Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Making it political

There has been a call not to politicize the Arizona tragedy, not to turn it into a platform about one's pet causes. A fair complaint if what's happening is politicians saying, a vote for me proves you care. Not so much if someone - politician or otherwise - truly believes a particular social ill led to the tragedy taking place, and feels a moral obligation to speak out to prevent further such tragedies. If you really do think the problem is the Tea Party and Sarah Palin's Real-America rhetoric, what then? Or if you think it's mental illness? Pot? Communism? Guns?*

There's no way to react apolitically, either to the tragedy itself or to others' reactions to it. One might argue, for example, that David Brooks's concerned essay on mental-health issues is no more than an attempt by a conservative to shift attention away from the probability that this particular lunatic was a right-wing lunatic, and that his lunacy may be less important than his specific and straightforwardly categorized political motivations. Or one might read the op-ed sympathetically and say that Brooks, like all decent individuals, wants to save lives, and believes this is the best way to do it. The problem is that people come to their politics, their causes, their opinions, because they believe their stances to be the ones most beneficial to society. Unless we have good reason to think in a particular case, a stance has been taken for personal gain, what of it? It's perfectly legitimate to point out the flaws in various reactions - curbing free speech has consequences, as has the War on Drugs, etc. But this is at the level of discussing policy. To say that individuals shouldn't react to tragedies by stating what larger force they think was the catalyst cuts off discussion prematurely, and is itself a way of supporting a cause, 'making it political,' suggesting that an opinion that ties a tragedy to anything specific is so dangerous of an opinion that it must be repressed long before the legislation stage.

That, and it's almost bizarre not to draw in larger issues, and to do no more than mourn neutrally in these situations. There's plenty of tragedy in our own lives, among our own loved ones, not to mention among those we don't know except through statistics. The times when all you can do is wish the family well, or pray for them if that's your approach, are, unfortunately, plentiful. If we care more in high-profile, politically-charged cases than in the ones buried in newspapers, it's because they represent tragedies on a larger scale, and because we who are not the loved ones of the victims have the emotional distance necessary to look at a tragedy as evidence of a broader issue. Pretending that we don't, that we're so overcome with the horribleness that we can't connect it to anything greater, is, for all but the most sensitive, disingenuous.

*My own stance, for what it's worth, is quite firmly in that last category. While I'm obviously not keen on anti-Semitism, an ideology which may have played a role here and which creeps me out personally, and which I think I can do more about given my knowledge and skill set, which is part of why you hear about it more on this blog, guns strike me as the bigger issue.

33 comments:

PG said...

Good post. I think the "don't bring politics into this" criticism many are making is essentially one of insincerity: if Paul Krugman really thinks maps of districts whose congressmembers are being "targeted" to lose their election are beyond the pale, why didn't he protest the DNC's making such a map in a past election? Or looking at the right, if they really believe it's all due to the shooter's untreated mental illness and absolutely nothing to do with politics (as several at National Review have claimed), why don't conservatives take funding for mental health services more seriously purely as a public safety measure?

Speaking of National Review, I think "guns" might be the closest thing to a consensus answer, considering that some of their contributors have tentatively endorsed Rep. King's (R-NY) proposal for a law that would bar carrying a firearm within some number of feet of a federal official at a public event.

Britta said...

It's one thing to use the language "target," which of course can refer to shooting but also to lots of other things, or to make a map of election hot spots, and to use explicitly violent rhetoric, like to call for being "armed and dangerous" (Michelle Bachmann), or to use a "second amendment solution" to take out your opponents (Sharon Angle), or to say "don't retreat, instead reload" (Sarah Palin), and to put gun crosshairs on a map with a list of people's names. Other than calling for shooting elected officials you disagree with, there's not much else any of those statements could possibly refer to. This isn't symbolically violent rhetoric, this is explicitly, literally violent rhetoric.

While I am not happy with the Democratic party and haven't been for a very long time, they are legitimately much less crazy than the Republican party. Our Republican party very quickly becoming Fascist, and no one seems willing to pull in the reins.

Britta said...

P.S. speaking of antisemitism, Sarah Palin has now accused those criticizing her of "blood libel." I don't know how she could get any more offensive if she tried.

Phoebe said...

PG,

National Review supports some gun control? This is surprising, but good news.

