The conventional wisdom of the media establishment that strident and outspoken political debate catalyzes violence is an absurdity. Telling people to "kill pigs" -- as the '60s radicals did -- in fact, encouraged violence. But vigorous political debate and strongly or even passionately held views have nothing whatever to do with the decision of some nut to kill a congressman or a president.
Fantasies about Jodie Foster, instructions from Son of Sam or delusions of omnipotence all can cause violence, but heated political debate doesn't. To stigmatize strongly articulated opinions on the left or the right and blame them for the insane attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is outrageous.
Oklahoma City was an act of political terror, incited by resentment against federal tactics at Waco. It was not some speech that ignited Timothy McVeigh, but a massive act of violence.
Ft. Hood was an act of political terror. No speech incited the attacks, but a culture of violence spawned throughout the Islamic world. The same is true of the shoe bomber, the Detroit airplane bomber, the Times Square bomber and, indeed, the terrorists of 9-11.
Neither the left nor the right should confuse political terrorism with the random insanity of a crazed gunman. The attack on Giffords had as little to do with ideology as the attack on the students of Virginia Tech or Columbine High School.
Daniel Greenfield makes a key point: There has not been a single act of Muslim violence in the last two years that the media were willing to identify as motivated by Islam. Each and every time they had to be dragged kicking and screaming, past their cover stories, through groundless claims that the attackers were motivated by psychological problems, bullying, imaginary medical conditions or financial problems -- to some adjunct of the truth. And at the same time over the last two years, each prominent act of violence by non-Muslims was followed by an attempt to identify the attacker or attackers with mainstream Republicans in a cynical attempt to demonize and criminalize the political opposition.
But what if the killer had been a political conservative? What if he had attended tea party rallies or -- for that matter -- been active in Moveon.org or a left-leaning union? Would the killings have made the movement fair game? Would it be right to cast aspersions on tens of millions of nonviolent citizens exercising their democratic rights in the name of discouraging violence?
Since the shootings, I have gotten emails from the BBC and Sky TV in the United Kingdom and Der Spiegel in Germany requesting interviews. How much they would like to link conservative opinions with the attempted assassination of a congresswoman! Suddenly, they are all ears.
But their attempts at linking this insane killer to any political movement are ridiculous and preparatory to an abridgement of free speech.