The Tucson Shooting: An Open Letter to Joyce Kaufman

The following is an open letter to WFTL-AM (850) radio host Joyce Kaufman, whose incendiary political rhetoric included a Tea Party rally remark that "If ballots don't work, bullets will":

Dear Joyce,

How does it feel when you hear about the horrific shootings in Tucson yesterday? How does it feel to see that someone actually employed your idea of using bullets over ballots?

greenchristina1.jpg
Christina Taylor Green
I wonder if deep down you're mortified, because you should be. You should finally be getting a terrifying glimpse of how your callous and ignorant words might actually affect South Florida and our nation.

I wonder how you feel when you hear about the death of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was killed in the shooting at the Safeway along with U.S. District Judge John Roll and four others. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and survived, along with 11 others injured. Christina danced ballet and played little league. She had just been elected to her elementary school's student council and was invited by a neighbor to Giffords' political event yesterday to meet a real government leader. Instead she met a madman with a gun who decided that bullets were the answer.  

Christina was born on September 11, 2001, Joyce, a day that shocked and horrified this nation and a day that you have been using to help spread your message of war and hate ever since.

Joyce, I want you to look at Christina's face. Is that what you had in mind when you told people that bullets were a viable solution in politics? Will you explain to Christina's parents what you meant? How do you defend your irresponsible rhetoric now?

I know you aren't to blame for the shooting, Joyce. The killer was clearly unhinged and insane. But unfortunately it's the unhinged and the insane who might hear dangerous and incredibly stupid words like yours and act on them. Did Jared Lee Loughner hear your call to arms on cable television? Was he affected by them? Did they inspire him?

We may never know, but even the possibility should chill you to

your core. And I know it's not just you, Joyce. The entire Tea Party in Tucson came after Giffords, calling her a socialist and a traitor. Back in March, someone smashed the glass door of her congressional office in Tucson. Giffords' crime was trying to help more people get the health care they need -- something you're rabidly against as well, Joyce.

palinguns.jpg
Palin's crosshairs poster
Sarah Palin, the veritable mother of the Tea Party movement, infamously put Giffords in her crosshairs back in March. Palin included Giffords in a poster of congressional districts she was targeting. One of the districts under the image of a rifle scope was Giffords, whose name was included on Palin's poster. Giffords was understandably worried about that, especially since her office door had been smashed.

Judge Roll couldn't avoid the crazies either. Back in 2009, he was subjected to death threats after right-wing radio hosts began criticizing him. His offense was allowing a civil case filed by illegal immigrants to continue.

Palin's timing couldn't have been worse. She put the rifle scope poster out the day after Giffords' door was smashed.  

"We're on Sarah Palin's targeted list," Giffords said on MSNBC on March 25. "But the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district, and when people do that, they've gotta realize there are consequences to that action."

That's a key word, Joyce -- consequences. Try to think of the consequences of your terrible words and the climate that you and your fellow Tea Partiers create when you equate gun violence with political action. When you tell people that bullets are a viable political alternative, some of them might just listen. When Palin tells her followers to "reload," some might take her literally. We already got a taste here in Broward how some might react to your own loaded words when the threats were relayed to you and your radio station that led to a lockdown of all of our public schools.

giffordstea.jpg
Tucson Tea Party sign
And it's not just the gun imagery I'm talking about. When you advocated the hangings of illegal immigrants who committed a crime, did you consider what effect such a suggestion might have on the Jared Lee Loughners of the world? Do you even have a clue what the hell it is you are saying?  

You demonize Muslims and beat the war drum against them every single day. Do you know what an expanded war would look like any more than you knew what it would look like when someone actually decided to use bullets instead of ballots?  

I hope the tragedy in Tucson finally helps you face the fact that you are coming from a place of monumental ignorance, Joyce. Instead of railing against the health care reform that Giffords voted for, go out and meet people who are suffering and are going to die before they should just because they don't have health insurance. That might change your view. 

Instead of advocating war, do some reporting from actual war zones, take a look at it up-close and personal. You might not be so cavalier about it. Instead of calling for the executions of illegal immigrants, spend a week in a migrant camp and get to know them.

