Monday, January 10, 2011

Welcome to Spring Semester

Very ironic that I am welcoming you to Spring semester on what MSU has declared a snow day. Oh well. This is the first blog. Usually I set up a few questions that have some relevance to current media news and you respond with a couple of paragraphs. Here are some quick rules.

1)When you are asked to create a username so you can respond to the blog, please choose a username which allows me to quickly identify your real name. This helps me grade quicker and ensures you get proper credit. For example, if your name on my class list is John Smith, it really doesn't help me if your username is CrazyDawg. A better choice would be something like JSmith, or even JSmith21.
2)Two or three sentences does not a blog reply make. I expect you to give some thought to the topic and add at least two paragraphs for me. If not, then don't expect full points.
3)Part of the reason this blog exists is so that a dialogue can be created among the students. In other words, make sure you read everyone else's post. In some cases maybe you don't have a lot to say on a topic but then realize you have a lot to add in response to another classmate.

With that said, let's begin our first topic. The big story this weekend may have locally been about the snowstorm, but the national story was definitely the Tucson shooting. In addition to the tragic story, the discussion also drifted to whether or not political rhetoric has gotten too heated and out of control. One item mentioned was Sarah Palin's past use of crosshairs on the victim's district and campaign. Personally, I feel that the shooting was an act of a deranged paranoid schizophrenic. While true, that doesn't necessarily mean that the rhetoric of Palin, other Tea Party'ers, and, perhaps most importantly, media pundits (like Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann) isn't dangerous and irresponsible. The other side of the coin is that in America expressing your political opinion is a freedom of speech issue. In other words, Beck, Palin, and Olbermann have the right to say what they think. Perhaps, they even feel it is their responsibility to say what they actually feel. If Beck feels like America really is on a precipice heading towards failure, shouldn't he be allowed to speak fervently about the matter.

What's your opinion? Has it gotten out of hand? Should media pundits and political figures face serious consequences when using inflammatory speech? What should those consequences be? Is it a violation of free speech?

18 comments:

JG Hanks said...

When I first heard about the shooting, my initial reaction was the same as yours. That essentially some crazy person had decided to take his beliefs too far and take matters into his own hands. Unfortunately, as with anything in this country, especially political events, the media began putting their spin on things. I didn't know anything about Palin's political crosshairs map before this weekend, but I sure know about it now. Whoever brought this to light sure did a good job of making me believe that this whole shooting incident was almost 100% Sarah Palin's fault. It didn't help that Palin herself started deleting comments from her online accounts and seemingly tried to cover up anything that could lead back to her in regards to this tragedy.

However, is it fair to condemn her for what she may or may not have said? Doesn't she have free speech along with all the politicians that we actually agree with? The issue to me is not in the right of free speech but in the obligation not to incite violence. Sure we all have freedom of speech, but as the old saying goes, we can't yell fire in a crowded theater. Does what someone may say in a speech truly have so much power that it may cause actual violence? It seemed to work for Hitler. Now it seems that Sarah Palin and her followers are claiming that she is being unjustly blamed for the actions of an extremist. Maybe that's how so many of the Muslims in America feel.

I guess my stance is that everyone needs to be accountable for their actions, this includes what they say. Yes, we all have freedom of speech, but we should also understand that our words may have consequences that we may not have intended.

There can be no legitimate consequence if you start to police speech. Who and what makes the rules of what is punishable and what is not? It's too fine a line. There just needs to be less knee jerk reaction and more education. The country as a whole needs to act more with its brain and less with its emotions.

EDuBose said...

The news of the shooting was a sad and tragic incident. Lives were lost for no reason. The shooter was a loner and had been kicked out of his college class because the professor was afraid of what he might do. This tells me that he has some emotional and psychological problems. I believe that the shooter must accept responsibility for his actions. However, it makes me wonder what in his life had driven him to the place that he was so disturbed that he would shoot and kill innocent people. I do not think that Sarah Palin or any of the politicians are to blame. This young man had emotional problems that go much deeper than this being a reaction to the words or actions of politicians. Would a person who was thinking rationally go out and kill innocent people because of what Sarah Palin or any other politician had said? Would a rational person think they would correct any problem by shooting a nine-year-old little girl? How could he have thought that he could change things for the better by going on a shooting spree?

