It’s Not Just Planned Parenthood….

Planned Parenthood. San Bernardino.

America averages one mass shooting every day.  We seem unable to address the paralysis on guns that allows any crank, psychopath or terrorist to acquire instruments of death and destruction, so we discuss every other issue involved, from policing to mental health systems. In the wake of the attack on Planned Parenthood, we’ve focused upon the effects of vitriol, propaganda and reckless accusations.

So let’s “go there.” Does rhetoric really matter?

When we were children, most of us chanted that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Even in childhood, we knew that wasn’t true; the wounds that leave the most long-lasting scars are frequently caused by insulting or hurtful words. Not infrequently, bodies heal faster than psyches.

There are obvious consequences to toxic and uncivil discourse: when we substitute epithets for reasoned argument, we neither convince nor converse in any meaningful sense. The question we need to confront–the issue that people like Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump dismiss as “liberal bias”–is whether a constant drumbeat of nastiness, prevarication and incitement leads less-than-stable folks to “act out.”

The recent attack on Planned Parenthood is the latest in a string of assaults on that agency that have been encouraged, if not caused, by incessant dishonest and inflammatory rhetoric. A recent attack on a Muslim taxicab driver is another horrifying example.

The passenger began asking the driver about his background, and whether he was a ‘Pakistani guy.’” He also asked the driver “about the terror group ISIS” and mocked the prophet Muhammad.

The driver, who moved to Pittsburgh from Morocco five years ago, told the Post-Gazette that he is three months away from becoming a U.S. citizen. His plan is to bring his wife to the United States and start a family in the country he considers home.

I’m a free speech purist. Both the Constitution and common sense tell me that reducing the level of public bile is not something we can achieve by passing a law.

As difficult as it is, we need to challenge the culture that encourages expressions of bigotry and hate. We need to remind people that it is possible to express a point of view without becoming part of the problem; that it is possible to disagree without lying, slandering or justifying horrific behaviors.

In a more reasonable culture, we might even be able to do something about our ridiculously easy access to guns….



56 thoughts on “It’s Not Just Planned Parenthood….

  1. Sheila, you’re right on so many of the things you stated, but the most important thing is winning. Our side must win at any cost.

  2. “….when we substitute epithets for reasoned argument, we neither convince nor converse in any meaningful sense.”
    The problem is that reasoned argument is brushed aside as irrelevant and elitist by those who use epithets . They use name-calling as a defensive tool to distract from the facts of the discussion. They have no intention of changing their minds or even hearing another viewpoint.
    When we live in a state where the governor is so partisan that he is completely deaf to anyone other than his handlers and sycophants, and who is unchallenged in his party’s primary for re-election to governor, we have to wonder how much reasoned argument can do. Gerrymandered districts, local media that is not worth the time to hear, read or see, SuperPACs that dump huge amounts of money into local races without any accountability present obstacles to reason that are nearly impossible to overcome. The megaphone is not shared but is completely in the hands of those who exploit it for their own gain, not the public good.

  3. We cannot legislate common sense. The 1st and 2nd Amendments have been bastardized by rhetoric; the downgrading seemed to began with Sarah Palin lowering the level of intelligent discourse which appears to have been accepted by the public and infected the entire GOP nationally and locally. This includes SCOTUS aiding and abetting that bastardization and adding Citizens United which put this country on the open market – or is it the slave block? Those of us below the 1% are supporting the Trumps and Cruzes and Fiorinas and Carsons and Ryans and another Bush along with others who are encouraging the destruction of Planned Parenthood and allowing more Sandy Hooks and San Bernadinos, et al…and the record number of murders on Indianapolis streets and in other cities and towns across the country continues to climb.

    This year has already set records for the number of killings throughout the country by those who are encouraged by members of Congress – at federal and state levels – and the GOP Cavalcade of Idiots hoping to become president, the most powerful position on earth. Words can encourage individuals to build a better nation or we can continue to allow the “sticks and stones” from the far-right to continue to lead individuals and groups, home-grown and foreign, to systematically destroy American citizens from within their souls or blowing them into pieces individually or in groups small and large.