And rather than implying ever again that gunfire is the answer in American politics, look at that little 9-year-old girl's face one last time. 

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313 comments
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Anon
Anon

This is a heartfelt incredible article. The world got to see the close-knit sleepy town settled by 5 generations of Hispanics and Native Americans finding a way to get along and stay together. Then the outsiders come with the political agendas and turn this sleepy Western town into chaos -- a military zone and police state driven by "conservatives" - intolerant, racist and backwards thinking. I'm glad the nation witnessed the memorial services to see the "real" community Tucson is. The media has given too much attention to the racists and warmongers looking for Federal dollars -- your tax $$$'s flooding into Arizona to keep it afloat. There is no money for education, health care, treatment and social services but there IS money for the military and building prisons and detention centers to hold those who have no voice or legal standing. Taxpayers and people, wake up, you are paying for fear mongering whipped up by the Republicans/conservatives/Tea party rantings!

Anon
Anon

Fearmongering = $$$'s for the profiteers who are building the police state and prison state Arizona has become. If it doesn't stop in Arizona, it's coming your way!

Big City Bob
Big City Bob

Bob Norman should apologize. Trying to connect dots that, eventually, led to nowhere. Castigating those whose opinions differ from his. He continues his bashing on a daily basis with no sense of "responsibility" on his part. And some of the sycophant, Rachel Maddow, loving elitists need to look beyond their turned up noses. There are real people out here. Those who can read and write, who don't need to personally belittle others to get their point across. The battle will continue. I just hope it will be done "responsibly."

Megmail
Megmail

This is an incredible article. I hope all the people with hate in their hearts read it and heed it.

Stephen Bartell
Stephen Bartell

What's not being said, is that many on the right look at the shooting as an accomplishment.This is what they wanted, after all. Be prepared for the destruction of America by thesenutcases.Someone tell the gun lovers that guns represent the male organ, and underneath it all, that'swhat they really love.

Cadalton
Cadalton

Well-written open letter. Until we realize that "names and words CAN hurt us", we, as a nation will be subject to ever-increasing hostile and hateful words, like the ones from Joyce Kaufman...

Anonymous
Anonymous

U.S. District Judge John M. Roll, who was killed in the rampage, was one of the first federal judges in 1994 to strike down part of the Brady gun-control law, saying it was unconstitutional for the federal government to require states to conduct background checks.

Bob
Bob

Wake up Bob. We're in a war Bob, people die in wars, children die in wars. How about you think about all of the children who have died at the hands of our bombs and guns and then rewrite your arrogant/preachy article, Bob. Just because she's a 9 year old girl who live and died in the United States it doesn't make her any better than a 9 year old girl who lived in died at our hands (your hands, my hands, anyone who elected our "leaders.") So, sorry Bob, if you've voted for any of our current elected officials, you are no less guilty of murder than Joyce, and you have no right to criticize Joyce for her words, Bob.

Ncel
Ncel

We need a way to settle differences. The ancient Phillistines had an interesting suggestion. They advised that each opposing side submit a champion to fight in a battle to the death. The side whose champion won would rule the losing side would submit to the rule of the winners. Interesting, but you have to admit it was not so costly in lives. Only one person died, but the issue was settled until the next disagreement. Think this ancient remedy barbaric, cruel and unusual - no more so than our “civilized” way of name calling, hatred and inflammatory language inciting lesser minds to react in violence until half a dozen or more people are killed and nothing solved.

Sebastian
Sebastian

OMG! It seems that Facebook will SHUT DOWN for real. Mark Zuckerberg posted an Official note on Facebook saying that Facebook will close down on February 15th. We must DO something!

apps.facebook.com/shut-down-fa...

Realrealtyhelper
Realrealtyhelper

Facebook will be shutting down for 4 hours for maintenance. Took me 1 min to look up & find out the truth. Please spend 1 min of checking or you just blindly spreading rumors like a liberal.

wakeup
wakeup

Why isnt MSNBC host Rachel Maddow coming under fire as well for promoting the remarks Kaufman made? The media should be responsible to weigh out the effect of the pieces they air. Maddow wanted to put Kaufman in a bad light -- this was not news it was just political posturing--both sides being irresponsible for their words and actions. If every word and action said has to be weighed out to be sure some wacko wont take it literally or to the extreme then tv, music, movies and video games must go through a complete overhaul because violence is promoted in excess in our county. The rules need to be the same for everyone!!!

