Rhetoric vs. Insanity

Dog Killer

Human Killer

Here is an article about a crazy lady (left) who slaughtered a dog for chewing on her Bible.  Some atheist blogs blame Christianity for this horrendous act.  Similarly, recently a crazy dude (right) shot a US congresswoman.  Some Democrats blame Republican rhetoric for this horrendous act.

I agree that the Bible has disgusting, violent, abusive rhetoric is many areas.  Likewise many talk radio shows use aggressive rhetoric — though I have heard the same on the left too.

But I have absolutely NO desire to get into political controversy here – it is not the point of the post.  Instead, I want to know how you feel about the role of rhetoric vs. craziness in these horrible events.  I think both events invite similar analysis.  So I thought I’d try this questionnaire.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

9 responses to “Rhetoric vs. Insanity

  1. Spout all the rhetoric you want, but a person is still responsible for their actions. I blame craziness.

  2. So, Mike, I suppose you were one of the “Craziness” votes, eh? Or was that all rhetoric?

  3. Yep, I was a craziness vote.

  4. Ram

    The difference is that the lady killed the dog for a very specific, and clearly religious reason. The guy who shot the representative showed no such clear political motivation.

  5. I had a tough time choosing between “craziness”, and “craziness plus some rhetoric”. In no sense do I think that the rhetoric bears any culpability in either act, but it’s probable that rhetoric served as a trigger in both cases. In addition to these two cases, we have literally thousands of other cases which prove that crazy people can be triggered by good-vs-evil Zarathustrian rhetoric. That doesn’t mean we crazy-proof the world by banning everything that might trigger a crazy person. But we can’t deny that that style of rhetoric often is a trigger.

  6. Hello JS Allen :
    I couldn’t agree more.

    Hi Ram :
    I am not sure I agree. I am not sure “reason” had anything to do with the murders. I like JS Allens notion of trigger and the crazy person is the keg of gunpowder — probably almost any rhetoric or even a mundane event could have set them off.
    But I may be wrong.

    My point: The voices I see in print tell us it is the Rhetoric, but people polling here seem to largely feel it is more the craziness.

  7. I always say that when comparing two issues, the right answer can usually be found halfway between the two.

    I’m not sure that halfway is the right answer between craziness y rhetoric when it comes to violent crimes, though. In that case I think the origin is craziness. The rhetoric is, to a point, unimportant, because if the politicians hadn’t been talking extremes, the guy would have found another way to give output to his nuttiness. Perhaps he would’ve shot vegetarians, or animal right advocates, or environmentalists, or abortion providers.

    A crazy person only needs an excuse.

  8. Ed

    As I commented on the poll, you have to be crazy to let somebody’s rhetoric dictate your actual behavior. People that think that someone’s so called “hate-speach” can cause murder or violence in general are just looking for an excuse to blame anybody but the guilty party. This is just more of the “we are all victims here” mentality. Unfortunately, this will end up with almost everybody blaming a very few self actualized people for all that is wrong in this world.

    Cave in the mountains anyone?

  9. @ Lorena & Ed: We have similar attitudes.

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