Britta,

Which do you think poses the more immediate danger to Americans' lives, Sarah Palin's rhetoric, or the fact that those who get swept up in said rhetoric can easily purchase weapons that easily permit them to murder or massacre? I'm probably more bothered by Real America conservatism than most, but I've felt in less danger from it than I have from the occasional student who seemed off.

Britta said...

I agree that gun control is very important, and perhaps the unstable and violent on the far right pose a more immediate danger to people, but I would say violent rhetoric poses a longer term danger to democracy. If stricter gun control came out of this thing, I would be extremely happy, but I think that if you don't change the extremely easy rhetoric of hate, victimization, and paranoia, I'm not sure how the US can continue to function as a democratic liberal state.

PG said...

Palin painting herself the victim of a "blood libel," when an actual Jewish woman has been shot in the head, did manage to surprise me. Evidently she's decided to double down on inappropriate metaphors. (Or she's decided that she's so persecuted she counts as an honorary Jew now. Alan Dershowitz has her back on it, anyway.)

I wonder how "blood libel" became so big on the right, though (several outlets, including the WSJ oped page, used the phrase to describe how Palin was being treated before Palin did). Is just plain "libel, slander, defamation" no longer cutting it? Do they believe the rhetoric against Palin is either intended or likely to bring a mob to Palin's door? I just sincerely don't understand why "blood libel" strikes these folks as the correct thing to say.

Phoebe said...

Britta,

Seems we mostly agree here. Guns, bad. Sarah Palin's rhetoric, bad. I guess the question is how to prioritize. Gun laws can be changed, whereas if a major segment of the country is revved up about defending Real 'merica from "blood libel," this requires changing hearts and minds. It should be attempted - and that's more my style here than proposing new gun legislation - but it can't be done in such a sweeping and immediate way. Also, the danger in banning different types of speech is, I would argue, greater than the danger in banning different types of guns.

Phoebe said...

PG,

Didn't see your comment before my last one, so responding now.

But yes, the blood libel thing is baffling. I thought it was something only intellectual-type Jews (or just those whose research is in Jewish Studies) would know about. I suppose the notion that Jews were once rumored to turn bread into matzo is better-known, but that this is referred to as "blood libel" was, until this debacle, I would have thought, obscure. Not an expression most well-educated non-Jews or most well-educated Jews, even, would be able to identify, let alone Sarah Palin. (She can teach me how to dismantle a moose if I can tell her about the role of blood libel in Zola's novel based on the Dreyfus Affair, Vérité.)

So many questions. Is Palin using "blood libel" to claim that she's being accused of metaphorically turning Giffords' blood into metaphorical matzo, that is, political gain? Were the earlier remarks (WSJ, really?) using the expression just to mean "don't be so mean to Sarah," or were they attempting more precision? Did someone who does know what the expression refers to - that there kind of has to be a dead Christian child - tell her to use it because it would cause scandal, or because of some presumed attentiveness to blood libel among anachronistic Zionist American Jews in Palin's would-be constituency? Or does the fact that a child who presumably was Christian (her pastor was interviewed, I think?) was killed during the attack have some relation to the word choice? Is this the remark that will finally cause her to lose legitimacy, or will it make her fans all the more enthusiastic? Basically, I can't wrap my mind around this, either.

Phoebe said...

* to turn *blood* into matzo. Ha! Pressing bread really flat might do the trick.

rshams said...

I also didn't know that the term "blood libel" had been broadened to include overblown criticism of one Sarah Palin. I don't think she was trying to reference the dead Christian child or appealing to her few Jewish supporters. Her comment doesn't appear to have any deeper meaning than "Blood libels - historically - falsely accused Jews of dastardly acts. I am being falsely blamed for a dastardly act, thus I - and other conservatives - am a victim of a blood libel."

To me (though I think that the premature tying of Loughner to Tea Partiers and whatnot was unfair), this is yet another example of Palin's sense of being victimized, more than anything else. It's quite sad, really.

Phoebe said...

rshams,

Would you say that the term "blood libel" had acquired a popular definition of "being falsely blamed for a dastardly act" prior to this or an earlier Palin episode? In all that I've read, in Jewish and mainstream-US-political contexts, I'd never noticed this before, and I feel like it's something I'd have picked up on. But to really figure this out, I guess I'll need to log onto my NYU account and do a little research.

Miss Self-Important said...