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

What are you suggesting, that Maddow is not allowed to highlight Kaufman's stupidity? That the media is to simply ignore when someone like Kaufman makes a call to arms at a public rally?

You're equating Maddow--who was highlighting Kaufman's stupidity--with Kaufman's vitriol?

Have you had your coffee yet?

Alimark
Alimark

It seems rather decisive & irresponsible to try to blame ANYONE for such a tragedy- Our President asked us to come together in light of this horror and instead opportunistic political wannabe pundits post this garbage- Personal accountability (a concept seemingly lost here in America) lies in the hands of a weak minded madman who by the way was taken down by another gun toting American-

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

And what the Pulp was advocating in his open letter is that "personal responsibility" extends to those public officials and radio hosts who use their positions of influence to make outrageous statements, such as a call to arms if they aren't successful at the ballot box. Pulp never once stated that the shooter was not personally responsible for these deaths.

How anyone cannot comprehend this very simple distinction is beyond me.

This nation is populated by many people who are very limited in their ability to comprehend what they read.

I suspect you are one of those people.

Dpscotch
Dpscotch

How can you use the photo of that poor little girl within the first paragraph. You sick stupid fuck..Really this is how you legitimize your bullshit article, to use imagery of this event (the most sadenning and crushing) to make a point. Stupid fuck! Eat shit stupid bitch. You are as shallow and emotionless as the so called evil that you are trying to point out. Go to dogshit hell...

Model Citizen
Model Citizen

Dogshit hell? Huh. I always wondered where my dog's turds went after I threw them over the fence.

Alex
Alex

Joyce Kaufman is a crazy witch. She has blood on her hands today.

johnslob
johnslob

I'm trying to maintain a greater sense of faith in a country that I was once proud to live in, grateful to be born in, and happy to wake up in. I could choose to turn a blind eye to everything around me and not listen, nor read the crap versus the alleged truths that are spoonfed to me in an instant.I can still vote for a lesser of two evils.These days, ones who appear to publish "truths" are met with censorship and or imprisonment. I still carry a glimmer of hope, and believe that change CAN come. But change will definitely not magically appear from one person, political leader, or even one party. I guess all we can do as individuals is try and be kind to one another and understand that fear, ego, anger, and resentment are just a few of the greatest killers I know that I can try to control within myself. Peace

Oleith30
Oleith30

This is for the nine yr old little princess who had everything goin for her may her mother,father find peace in god who strength us.I know she shine in the sky as the brightess star at night watchin over you all

mikemcc67
mikemcc67

Wasnt it Rahm Emmanuel that said a good Democrat will never let a crises or tragedy go to waste? Never quite understood what he meant until reading all of these responses and how quickly most Dems seemed to have seized the moment to strategically place their enemies in a bad light. For shit sake, this is a horrible reality that these people are living. And their loss and pain will last long past the next election cycle. Has America become this bad? How is this even a 266 comment political issue?

Jbergmandesigner
Jbergmandesigner

I'm so sick and tired of irresponsible parents blaming video games for theses acts... do you watch a murder in a movie and want to go commit the act. Quit being irresponsible parents and take notice of your children. Get out of your iPhones/Facebook, whatever and get involved with your families.

Second, supporting violent behavior in political campaigns should automatically disallow these people from public office. We are all tired of the same old same old, but nothing requires these extremes

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

Bingo! Any public official who makes a call to arms should be tried for inciting the overthrow of the U.S. Government. You cannot shout fire in a crowded theatre and you cannot suggest to people that if they do not get their way at election time, they can take up arms.

And anyone who uses the public airwaves, and makes a statement like Kaufmann made, should be kicked off the airwaves immediately.

