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. ProudLiberalVeteran

    As a Jewish-American, does the "Blood Libel" comment hint that jews are about to become the new Muslims in the eyes of the right?

    January 12, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Sarah Palin: open mouth, insert foot, rinse and repeat. She is a toast now.

      January 12, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. lefty avenger

    The left and the right of this country cannot coexist with total all out rancor. The Left wants a universal health care, call off all middle eastern oil wars, ban guns, legalize cannabis and gay marriage. The right wing wants to ban universal health care forever, get into more wars, manufacture more assault rifles, imprison all cannabis smokers and criminalize gay people. Tell me how can two sides that are so opposite one another accomplish anything but a total hateful mess.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      I am a leftie and a don't want to ban guns. In fact, I own several. I have to, to keep "at par", plus I do enjoy hunting and target shooting. You got the healthcare and wars right though...

      January 12, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bryce

    Yes ! Perhaps it is all part of the plan. The intentional grinding of the axes of the parties starts at the top.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Julie Labrouste

    The population is passionately polarized; if you’re in any doubt, read some of the comments here. The adversaries are not Republicans and Democrats or Liberals and Conservatives. That’s just on the surface. Reduced down to the two basic enemies in this conflict are corporation philosophy vs. the people and the later is mostly oblivious.

    Corporate interests have made a flailing, dull-witted minion out of the First American Republic, which no longer serves the people, but rather, its corporate master. Corporate philosophy places its own survival above all things, especially humans, followed by relentless money-making to keep their, “owners”, and other imps/drones happy/mindless.

    It’s like an Asimov robot whose, “Three Laws of Robotics”, were replaced by greedy men long dead, with the above-mentioned, “Laws of Corporate Domination”. This is a maniacal automaton that views people, which it calls openly, “its human resources”, not only as a nuisance, but as a threat that must be subjugated before they burn it all down.

    Look at what caused this latest economic crisis. “It” will lie through its loyal followers, but it caused this, either on purpose or because it nurtured the greed of its servants too much. You have witnessed the moves made by the state; everything that has been done has been to enrich the corporations at your expense under the guise of “trickle-down”.

    While the people continue to suffer, corporate profits have increased. Public money was given to the god of big business in order to create jobs, but sat on its mountain of treasure instead until the desperate people OBEYED and voted to the house the most trusted of corporate devils, the Republicans, and then announced jobs on the same day.

    Well has it disciplined the people, once noble, proud and the fiercest of rebels!

    “Have politics in U.S. become too angry, hateful?” Not if you want Revolution or you believe that the sides are beyond reconciliation such that the only way to drain this ocean of bad blood is to spill an ocean of blood, both of patriots and of tyrants. Of course, there is the easy alternative, to become their Eloi and eventually their Soylent Green.

    – Julie Labrouste (me)

    “What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

    – Thomas Jefferson

    January 12, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Unfortunately, it's the BLOOD OF INNOCENTS that's spilled. I did not see any of those heat packing hung ho cowboys jumping on the shooter. Right wing people are cowards, they hide behind old scriptures and rattle their guns, but run for cover each and every time.


      January 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • zach

      Julie, Thank you for taking the time to write what you did. You have written somthing that is almost joyful for me to read. I am glad that there are others out there who can see through the smoke and mirrors. This is absolutly correct. Well said Julie, Well said.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie Labrouste


      January 12, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. duke

    Keep saying he's just "crazy",20 years in the hospital and he'll be home,but I guess the very intelligent,SS Sarah already knew that,before she gave his lawyer,their defense!!

    January 12, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. ProudLiberalVeteran

    Should I convert to christianity to keep her crosshairs off ME?

    January 12, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • dave

      No. Just shut up, don't think, and do what you're told.
      And donate $ to the Tea Party.
      And watch Palen's Alaska tv show.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gyrogearloose

    Angry, hurtful politics is nothing new....just revisit the duel between Hamilton and Burr in 1804.
    What's new is the way media can now amplify and echo the anger.
    What's missing in my opinion is calm, collected, impartial and unemotional reporting in the media, as well as a level of maturity by those who make publicly visible comments in public forums like this one.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chewy

