explicit content to inflammatory political rhetoric.

He writes on Huffington Post, “If you’re worried that violent video games may make kids prone to bad behavior; if you think that misogynic and homophobic rap lyrics are dangerous to society; if you believe that a nipple in a Superbowl halftime show is a threat to our moral fabric – then surely you should also fear that the way public and media figures have framed political participation with shooting gallery imagery is just as potentially lethal.”

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