Gabby Giffords

By Sean Carroll | January 8, 2011 11:37 am

Gabrielle Giffords, 40-year-old U.S. representative from Arizona, was shot in the head at a public event this morning. Several people were killed, including a nine-year-old girl. Police have a suspect in custody.

[Update: I originally wrote that Giffords had been killed; this was wrong, and I apologize for the misinformation. That’s what NPR and CNN and other outlets were reporting, and I mistakenly assumed that they wouldn’t do so without incontrovertible reason. She is in critical condition following surgery. A doctor at the hospital says he is “optimistic” about a recovery — please please please let this be true.]

I met Gabby at a reception a year ago. She seemed, on our very brief acquaintance, to be a really wonderful person — energetic, smart, full of optimism about doing good things as a member of Congress. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is an astronaut. If I may step away from the ideal of journalistic objectivity for a moment, this is a stupid fucking tragedy.

When a politician is shot, people will draw political conclusions. In this case, Gabby had been “targeted” by her political opponents using explicitly violent language. Sarah Palin released a map with a target site pointing at her district; her opponent had a “shoot an M16” fundraiser. (Via @mattyglesias.) At the time, various people were horrified at the casual invocation of this kind of violent rhetoric. Is it now inappropriate to link that rhetoric to the actual violence? I have no idea whether her killer was politically motivated in any way — he might have just been an unstable person with no agenda at all. Regardless, it would be good to tone down the language of deadly force in political discussions. Maybe both Democrats and Republicans can agree on that.

My heart goes out to her family and friends, as well as those of the other victims. We need more public servants like Gabby Giffords.

  • freelancer

    Sean, as of 12:41 AZ time, the hospital spokesperson inteviewed on MSNBC reported that she is alive, in critical condition, and currently in surgery.

    Tucson local news is reporting that she’s passed. There are conflicting reports all over the place.

  • max


    What the hell is wrong with people? The level of anger and violence in this country is just really frightening.

  • Aaron

    This sucks–both for her family and friends and for the country as a whole. According to CNN:

    “She has served as chairwoman of the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee and also holds seats on the House Science and Technology and Armed Services committees.”

    Smart? Energetic? Full of Optimism? Sounds like the kind of person we need behind Congress’ policy on science and technology.

    Also, her husband is still an active astronaut. He is currently scheduled to command the final flight of the space shuttle this April. These events may have thrown a wrench into that plan as well.

  • Tod R. Lauer

    Dear Sean, your impression of Gabrielle is spot on. She is our congresswoman here in Tucson, and we just returned her to congress after a close race in a district that is salted to the conservative side. She is intelligent, passionate, and full of optimism for bettering Arizona and our country. This is a very personal thing for our academic community here in Tucson. She has twice held campaign events in the houses of astronomers, and is working with Roger Angel to advance solar power production, among many, many other connections. The one time I met her she quizzed me about dark energy. I am writing this a block away from the UMC where she is in surgery. I wish I could go over there and do something…

  • Andy C

    It’s certainly an awful situation (though, as noted in previous comments, my understanding is that she is still alive at this time), and the violent rhetoric by political opponents that you refer to is shocking to me.

  • Ben Martin

    Rest of the World: “America, you’re a fucking strange place.”

  • CoffeeCupContrails

    “Initial reports by CBS Affiliate KOLD that the Congresswoman was among the fatalities were corrected by her press people, who told KOLD that she is alive but in emergency surgery. ”

    Let’s hope she and the other victims survive this tragedy. As a science fan, the fact that her husband is an active astronaut and may lead the next ISS mission somehow brings this closer to home.

    #6: I disagree. America is actually just beginning to resemble the “Rest of the World” in terms of political killings – I can’t remember another such political event in recent US history. It’s just stunning that political discourse in the US would stoop to the anti-social standards followed by much of the rest of the developing world. This, and the American republic slowly, but steadily, resembling a police state in these post-9/11 years, is a tragedy. A constantly dimming beacon of freedom.

    Many members of the opposing party condemn these killings; I just hope that this country, even if it were to elect another Republican president, does not let those that instigated this kind of thinking pass the primaries. I also hope that veteran Republicans recognize the gravity of this event and take their party back from the new gun-toting fundamentalists.

  • CoffeeCupContrails

    “Doctor optimistic about Congresswoman Giffords’ recovery”

    Democrat or Republican, fucking tragedy here is that a young child was killed. I just hate 24 hour news networks. Aren’t those drones the real source and the medium? Where else can we peacefully direct our anger?