    Those of us who follow Sheila are given weapons; the weapons of information and solutions and the encouragement to use them and look beyond for more information and other solutions. What are we going to do? Are we going to do anything productive…such as pass along vital information, seek further for more solutions and VOTE?

  4. Sheila, as always you bring up excellent points and focus your readers on important issues. Challenging people and the culture that encourages the expression of bigotry and hate needs to happen. The biggest obstacles to this are of course, the GOP presidential candidates themselves. Not only do they attend conventions, meetings and seminars where hate is promoted, but they also take part in spreading the hate. As my mother used to say, “We teach through example”. Their example promotes hate, fear, racism and incites those with access to weapons to kill. How can we combat this and quickly?

  5. JD, I could not agree with you more. And I’ll take it a bit further. The “obvious consequences to toxic and uncivil discourse” have become media attention. The words of Trump and Carley and Rubio and Cruz get better ratings. Better revenue for FOX, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC. So why use air time on reasoned arguments? Go with the most vile and outrageous . It takes more that one party to spread the hatred and insanity that fills the airwaves these days: the principal speaker and the media.

  6. JD, I could not agree with you more. And I’ll take it a bit further. The “obvious consequences to toxic and uncivil discourse” have become media attention. The words of Trump and Carley and Rubio and Cruz get better ratings. Better revenue for FOX, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC. So why use air time on reasoned arguments? Go with the most vile and outrageous . It takes more that one party to spread the hatred and insanity that fills the airwaves these days: the principal speaker and the media.

  7. There have been other dark ages and other enlightenments. There is no historical precedent for anything but recovery but due to climate change, gun control, the holy wars, racism and burdening debt public and private, time is not this time on our side.

    Humanity is swirling the bowl and ignorance is still on the handle.

    Education, public, private and us are the only hope.

  8. Message I sent the morning to Coats, Donnelly, and Susan Brooks:

    If you can’t get serious about doing something to curb gun violence, I must conclude you enjoy watching Americans die bloody deaths.

  9. From the Guardian Web Site >>> A day after 14 people were killed in the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, all four Republican presidential candidates in the US senate – Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio – opposed a measure that would introduce tighter gun laws.

    They were among Republicans who overwhelmingly voted down a measure that would introduce tighter gun laws by extending FBI background checks on every firearms purchase.
    Candidates’ NRA ratings: a telling reflection of reactions to San Bernardino shooting
    Read more

    Only four of the 54 Republican senators voted on Thursday in favour of applying the checks to currently unregulated sales of firearms online and at gun shows.

    A second gun control effort by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein suffered a similar fate, voted down by a solid Republican bloc giving 54 votes to 45. It would have removed one of the most glaring anomalies of current US gun laws whereby individuals who are listed on the state’s terror watchlist – and forbidden from flying as a result – are nonetheless able to buy lethal firearms.

    Back in time we had the Bank Robbers armed with submachine guns. We knew what they were all about. We had the murders of JFK, MLK and RFK. Now we have the poison of a cause no matter what that cause is linked to mass murder.

  10. Sheila,
    I too grew up with that rhyme. Words did hurt. They have great power. Even in the Old Testament that is acknowledged in the book of Genesis in the act of naming.

    I was also brought up with the idea that with rights come responsibility. We have the right to “free speech”, but it must be used with responsibility because how we speak has consequences.
    Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to have the attitude of “consequences be damned”.

    We now live in a nation where the consequence of irresponsible speech can be fatal.

  11. Let’s not do anything about gun violence until every family in America suffers a loss from it or Wayne LaPierre is a billionaire, whichever comes first.

  12. According to FBI, from 2000-2013 there were 160 mass shooting incidents (about 12 per year). The 300+ is bogus!!! Not saying mass shootings are not tragic, but using fake “statistics” is not helpful.

  13. Here’s what the NYTs reports from FBI statistics.

    “There were, on average, 16.4 such shootings a year from 2007 to 2013, compared with an average of 6.4 shootings annually from 2000 to 2006. In the past 13 years, 486 people have been killed in such shootings, with 366 of the deaths in the past seven years. In all, the study looked at 160 shootings since 2000. (Shootings tied to domestic violence and gangs were not included.)”

