Speaking for the first time about the weekend shootings in Tucson, Ariz., former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said she’s been saddened by “irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event,” complained about the media and suggested a new legislative proposal would limit free speech.
“Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible,” Palin said in a taped video released via Facebook early Wednesday morning, speaking straight to the camera, wearing a flag pin and with a U.S. flag standing to her left.
The video statement was a departure from the short messages the former governor usually posts on Facebook and Twitter. It is the first public reaction to those who made Palin’s “Take Back the 20” campaign part of the conversation about violent rhetoric and how it may have contributed to the shootings in Tucson.
As part of that campaign, Palin posted online a map of the 20 Congressional districts held by Democrats, identified by rifle-scope cross hairs. The district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was among those on the map, which was taken down from Palin’s political action committee website within hours of Saturday’s events.
Palin said to the camera that less than one week after Giffords read from the First Amendment on the House floor, “another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.” She did not name Rep. Robert Brady, but the reference to the Pennsylvania Democrat’s bill introduced following the tragedy was clear.
“No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults,” Palin said.
Quoting Ronald Reagan and mentioning President Barack Obama, Palin expressed her family’s sympathy for the victims. Palin also asked the press to back off attempts to link speech with what happened.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.