I think as Americans we do have the right to freedom of speech. But one person's freedoms ends where another person's freedom begans. There needs to be respect for others and consequences for what we say and do. Due to the nature of the career of politicians they should be more careful about what they say. However, this does not seem to be the case. Sometimes I think the media in their coverage of incidents and politicians provides too much information and even contributes to the problem.

Who is to blame for the shooting? Politicians? Media? Or society?

SarahLear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SarahLear said...

I, too, didn't know anything about Sarah Palin's crosshairs map until after the shooting. And removing the map and site after the shooting doesn't reflect too highly on Sarah Palin.
When a political figure, like Palin, posts something like this on a website or makes a public speech that a good number of people take strong offense to and then something like the Tucson shootings happens, it's not going to reflect well on them. And a lot of it has to do with the media. Anyone can put an idea out there and the media pick it up and run with it. They can turn it into whatever they want. Just one person mentioning Palin's crossfire map in relation to the shootings can ignite a whole world of blame on her.
In truth, we don't know if Jared Lee Loughner's actions were sparked by Palin's map - it certainly seems likely now that the two have been linked in the media for the past few days. But there could be plenty of other reasons that don't have anything to do with Palin's "ideas". However, you have to wonder.
Political figures have to be more careful than anyone when it comes to speaking publicly. Yes, they have a right to speak freely but they should limit themselves. Putting crossfires on a map over the districts of House members is a little extreme, especially after the events that followed. You have to cater to your audience - if you have no idea who and how many people might hear a speech you make, speak more carefully as not to offend people and not to plant ideas.
I think yes, some of it gets out of hand. As far as punishment - what can you do? Political figures have to decide for themselves what's appropriate and what's not. Now, I think a lot of people would agree that the crossfire map is not.
Public speakers have to realize the potential of their messages to be taken in all sorts of different ways, many ways in which they may not intend at all. So they need to speak accordingly. Speak freely by all means, just take care in how it's done and the way things are said.

Shelly said...

My first reaction to the shooting was that this horrible crime was committed by an insane person. I still believe that even though the media has portrayed a different spin on things. I did not know about Palin's crosshairs map before the shooting. I understand that the purpose for the map was to present her opinion of the political offices that need a new representative. It is her right to have freedom of speech. The media has portrayed her as though she put out a "hit" on the people who were killed in the shooting.

I agree that it doesn't look good for Palin that she removed the crosshair map right after the shooting, but in her defense, the media made it sound like she wanted those people hurt or killed. I probably would have taken it down too because another insane person would have heard the media's take on the map and then another shooting would have taken place.

The media has a strong influence on its audience. Who is to say that if she hadn't taken it down, another shooting would have taken place. It could have easily happened--especially if the person is mentally unstable and the person didn't agree with Palin.

I agree that everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions. Even the words that someone says has a consequence. I also think that the media sometimes goes too far with what they say too. At times, their coverage of a story can cause more damage than can be repaired. This is what happens when people don't think through their actions and react based on emotions and not on knowledge. The media is very good at getting "an emotional reaction" from the public.

I do not think that it is fair to condemn Palin for her freedom of speech. I think that the focus needs to be on the victims of this horrible tragedy and not to get some kind of political gain.

Shelly said...

My first reaction to the shooting was that this horrible crime was committed by an insane person. I still believe that even though the media has portrayed a different spin on things. I did not know about Palin's crosshairs map before the shooting. I understand that the purpose for the map was to present her opinion of the political offices that need a new representative. It is her right to have freedom of speech. The media has portrayed her as though she put out a "hit" on the people who were killed in the shooting.

