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Letters to the Editor

A rhetorical analysis for ending violence

Nathaniel Batchelder January 18th, 2011

Some argue that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot by a deranged individual and that violent political speech had nothing to do with the murders. Perhaps, but shortly after the health care reform vote, which she supported, somebody jumped a gate and smashed the front door of her office.

A year earlier, one of her aides called authorities when a visitor dropped a handgun at an announced public event at a local Safeway grocery store. What’s happening in American politics?

Most are aware that, shortly after the health care reform vote, Sarah Palin’s website exhibited a national map with some 20 congressional districts in the crosshairs of symbols that look like gunsights.

When she announced the map, Palin urged supporters, “Don’t retreat. Instead — reload!” Congresswoman Giffords’ Republican opponent Jesse Kelley went further, asking supporters to donate $50 in order to “shoot a fully automatic M-16” and to “get on target” to help “remove Gabrielle Giffords.”

Sarah Palin later praised Kelley on Fox Business News, saying, “I don’t feel worthy to lace his combat boots.”

Violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in American politics. It’s time for leaders in all domains and disciplines to urge toning down the political rhetoric that incites rage in some, and violence in the mentally unbalanced. And it is time to discuss deeper background checks for those purchasing military assault rifles or automatic weapons.

—Nathaniel Batchelder
Oklahoma City

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