  • Shecky R.

    didn’t know her husband was an astronaut; thanks for that added bit Sean…
    “tragedy” has become such an overworked, common term in this country it hardly has the appropriate punch or emotion anymore… though I don’t know a word that does. As Michael Moore would say I just want my damn country back again…

  • Andy Fleming

    Absolutely dreadful news again.

    I really think there should be more research done into the causes of these awful shooting sprees. We’ve had two bad ones here in the UK in 2010… it’y s not just a US problem. There seem to be some very screwed up people around.

  • The guy from there

    When i look at the USA from over here, i’m really amazed how republicans can get away with almost anything. And this Palin gal is on her way to be the next president.

    You are too soft. I’m telling you. Way too soft.

  • spyder

    Maybe we need to take a lesson from the Muslims in Egypt and create human shields for our political leaders as well as our public scientists and philosophers.

  • Naught

    Here’s a quote from a YouTube video made by the shooter, Jared Loughner, that should really cement the Sarah Palin connection for everyone — it’s almost as if she were holding the gun herself:

    “If I’m thinking of adding the 1 new symbol and number to the current alphabet and number system then I’m thinking of creating 1 new symbol and number to the current alphabet and number system. I’m thinking of adding the 1 new symbol and number to the current alphabet and number system. Thus, I’m thinking of creating 1 new symbol and number to the current alphabet and number system. You control the grammar!”

  • Joseph

    I’m surprised to see a science website resort to collective guilt by association. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

  • G

    Sean, perhaps you missed the Daily Kos diarist who said Giffords was “dead to him” because she voted against Pelosi (which has since been taken down). Or the Daily Kos diary which “put a bullseye” on centrist democrats including Giffords. Or the DLC map with bullseyes on states where Democrats could potentially pick up seats. I can provide links if you want.

    This was the act of a lunatic and cannot be condemned severely enough. Republicans disagree with democrats – we don’t want them dead. Blaming the right is bullshit and is just your political bias showing.

  • Wil

    Can we please calm down here?

    The only thing we know at this time is that the suspect is mentally disturbed. At this point, all guesses as to who he was gunning for, and why, are just projections of each person’s biases.

    If the gunman was gunning for Ms Giffords, why did he use up all of his ammunition shooting 18 other people? He killed six people (and not her), even though he was standing literally right next to her throughout the entire incident.

    On a different note, I wish the media would give at least 1% of their attention to the six people who died, and to the dozen people who were also injured besides Ms Giffords. The Republican federal judge who was shot and killed is barely mentioned at all. It sends a strong message that the media considers his life, and the lives of the others, doesn’t count for squat as compared to Ms Giffords being injured.

  • El Timo

    I don’t think there was any blame in the post. He just pointed out that certain imagery can push unstable individuals into doing awful things. And he’s right to. Whether or not this is politically motivated, a lot of people would like to see the rhetoric toned down.

  • oomkoos1

    Always amazes me how well these mentally ill killers can track their targets and execute their plans flawlessly.

  • bob

    As the news reports indicate, the gun used was purchased legally. Unfortunately, none of the Second Amendment fanatics will rethink their bizarre positions.

  • Valatan


    the judge is mostly notable for presiding over a controversial immigration case, so while the judge is nominally a Republican, he’s very recently drawn ire from the Republican base. He in fact has recieved death threats, and recently had a security detail.

    Why would someone target a candidate forum if the candidate wasn’t the target. It’s extremely fortiutious that Giffords survived the attack. She was intentionally shot in the head.

    And the reason why Giffords is drawing more attention is because, 1) it was her candidate forum–meaning that she was the only one sure to be there, 2) people are shot every day. My hometown averages more than a murder a day. What is abnormal about this is that it was an apparent political assassination attempt, which doesn’t happen every day. While Loughlin is clearly mentally off, it is also clear that he is deeply interested in politics. 3) this happens aganst the backdrop of increased numbers of death threats against public officials (Including John Cornyn implying that the federal judges that got shot three years ago had it coming to them), people showing up to Presidential forums with guns, and a general uptick in violent imagery in politics. 4) if it is true that there is a second person involved, then this moves beyond a lone crazy person into something much more sinister

  • Charles Schmidt

    There are those that wish to fix blame for the shooting but lets fix the problem and what is the problem, being civil with others and especially those that we disagree with. The name calling of the other side needs to end not just by those in office, the media and blogs but also by the rest of us. All that is done by the name calling is to inflame those on the other side and any point that may be made is over looked but then most people in all walks of life chose to engage their ire before engaging their brain. Name calling should have ended in grade school but it seems that it is on the rise by those that should be adults and that is what we teach our children.

