Some angry e-mails this morning about civility, specifically about my earlier posts asserting that, so far, the Tucson massacre story has more to do with mental illness and gun control than it has to do with violent rhetoric in political discourse. Here's one such e-mail:
Get your head out of the sand Goldberg. These kinds of shootings wouldn't happen in a country that wasn't ruled by Fox. Wait until your targeted for death threats, then you'll see.
Put aside that bit about death threats -- I keep mine in a file cabinet (and no, I'm just reporting here, not engaging in what Michael Kinsley calls "death-threat chic", though it's true that sometimes I'm flattered by the attention, especially from neo-Nazis) -- the shooting in Tucson is not, so far at least, related to the work of Roger Ailes. Jared Loughner seems, by all accounts, to have been a paranoid schizophrenic for quite a while, and his influences seem darker and more obscure than Fox News and Sarah Palin. To me, asking whether this shooting should prompt a discussion about civility in public discourse is like asking whether it should prompt a discussion of climate change because Arizona is hot. Just as civility is something worth discussing, so too is climate change, and yes, Arizona may be getting hotter because of it, but climate change is not related to this shooting, just as the decline of civility doesn't appear to be related to this shooting.