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. Tom

    Chewy posts on the newark Star Ledger as a Yankee fan. His heros are Glenn Beck and Rush

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

      Rush is a GREAT band! Canadian rock at its best.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chewy

      Thanks for the comic relief Tom. For the record, I'm about as fond of the Yankees as I am of Barry.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Johnkc

    Why doesn't the media police what they put over the air? If they are covering someone that is ranting and raving, just ignore them until they bring it down a few notches. It is irresponsible to put some of these people on TV or radio with their comments. Rush and Glen Beck are two that come to mind. They should be able to get their points across without the hatred and name calling that they spew at us all!

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

      Hate peddling is big business. Simply because an ever growing segment of our populace are uneducated, ignorant and love to hate, inspite of what their religion tells them. hypocricy breeds evil. Glenn Beck made $15M last year. Rush Limbaugh made $30M. Who says crime does not pay? 😉

      January 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Rupert Murdoch himself stated that he created Fox News to fill a niche. That niche is the targetting of the uneducated and ill-informed segment of our population. His words...not mine. All Fox news viewers should feel as though they've been had.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      You are spon on, but I am fraid Fox viewers do not posess mental skills of self-realization and critical thinking. They just want to be a part of a group.

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

      Crime? Crime? What crime? Why dont you just cry racism and go home. You should just read it the way they wrote it for you. Oh yeah, it is illegal to unlawfully accuse someone of a crime they did not commit for personal gain (even if its just your ego boost). The thing is you never mentioned a specific crime so you slip through the cracks. Go back to teaching high school.

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

      Try sedition and incitement of violence against elected officials. Now go away.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. duke

    The shooter will be home before his 44th birthday,and SS Sarah will be his star witness at the trial!!
    Once she's called to the stand and give her professional assessment of crazy people,I'm sure the definition of crazy will be made anew!

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

    I'm starting to think of exercising my Right of Return

    January 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tam

    People are mad that a black President is in the White House. Not that he's intelligent or capable, he's black, dammit! The fact that the previous President and VP and Congress ran this country into the ground with greed and lies doesn;t matter. And let everyone who can't afford for-profit health insurance just die – that would solve a lot. The rest of us are ok, Jack. I'll worry about losing my house and livelihood when I or my loved ones get really ill later.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • mat

      If you have nothing to stand on cry racism.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      mat, if you have nothing to stand on, try ad hominem

      January 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    Tony it is different because of your liberal view. Palin use of cross hairs is no different than the democrats using bulls eyes on states they were trying to win in 06. Get a clue this murder has nothing to do with Palin, Rush, Glenn Beck, Obama or any political figure. I find it funny the liberals have no problem with hate speech towards Palin and her family and yet will sit and lecture others. What a joke

    January 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      ok, here is a link to HUNDREDS of right wing rhetoric related crimes, just in the last year (2010). I guess you really never read my posts....Are you honest enough to read it and then come back and comment? I won't hold my breath...


      January 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Fergie

    When Obama was elected to be the president of the US many people tried to treat him like he came from mars. There was more lies told on this man then any person in the US. The language of lets take back the government was a Sarah Palin invention with the guns on the Tea party web page. I can't understand why some of the poorest states where most of the people don't have health care, the leaders in these states are against this health care bill. These are states that the Tea Party have their most influence in the US.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. T

    its just like high school only with political jargon and bank accounts...also, if i see the word 'rhetoric' used one more time in an article.....jesus christ

    January 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ProudLiberalVeteran

    Mat – if YOUR side has nothing to stand on, you don't retreat, you RELOAD. Show me where a liberal said that please

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

    I wish someone would list all these crimes people here keep talking about. I guess youll have to make them up now as you go. LOL! No one hear can even say if the man has watched Glen Beck, heard Sarah Palin or Limbaugh or anyone else. Where do you get your information?

    January 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony



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

      mat: "no one hear can even say".... LOL, nice.

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

      Who ever said Liberals need facts, they make these accusation with nothing to stand on. Both parties over the years have used harsh terms only differance the right is not accusing anyone but this young man for the killing of 6 innocent people.

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

      John: I'm not saying Palen is responsible for the shootings. I'm just saying it makes her look irresponsible and... well... like an idiot for using that strategy, and then when it backfires backpeddle like crazy, delete the "target" site, and talk about loving peace. Palen is a mouthpiece with no substance and very little intelligence. She will be the cause of her own political disaster. Keep backing her... it suits you.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      ...CAN YOU READ?


      January 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mat

    Maybe he was punishing his enemies like Obama said to do.

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

      By the looks of it, he was excersising his second amendment remedies against a targeted Democratic politician. But I won't Rush to judgement.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ProudLiberalVeteran

    Mike – we.ve already discussed the line from the untouchables, which the right edited as cleverly as they did the 2nd amendment

    January 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mat

    I accuse Pres Obama, at the La Raza Rally (no racists there) with the microphone.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pw

    Sarah palin is getting death threats. How is that reload thingy going sarah?

    January 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tony

    Mat is a troll. Please ignore him and he will go away.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      He is a troll because he is willing to stand up to people like you who are making accusation with no facts just your own personal bias. Guy you are a joke. Get a clue for a change instead of spouting off this non sense.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      you can't address any of the accusations, except with denial, and we are a "joke"? look at yourself first.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
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