  • psmith

    Inflammatory rhetoric, tinged with violent language has a good chance of provoking the unstable to violent action. It provides the justification that they need and deludes them into thinking they are acting for a greater cause.

  • jonesing

    The claim by some on the right that the shooter, Jared Loughner, is “mentally disturbed” is a defense of convenience because this tragedy threatens to have deep and long lasting political reverberations and the right is desperate to destroy damning linkage.

    This type of whitewashing ahead of the facts is fairly typical of the conservative attitude. The tea party and affiliates engage in inflammatory rhetoric and parade signage that is highly provocative then imagine that the type of vitriol they whip up couldn’t possibly be a catalyst for violence…. AND… when it happens jump on their bikes to distance themselves post haste from the “mentally disturbed” perp who dunnit. This insults the intelligence of anyone who knows what goes on behind the scenes – particularly in uber reactionary Arizona. Giffords was the target of threats, had a gun left at one of her town hall meetings and her office door busted down… the signs were everywhere.

    The right tempts the beast within and goads every lunatic in sight with their gun rhetoric, political meet-ups at shooting ranges, use of gun and scope graphics on ads and signage to target opponents and then they backpeddle and cry “madman!” when a Loughner steps up and pulls the trigger… the word “hypocritical” doesn’t cover it… criminal is more appropriate.

    All the evidence may not be in yet, but it’s a safe bet that at a minimum Jared Loughner was subject to a few influences. One of his fave all-time titles listed in his MySpace profile is Mein Kampf.

    Truth is the concerned hype coming from the right on this is because of the likely political repercussions coming down the pipeline. When you do incredibly irresponsible things such as target Giffords’ district with crosshairs – Palin and co’s genius idea – and generally ramp up the hate rhetoric, the likelihood is high something is going to give. The tragic killings and injuries involving – amongst others – a federal judge (deceased), a congresswoman and a 9-year old girl (deceased) has put the right back on their heels… they’re starting to sweat. Nobody knows at this point how this event may impact on voters in the upcoming months.

    The idea that any threat from the left (as some on the right have been claiming on various threads in the wake of the Giffords’ shooting) is even comparable with right wing hate groups across the US with their calls for action is simply absurd. But the right is good at setting up straw men and churning out counter-spin.

    According to the latest medical update via HuffPo, Congresswoman Giffords recognized members of her family and managed a few words. The prognosis for recovery is apparently good. At least one ray of light in a very bleak and tragic scenario.

  • Just Learning

    This sort of violence is always a tragedy. My heart goes out to all the individuals and families who have had a loved one killed or injured in this irrational act.

  • thomas

    oh look, “both Democrats and Republicans can agree”. Democrats were roundly condemning violent rhetoric all last year and this year. Some Republicans in official positions would come out and condemn violence “from both sides” when “lone wolves” shot police, shot people in church, cut a candidate’s brother’s gas line, smashed windows. Meanwhile, the Republican noise machine would keep on keeping on with the violent rhetoric with winks and nods from the Republicans in the House and Senate.

    And now, Republicans are trying to say that the violent rhetoric came from both sides, and Sean, you are helping them.

    Stop the lazy truthiness of “balance”. You wouldn’t say that both climatologists and skeptics can agree that the sun drives the climate. You wouldn’t say that both evolutionists and skeptics can agree that humans are now in charge. You wouldn’t say that the low-entropy state at the beginning of the universe might as well have been put in place by a Creator. You shouldn’t imply that Democrats had anything to do with the violent rhetoric that’s been poisoning America’s political discourse for especially the past two years.

  • jonesing


  • DPruitt

    Some of the comments on this thread make me sick. Anyone who blames this on Republican politics is a sick individual and needs to realize that not everything is neatly placed into YOUR political prism. Loughner has listed as one of his favorite books The Communist Manifesto. Obviously he HAD to be a right winger, right? Loughner was against the constitution and didn’t like ANYBODY, right-wing or otherwise.

