This week's exercise in blame throwing and blame shifting reminded me of "alternative pleading" taught in law school.* The arguments I've heard this week go something like:
- I didn’t pour any Kool Aid. (My speech did not advocate violence, even though I suggested we should make liberals afraid to come out of their houses.) http://vodpod.com/watch/3384590-gop-congressional-candidate-allen-west-tells-tea-partiers-make-the-fellow-scared-to-come-out-of-his-house
- If I did pour some Kool Aid, he didn’t drink it. (This guy was insane and violent speech had nothing to do with this.) video: “lead the charge with bayonets” http://vodpod.com/watch/2569365-youtube-congressional-candidate-lieutenant-colonel-allen-west
- If he did drink some Kool Aid, you can't prove it was my Kool Aid that he drank. (You can't prove that my hosting a target practice fundraiser had anything to do with this.) http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=107417
- If he drank my Kool Aid, it was his fault (not mine) that he did. (Guns don't kill people, people do. And by the way, if you argue this incident points to the need for gun control, I might exercise my Second Amendment Remedies.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqAWQ-TMF3I&feature=related
- I may pour Kool Aid, but it's not my intent that anyone drink it. (I just say these things, people are supposed to know I don't mean them.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQPBtFJzhnU
- If you accuse me of having anything to do with Kool Aid, you are making a personal attack on me, and I’m offended by that. (I’m a victim of a left wing conspiracy, and I'm offended that you would insinuate that my hosting a target practice fund raiser and suggesting we "take aim" at Gifford would have any relation to this.) left wing conspiracy: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19846.html
- Everyone pours and drinks Kool Aid, and that makes it okay to have a Kool Aid party. (Everybody else uses violent language and gun metaphors, so why not me.)
- Kool Aid sells well, so that means it's healthy. (Hey, this is good for my ratings, lets' go buy a Glock!)
- It's not Kool Aid, it's milk. (They were surveyor marks!) http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/01/palin-aide-symbols-werent-rifle-sights-but-surveyors-marks/69163
The fallacy of all these assertions is that none of them can make an immoral action into a moral one. Two wrongs do not make a right. Political speech that advocates violence is immoral, period. That, at least, seems like a no brainer we should all be able to agree on. Beyond this, where is the line between freedom of expression and advocacy of violence? Well, here's a radical suggestion: why not err on the side of caution?
*Alternative pleading allows factually inconsistent claims to be asserted in the same pleadings, the classic example being "(1) I did not borrow the cooking pot. (2) If I borrowed the cooking pot, I returned it. (3) It's not your cooking pot."