I agree that it doesn't look good for Palin that she removed the crosshair map right after the shooting, but in her defense, the media made it sound like she wanted those people hurt or killed. I probably would have taken it down too because another insane person would have heard the media's take on the map and then another shooting would have taken place.

The media has a strong influence on its audience. Who is to say that if she hadn't taken it down, another shooting would have taken place. It could have easily happened--especially if the person is mentally unstable and the person didn't agree with Palin.

I agree that everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions. Even the words that someone says has a consequence. I also think that the media sometimes goes too far with what they say too. At times, their coverage of a story can cause more damage than can be repaired. This is what happens when people don't think through their actions and react based on emotions and not on knowledge. The media is very good at getting "an emotional reaction" from the public.

I do not think that it is fair to condemn Palin for her freedom of speech. I think that the focus needs to be on the victims of this horrible tragedy and not to get some kind of political gain.

Shelly said...

My first reaction to the shooting was that this horrible crime was committed by an insane person. I still believe that even though the media has portrayed a different spin on things. I did not know about Palin's crosshairs map before the shooting. I understand that the purpose for the map was to present her opinion of the political offices that need a new representative. It is her right to have freedom of speech. The media has portrayed her as though she put out a "hit" on the people who were killed in the shooting.

I agree that it doesn't look good for Palin that she removed the crosshair map right after the shooting, but in her defense, the media made it sound like she wanted those people hurt or killed. I probably would have taken it down too because another insane person would have heard the media's take on the map and then another shooting would have taken place.

The media has a strong influence on its audience. Who is to say that if she hadn't taken it down, another shooting would have taken place. It could have easily happened--especially if the person is mentally unstable and the person didn't agree with Palin.

I agree that everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions. Even the words that someone says has a consequence. I also think that the media sometimes goes too far with what they say too. At times, their coverage of a story can cause more damage than can be repaired. This is what happens when people don't think through their actions and react based on emotions and not on knowledge. The media is very good at getting "an emotional reaction" from the public.

I do not think that it is fair to condemn Palin for her freedom of speech. I think that the focus needs to be on the victims of this horrible tragedy and not to get some kind of political gain.

ABilly said...

When I first heard about the shootings I thought "oh no not another shooting! What type of person would want to go out and shoot innocent people who have done on wrong to them? its got be another crazy person."

I then began hearing about Sarah Palin's crosshairs map and that one of the victims was one that was supposedly on Palin's "list" and thought to myself "what has become of American people, how can they be influenced by other people in the public eye to take it upon themselves to commit such a heinous crime. Don't they know that they are only talking and mean no harm to others. That is using their right to Freedom of Speech.

I agree that the shooter should be held accountable for his actions and believe that he was not linked to Palin and that she and others like her should not be held responisble but should seriously consider what they say or do before saying or doing things that can and more likely affect people.

Brandon L. Atkison said...

The shooting in Arizona was a terrible tragedy that has shattered the lives of many Americans. We as a nation like to live without the fear of looking over our shoulders constantly. That is not possible anymore due to deranged individuals that slip through the cracks and have the ability to obtain firearms.

I do not blame Sarah Palin for using crosshairs during her campaign to prove her point. It was said that the suspect remembered something 3 years ago that did not set well with him. This was a person with a mental illness. In my opinion Sarah Palin's campaign did not influence him.

I think its sad how too often we have become so reliant and dependent on the media's every word. We as a nation are so quick to judge without even knowing all the facts involved. I do not think the media or political figures should be punished for what they say. We as a nation have to be able to look past these badly formed opinions and form our own and not become one of group.

abuckhalter said...

Immediately upon hearing of the shooting, I thought another insane tragedy. In this tragedy, six people were killed, fourteenth were physically injured, and a host of people are left with a heavy burden. Since this tragedy has happen, there have not been one time that I watch the national new stations and this story was not covered.

