Welcome Instapundit Readers!
In one of my favorite flawed* movies, the 1991 flick The Fisher King, Jeff Bridges plays Jack Lucas, a radio talk show host whose offhand on-air remark to an unbalanced listener causes that listener to go on a shooting rampage in a swank Manhattan restaurant, killing the wife of Robin Williams‘s Perry, causing the latter’s breakdown.
There, there was a direct link between the talk show host’s words and the actions of a deranged killer. In the flick, Lucas searches for redemption as he befriends Perry, helps him find love while confronting the demons which have kept him at an emotional distance from his own girlfriend, Anne Napolitano (Mercedes Ruehl in an Oscar-winning role).
It seems that all too many on the left are eager to brand conservative talk show hosts, bloggers and opinion leaders as guilty as was Bridges’s screen character. They seem to take their cues more from this movie than from the actual words of outspoken conservatives.
Now, they’re trying to “blame recent high profile shootings on those who believe in the 2nd Amendment” as if opponents of gun control actually encourage lunatics concerned about losing their weapons to shoot at cops. Left-wing bloggers are accusing their conservative counterparts, in the words of one such blogger, of “stoking the fires of an atmosphere of hate that leads to police officers getting killed.”
Note how he uses that term, “atmosphere of hate.” Its obscures the fact that he can’t find the direct statement of a Jack Lucas which spurred the killer to go on a rampage.
Such ambiguous language is nothing new for conservative-hating leftists in their eagerness to smear the right.
Just over ten years ago, Frank Rich rushed to blame social conservatives for the murder of Matthew Shepard. Now, I agree that the one of the men Rich singled out, Gary Bauer, is a little loopy, but advocate of violence he is not. Yet, that didn’t deter that angry columnist from blaming him for the killing:
The head of the Family Research Council is Gary Bauer, a G.O.P. power broker and putative Presidential candidate, who disingenuously goes on talk shows to say that his organization hates no one and deplores violence. But if you wage a well-financed media air war in which people with an innate difference in sexual orientation are ceaselessly branded as sinful and diseased and un-American seekers of ”special rights,” ground war will follow. It’s a story as old as history. Once any group is successfully scapegoated as a subhuman threat to ”normal” values by a propaganda machine, emboldened thugs take over.
Do they? If so, we conservatives should be concerned about “emboldened thugs” assaulting us, given how so many leading leftists scapegoat us on a regular basis.
All that said, did Rich ever bother to investigate his hypothesis to show that the thugs who murdered Shepherd were familiar with Bauer’s arguments? I would bet good money that they had no clue who he was and had little (if any) knowledge of the rhetoric and ideas of such social conservatives.
The connection existed only in Rich’s mind–and that of his social and political confrères. No wonder leftists accuse conservative of creating an “atmosphere of hate.” The term allows them to accuse us without finding a clear causal connection between our words and the murderous actions of deranged individuals.
The Jack Lucas they seek exists only in their imaginations and in a very good movie.
*Like Woman of the Year, the tone of the conclusion doesn’t fit the rest of the film.
FROM THE COMMENTS: V the K reminds us who the killers actually were: “The rats who murdered Shepard weren’t C-h-r-i-s-t-i-a-n Fundamentalists, they were drug-addled tweaker punks.”