In the debate over the Tucson shootings, the Left has condemned the use of what they deem violent rhetoric as the primary source of responsibility for the shootings (while ignoring their own use of rhetoric far more vitriolic and incendiary; here's an example). It's this damnation by the Left which has brought about questions for me: Where does the responsibility truly belong? When does rhetoric become the cause of violent acts?
We're seeing in Europe a Dutch politician and an Austrian educator on trial for hate speech. Many people disagree with what they say, but have people gone out and killed Muslims as a result of what the politician and the educator have said? Have they actually called for the deaths of anyone? And even if there has, where should the responsibility be placed? Where is the acceptable line between responsibility and culpability?
It is apparent from what is known about the Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner, that he is a psycho, pure and simple. How big a factor was that violent rhetoric in his motivation? If he wasn't insane, would he have done it anyway?
Seeing what some people are hoping to accomplish (i.e. attempting to restrict speech as a result of the Tucson shootings), it's made me wonder just what the definition of responsibility truly is in our nation, and should be. Is it a matter for government to resolve, or for individual human beings to resolve for themselves?
These are serious and non-rhetorical questions I have here. What rhetoric is unacceptable in a public forum? Where does the culpability belong? Most importantly, where the does the responsibility belong?
What say you?