Guest
Guest

Well Said. I agree with you 100%.

nineyearoldshootingtarget
nineyearoldshootingtarget

a person born on 9-11; what r the odds of that? my birthday is 4-20 so i guess i am a symbol of hitlers vision and the columbine message. who gives a shit what day she was born? she got shot, that sucks, and so forth but to bring 9-11 into this? "she was a symbol of hope" i read in the local paper. guess im a symbol of hate and school bullying. wonder why i aint dead yet. lucky i guess. and i stay away from politicians

Avatar
Avatar

Actually I blame Jodie Foster for this. She was clearly egging on John Hinckley jr to shoot Regan and this guy was a copycat. Clearly she is to blame. Also she's been in several movies where people are shot with guns which again sent out the wrong message. Stop politicizing this. Have u seen his YouTube vids? He was beyond crazy. Our country/government exists because of opposing views. Stick to issues and not crazed emotions to prove your point.

Henk
Henk

Dear Bob,

Some responders already made the necessary comments to place your accusations into perspective. I am glad that this country allows free speech, including your accusatory tone without evidence. I do expect that your assumptions will be proven wrong in the future when more information about the situation comes to light. I regret that anyone like you is using their freedom of speech to make false accusations before finding out all of the facts.

Henk

Reedkal
Reedkal

Well put.What these gun crazies don't get is that their 'slogan' is innacurate."Guns don't kill people, People kill people." Puh-Leeze! Cars don't kill people, People kill people. They're BOTH weapons. Tools of death. Guns don't kill people, PEOPLE WITH GUNS KILL PEOPLE!Then there's the 'He wasn't related to the Tea Party, the Neo-cons, the religious right, etc.Okay, MAYBE he wasn't. Time will tell. BUT, how about the shooter at the Holocaust Museum in DC?Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh & Savage in print and on PC? As far back as the Oklahoma bombing you can find scrawls of the extreme right wing hatred.So, not this one, but there have been and there will be, and the blood is on your heads.

Avatar
Avatar

Trying to politicize this event and place blame on people who had nothing to do with it is sickening. Your a simple minded bafoon who's trying to get traffic to your site by marketing this horrific event to other simple minded bafoons.

PBCliberal
PBCliberal

Today on her show, Joyce Kaufman told us: she feels like a victim. Her bottom line is that she worries that the Tucson shootings will be used to stifle debate over important issues and that her first amendment rights will be abridged.

Your words are probably lost on her. The deaths in Tucson are probably lost on her as well; true to Joyce Kaufman, it's really all about her, the radio show, and her ability to continue to pit people against each other in a way that raises her ratings, her political future and her national name.

When her show was implicated in the lockdown of Broward schools, smiling from ear to ear she told local TV crews to listen to her radio show. So no open letter is going to shame her into taking personal responsibility; that's for other people: especially people who don't agree with her far rightwing views.

My guess is that she's going to double down on the violent rhetoric and the hate talk. It's what makes her special to her core audience; those lukewarm about her probably bailed on her when her ballots/bullets comments became common knowledge.

There's also the potential that her station (WFTL) and its owners (James Crystal Broadcasting) will get a black eye big enough that her show will be canceled as soon as the spotlight moves off of her, which would explain why she's claiming that somehow she has a first amendment right to have her voice amplified by somebody else's radio station.

Jerry
Jerry

Good point PBCliberal. Although the shooter was mentally disturbed and could be incited by anything, there is just too much anger on talk radio, including Joyce Kaufman. My objection to Joyce and most talk radio- both by left and right wing- is that unlike the old days of radio in which you had to have representatives of different opinion have a frank discussion on issues, too much of talk radio is about the host rallying a viewpoint and not allowing those who disagree enough time to respond. In addtion, most of the hosts- including Joyce Kaufman- will ridicule those that disagree with her. I grew up in the 50s and 60s with more civil talk shows like David Susskind and other hosts who offered more of a variety of opinions. I can't stand the "cheerleading" and the "championing" of one oppoenent as the "good politician" and the other as "evil politiician". I realize this is about entertainment, but the entertainment value on talk shows are too predictable and boring, and Joyce Kaufman is not as fair minded a talk show today as she was 20- 25 years. It is too bad, because I had enough of her and Rush, Glenn, Keith, Rachel, etc. whether they champion the Democrats or the Republicans. As Bob pointed out, the discussion needs to be more balanced and civil and let the listeners, not the hosts, make up their own mind about politics.

