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. MrsFizzy

    All of this must surely bring comfort to our enemies.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • MJ

      @ MrsFizzy – Has it ever made you wonder why so many years have passed since the GHWB and Clinton administrations and no sign, no capture of al Qaeda #1 or #2 leaders, Osama bin Laden / Ayman al Zawahiri? I'll let you in on a little secret. The US Government and CIA operatives are protecting bin Laden and al Zawahiri. AND NO I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!! HA!!!!! HA!!!!

      January 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Elizabeth

    When the shooting happened it was at a Political gathering, by a Politican. The police find stationary by Mrs Giffords and we are supposed to hink it was not politically motivated. For 10 months Sarah Palin had Giffords name on her political map. The day of the shooting it was taken down. Why then? Why not in Nov. 2010?
    Politicans don't want to talk about it because then they would be held responsible for what they say and do.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    Hate is your own emotion she is not creating the hate you do that yourself. She has a different political view and no one said you have to believe as she does there are many conservatives who do not agree with her. And using Hitler as an example please you only show how extream you are comparing her to a man who killed millions. Maybe you need to work on yourself

    January 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BOB

    everone has a remark to make some good some bad bottom line baby boomers paied into SS all those years your goverment borrowed billons from ss forgeting that one day the baby boomers might want ther money back so they blame it on them for living to get old enought to draw there money lol now sad as it may be people in power have been being shot for hundreds of years and when we are are all dead people in power will be shot there are always going to be nut cases in the world the sad thing was a child was killed because mature adults can not sit down and put greed aside and get some sort of higher power and common sense back into are goverment and start making people respoable for ther actions as it stands no matter what crime you commit you will allways have a place to sleep and eat and what ever happen to if you kill a human for no reson you will allso die to the educated people who read this please excuse my spelling for i am only human

    January 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    These "comments" are SCARY!!!

    January 12, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Duh

    Of course politics are too angry. 99% of the idiots in this country approach politics the same way they do the NFL. They pick their team and stick with it and everyone else is wrong. The worst part is that 99% of the segment of the population that actually votes are horribly uninformed and just vote for whoever CNN, Fox News, or Oprah tell them to. People in this country refuse to think for themselves and want to punish anyone who does.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John

    It is hard to believe how some are letting this crazed killer off the hook by trying to lay blame on others. There is no evidence that this was politically motivated this kid had some real mental issues that caused police to go to his school 5 times and his parents home twice. There is one killer in this sad story to lay blame on others is beyond ridicules

    January 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Aaron

    You can thank Al Gore and the Democrats for all the hate and anger in politics today. He lost an election he wanted and expected to win, and all the civility in the world went out the window. How was Bush treated? How were the Republicans treated in general? Democrats don't deserve the respect of anyone. They created this monster and are now crying foul, trying to rewrite history and change public perception. They are jokes.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nogimmick

    The state of our economy is really taking a toll on everyone. People need jobs now, the anger and frustrations all part of this. Where is this country headed? Do our politicians and leaders care any more?

    January 12, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Elizabeth

    A gunman leaves notes behind "Assaination", "Giffords", "I planned ahead" and keeps a letter from Congresswoman Giffords. He goes to a poloitcal gathering, held by Congresswoman Giffords. This IS political!
    Many don't want to admit it just keep their heads buried in the sand.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Based on material they have found and people who knew him his views were not of right or left they were way out in center field. This was no Glenn Beck groupie or a tea party member this kid had some very strange views and clearly is a paranoid schizophrenia

      January 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Stephanie

    Here's the thing.. Yes there is free speech but at what point is is common sense?? I am a mother of 4 kids. I would NEVER let anyone of them go on facebook/myspace because they didnt like someone and put up cross hairs.. And quess what if my kid did that they would be kicked out of school.. I wouldn't be able to go in and say 'Free Speech' ... It is bullying.. I dont care how you put it!!!!!! I can not believe this woman is a Mom.. But then again my 19 yr old is an Honor roll and hers is learning how to bully... At what point is free speech just poor taste??? I am so sad by this behavior in adults.. I havent heard one bad thing about her but, she keeps defending herself & Fox spends an hour defending her instead of on the lives that were lost and what they gave to our country. As of today no one Fox News for me... Yes Sara please continue to talking so we can know just how ignorant you are...

    January 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Aaron

    With that being said, nobody, Republican or Democrat should be blamed for what happened Ms. Giffords. I wish her a very speedy recovery and will keep her in my thoughts and prayers. Thank God she is pulling through. The sicko who committed this crime should be given only the most stringent punishment.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joe Santos

    Americans don't understand that structural changes happening in the World and US economies will net them the same base pay as the Chinese. As a business owner that makes me happy that I will soon be able to pay my follow Americans the same rate as a Chinese worker. I am counting on hyper-inflation to wipe out America's perception that its workers deserve a premium. I am a proud Republodemocrat.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. duke

    The media likes us at each other's throats. Hollywood and the music industry poisons the minds of the youth and when they grow up to see their country is one big lie then they snap. Cable news and book publishers are all snake oil salesmen. God help you if you haven't figured that out yet.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Aaron

    @duke – I agree. I havent watched in a long time. They are cheerleaders, not journalists or reporters.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
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