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.
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.