    I'm 53 and Obama is the most polarizing President on my lifetime. How can he thumb his nose at the wishes of the American majority on issues such as healthcare and immigration, and then expect their support on other issues? On many occasions he has also not acted very Presidential (such as: – the pathetic reference of "acted stupidly" without apology to the law enforcement officers simply doing their job, – waiting 72 days after an environmental disaster to accept help from other countries, – lobbying for a Chicago Olympics, – vowed to sue Arizona, – promoted the idea to prosecute the Gitmo terrorists, who are enemy combatants in a criminal court and give them a stage to perform on, – failed to admit his long term relationship with the bigot Jeremiah Wright even though he was a member of his church and took the "Audacity of Hope" mantra from Wright himself, – supported without condition the building of a mosque at ground zero where over 3,000 were murdered by Islamic fundamentalists, gave the 80-somthing Queen of England an iPod as a "gift", etc.), so it's very easy to see how people become frustrated and take sides. It also doesn't help when Obama surrounds himself with people like Biden, Pelosi, Holder, Reid, Frank, etc. They range from being offensive to incompetent. It would be hard to find a more polarizing trio than Obama, Biden, and Pelosi. I will never vote Democrat again.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Please don't. You know your "camp", for the angry anti-government kooks. It's to the right. Please enjoy.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. duke

    "Blood libel"??
    She's using words and phrases,that she don't even understand!!
    I guess she thought the jews would defend her if recognized their plight!!
    SS Sarah you are the worst,with the exception of your fans!!

    January 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      "blood liebel" is the nail in her coffin.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Brieske

      Duke. Fuk you. You people fear Sarah Palin and it's absurd. Hillary Clinton will never be president. She and her husband Bill have murdered. I won't allow it.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Crazy nut killer alert! Watch out!

      January 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Brieske

      Tony. You have a low I.Q. and should shut the fuk up. Let the intelligent people run the world and you go back to swallowing Johnsons while on your knees.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cat

    I think the rhetoric concerning politics & political parties has gotten out of control. Look at last year with the brick-throwing into campaign headquarters and of course the recent shooting in Arizona. But then again, we don't have the violent protests, attempted asassinations, etc. like in the middle east and even parts of Europe. I wish it were possible for the entire populace to become at least marginally educated in politics, but sadly, citizens focus on hyperbole and the angry rantings of popular entertainers who pose as "news media." We need to look deeply at how we function, or else more outbursts and events will occur. Oh, and we need to stop pitting ourselves against one another. "Libtards" and "rightwing nutjobs" shouldn't be in our vocabulary. It's both the left and right at fault, too. We need to work together for the common good.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Lefties threaten to move to Canada. Righties threaten to use second amendment remedies. Feel the difference? It's not all black and white anymore.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |


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

    Liberals are a joke they used hateful speech towards Bush they have used hateful speech about Palin and yet lecture others? LOL This is nothing more than a witch hunt by the left to attack their foes and using this horrible incident is low even for liberals.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Right...like that oil spill...Why is blood spill any different?

      January 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Witch hunt. HILARIOUS!
      The 3 witches of Macbeth. Palen, Bachman and O'Donnell. Watch your step Liberals, or you'll get turned into a.... ZZZZZZAAAAPPPPPP!!!!! "Ribbet".

      January 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      ...more like...BANG! "blood liebel"

      January 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. eric

    If you aint angry, you aint paying attention

    January 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Amen to that.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. palintwit

    You can always take the trash out of the trailer, but you can never take the trailer out of the trash. (aka Sarah Palin)

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

      lol...shouldn't she be giving care to the special needs child, instead of talking about "blood liebel"? Just sayin'

      January 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Brieske

      palintwit. Is it obsessive to put someone else's name as part of yours? Get some counseling. You are a cowardly fool of average intelligence so I offer my helpful words of advice. If you don't...
      step out in front of a garbage truck.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      I think Sarah aleady "stepped out". She has that "deer in the headlights" look.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ProudLiberalVeteran

    Well, John and Chewy are proving that the right has NO intention of toning things down, ensuring more events like Tucson

    January 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I'm not attacking liberals for things they have said over the years, I 'm not blaming Obama for what this mad man has done after all he has used harsh comments like bringing a gun to a knife fight when campaigning against McCain. Why because politics had nothing to do with why this young man commented this act. It is appalling to see this being used as a means to attack the right and the comments being made only show the hypocrisy of the left.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      John, the difference is enormous. Out of context quotes are in poor judgement. Bring a gun to a knofe fight is from a movie. Second amendment remedies targeting Democrat opponents is something VERY NEW AND SINISTER. If you fail to see the difference, you are either mendacious or require more help than I am willing to provide. Sorry,

      January 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
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