Have politics in U.S. become too angry, hateful?
Columnist Jesse Mathewson sits outside his Sierra Vista, Arizona home. The town is one of the closest to the Mexican border.
January 12th, 2011
10:13 AM ET

Have politics in U.S. become too angry, hateful?

The question is echoing this week, after Tucson area Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told reporters that words used in political debate have gone too far and can lead to unbalanced individuals erupting in violence.

But how can you honestly answer such a subjective question?

In a three-part series, CNN Radio's Lisa Desjardins speaks to people from the right and the left who use strong and sometimes extreme words against each other, including Jesse Mathewson, a columnist in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Mathewson calls himself a pacifist but has used some extreme words in his opposition to border protection groups, including the Minuteman Civil Defense Project. He has called their founder, Chris Simcox, a "racist bigot."

Desjardins also talks to an expert in extreme speech to find out more about how, and to measure, the way society and individuals talk.

Listen to the first piece in the series here:

You can also listen to the CNN Radio Reports podcast on itunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

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Filed under: Politics • U.S.
soundoff (545 Responses)
  1. Kevin-Indy

    There is no excuse for what happened in Arizona.

    There is one person to blame.

    There is no blame to share or to lay at someone else's doorstep.
    One man with a gun committed a heinous act. The debate regarding the
    political discussion is a healthy one and one very long overdue. In reading
    the posts and comments many are guilty of the very vitriol they condemn.
    BOTH side of the political spectrum are equally at fault.
    (Notice I did NOT say blame.)
    All of us need to take a breath, step back, and begin the process of turning
    down the venom. Start with the person in the mirror first. Then we need to
    be sure the folks from our own particular side of the issue conduct
    themselves with honor and respect. We need to demand accoutability from
    our advocates first. When we have done that then we can take on our opponents.
    Clean your own house before you try to clean someone else's.

    January 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      The politicans need to be held responible for what they say and do. Let's start there!

      January 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Alan

    @Mark L., Joseph and Kevin-Indy – Very good points made and in a very respectable manner I might add.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 14401

    Two years ago when we took a 6,400 mile trip through 17 states, people were angry then. We mostly talked to people in restaurants and motel lobbies and everyone was angry then and they were willing to talk about it if you took the time to ask.
    One of the news medias should do what we did and get a real pulse on America. Random, not staged, as most of their propaganda is.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sher

    I saw a few stories that stated that his friends from school said he was not political, never listened to talk radio and did not vote in the last election.Why are they still saying it was caused by Rush?
    I believe the guy is mentally I'll, not motivated by anything political.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • jsdyson

      Whether or not the events were caused by his mental illness in conjunction with angry political speech (which it wasn't), it is almost 100% true that the miscreant was very left leaning. Like many lefties, they have left 'liberalism' far behind, and now tend to be as narrow minded as the most vehement far right wing loon.

      January 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. slickko

    @ tony boy u have me laughing!! u get them all fired up! keep doing your thag bro!!

    January 12, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gerry

    Hey Tony,

    You like facts?? Obama said this:

    ‘If They Bring a Knife to the Fight, We Bring a Gun’.

    That is a fact!!

    January 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Going John Galt

      Gerry, Tony is a Troll. He uses a tactic called "bombardment posting" where a Troll posts as many talking point posts as quickly as possible and rarely engages in legitimate dialog. The purpose is to shut down conversation and advance the talking points making the points seem more mainstream than they are.

      January 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      That does not count because he did not mean it. LOL

      January 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MJ

    I have to laugh at all the left-winger versus right-winger comments posted. HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!!! HA!!!! People – Don't you get it? The members in Congress, whether they're on the right or on the left DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU!!!! Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Communists, Green Party, IT DOES NOT MATTER!!!! Politicians are solely out to line their pockets and as far as the rest of the country goes, the US citizens can go to hell. This is how they think. Show me one politician in the past decade that has done any good for this country, just one. THERE AREN'T ANY!!!! AND THESE ARE THE MORONS THAT WANT YOUR VOTE!!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!!! HA!!!! You might as well vote for Bernie Madoff as your next President!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!!! HA!!!!

    January 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sherri W.W.#1~ILLinois

    God Bless Christine Greens`family~may they and all who have lost so much,heal up.May those who are so badly hurt recover their lives. Amen.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John

    Strange how the liberals point fingers at others


    January 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sagebrush Shorty

    Yes, and our idiotic politicians are to blame.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Neither party is to blame for this tragedy. That is like blaming the Beetles for Sharon Tate being killed by the Manson Family or Jodie Foster for the attack on Reagan.

      January 12, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      They're not that idiotic. They've managed to distract most of us from the fact they are screwing us over by pitting us against each other.

      January 12, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • MJ

      @ Anon – BINGO!!!! YOU GOT IT RIGHT ON THE MONEY!!!!

      January 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. pw

    Caribou barbie is getting death threats. How's that reload thingy going sarah palin?. Hey sarah do you know what blood libel means?now you going to have new enemies the jews.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. josh12NY


    January 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MJ

    PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PLEASE – LISTEN UP – Sarah Palin's goal is the same as Rush Limbaugh's goal is the same as Newt Gingrich's goal is the same as Barack Obama's goal is the same as Joe Biden's goal is the same as as Nancy Pelosi's goal is the same as Harry Reid's goal. Okay, MJ, so what is the goal? To create mayhem amongst ourselves. They want us to CONTINUE HATING ONE ANOTHER, WHILE THEY KEEP FILLING THE LINING IN THEIR POCKETS WITH GREED AT WE, THE TAXPAYERS EXPENSE!!!! THAT IS WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON HERE!!!!!

    January 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. palintwit

    Sarah Palin = lighting rod for hate.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      She is not creating hate that comes from you. I disagree with liberals very strongly but there is no hate involved it is purely political differences.

      January 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      that's like saying Adolf Hitler did not create hate. It was everyone else.

      January 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    CNN is hypersensitive and banning comments about maybe Lou Dobbs and Giifford possibly running in 2012 . Nothing wrong with wishing her well and hoping she gets well enough to do something like that. The love affair with BO is sickening and biased.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
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