  14. If we listen to the news on tv or read it online we are bombarded with sensational stories. Whether they contain facts, or not, seems inconsequential while the spreading of anger and hatred is what sells and garners the most profit.

    I reside in a county that has become extremely “Redneck” over the past twenty years. It is red to the core and even many of the business owners that you think would hold intelligent viewpoints actually believe the GOP must win at any cost. It really is impossible to have a discussion about politics with them if you hold opposing viewpoints or have any compassion for the less fortunate.

    Gerrymandering has prevented any possibility for Democrats to have a chance in rural northern Indiana. I can remember when there were two parties with candidates from each one that actually had a chance at winning votes. The democratic party was disenfranchised years ago by gerrymandering. Sheila, I hope the committee you are serving on to study gerrymandering will actually have a chance to bring change. The cynical part of me finds it hard to believe that will be possible, given that the GOP will do anything to maintain their political power.

    Finally, JD I agree with your comments completely and thank you for sharing them.

  15. The statement that there is one mass shooting every day is intriguing, which is repeated often, and certainly a powerful fact if it’s true, but is there a site or source for that somewhere? I don’t know if those are “fake statistics”, but I would love to see the documentation. Can someone help?

  16. The people have a right to about know reprehensible Planned Parenthood’s practices. (Contrary to Sheilla’s caim, there was nothing “dishonest” about doing that.) After all we taxpayers are subsidizing the organization heavily. That extremists will latch onto political statements for their own use is a fact of life for people on both sides of issues.

  17. Interesting that this group jumps on the gun control band wagon even though Syed had no criminal record and thus would likely have passed any background check but no one is concerned about poor vetting of immigrants leading to his wife’s arrival.

  18. PBS also published a US map listing all mass shootings in 2015. According to the guidelines, a mass shooting is defined as at least 4 people were wounded or killed including the shooter during the incident. This particular map appears to be the same map as published by as provided earlier by Louie.

    PBS reports, “However, there’s not a standard definition of “mass shooting.” Adam Lankford, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama previously told the NewsHour that FBI’s data included incidents where fewer than four people were shot and didn’t include shootings of multiple people that occur in a home or other uncrowded setting.”

  19. Pat C. – John Gregg should tell us what his stand on the problem of too many guns and too much gun violence is. I think he is closer to the LaPierre than not. So on this issue we have no choice in 2016. If I’m wrong please clarify.

  20. Ken: Syed is but one of the perpetrators. The USA has set itself up to grab the world’s attention in the most negative way; we have a culture that promotes and sustains violence with firearms and the NRA or whoever is running congress will not allow a reasonable solution to be considered. Gun violence is a daily occurrence; second amendment be damned.

  21. Wayne LePierre … “Only God will Judge me”

    God … “LePierre, you are a Dick”

  22. Paul, the fact is that Planned Patenthood is providing to a market legal goods and services which they value. Some are funded by government, some by insurance companies, some by patients.

    You are free to obtain their products and services or not.

    Let others be free too.

  23. Ken, you bring up a valid point about needing to thoroughly vet immigrants who obtain visas and citizenship through marriage to a citizen. Those people should have to go through the same stringent long-term vetting process as the immigrants that want to come here to escape violence in their country of origin or for any other reason.

  24. I get sick of hearing that there is no way that America can act as intelligently as the rest of the world in providing public safety.

  25. Paul:

    The people have a right to about know reprehensible Planned Parenthood’s practices.

    Could you tell us what practices you are referring to as reprehensible?

  26. In a zero sum game rhetoric is the quickest and cheapest weapon to draw. It is also the absolute laziest of tactics.

  27. Nancy; I find it reprehensible that Paul K. Ogden misspelled Sheila’s name in his baseless complaint.

    Ken; you have absolutely no comprehension of the meaning or goal of “gun control”.

    Red George; ditto. You do have a way with words:)

  28. Motives are important when considering the perpetrators of gun violence. In the US, we appear to have gun violence that is the result of differing motives. We have the Adam Lanza and the Michael Carneal types, the obviously mentally ill shooters. Then we have the inner-city gang types who use firearms for either robbery or for settling personal arguments.

