Durbin: Targeting members is 'beyond bounds of acceptable rhetoric' 

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on CNN's State of the Union this morning that ads "targeting" members of elected office were "beyond the bounds of acceptable rhetoric," and that while there can be no direct connection made between the rhetoric and the action, such speech does "go too far." 

He also noted that those in public life are more vulnerable to violence, even though a six-year old girl who was killed was just as vulnerable during this shooting as the public officials attending the event:

Durbin: ...There are two things i'd say as i've listened to your program, with excellent coverage. The first is, we live in a world of violent images and violent words. But those of us in public life and the journalists who cover this should be thoughtful in response to this and bring down the rhetoric which has become pervasive in the discussion of political issues, the phrase "don't retreat, reload" put crosshairs on congressional districts as targets. These sorts of things I think invite the kind of toxic rhetoric that can lead unstable people to believe this is an acceptable response, and I think that we all have an obligation, both political parties, and let me salute the senior senator from Arizona, John McCain, whose statement was clear and unequivocal that we are not accepting this kind of conduct as being anywhere near the mainstream.

Crowley: Sen. Durbin, let me just follow up. When you talk about putting those you want to defeat in the crosshairs graphically on the internet you're talking about Sarah Palin here, I guess that the undertow... with politicians speaking publicly is: well, the Republicans and the Tea Party and Sarah Palin have gone way too far with their rhetoric, it's been violent rhetoric, and therefore this sort of thing happens. Are you making that direct connection?

Durbin: I don't think you could ever make that direct connection. But don't we have an obligation, those of us in public life and those who cover us, to say this is beyond the bounds, it may be constitutionally permissible but it shouldn't be acceptable rhetoric. We shouldn't invite it on the radio shows or TV at least without comment. We oughtta say that just goes too far.

Crowley: And you think that Democrats are as guilty of ratcheting up?

Durbin: I don't want to point those fingers other than to say that we understand how vulnerable everyone is in this culture, and those of us in public life even more vulnerable. And we owe it to our own and both political parties to have at least the good sense and common decency when people say these outrageous things to say "wait a minute, that just goes too far." Whether it comes from the Right or from the Left.

So did Durbin object to this graphic being published by fellow Democrats in '04? Or how about this map, noticed by the Palm Beach Post

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J.P. Freire

J.P. Freire is the associate editor of commentary. Previously he was the managing editor of the American Spectator. Freire was named journalist of the year for 2009 by the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). You can follow him on Twitter here. Besides the Spectator, Freire's work has appeared in... more
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