    Anybody who sits there and tries to make political points over this should be ASHAMED of themselves. Six people died, including a nine-year-old girl, and you don’t even look at the tragedy of it all, you just try to blame people whose ideas you disagree with.

    People act like Palin saying that Gifford should be targeted is something new. The only thing new is that her political opponents have no class or even consciences as they simply try to find some way to make this tragedy fit their narrow world view that anything bad automatically has to be conservatives fault.

    Finally, to Thomas, Democrats weren’t condemning violent analogies when Bush was in office. In truth, you had prominent liberals publically calling for Bush’s assassination with no hint of anything but serious intent. You should hang your head in shame as you attempt to use a horrific act committed by an insane man to make yourself feel superior to people whose only crime is they have the temerity to disagree with you.

  • megan

    Also in the same vein as the posting by , that playing ‘balance’ of majority leftwing rhetoric with wild violent neo-con is disingenuous. This is to rebut ‘G’ posting trying to equate the same violent tinged explicit language by the rightwing nuts to progressives promoting political message activism in promoting policy and candidates by DailyKos is strawman logic.

    Palin & others’ using constant imagery of guns shooting to kill things, promoting gun use by public citizens and constant arming for reacting violently to what you don’t like and then use GUN Target Scope crosshairs specifically to pinpoint opponents to be ‘taken out’ on a map is not the same as the generic type crosshair used commonly to mark maps to indicate regions for message promotion, strategic/logistic national plans and new candidates. If anything it’s playing with Cold War bombing pinpointing which is nowhere near to selecting/calling out public officials using a rifle scope sight icon.

  • spyder

    DPruitt stepped right into that one. Apologetics are a strange art form, but coming right after a classic description of them, really makes them visceral, and ugly.

    The little girl was the granddaughter of former major leaguer Dallas Green. The judge was considered, by most, an honorable and forthright man. Three grandmothers were gunned down, all in their 70s. Giffords press aide was killed at the age of 30. The shooter called out the names of the aides, the judge and the Congresswoman as he shot them. But this wasn’t a political act, nor an act of terrorism–it was just another in a long line of lone gunman who was crazy? Right!

  • Naught

    I think jonesing and megan are 100% spot-on. I remember how shocked I was at the vitriol and violent imaging when Palin said, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun!”

  • thomas

    In truth, you had prominent liberals publically calling for Bush’s assassination with no hint of anything but serious intent

    Prove it.

    Oh right, all you can point to is a few forum posts by random assholes on the Internet. That’s because prominent liberals don’t say shit like that. In fact, when Hillary Clinton decided to concern troll in the primaries about don’t vote for Obama or he might get assassinated, that was roundly decried as violent rhetoric that has no place in American politics.

    One thing you find in the history textbooks is how Charles Sumner gave a speech about the evils of slavery, and then later Preston Brooks beat him with a cane in the Senate chamber while Laurence Keitt brandished a pistol to prevent anyone from helping Sumner. Sumner was a great man who would have been famous for his role in advancing civil rights anyway, while Brooks and Keitt are remembered for their role in physical violence.

    Gabrielle Giffords is a wonderful politician and if she pulls though with her mind intact has a bright future. Eventually, people will have been embarrassed to have ever raged about the healthcare bill in such stark terms as “death panels” and “government takeover” and “pull the plug on grandma”, and her small role in getting it passed may well have been forgotten except that now she’s one of the few Congressmen to have been shot.

    In 1968 Georgia, a Congressman was shot by a Klansman. And now, Giffords: just like was said after Sumner was beaten, “arguments met by clubs”. There will come a day when the national embarrassment about the current violent rhetoric employed by the political right becomes bipartisan, just like every time in the past.

    Senator McCarthy destroyed several careers, but never got anyone killed. 50 years after Senator Welsh’s moral courage put an end to McCarthy’s career, Ann Coulter and the rest of the Republican noise machine has been trying to rehabilitate his image.

    We must not succumb to truthiness or accept talking points instead of facts. We must seek the truth and not equivocate about the conclusions that must be drawn. We must not let the right off the hook for their unhinged rhetoric that may have won them the last election but just as surely led to this assassination attempt and other acts of political violence over the last two years. If we let them airbrush their role out of history, they will come back to haunt us just as Michele Bachmann reanimates McCarthyism.

  • Valatan


    Who advocated for Bush’s assassination? Seriously, who? I don’t think anyone on the left was desperate to get President Cheney anyway.