    At this point, the US is unable to deal effectively with our mentally ill shooters and with our inner-city shooters, and I’m wondering how we in the US plan to deal with those who kill because of ideological reasons as in religious extremist reasons.

  29. Joann! I believe I know exactly what YOU want with gun control, but the subject of this post was a bill that would have done NOTHING to keep a weapon out of Syed’s hand.
    Nancy! Are you unaware that the FBI director said that there is no way to properly vet Syrian refugees?

  30. The FBI has just announced that the San Bernardino shootings are a result of terrorism. How will we in the US deal with this?

  31. 11:27 A.M. December 4, 2015
    “We are now investigating these horrific acts as an act of terrorism.”
    David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.

  32. Shelia,

    I would just like to point out that Canada has laws prohibiting hate speech, and it does not seem to interfere otherwise with their freedom of expression.

  33. How the NRA got the Supreme Court to participate in their brand marketing effort.

    From the New Yorker:

    “Before the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. had been devoted mostly to non-political issues, like gun safety. But a coup d’état at the group’s annual convention in 1977 brought a group of committed political conservatives to power—as part of the leading edge of the new, more rightward-leaning Republican Party. (Jill Lepore recounted this history in a recent piece for The New Yorker.) The new group pushed for a novel interpretation of the Second Amendment, one that gave individuals, not just militias, the right to bear arms. It was an uphill struggle. At first, their views were widely scorned. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who was no liberal, mocked the individual-rights theory of the amendment as “a fraud.””

    “But the N.R.A. kept pushing—and there’s a lesson here. Conservatives often embrace “originalism,” the idea that the meaning of the Constitution was fixed when it was ratified, in 1787. They mock the so-called liberal idea of a “living” constitution, whose meaning changes with the values of the country at large. But there is no better example of the living Constitution than the conservative re-casting of the Second Amendment in the last few decades of the twentieth century. (Reva Siegel, of Yale Law School, elaborates on this point in a brilliant article.)”

    “The re-interpretation of the Second Amendment was an elaborate and brilliantly executed political operation, inside and outside of government. Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 brought a gun-rights enthusiast to the White House. At the same time, Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, became chairman of an important subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he commissioned a report that claimed to find “clear—and long lost—proof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms.” The N.R.A. began commissioning academic studies aimed at proving the same conclusion. An outré constitutional theory, rejected even by the establishment of the Republican Party, evolved, through brute political force, into the conservative conventional wisdom.”

    “And so, eventually, this theory became the law of the land. In District of Columbia v. Heller, decided in 2008, the Supreme Court embraced the individual-rights view of the Second Amendment. It was a triumph above all for Justice Antonin Scalia, the author of the opinion, but it required him to craft a thoroughly political compromise. In the eighteenth century, militias were proto-military operations, and their members had to obtain the best military hardware of the day. But Scalia could not create, in the twenty-first century, an individual right to contemporary military weapons—like tanks and Stinger missiles. In light of this, Scalia conjured a rule that said D.C. could not ban handguns because “handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.””

    So conservatives have currupted the Constitution, the Supreme Court and now Congress to their ends. They would like to add the Presidency to that.

    Time for a line in the sand.

  34. Ken Glass; you have no way of knowing what I “want”, as you call it, regarding gun control. I want the same requirements I was subjected to, and had no complaint following, during the 1980’s. The same goal of the proposed bill that would not have kept a gun out of Syed’s hands. I was required to pay for my handgun (with ID), there was a 7-day waiting period during which time I was required to go to police headquarters to be fingerprinted and a local and NCIC criminal history search was done. I wanted a permit to carry; had to go through the same fingerprint and criminal history search after filling out a second form. This was no guarantee at that time that I wouldn’t kill someone even though I have never even had a traffic ticket. It would be no more of a guarantee at this time but in both cases could weed out some of those with felony level criminal histories. Drunk driving laws don’t keep all drunks from driving. The fact that military level weapons would no longer be available to the general public was added to be part of the new – or returned – gun control. That COULD have kept those weapons out of Syed’s hands. There has been an on-going battle over the legality of gun show sales for decades. There are no guarantees in this life; all we can do is pass laws we hope will weed out some of the criminal types before than can take lives.

