I guess stories like this aren’t all that surprising. After all, the right wing media has spent years explaining in great detail how the reelection of Barack Obama would lead to the utter destruction of the family, the Constitution, Christianity, and America. Rhetoric has power. Look to the anti-abortion movement for a prime example. If you call abortion providers “murderers,” if you compare legal abortion to the “Holocaust,” if you claim that stopping an abortion is saving an innocent life, then some mentally imbalanced people are going to take you at your word. They aren’t going to settle for voting and protesting. They are going to join Army’s of God, and they are going to bomb clinics and shoot doctors.
I am a free speech absolutist. Cranks have every right to be cranks, and are free to shout their idiocy from the rooftops if they so desire. But people need to be responsible with their speech, especially those with an audience who wield influence over others. If you publish an anti-abortion website containing the names and home addresses of abortion providers, and keep track of which ones are killed by crossing them off the list with a big red “X”, do you bear responsibility in any form when another doctor on your list is killed? Perhaps not legally, but I’d argue that morally, part of the responsibility is yours. Rhetoric has power.
The far right media machine has convinced a large segment of the US population that Obama is, at the same time, a Muslim, Nazi, Socialist, Communist, Atheist, from Kenya who attends a radical racist Christian church. They told their followers that an Obama win would spell doom for America. They turned the rhetoric meter up to 11. Is it a surprise that part of the nation is treating Obama’s reelection as if it were the end of the world? That “secession” has become, as eye-roll worthy as it may be, a thing?
Anyway, the story:
A Key West man who told his partner that “if Barack gets re-elected, I’m not going to be around” was found dead on Nov. 8, with the words “F— Obama!” scrawled on his will and two empty prescription bottles nearby.
All I am saying is that rhetoric has power. Perhaps we can all make our points without the “1000 years of darkness,” “end of America,” “God will judge us for our vote” shit?
Rhetoric has power, and consequences.