Sarah Palin, the Republican leader known for her fiery statements, has landed in yet another controversy for using the term blood libel while defending herself against allegations connecting her to the Tuscon shooting.
In an eight-minute video posted on her Facebook page, Palin thwarted her critics' claims that her firearms-infused political attacks contributed to the gruesome assassination attempt of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, in Tucson, which led to the deaths of six and left as many as 14 wounded.
Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible, Palin remarks in the video released early Wednesday.
Her tone was sombre minus the witty remarks that often lace her political speeches.
Incidentally or rather ironically, Palin was trying to defend herself from the allegations that her words caused the 22-year-old suspected gunman Jared Loughner into taking the violent step when she blurted out the words heavy with religious symbolism that has stirred off a huge storm now.
The blood libel takes root in an ugly accusation slapped against Jews that they murdered Christain children and used of their blood to make matzos, a cracker-like unleavened bread, for Passover, a festival. The blood accusation has been one among many claims used to justify the persecution of Jews.
The Arizona shooting has been on the news ever since the incident and the media coverage has been fraught with rhetorics. Shortly after the tragedy, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik claimed vitriolic rhetoric was a potential source for the violence.
Vitriol refers to sulfuric acid, one of the most corrosive substances and most dangerous chemicals. Vitriol, which stems from Latin 'vitrium' meaning 'of glass', has been used poetically since ages. The word recently figured the political warfare. In April 2010, President Barack Obama referred to some cable talk shows as vitriol.
Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's eloquent linking of Saturday's devastating shooting to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, had sparked off debates over words and language leading to actions.
However, the latest from Palin has raised other questions. While media questions if Palin even completely understood the implication of the usage of blood libels, linguists have explainted why the usage of this particular phrase has invoked so much anger.
By using the specific and intense sense of blood libel to refer to verbal criticisms, Palin has implied an equivalence between both circumstances.
The Atlantic Wire quoted famous linguist Deborah Tannen as explaining that the whole episode is a case of semantic bleaching, a phenomenon where a word or term with a specialized meaning takes on a more generalized set of associations with time. The linguistics professor argued that the words and phrases lose their literal meaning over time, while other contentions included the possibility of the term simply thought to mean a false accusation regarding responsibility for harm to others.
Meanwhile, Sharron Angle, the unsuccessful GOP Senate candidate from Nevada, has also refused allegations that her campaign rhetoric played a role in Tuscon shooting attack.
In a statement, Angle said, I have consistently called for reasonable political dialogue on policy issues to encourage civil political education and debate.
Inappropriately attributing blame of a singular tragedy to achieve a political agenda is contrary to civil discourse, and is a media ploy to which I refuse to belong.
Allegations against Angle stemmed from her feiry campaign rhetoric targeted against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, when she suggested that voters would turn to Second Amendment remedies if they had no other way to settle grievances with Congress.
Finger-pointing towards political figures is an audience-rating game and contradicts the facts as they are known. The shooter was obsessed with his twisted plans long before the TEA Party movement began, she added.
Bitter political rhetoric has increased in the recent past, especially over issues such as health care and immigration. With the politicians continuing to make use of the current crisis to forward their political strategy, the question has now emerged if this is the time to put an end to or at least tone down the caustic oratory.