Until very recently, I thought that blood libel actually meant something like libel related to murder, or accusing people of murders they hadn't committed. I only discovered its real meaning and its connection to Jews while reading some Jewish history in college. While I enjoy thinking of myself as a not-moron, I did experience a twinge of sympathy for Palin today when I read the story about her video. I just assumed that she and her Alaskan friends made the same error as me, only in public rather than in their heads. But I guess if it's been appearing a lot in the media generally, that might not be the case.

Phoebe said...

MSI,

So blood libel exists, as an expression, outside of the specific historical context? This is what I can't seem to figure out. If you'd heard the expression enough to have formed an opinion on what it might mean, presumably it was being used in the way you interpreted it? I still need to look into this more, but, again, I don't remember ever hearing the phrase until studying Jewish history, even though I was aware of the historical blood-into-matzo rumors.

As for pitying Palin... If you're going to be a populist demagogue-celebrity railing on about Real America, and are then going to speak out after a skinhead-looking, Mein-Kampf-reading assassin aims at a Jewish politician, it's a bigger deal if you mess up on something like this than if you're, well, someone who isn't Sarah Palin. It's not like if you or I or a non-Jewish kid had used the expression incorrectly in a term paper, then gotten called out on it by a prof. Palin gets to be famous and powerful despite her profound ignorance on matters she shouldn't be ignorant about. I don't think this remark alone should be what ruins her career, but if it helps, so be it.

rshams said...

I have heard the term being used in more modern contexts, but only in regard to Jews. For example, "there were no Jews in the Twin Towers on 9/11" or "the Mossad engineered the attack." This is probably the first time I've heard it being applied to any other group.

Maybe it is somewhat similar to the term "pogrom," which, while once referring to mob attacks by Christians against Jews in Eastern Europe, has been extended in its definition to any mob attack by a majority against a minority. I've heard "pogrom" being used to describe Hindu fanatic attacks against Muslims in India, and "pogrom atmosphere" to describe the Jim Crow-era South.

Phoebe said...

rshams,

A slight mutation in anti-Semitic tropes as they shift from one Jew-hating group to another is to be expected. What I'm wondering is whether "blood libel" has a popular meaning, "false accusation of murder."

Funny you should mention "pogrom" - in a seminar I once took, a classmate leaned over and asked me for the definition of a word the prof had said and... yep. A hard one to explain in a whisper while the prof is still talking! The word may get used for other situations, but I'm not sure if it's a very well-known word, if it had the capacity to surprise someone in a class on a tangentially related subject.

Miss Self-Important said...

It exists, but given that I obviously misapprehended its meaning initially, I'm not sure if it was outside the historical context. Maybe the times I'd heard it had in fact been in reference to Jews, but I didn't pick up on the reference. I thought it was like "blood feud"--without blood, it might just be Family Feud, but with blood, it was all Capulets and Montagues style killing.

True, Palin should've looked it up before she went on air with it. But given that her shtick is to be just an average American, I feel that, as an average American who has also made that error, I can relate. Come to think of it, it's kind of a great paradigm for making public gaffes.

Phoebe said...

MSI,

It would have been a gaffe pure and simple under other circumstances. It would have been different if she'd made the remark off-the-cuff, or if she had inadvertently insulted a group she wasn't previous thought to have any particular relationship to. But this was in a speech. If a segment of the public is already connecting the attack to fascism or anti-Semitism, Tea Party xenophobia, etc., messing up on this isn't just folksy evidence of a mind not spoiled by book-learnin'. She has ample opportunities to demonstrate a poor command of English, to say something mildly inappropriate but feisty. This is like, if you're suspected of being the mastermind behind a possibly racist act against a black politician, claiming that journalists are out to "lynch" you, or whatever the closest equivalent of "blood libel" is for black Americans, some term not widely known by outsiders. Would that also make her more relatable and likable? Wouldn't it hurt that person's case, defending himself against charges of having instigated murders based on just that "ism"? And aren't the people who react to Sarah Palin with a chuckle and an "I can relate" - even those who are highly intelligent and whom I doubt can really relate to her all that much - already in her camp?

rshams said...

Whether "blood libel" has become popularly extended in its definition - I don't know. I think "pogrom" is pretty widely used outside of its original context, your classmate's question notwithstanding. I mean, I'm speaking anecdotally, of course, but I've heard the term many, many times, and not referring to mob attacks against Jews.

