This was the first full debate on the House floor since the Tuscon shootings. The new Era of Civility™ has started off with quite a bang (am I allowed to say that anymore?). Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) got the civility theater going today with his comparison of his Republican peers with Nazi propagandist extraordinaire, Joseph Goebbles.
What class. What style. What civility(?).
Maybe I just don't understand the meaning of the term "civility". After all, I'm conservative, so I must be mentally deficient, right (just ask Janeane Garofalo)? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, civility is:
a polite act or expression
Now, maybe I'm crazy, but comparing more than half of your colleagues to a vicious, soulless slaughterer of innocents on a massive scale seems a bit, well, uncivil, does it not?
When questioned about his...unique take on civility, his answer was quite a feat of verbal gymnastics (via HotAir):
“I don’t think I was comparing the Republicans to Goebbels. I was saying that lies are lies and Goebbels was the great perpetrator of lies and that’s a danger, and if you look at Goebbels you can see the lie that he told about Jews which he constantly did, became considered fact in Germany that the Jews were evil, and people got involved and didn’t stand up.”…
“I think civility is not lying, and if you can’t come up and say that somebody is lying when they’re lying, then the lie becomes the truth. That’s not uncivil to say somebody lied,” he said.
So apparently, his definition of civility is "not lying". Which dictionary did that definition come from, Rep. Cohen?
Beyond that, what he has done is set up a sort of 'incivility word problem'. If lies = lies + Goebbels = lies then lies = Republicans means Republicans = Goebbels. Deductive reasoning, anyone?
CNN, (former home of a political talkshow called Crossfire) in their desperation to set the 'tone' (and hopefully boost ratings), have become whimpering pc apologists. The national attempt to have this 'conversation on violent rhetoric' has made it very clear to almost everyone (even the women on The View) that not using martial phraseology is nearly impossible, even in everyday, non-vitriolic, non-hate speech. Sherri Shepard went so far as to throw her hands up in disgust and say, "I give up" after several attempts to describe how the crosshairs rhetoric was 'under fire'.
These phrases are commonly used because they are apt analogies. Not being able to use common phrases like 'battleground', 'targeted', 'under fire', or even Joy Behar's comedic reference to 'killed it' should open up a whole new dialogue, the stifling of free speech.
Ultimately though, we also need to have a dialogue on mental illness. The biggest failure in this whole situation was that Loughner was obviously disturbed, the police and college were involved, and yet he never received any psychiatric help. It seems Arizona's 5150 laws are pretty robust, though, considering how little Eric Fuller did to warrant a 72 hour psychiatric hold and evaluation (although the "ear necklace" thing was pretty creepy). Perhaps if Loughner had undergone the same thing, 6 people wouldn't be dead today. The ball was dropped here. This kid was so crazy that people got a malevolent vibe just sitting near him. Not just his teachers, but his fellow classmates feared for their lives to the point where they had planned out an exit strategy if he pulled a gun in class. He built a shrine to a human skull in his backyard, for heaven's sake, and ranted about mind control through grammar online. And yet, to date, there is no evidence that he had any sort of psychiatric evaluation whatsoever.
Jared Loughner was crazy. Period. Rep. Giffords was unable to answer one nonsensical question from him back in 2007, and she was targeted. In the ironic twist of the century, the non-conservative lunatic gunman tried to kill her not because of violent right-wing rhetoric, but, technically, for no rhetoric at all.
Stifling speech to make a political point is unacceptable. Yet again, the neo-pravda media, in their eternal conservative witch hunt, have attempted to 'frame' a debate that has nothing at all to do with the tragedy they are exploiting. Here's a little hint guys - your job is to report the news, not opine on what you think might have motivated the killer. And if you absolutely must, well, that's what editorials are for.
As for people like Cohen, who demand civility from one side of their mouth while spewing vitriol out the other, you are a huge part of the problem. This practice isn't about 'furthering debate', it's all about shutting down debate. And that's NOT what this country is all about. You may not be happy about what the opposition is doing, but repealing an unpopular bill is in no way equitable with the Final Solution. Above and beyond that, if you insist, Rep. Cohen, on going down that path, that is your right as a citizen of this country. However, you then forfeit your right to criticize anyone else who does so, or risk losing credibility permanently.