A commenter at the DU blog asked this very interesting question:
"...how rarely ANYONE actually takes a shot at a member of Congress. Coincidence? Probably not.
Would it have been acceptable if Palin had posted a picture of the White House with a rifle sight superimposed on her web site? So why was this?"
Good question. Why is it okay for Palin to put a crosshair gunsight on Congressmen and Congresswomen she wants defeated, but that very same graphic on the White House for defeating the president would get her a visit from the Secret Service?
UPDATE I: from the NYTimes:
"While the exact motivations of the suspect in the shootings remained unclear, an Internet site tied to the man, Jared Lee Loughner, contained antigovernment ramblings. And regardless of what led to the episode, it quickly focused attention on the degree to which inflammatory language, threats and implicit instigations to violence have become a steady undercurrent in the nation’s political culture.
Clarence W. Dupnik, the Pima County sheriff, seemed to capture the mood of the day at an evening news conference when he said it was time for the country to 'do a little soul-searching.'
'It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included,' Sheriff Dupnik said. 'That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America: pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.' ”
Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday and an unknown number of others were wounded when an assailant opened fire in an area where the lawmaker was meeting with constituents, officials said.
There were varying accounts on Giffords' condition, but a hospital spokesman said the Democrat was in critical condition. An aide to the Democrat was killed. An unknown number of others was injured, officials officials said, including additional aides to the lawmaker.
Congressional officials said one of the victims died soon after the attack, and others were taken to a nearby hospital. The officials said the wounded included some of Gifford's aides who were with her at the time.
LATEST REPORTS ARE THAT A YOUNG CHILD, 9 YEARS OLD, WAS AMONG THOSE WHO WERE KILLED AS WELL AS A FEDERAL JUDGE, John Roll.
"Federal Judge John Roll was shot and killed in this morning's attack in Tucson. He had earlier been under protective custody because of threats tied to case tied to the illegal immigration issue in the state."
A SPOKESMAN FROM THE HOSPITAL SAID HE IS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT REP. GIFFORD'S RECOVERY.
THE ASSAILANT IS IN CUSTODY. HE HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS JARED LAUGHNER, A 22-YEAR OLD AMERICAN.
LAUGHNER'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL. (h/t TPM)
Her father Spencer Giffords, 75, wept when asked if his 40-year-old daughter had any enemies.
"Yeah," he told The Post. "The whole tea party."
FROM ANDREW SULLIVAN'S DAILY DISH:
Giffords, whom I had not noticed before, seems remarkably calm, reasoned, sane and public-spirited. She did not try to exploit the angry right's attacks on her, but she did rightly note them. What we're seeing here is an almost perfect case of foresight: a public figure specifically stargeted rhetorically in ways that seemed to encourage violence, several incidents that prove the threat was real, at-the-time warnings of the dangers of this, and a stirring refusal of Giffords to be intimidated.
That she was at the Safeway today is a great testimony to her character and to core values of democratic accountability. She warned us. We carried on. And no-permit gun rights
A gun had appeared at one of her Safeway appearances before. From a Gail Collins column:
Giffords warned of this:
"They really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up, and, you know, even things for example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. When people do that, you gotta realize there's consequences to that action."
Various Palin sites are frantically removing various incendiary materials - which is both gratifying, but also, it seems to me, an acknowledgment of previous rhetorical excess. TakeBackThe20.com is in meltdown, images like these are being removed ASAP, and Palin's Facebook page simply cannot cope with the number of commenters blasting her."
Back in June 2010, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's (D-AZ) Republican opponent Jesse Kelly had an event at which voters could shoot an assault rifle with the candidate, promoted as thus:
Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.