Secondly, I hate to defend Sarah Palin, if what I'm about to say actually qualifies as a defense. But while her use of "blood libel" is inappropriate, I don't agree with you that she has any more responsibility than any other public figure in not using that term. There is nothing, nothing, tying the killer to any right-wing individual or ideology. The "segment of the public" that chooses to make such an association is wrong, at least based on the information that is currently available. So, Palin really doesn't need to assuage the suspicions of people who have jumped to conclusions not based in any sort of reality. Again, I'm not defending her use of the term, but to me, it's a reflection of her obsessive sense of victimization and narcissism, not anything deeper or more sinister.

Phoebe said...

rshams,

I don't think Palin is guilty of murder, either. It seems a stretch to say the killer didn't have right-wing motivations, even if he was too nuts to have connected with any organized far-right entity, and even if in previous incarnations of his lunacy, he'd leaned far-left. It is also an unfortunate coincidence that Palin had that map, that she's a populist whose vision of America leaves little room for Jews (sorry, "coastal media elites"), and that the politician who was just shot in the head is Jewish. That doesn't mean she has (ahem) blood on her hands. What it does mean is that she'd be wise to see how her detractors - or even just garden-variety paranoia-is-a-heightened-sense-of-awareness Jews - might read this event as further evidence that the Tea Party-Palin-Beck entity is scarier for Jews than for garden-variety arugula-eating liberals. It was, I think, politically disadvantageous of her to further dig herself into that hole.

rshams said...

Well, I'm in agreement that it is politically disadvantageous, for sure. But I don't know if it is, for lack of a better word, fair, in this case.

How is it a stretch to say the killer had no right-wing motivations? Unless we're going to classify all white, alienated, mentally unstable individuals as right-wing, there really is no information out there that marks him as being of any political ideology.

And this might be veering this discussion off course, but the Jewish connection to this story is quite tenuous - i.e. the primary target of the attack happened to be Jewish, and then Sarah Palin mentioned a blood libel. So, the fact that Palin's Real America rhetoric alienates many Jews (and others) and the question of whether Tea Partiers or garden-variety liberals are "worse for the Jews" are somewhat irrelevant to this story.

The connection between Palin, her comments, her populism, Jews, and this attack could be made if there was anything to show that the killer had an anti-Semitic motive. But in the absence of that connection, I just think that this particular criticism is misplaced.

Phoebe said...

rshams,

First, while this thread has changed topic, I'll reiterate that I think the problem is guns. I also think Sarah Palin is bad for the Jews, but I don't see her as responsible for what happened.

As for the rest, I don't think, when a crazy white guy attempts to massacre everyone in his classroom or workplace, anyone jumps to the conclusion that this was motivated by politics. When a crazy white guy attempts to assassinate a female, Jewish Democratic politician, one "targeted" by right-wing politicians, then appears as a skinhead for his mugshot, it's another matter. I don't see why moderate conservatives would be worked up about this - it's not like he's suspected of having committed the crime in the name of trickle-down economics. But, again, let's say it turns out he was agitating from the far-left. So be it. My concern here is first, guns, next, that Sarah Palin was a fool for using that expression in that context, and that as a Palin detractor, if this poor choice helps stop short her political trajectory, fantastic.

rshams said...

I wouldn't say I'm worked up (and wouldn't define myself exactly as a moderate conservative)about this matter - I'm not a Palin fan either (and think she is bad for the Jews), and I think easy access to guns is the main problem. So on the basics, I'm fully in agreement with you. I'm glad Palin has lost yet another opportunity to gain new supporters.

Where I disagree (and my last post was pretty incoherent on this matter) is the political connection that serves as the premise for this particular criticism of Palin. I suppose the initial assumption that the attempted killing of a female, Jewish, Democratic politician was politically motivated is understandable. What is not understandable is how that assumption could continue after the portrait emerged of the killer as a mentally disturbed individual who saw blue trees and orange skies, and who had no connection to politics. I think that's when the talk about Palin's target signs needed to stop. Obviously no one was implying that she was personally responsible for the killings, but it turned out to be true that her rhetoric, terrible as it is, didn't even serve as a vague inspiration.

PG said...