JJ
JJ

Did I really just read that video games need to be banned?

What video games did the Nazis play?

Littlejohnny
Littlejohnny

vitriol: something highly caustic or severe in effect, as criticism.

Sandy
Sandy

I agree wholeheartedly that remarks such as these by Joyce Kaufman are extremely dangerous when made in the presence of someone such as this young man in Arizona, who acted on her words, and exercised his "bullets over ballots" rights! Hopefully, we will hear a heartfelt apology from her in the future!

Littlejohnny
Littlejohnny

If only everyone was more responsible about their remarks. Virgil.

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

Yes Johnny, but occasionally being cantankerous and obnoxious is not akin in any way to a call to arms. (More importantly, I am not a public official or on the public airwaves and have influence over many)

In other words, when I point out that someone has said something stupid--like you-- I don't advocate violence.

I attempt to help them by explaining the distinction and nuance.

Patti Lynn
Patti Lynn

Nice Channel 10 story, Bob. There is NO mistaking Kaufman's message...it was very clear to all. If those that they wanted out of office were not defeated at the ballot box, then bullets will effect the change. It was horrible when she said it. After Saturday's events, it is tragic.

NewYork
NewYork

Pulp, I agree with you so infrequently, I rarely read your work. However this is an exception. I wondered if Joyce felt any blame or guilt from this event. She does incites the ignorant with her rhetoric. She has seen first hand what happens when people take her seriously. When she prays, and she does this often, she should ask for forgiveness and some insight. Her behavior is dangerous and potentially deadly.

Guest
Guest

Once again, I Thank Bob Norman for this excellent heartfelt address to Joyce Kaufman and others of her ilk who advocate violence and hurtful tatics against those they differ in thought and policy from. Realize the the ramifications of your words or share the blame when a mentally unstable radical takes your words literally and goes on rampage and kills innocent people.

Alice
Alice

Stupid, simplistic bullshit. And George Bush was behind 9/11!

Just sayin'
Just sayin'

To compare today's political conversations regarding healthcare, etc. to the quotes of our Founding Fathers who wanted to separate the US from England is comparing apples to oranges and utterly ridiculous. It is a lame attempt to defend indefensible language. If people have differing ideas, they should limit the conversation to the merits of their idea and the lack of merit in the opposing idea. War and attack language are not helpful to the discussion or the solution. Again, the conversations taking place are about different positions on issues, not about war with an occupying country.

thegreatbeast
thegreatbeast

What a ridiculous implication for someone with access to the media to make. This fellow Lougher is clearly mentally ill; I suspect that he will be found to be a schizophrenic or the like off his meds. He was not influenced by anything other than some sort of chemical/electrical malfunction of his bodyIt is our right, indeed our duty, to overthrow a tyrannical government as Thomas Jefferson averred. When the ballot doesn't work, bullets will. Isn't that exactly how history has been writ?Mr. Norman is a poor thinker and a wretched student of history

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

What tyrannical government you tea bat? The one you fantasize about in your tiny little uneducated brain?

Feel free to join us back here on Planet Earth.

Littlejohnny
Littlejohnny

You make yourself feel better by demeaning others.

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

No, I actually feel very sad that there are so many really stupid people in this nation, people who are so uneducated and deluded that they think our government is tyrannical.

Have you people been to China, West Africa, North Korea?

Do you even have a clue as to what a tyrannical government looks like?

In a nation with a tyrannical gov't, you'd be hunted down and arrested for espousing such stupidity.

Wes
Wes

I would like her to look at the face of this 9 yr old girl for the rest of her life.

Gator
Gator

@Freedom "Based on their actions in the 1700s, it appears that if if Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Henry, etc. . . were alive today, I imagine they would be taking up arms in order to restore real, full freedom to this Country."

No, Washington probably would have called out the troops to deal with these right-wing nuts, just as he did with the anti-tax Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.

If you are going to compare the Palins, Becks, Limbaughs, and tea partiers to any historical figures in American history, you would be more accurate if you chose the Know Nothing Party.

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