  • Naught

    Interesting Washington Post article that completely annihilates the “shooter is crazy” meme:

  • jonesing

    DPruitt cites the Communist Manifesto and an as yet unproven assertion that Loughner is “insane” to drive his argument that this was a lone wolf attack with no connections to right wing activism. Given the commentator’s obvious loyalties his assertions aren’t altogether surprising.

    To say that “Loughner was against the constitution and didn’t like ANYBODY, right-wing or otherwise” isn’t altogether accurate. There are in fact indicators of influences on Loughner’s thinking drawn from his own writings and videos.

    Loughner’s rhetoric reflects classic Tea Party thinking. For example on one of the videos he posted on YouTube he tells viewers “you don’t have to accept Federal laws” and claims that the Obama administration is attempting to exert ‘mind control’ and ‘brainwash the people’. Loughner may have had an interest in the Communist Manifesto but clearly has no sympathy for the alleged “socialist” agenda of the president. A rather odd contradiction which would tend to RULE OUT leftist sympathies.

    In classic Tea Party style Loughner calls for a return to the gold standard, refers to US laws as “treasonous” and calls for the creation of a new currency. Among many conspiracy theories circulating amongst Tea Party types is the belief that the Federal Reserve is actually a private corporation run for the benefit of international bankers… unnamed of course.

    Loughner’s belief that the government uses language and grammar as a means of mind control also has a right wing source. In a HuffPo article Mark Potok, Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, tracks back Loughner’s views to patriot conspiracy theorist – one David Wynn Miller of Milwaukee. Miller takes the view that the government uses grammar to ‘enslave’ Americans.

    Loughner might well be unbalanced but he was indisputably influenced by the political climate around him. Rather take the blinkered approach and engage in denial, kudos to the GOP senator who told Politico “What was too far when Oklahoma City happened is accepted now. There’s been a desensitizing. These town halls and cable TV and talk radio, everybody’s trying to outdo each other.” Kudos also to Arizona sheriff Clarence Dupnik who had the guts to tell it like it is – “We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry…”

    What is unhelpful are those right wing commentators who refuse to acknowledge that the climate of division and animosity that the Tea Party and associates have been instrumental in creating is somehow disconnected from violent outcomes in the political arena.

  • DPruitt

    Well there is Charlie Brooker publicly calling for Bush’s assassination, then there is Rhandi Rhodes doing at least two radio bits depicting Bush being killed to solve what he viewed as problems. And of course there is “Death of a President,” a movie based completely around Bush’s assassination. That isn’t counting the large assassinate Bush industry with bumper stickers, buttons, t-shirts and so on.

    Oh, and since when has the Tea Party said ANYTHING about not accepting Federal Laws, or brainwashing? This is a classic symptom of fitting people into preconceived little ideological boxes with not proof whatsoever. This is just a poor attempt to credit loughner with right wing ideolgy when you don’t even know what constitutes mainstream conservative thought.

    To Naught, how does that do anything except PROVE that Loughner was insane? It just documents that he was acting crazy long before he picked up a gun.

  • Ben Martin

    “Well there is Charlie Brooker publicly calling for Bush’s assassination…”

    Wait, what? Charlie Brooker? As in British comedian and television presenter Charlie Brooker?

    As a non-American I doubt he falls under anyone’s definition of a “prominent liberal.”

  • Valatan

    Charlie Brooker (who is British, and who I had to look up) and Randi Rhodes (who isn’t even on the air anymore, as far as I know, and was a marginal name when she was) are hardly ‘prominent liberals’. I’ve had a partner that worked at a leftist bookstore, and I haven’t seen a single ‘assassinate Bush’ bumper sticker. Death of a President, which I had to look up to find out about, was a British film that reached a grand total of 140 theatres over two weeks in the US and ran at a loss (and my Wikipedia-based knowledge of the film tells me that it implies that the assassination of Bush is pretty disastrous for the American Left in its alternate history, anyway–it reads more like a segue into a fascist takeover). Don’t accuse others about knowing nothing about right-wing thought if you’re going to proffer marginal crap as being indicative of left-wing thought.

    Arguing that the federal government isn’t legitimate is a central talking point of the American right, though, even if there aren’t direct calls for civil disobedience. As is ranting about the gold standard. And Sharron Angle really DID talk about “Second Amendment solutions.”