I should clarify that the WSJ piece was a guest oped by InstaPundit (Glenn Reynolds), not by the Journal's Ed boards. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703667904576071913818696964.html

"Pogroms" gets used in non Jewish contexts, as noted by other commenters. I too have seen it used to refer to communal violence in India. But I really had not seen "blood libel" used to describe just any instance of a person being unjustly blamed for a death. That's taking the phrase to a pretty silly level of generality, in terms of losing context and meaning. It's like saying the accusation that anti-Iraq-war folks had Saddam's future victims' blood on their hands was a "blood libel" against lefties. Can't people just say stupid shit anymore?

Britta said...

I think on blood libel, whether or not Palin knows the meaning of the term or not, most of her constituents do not. My guess is she used that term because it sounds bad--afterall, what could be worse than libel than blood libel. What I find scariest about the Republican party is the willingness to use words or terms/rhetoric in a way that is completely divorced from the actual meanings of words. It's like Republicans have decided to divorce signifier from signified, in a way that comportly unmoors language from its socially accepted meaning. We are literally getting "war means peace, hate means love" type propaganda that seems to be taking over the public sphere. What is so chilling about this is first that I don't see how civil society can operate without on the most basic level a commonly shared language. Secondly, one reason why words don't actually have to mean anything is that the new right's message isn't one of ideas, but rather an extremely ugly sort of affect.

Britta said...

Also, I thought that Loughner had been fairly certainly linked to some pretty wacky ideas found pretty much only on the far right, like the government controls grammar, and obsession with the gold standard, which for sone inexplicable reason has been taken up by white supremacists. Also, most rightwing crazies often start out on the left, so if Loughner was leftist in hs that doesn't really mean much for his current beliefs.

PG said...

Britta,
Eh, I kinda saw this tendency coming in 2002 with the uproar over Trent Lott's wishing that Strom Thurmond had won the presidency in 1948, where Lott's defenders accused his critics of "lynching" him. But don't say you think that words that arose specifically to describe atrocities committed by the majority race/religion against a minority race/religion are not appropriate for a member of the majority to use when he's merely gotten his feelings hurt by criticism, because then you're (a) reverse-racist; (b) politically correct; and/or (c) violating the First Amendment.

Britta said...

PG, well, since I am a Liberal Fascist, it would make sense that I am looking to oppress the liberties of Real Americans. ;)

Also, sorry for all the egregious typos, I was using a ipod keyboard.

Phoebe said...

rshams, MSI, anyone else arguing the pro-Palin side here,

I was thinking about this, and what I keep coming back to is, what precisely are we saying Palin's entitled to? Is she entitled for her gun-themed speech not to be criticized? To a place in the public eye? In the White House? Her supporters, tentative as well as enthusiastic, seem to want for her to be allowed the same leniency as we allow private citizens who have no reason to be up-to-date on foreign policy or to get semi-obscure references to medieval anti-Judaism, and to treat any attempts at getting her out of the spotlight as mean-spirited, as though everyone up and found a random admin assistant somewhere and decided to gang up. The more power someone (realistically) aspires to, the more legitimate it is to place them under close scrutiny and fight their ascent.

What is Palin entitled to, as far as I'm concerned? Even those who think she's dreadful might speak up and say she's innocent until proven guilty of responsibility for the Arizona tragedy. She's certainly entitled to not be thrown in jail for the crime of a nutcase who may or may not look up to her. Palin and her detractors both get freedom of speech, so that goes in both directions. But no one's entitled to political support, any more than any individual is entitled to romantic reciprocation from any other individual. The bar is not the same for being shunned from society and losing one's place in the would-be-presidential-contender hierarchy.

rshams, re: your specific point in the last comment: Why are mental instability and political motivation mutually exclusive? Do we think the guy who went nuts in the name of Islam at an army base was purely in one camp or the other? There are so, so many apolitical ways to shoot a bunch of people, and this wasn't one of them. To me, the question is whether he was coming from the far-left, far-right, or his own combination of the two. But this isn't, again, the question I think is most important here - there will always be politically-excited wackos, but they don't always have guns.

PG,

So perhaps this is where Palin got the language? I guess it could have just been in reference to the metaphorical 'blood' some were saying was on her hands. Who knows. Whatever it was about, oops.

