I just posted a series of tweets about the Tucson thing, which probably would have read better as a blog entry. So I’ll cross-post them here.
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Sweden has little violent rhetoric in its political discourse. Yet, two Swedish politicians have been assassinated in past 25 years. Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot in 1986; Foreign Minister Anna Lindh was stabbed in a dept store in 2003, both in Stockholm. This sort of thing happens even absent of violent speech, or a violent culture.
That said, even if violent speech does not lead to violence itself, it is not harmless to society. IMO, violent rhetoric is a form of corruption. It’s not as bad as violence itself, or bribes, but it’s on the spectrum. Violent rhetoric makes people hesitate to participate, to speak their minds, to present ideas.
Suppressing truth is corrupt. America became #1 because we’ve been best in the world at letting ideas have an opportunity to compete in the marketplace of ideas. When ideas are afraid to test themselves, or they find it’s more trouble than it’s worth to try, that’s a loss for society.
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Couple of non-tweeted points:
- My sister-in-law and brother-in-law live very near to the site of this shooting in Tucson. That made the emotional impact of this a bit more personal.
- If you want to see what the extreme end of the corruption spectrum looks like, watch ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary The Two Escobars, about soccer in Colombia in the 1990s. Chilling stuff.