    Laughner’s ideas are clearly a jumble of junk more than a coherent ideology, but there certainly does seem to be more than a bit cross-pollinated with the far right ideas that have been going around these days. Especially since it now seems that he viewed this as a political assassination attempt himself.

  • Valatan

    Also, what do you suppose that this is supposed to mean?

  • Daverz

    I had to google Charlie Brooker. He’s a British journalist. The “Death of a President” was a British film. So that leaves Rhandi Rhodes, if we accept your description of those radio bits. Rhandi is a woman, by the way, so I gather you haven’t heard her show, which is not surprising given that she’s an obscure liberal talker in a sea of Right Wing hate radio. The idea that there was a “large assassinate Bush industry” is absurd. None of these are relevant when we are talking about the violence-tinged rhetoric of mainstream politicians like Palin.

  • thomas

    Well, arguably, there isn’t an organization called the Tea Party, so it can’t have said anything about not accepting federal laws. However, the charge was that the Tea Party thinks you can nullify federal laws. Try a Google search for “state nullification healthcare”. Not to say that a few towns didn’t pass resolutions against the Patriot Act 10 years ago, but there’s a difference between a few towns and several states and multiple court cases.

    Also, the whole currency should be backed by gold and silver thing. Conservatives have been demanding that currency be backed by gold since William Jennings Bryan’s famous speech, “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.” This was in response to new silver mines increasing the money supply, which Bryan saw as stimulating the economy, but the rich saw it as diluting their share of everything.

    Conservatives have always been steadfastly opposed to increasing the money supply, and one way to prevent that is to tie money to something that has a fixed supply, like gold. Thus the recent debate about quantitative easing fuels goldbugism.

    Seeing the government as untrustworthy and an enemy is the heart of modern conservative rhetoric. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama alike are accused of increasing the size of government. Beyond goldbugism and nullification and opposition to jus soli citizenship and the hatred of public sector unions is Grover Norquist’s stated desire to “drown [government] in a bathtub”.

  • DPruitt

    You know what, you are right. The fact that Palin used common political rhetoric to try win a campaign is 100% the reason the crazy guy was crazy. It isn’t as though he had previously been arrested multiple times before.

    Now, which politician said, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun?” Which politician exhorted a large crowd to “punish our enemies” when talking about his political opponents?

    Barack Obama on both counts. Since that is true, any attack on a politician that disagrees with Obama is automatically Obama’s fault, yes?

    WAIT!! I just realized that Gifford was opposed to comprehensive immigration reform!! And the judge shot was a REPUBLICAN!! It is all OBAMA’S FAULT!!! OBAMA YOU HAVE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!!!!

    Or the guy was just a nutcase and everybody here is simply trying to scapegoat an unliked politician.

    I will continue praying for Ms. Gifford and her family not to mention the family of that little girl and the other victims. I will also no longer read Discover magazine thanks to the classless people I now know write for it and read it. Good night.

  • Phillip Helbig

    The interesting question is whether she will still oppose gun control—which she did not just in “oh yeah, I’m opposed to gun control” when asked, but by letter-writing and other lobbying against gun control—when she comes out of the coma.

  • Valatan


    whatever. The tea party came to prominence by showing up at candidate forums and yelling down Congresspeople, rather than having a discussion. The tea party exists to stifle discussion, and turn it into some big huge identity game. This is also the point of the birther movement. I have nothing against ordinary rank-and-file conservatives, but the conservative movement/activists have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

    Also, this is hardly the first instance of right-wing political violence since Obama was inagurated:

    Not to mention Oklahoma City (which, yes, didn’t happen when Obama was president, but was certainly an act of right-wing terrorism.).

  • physicsnut

    valatan – i could spend months cataloging leftoid violence not to mention subversion, infiltration, viral propaganda and a litany of other sins. And to the nutcase who says the rest of the world thinks we are nuts – look in the mirror. Lets have a nice close look at China and India – or Africa, or Venezuela. Either y’all have a very convenient memory, or perhaps there are no neural connections there to be made. Take the NY Times (please) for example – the same message has not changed since 1963 – yada yada responsible gun control yada yada yada. Funny, isnt that exactly what Hitler proposed ? yes it is. How about that.