    There were a few warnings regarding possible planned terrorist attacks here in this country after the Paris attacks. San Bernadino could be connected to Paris; there could be more, here or in other targeted countries around the free world. With all of this to be concerned with; why are the Republicans fighting so hard to repeal the ACA and shut down Planned Parenthood clinics – both of which improve and/or saves thousands of lives? Who is our enemy here; why don’t you recognize them by the party standard they carry?

  35. If I were charged at this very second in time with selecting an enemy of the US between either the NRA and ISIS, I’d select ISIS.

  36. Ken: There is NO need to yell at people – stop using Exclamation marks when addressing other commenters.

  37. Agreed YET the attacks on Planned Parenthood are decades old– and often ignored. I hesitate to move from the violence on them to the myriad of other attacks. A timeline of the violence at PP clinics is being circulated , with most unaware how long the violence is perpetuated and protected by “freedom” to surround clinics.

  38. Paul: Planned Parenthood does not use any taxpayer money for abortions. This is an established fact. They do conduct well woman exams to check for cancer, and general physical health conditions, like high blood pressure, anemia, heart disease and so forth. These services constitute 97% of the services they render, mostly to women who have no other source for such care. What is reprehensible is that certain people would deny all funding because they are opposed to abortion, without providing any other source for such care.

  39. @Natacha, after browsing the various Planned Parenthood Clinics in Indiana, I located four separate PP Clinics who offer abortion services onsite. Question for you…if a client at one of these four clinics is unable to pay for the price of the abortion, who pays for it? And, what exactly is the dollar price for an abortion at these four PP locations who provide abortion services? I’m simply curious.

    Of the Planned Parenthood Clinics located in Indiana, these four locations offer abortion services on site: 1) Bloomington, 2) Georgetown Road in Indianapolis, 3) Lafayette, and 4) Merrillville.


  40. Per Melissa…”In a zero sum game rhetoric is the quickest and cheapest weapon to draw. It is also the absolute laziest of tactics.”….agree…I read this and thought who is lazy the one that employs rhetoric or the ones who allow it and blindly follow. Horrific deeds have occurred over rhetoric…Hitler and the Nazi regime comes to mind and the millions who bought into it. It is a very powerful weapon.

    I often ask my husband this question…do you want to be the sheep that blindly follows and never questions or the shepherd. I maybe oppositional and challenge authority in a time where we demand…just using the word oppositional for a person that questions and challenges authority, respectfully, is negative…in most instance ‘we’ demand and want people to follow.

    I know for a fact this gal would have never drank the kool-aid.

    I just think and have said for years humans are lazy thinkers…we much rather be told what to do and what to think.

  41. I just checked that stunning web site from Louie, and sure enough, there is just about one mass shooting every day. And they list 2013 and 2014, available in an Excel format in case you want to do some analysis.

    Interesting that 279 of the shooters were classified “unknown”, and those “unknown” persons killed 254 people and wounded 1109–all over the country. Among the 60 known shooters, two had Arabic-sounding names. The total so far is 462 dead and 1312 wounded. This is truly awful: 353 people have attacked out of the blue and killed or maimed 1774 people.

    Ken, knowing that Sheila’s claim–America averages one mass shooting every day– is dead on, and that those numbers are not “fake statistics”, does that influence you in any way? You were so vehement about attacking the “fake statistics” that you implied if they weren’t “fake”, you might think differently. Or are you one of those evidence-free ideologues who would “stay the course” even if you and your car were about to fly over the Grand Canyon?

  42. Considering I’ve been through the vetting process to get my spouse a visa to live in the states which came with a green card, it is not an easy or cheap process. It takes months and some years to get that approval and my spouse is a British citizen which is supposed to be our ally. Anyone that dismisses this process doesn’t know the first thing about how it’s done or how expensive it is or how long it takes. After they did the background check from the age of 14, interviewed him etc, he had to get a physical. The doctor checked to see if he was indeed a male and that was humiliating for him. Then they took his blood, his urine, took xrays and pumped him full of immunizations on the last visit to the doctor. Anyone with no record of so much a parking ticket will probably pass. What exactly do you expect from this process? There are awful evil humans all over the place and some of them are Americans. Stop the HATE. Stop the FEAR.

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