Note: this article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
While elected Republicans and Democrats were making Americans proud in the wake of the mass shooting at a Republican practice for the Congressional Baseball Game, some unelected Republicans were doing the opposite.
First, Donald Trump Jr. posted a tweet condemning “NY elites” over the attack, and former Speaker of the House and current Human Embodiment of Scrapple Newt Gingrich similarly rushed to blame the shooting on “the left,” pointing to Kathy Griffin and Shakespeare in the Park.
Gingrich ran into a little trouble, though, from Fox News host and “Outnumbered” panelist Melissa Francis, who scolded Gingrich, albeit for the wrong reasons:
GINGRICH: The intensity on the left is very real. Whether it is somebody holding up — a so-called comedian holding up the president's head in blood, or it's right here in New York City, a play that shows the president being assassinated, or it's Democratic-leaning national politicians who are so angry they have to use vulgarity because they can't find any common language. This intensity has been building, I think, since election night.
FRANCIS: With respect, though, even if everything you're saying is true, to talk about it in those kind of terms of left and right right now in the wake of it, does that make sense? Does that make it worse?
GINGRICH: You want to know the truth?
Francis: Well, but do you rise above it and say we all ...
Francis was right to scold Gingrich, but her first mistake, besides doing it “with respect,” was to urge Gingrich to “rise above” anything. Gingrich himself has a long history of “intensity” that includes trading in anti-Democratic murder conspiracy theories that stretches back days, and years. But Francis also missed a few, other important things.
As it happens, I actually agree with critics of Kathy Griffin and the Shakespeare play, if not with their chilling actions in response. There is a special sense of caution that needs to be exercised with regard to political violence, a caution that was absent when Sarah Palin used crosshairs on a map of then-Rep. Gabby Giffords's (D-Ariz.) district, and which these more recent examples lack as well. I do not agree, however, that Griffin should have her life ruined and Shakespeare in the Park should fold over it.
I especially don't believe that because the president that Gingrich now supports, who, to his credit, gave a fine speech following the shooting, is also the Inciter-in-Chief, whose well-documented calls to violence on the campaign trail included this one:
And by the way, and if she gets to pick — [booing] — if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. [audience members shouting] Although the Second Amendment, people, maybe there is, I don't know.
Hopefully, Trump and others will learn from this episode, and refrain from crossing that line. But Gingrich doesn't just err by ascribing this behavior to the left; he also tries to conflate it with good old fashioned political cussin'.
His reference to people like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and DNC Chair Tom Perez, who have all recently made effective and completely necessary use of profanity about Republicans, is completely out of place, not just because Republicans curse too, but because f**k that!
And not just because I'm from New Jersey, and would have to re-learn most of my vocabulary, but because everything short of the line that Trump and Griffin crossed is not just protected speech, it is cherished, beautiful, American speech.
There will be many attempts to conflate hot political “rhetoric” with incitement in the coming days, but nobody got hit with an f-bomb today. If you're looking for something to control, don't make it my f**king speech.