I am by far not a supporter/fan of Sarah Palin but I truly doesn't believe Sarah Palin should be stigmatized with connection to this tragedy because of a map she used for a campaign target. I don't believe she is connected with this tragedy but the media has painted a good picture to make her look guilty even if she isn't. Deleting the map didn't help the situation. However, I do feel that this incident could have been prevented. The pics of Jared shows a mental challenged person that may be dangerous. People described him as a loner and weird. I feel that if this child had recieved the necessary mental health needed then things wouldn't have gotten this bad. How can parents live with children everyday and not see when there is something wrong.

It is almost impossible to police speech. If everyone was punished for infammatory speech then people would be afraid to speak out. Free speech is a right granted to all citizens but free speech is not always gauranteed. However, I do feel that companies should require their workers such as anchors, journalists, reporter, or etc., to be ethical and fair when they are on the job and anyone that fails to do so should be dealt with according to company policy. Libel and slander speech should be punished.

The media put to much emphasis on negative and violence acts especially television news. It should be shown on the news on television but should it be aired ten days straight. Some people thrive for attention and seeing that they can get attention this way may entice them to act on violence.

MattDemp said...

When I heard about the shooting, one thing comes to my mind,that someone wants to be famous for all the wrong reasons by shooting Mrs. Giffords.

These days you cant always say what you want because if you even say one minut thing bad about anything, you won't hear the last of it. I think that free speech is good but the things people say can also get them into very hot water.

The Prime example is Don Imus saying some racial sensitive things to the Rutgers Womens basketball team which led them to his firing.

The Media always put so much emphasis on the negative and some people thrive on the attention.

dgarrard said...

I believe that Jared Lee Loughner is a very sick person. What type of individual would so recklessly fire at so many innocent individuals expressing their opinions? He obviously has many psychological issues that needed to be addressed long before now. His posts on youtube and his many politically fueled rants should have been a red light that he is unstable and likely to do something illegal. Combine that with his mental instability and you have a recipe for disaster.

I do not, however, believe that this horrible incident can in any way be blamed on Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Keith Olberman, or any others. Anyone can plant a seed of doubt or political unrest, but the responsibilty rests solely upon the individual who decides to act on these thoughts and feelings. If it didn't occur at Giffords' rally, than it probably would have happened somewhere else. Loughner was convinced that this was the course of action that he needed to take. Having said that, it does not seem wise that immediately following the shooting, Sarah Palin's website deleted the map of the crosshairs on Giffords seat. The posts shouldd have remained and she should have defended her meaning just as any other politician must.

LMRowe said...

When I first heard about the shooting, I was very shocked. I think that it was a very sad and tragic event. The death of the nine year old girl saddened me the most. Some people wonder if this could have been prevented. I think that there were warning signs that his parents didn’t pay attention to. I believe that he was emotional and psychologically disturb.

I am not a fan of Sarah Palin. I didn’t know anything about Palin’s political crosshairs map. I don’t follow her or anything concerning this so called “teaparty.”

I believe that every one should be held responsible their own actions. It is very important to be able to have a voice, but I think that you have to decide what’s appropriate or inappropriate.

sasha said...

In my opinion about the situation is that it's just another case of a syco path who was waiting to explode. I really don't know the political aspects of this topic; however, i will say that sometime your mouth can get you in to a lot of trouble may not exist in your mind at all. We do have a right to express our opinions, but people such as political figures should know what is appropriate and when is it appropriate as far as to delivering their messages. As i stated earlier, we have the right to freedom of speach; therefore, if they want to talk about whatever they want, then let them be as long as they realize their may be consiquencees behind their freedom of speech.

Now Sara P is by far one of the most outspoken person in America. She don't care what she says; her main things is that she gets her point across With her being so out spoken, she should really take the time to think about who her speeches may effect and how it may effect them especially when she is in the public.
no one can control how people think nor do innosent people deserve to be in public place only to be waiting for their death. Politics ahould be able to say wht they want; however, they need to consider the possible outcome of their behavior.

