On the issue of hateful and violent outbursts at rallies.

Here’s another video from a McCain/Palin rally that shows some of the racism and contempt of the supporters present:

What struck me while watching the video is that the Obama supporters present at the location simply chanted his name the entire time. You can hear them in the background and see them several times during the course of the video. They’re in a line, holding up signs, and chanting “Obama” over and over again. Near as I can tell none of them says anything else nor do any of them step out of the line in an aggressive way. Not only is all the vitriol coming from the McCain/Palin supporters, but more than once various people make aggressive motions toward the Obama supporters.

Now I realize it’s entirely possible that the video has been edited to remove anything that might reflect poorly on the Obama supporters, but it seems to me based on personal experience and from news reports over the passing months that if someone is making racist or violent statements the majority of the time it’s coming from the McCain/Palin camp. I also realize that this may be confirmation bias on my own part.

So I did some digging and it turns out there’s been some Obama supporters who have had some angry words of their own to share. It meant forging onto various Conservative websites such as the always annoying Michelle Malkin blog to find them, but those are the most likely places stories like that would be collected and there’s certainly no shortage of people on the left acting out. Some of the complaints raised on the right seem a little over-hyped – they want to claim calling McCain a lair and that booing Palin is hate speech – but there’s plenty of wackos who have assaulted Republicans and come up with some pretty hateful and, yes, violent imagery. There’s the guys with the Sarah Palin is a cunt t-shirts which are definitely hateful, but hard to get too upset about considering McCain has called his own wife a cunt. There’s the artwork that designates Sarah Palin as a M.I.L.P. or Mother I’d Like to Punch which is definitely a violent image. It’s from a webcomic and as such is meant as a joke and I’m guilty of such hyperbole myself having once said that I want to punch Tony Sinclair in the mouth which was also meant as a joke, but I can see how fans of Sarah Palin (and Tony Sinclair) could take the statements as indicative of actual desire. There’s the two idiots who torched a McCain/Palin campaign sign with Molotov cocktails. And there are other examples such as the “Abort Sarah Palin” bumper stickers that have been floating around.

The emotional side of me wants to protest that the examples from the left, with a few rare exceptions, aren’t meant to be taken seriously whereas too many of the examples on the right seem to be very sincere and real, but that would be giving in to confirmation bias again. The truth is there are angry and hateful people on both sides and it’s easy, as humans, to let our frustrations boil over into hateful rhetoric if we’re not careful. We should strive to be mindful of this fact and work to remind not just ourselves, but each other when we’re stepping over that line. The hecklers on both sides should be challenged and chastised if they are sincere in their hate. Note that isn’t to say they should be suppressed as that would just drive the hate underground, but the art of shunning is one we could use a bit more of in these heated displays.

I seriously dislike what McCain has done to his principles in the pursuit of the Presidency and I dislike Sarah Palin’s political stance on just about every issue, but I don’t hate either person and I don’t wish harm on them or their supporters. Hopefully there are more folks out there who share that viewpoint on both sides of the debate than the ones who espouse violence and hate. It speaks to my optimism in humanity that I’d like to believe that that is the case.

8 thoughts on “On the issue of hateful and violent outbursts at rallies.

  1. No shortage of dirty tricks coming from the right in my locale. A “comic book” distributed by the NRSC against Al Franken, that makes light of rape. Kids are reading these, thinking they are mere cartoons. And a local conservative blogger and paid consultant for a Republican House candidate who posted personal photos of his opponent’s campaign workers on his site.

    No shortage of desperation on the other side.

  2. You are too nice, Les.  Assuming McCain has or had principles is way too generous.

  3. I have no doubts that McCain had principles at one time as I used to have a great deal more respect for him. Deep down he may still hold onto those principles, but he sold out to win over his base.

  4. The difference though, Les, is that McCain and Palin are warmongering against Obama and just making it worse…there are always going to be hateful people doing horrible things on any side…but it goes to show what kind of person someone is when they play on that hate for personal gain.

  5. Sandy writes…

    The difference though, Les, is that McCain and Palin are warmongering against Obama and just making it worse…there are always going to be hateful people doing horrible things on any side…but it goes to show what kind of person someone is when they play on that hate for personal gain.

    Yes, the McCain/Palin campaign has been egging its supporters on, but that doesn’t really excuse folks on the left from responding in kind. Some of the stuff that our side has done is just as violent and hateful as anything the folks on the right have done and we don’t have the excuse that we were being egged on by the campaign of our candidate.

    I agree that it’s a very poor reflection on the McCain campaign that they are actively encouraging hate and anger and that’s definitely something that should be pointed out, but it doesn’t excuse us from acting in kind. If we want to believe we are better than that then we need to make sure we act better than that.

  6. Chanting Obama’s name at a rally?  Sounds like #6 on this list:


    “Every… politician knows that if you want to quiet all of those pesky doubting thoughts in a crowd, get them to chant… Those are referred to as thought-stopping techniques, because for better or worse, they do exactly that.”

    “At the political conventions, notice how they trained the audiences to fill the gaps between applause lines with chants (“U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”) rather than, say, pensive silence to carefully consider what the speaker has just said.”

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