Britta,

I think, unfortunately, that what you're describing in terms of language comes from what MSI is saying, about how Palin comes across (to some! and I do think some conservatives see it otherwise) as more sympathetic when her foot's in her mouth. If the right is going to define itself in opposition to the well-educated or well-read, it only helps the cause of the politicians who go for that approach to call them out on incoherence.

Phoebe said...

Sigivald, whose comments keep not appearing, wrote:


It seems a stretch to say the killer didn't have right-wing motivations, even if he was too nuts to have connected with any organized far-right entity, and even if in previous incarnations of his lunacy, he'd leaned far-left.

Huh?

Even if he had no connections to the right, and was far-left?

And despite nothing in any of his writings or communications or any of the opinions of his "friends" suggests that he was "right" at all?

Why doesn't it seem a stretch, exactly?

Britta: I've never heard a "right winger" complain about "control of grammar" by the State.

Perhaps you're thinking of the complaints about "PC", which are pretty commonly Right stuff (though not unknown on the Left either).

"Government controls minds by controlling GRAMMAR" is a pretty novel bit of nuttery, outside of the fiction of Wm. S. Burroughs (himself not exactly a Right Wing icon, y'know?).

I have so far seen nothing to tie The Crazy to "the right wing" - or to "the left wing".

(Oh, I'll grant that gold-bug-ism is common on the right and among libertarians.

But if that's all there is, that's nothing, because crazy doesn't know ideological boundaries, and there's at least as much to tie him to isolated stances most common on the left.

Calling him "right wing" because of that is the (equally wrong and unsupportable) equivalent of calling him "left wing" because of his rants about God.

After all, the "right wing" aren't angry atheists, are they?)

(And on Blood Libel, yeah, well, not so much with the seeing a problem.

It's not like the use of the term in politics to decry any false statement of blame for death or other crimes is new.

http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/256955/term-blood-libel-more-common-you-might-think

I'm not going to be offended about all of those uses.

In fact, I'm not going to be offended about any of them, since they seem to be using the idea more or less correctly and not in an anti-Semitic way, or even in a way that meaningfully lessens the offense of the classic blood libel against Jews.)

Phoebe said...

Sigivald,

None of us can say with absolute certainty what was going through the head of the killer when he picked his target. The clues, if I had to guess, for reasons I've mentioned earlier in the thread and from what I've read about this, tilt towards his being far-right, but things get iffy when "far" is reached from either side, so who knows. I still don't see what the big deal is, given that he acted alone and not on behalf of the Republican Party, the Tea Party, etc. I'm not besmirching the name of American conservatism to say that from what I can tell, this particular murderer was more right than left.

As for "blood libel" being innocuous... if it takes research to find a handful of (mis)uses of this expression in the last decade, it's not a phrase that's at the tip of everyone's tongue, nor one that's full-on taken on a new meaning in our language. Anyway, the Andrew Sullivan and Frank Rich quotes are poor examples, because it's different to say something is like blood libel, making it clear you know what blood libel means, than to decide the expression can straight-up mean whatever you want it to. One can debate whether or not whatever it is is in fact as much like blood libel as Andrew Sullivan or Frank Rich thinks it is, but that's a different matter from, this is now just some term used for every time someone's falsely accused of something.

Britta said...

Mark Potok, of the Southern Poverty Law Center (whose full time job is to monitor the racist far-right) says that the whole grammar control stuff comes from a specific corner of the far right movement, which also has association with white supremacy, and the same with all the gold standard stuff. From what I've heard, the Southern Poverty Law Center thinks that Loughton was a right winger, and I will trust their judgment on this.

rshams said...

Why are mental instability and political motivation mutually exclusive? Do we think the guy who went nuts in the name of Islam at an army base was purely in one camp or the other?

No, because, from what I recall, the Ford Hood shooter made repeated references before the shooting to violence as revenge for U.S. policies in the Muslim world, he asked a radical cleric in Yemen whether the shooting was a moral act, and he shouted "Allahu Akbar!" while he was shooting. That seems to me to be a fairly concrete example of someone being politically motivated and crazy.

Phoebe said...

rshams,

So one case is more concrete than the other, one killer more coherent than the other. It strikes me as uncontroversial that this was an attempted political assassination - to be distinguished from attempts at killing bosses, exes, classmates, teachers, celebrities - and that the only question is from what end of the political spectrum. I still suspect it was more from-the-right than from-the-left, but, again, am not too worried about this angle.