JLafond said...

The shooting in Arizona is an unfortunate tragedy that affected the lives of many people and it is very sad to hear about those who had lost their lives. I don’t think that anyone but the shooter is directly responsible. However, I do think that the media contributes to the “heated” debates between Americans and politicians. The media likes to create controversy for television ratings and to spread their opinion. Some people who are mentally ill, like the shooter, can be easily influenced and will carry out insane actions like he did with this shooting. Also, I don’t blame Sarah Palin for this incident because I’m sure she never imagined anyone would do something like this. I’m not a fan of hers and I didn’t know about her map but I think that blaming her for this incident is ridiculous.

I am a firm believer in Freedom of Speech and restricting it in any way is unconstitutional. Free speech is what made this country great. However, I do think it is possible to tone down the rhetoric without restricting speech. We should be able to voice out opinion on issues, especially those that we disagree with but we don’t need to personally attack and threaten people. We need to think before we speak and realize that we can say what we want, but it might have consequences.

Elle B. said...

I hate to admit this, but when I first heard about the shooting, I didn't feel the emotions that I feel like I should have had. Americans for the most part is becoming numb to the emotions that come with the news of a shooting (unless you're directly affected by being involved or losing a loved one) because they have been happening so much lately. I really didn't look into it until after I heard about the young girl that was hurt and about Mrs. Giffords being in the hospital.

In regards to whether politicians should face serious consequences for what they say, I will say that it shouldn't be serious, but something definitely needs to be done. Idle speech is dangerous. Roland Martin from CNN said it perfectly in one of his articles: I've never been one who has shied away from being passionate about an issue, but as a responsible individual, always accepted the reality that what I say matters. People do listen. Folks form opinions based on what is said. I don't think that it taking away from their free speech, but it will help make politicians and others think before they say something.

CLiddell said...

I am just hearing about the shooting during this post. I really don't do the news, which I am sure many think is crazy. But, I hate to hear about what is going on in our world. It saddens me to hear how crazy people is...so I really avoid extra drama in my life by not keeping up on what's going on. But, I have researched what has happened and it is awful and total tragic for all of America for what has happen. This guy,Jared Lee Loughner, I believe presented signes to many people who I believe could have made a diffence in his life. This guy has been around his parents and teachers, who should have listen at the warnig signs of a killer.
Now,I am like a number of students, I don't really dig Mrs. Palin, but I believe when a person is a big public figure he or she needs to watch what they say. You never know what nut is listening. When you are someone of importance, what every you do or say is taken to heart. You never know who is wrapped up in your beliefs. Now if she had this map, removing it really makes her look bad.

sswog said...

Freedom of speech is the most important right of an American citizen. It gives us an opportunity to say what we think, how we feel, and a platform to make things happen. There are no boundaries but there are responsibilities. You cannot scream “fire” in a crowded building (when there is no fire), and not face consequences.

The news media has a responsibility to report the news. It is my opinion that the news should be unbiased and fact driven. But recently, I have discovered that the media creates and destroys personality types based on what the consumers respond too.

What happened in Tuscan is a perfect example. A platform was created after a tragedy that gave political figures an opportunity to attack their opponents. Every news media outlet cashed in on this opportunity to discuss what “so and so” had to say about the shootings. Never mind that people have been killed and injured. That is not what this blog is about. This blog is about the responses of people who are in the spotlight and how they handled the situation.

Should the media and political figures face any type of consequences for their inflammatory speeches? No. It is their American right to go on national television and say anything they want. To punish them would mean that we would have to punish everyone who had an opinion. Have you ever listened to Eminem’s “White America”?

What can be done to stop this type of problem? We would have to reshape the American culture of today. We would have to remap the way the news was delivered. We would have to depend on the facts and not the opinions of others. And that, unfortunately, would not increase ratings for these programs. Controversy is what drives the news media today and that is what we (as a society) have become accustomed to watching.