What I want to talk about are the people who don't get why Palin should apologize for the "crosshairs" thing. I take this comment from MarkCC's blog as an example:
You’re touchy about the phrase “blood libel”, but you have no problem falsely blaming someone for a mass shooting.
Okay, look, I'm not blaming her for it. In fact, I think the shooter probably couldn't have cared less about Palin. He may not have even seen the crosshair graphic, and it's a near certainty that he wasn't inspired by it.
Many commentators have focused on the political climate inspired by the militaristic and sometimes even explicitly violent rhetoric coming from the Right. While I agree whole-heartedly -- and in fact, I remember so many people making predictions that an assassination attempt of a national US politician could very well take place sometime in the near future due to the overheated and divisive speech coming from that side -- I think that in terms of why Palin should personally apologize, even that's not the most relevant issue.
The reason why Palin should apologize is because if you implicitly wish death on someone, even in jest or in metaphor, and then that person dies or someone tries to kill them -- well, if you have an ounce of humanity in your entire body, then you feel really horribly guilty about that!
Say you were at a party and you got in an argument with one of your friends. A really nasty argument, let's say, that ended in shouting, and as he was storming out, in your rage you shout something vulgar like, "Eat shit and die!" And then let's say he was in a horrible car accident on the way home that left him in critical condition. How would that make you feel? How would you react?
If you were a human being, you would feel awful. You would apologize to everyone at the party. Your soul would be wracked with guilt.
If you were Sarah Palin, you'd make a video painting yourself as a martyr.
This is particularly resonant for me right now, because my wife's and my relationship with our deceased friend had been very rocky towards the end. The reasons make sense now, but that doesn't make it feel any better. The second-to-last e-mail I sent to her before she died was giving her flak about cleaning up her dog's poop when she visits us. That hurts, you know? I mean, I wasn't doing anything wrong, and these things happen... but you always wish the last thing you could say would be something meaningful and heartfelt. I know the world doesn't work that way, and I know -- I think I know better than most -- that in the end it doesn't really matter, that death is death, and that it would sting pretty much just as bad no matter what our final words had been. But I'm human, so I still think about these things.
Now, this situation is pretty different, I guess. Palin was never a friend of Giffords, of course. But then again, I didn't publish a website with a picture of crosshairs over a map of my deceased friend's apartment.
So no, Palin didn't have anything directly to do with this. And as for the extent to which violent political rhetoric created an atmosphere that was encouraging to the Loughners of the world, Palin is hardly the only one who shares blame for that.
None of that matters. Any halfway decent normal human being would feel absolutely awful about the horrible coincidence between the crosshairs incident and the assassination attempt on Giffords. And the fact that Palin apparently doesn't feel bad about it at all -- or at least won't say so in public -- is just fucking sickening.