  • valatan


    Britain and Japan are hardly fascist states, and they have very very tight gun control laws, and have had them for some time (not to mention that there is no national politician not named Bloomberg actually pushing gun control). And I know more about African politics than you likely do (considering that you just say “Africa”), and the CIA was every bit as involved in violence there as the KGB was. The CIA happily installed and supported Mobutu, the worst of the keptocrats, and UNITA was every bit as vile as the MPLA, for two examples. This isn’t to exonerate the KGB-supported activity in the former third world, it was horrific, but there were plenty of right-wing atrocities. You cite Venezuela, but ignore the very similar behaviour from the right-wing Colombian regime.

    And anyway, comparing revolutionaries on the other side of the globe to people here is somewhat ridiculous. What is the last major act of left-wing domestic terrorism in the States? I just linked a long list of right-wing acts of terrorism/threats of terrorism that happened recently and in the United States.

    And congrats on the NY times non-sequitir.

  • James

    Unibomber … Lee Harvey … Weather Underground … etc., and if we talk the politics of fear, Algore, Klinton, and the proto-dictator Obama. Well let’s just say all Democrats.

  • jonesing

    Lol… scratching the bottom of the barrel for examples of left wing baddies there James?

    This is really amazing. Not so long ago the Southern Poverty Law Center published an in-depth study of right wing hate groups THROUGHOUT the USA. Racist, xenophobic, anti-government, conspiracy addled loonies… most of them armed to the teeth… and you have the temerity to come on here and haul out the unibomber and Oswald. Why don’t you reach further and include Charlie Manson – I’m sure Fox could whip up some spin to place him in the “leftist” terror camp – and hey you got one more.

    Man, this stuff would be funny if it wasn’t so damn sad. There are no leftist paramilitary type groupings in the USA that comes close to the gun-ready angry white men out there who call themselves all manner of names… all the way from Aryan Nations to KKK to Neo-Nazis and in-between. The number of extremist nativist groups has been steadily rising. Three hundred and sixty three NEW patriot/militia type groups appeared in 2009… duly noted and filed by the ever-vigilant SPLC. In fact last year the SPLC released a report titled “The Second Wave: Return of the Militias” – link to it at :

    Trying to concoct an armed threat from the left equal to the magnitude of the threat emanating from the extremist right at this juncture in American history is simply delusional.

  • Daverz

    James forgot Leon Czolgosz.

    @DPruitt: There are common metaphors and then there is targetting your opponents with sniper sights. Can we agree that the latter is unacceptable? Bringing guns to political rallies is not acceptable. Threatening “Second Amendment remedies” is not acceptable. Shooting at targets with your opponents initials on them is not acceptable (google “lowry dws”).

    @physicsnutt: “leftoid violence”. There are no “leftoids” with any institutional support in American politics. Zero. Zip. Nada.

  • Phillip Helbig

    “Funny, isnt that exactly what Hitler proposed ? yes it is. How about that.”

    Assuming this is true, explain in detail how gun control led to a Fascist state.

    Hitler was also a vegetarian (not for health reasons or because it can support more people, but for moral reasons. Yes, really—look it up). Thus, I conclude that you believe all vegetarians are Fascists.

  • Aaron Sheldon

    When did the Amendment rights start trumping the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

    When your right to bare arms requires the mass production of high powered high capacity firearms, or your right to free speech requires the mass communication of incitements to violence, then the basic inalienable rights of others trumps your Amendment rights.

  • Joe Shobe

    Have all the arguments you want about the public discourse on violent rehtoric, just take away the guns, please. They are useless.

  • Loc

    When we let people play with guns, someone is going to get killed. In Texas, if you open a bank account, they will give you a hand gun. This is sooooooooooo very WRONG on so many level.

    The president needs to tighten the law regarding firearms in order to reduce senseless killings.

  • valatan

    @Loc: that is one bank that did that once as a promotion. Yes, we need to seriously talk about gun laws, but it’s not necessary to go the other direction from ‘Obama’s gonna take my hunting rifle!’, either.

  • jonesing

    Just take away the damn guns.

    What are they good for… nothin’.

  • freda

    We Americans have to rethink certain of our freedom,s and have to put security of country and people above certain freedoms: carrying of guns is the first. Many of us are emotional now, but we should put our energy to use to help Gabbie G. and others to make gun ownership stricter. What do we need so many guns for? We have law enforcement, a super military and other legal orgs. that are empowered to carry weapons. Ordinary citizens do not need guns.

    I also want to express my joy about Gabbie’s mending. I hope her recovery is 100%. She is one of our forward looking Congress persons, and has “miles to go”.
    Thank you for allowing us to give expression to how we feel!


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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