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. jbd


    January 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pliny

    Do you know why Rush Limbaugh has a radio program?

    It's because on radio, you can't see the blood on his hands.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony


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

      Because they can't fit his fat head in the camera view. The constant panning back and forth was too distracting.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      it's because the camera lens foam wipers are not practical....

      January 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ProudLiberalVeteran

    Pliny – LOL

    January 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tony

    anti-government crazy killer bears his 2nd amendment remedies against a Democrat, previously targeted by right wing...
    ….But let’s work on “not jumping to conclusions”. We can only liken the Evil Kenyan to a Merxist, but that's it!

    There are HUNDREDS of Tea-Party inspired Jerrods out there:



    January 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      How many times are you going to copy paste that? This board is for humans to discuss things. Robot spammers not welcome.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      as many times as it takes for you to read it.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chewy

      Is there a point to cutting and pasting the same stupid message over and over? No matter how many times you pass this gas it will still stink. You're only giving everyone more reason to reject the liberal left.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. gov_matters

    It would be interesting to see how many similar crimes or crimes were being committed in that community, then the state, then the country at the time this crime happened on Saturday? Where was the news coverage about all those victims?

    Oh! Right they are those Americans not recognized by politicians, special interest and the media! They are not worthy of any coverage!

    Politicians have done what? OH! They continue serving their self interest as well as special interest! What rhetoric! Everything we have said it the truth otherwise we would not have said it!

    Honest politicians and special interest serving the people! No need for mind control they believe everything we say!

    January 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      here is the link to HUNDREDS of similar crimes!

      anti-government crazy killer bears his 2nd amendment remedies against a Democrat, previously targeted by right wing...
      ….But let’s work on “not jumping to conclusions”.

      There are HUNDREDS of Tea-Party inspired Jerrods out there:



      January 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    isn't the answer somewhat obvious??? DUH! YA THINK?????????????????????

    January 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pliny

    I apologize for my previous comment on Rush Limbaugh.

    That kind of comment only adds to the 'angry' atmosphere.

    It's like asking "What do Rush Limbaugh and the Hindenburg have in common? They are both flaming, nazi gasbags."

    See what I mean? Totally unproductive.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      unproductively funny!

      January 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      I'm laughing outloud at my desk.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Seb


    January 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paul

    Look at these comments. From the left or the right... they're all overly-self-righteous violent crap. Anyone on here acting like "your side" is better than the other should take a step back. Our lives are full of flippant remarks about violently overthrowing our government. Maybe we should remember that while free speech is a "right", we're privileged to live in a society that allows it. If you were born in any other time or place, and went in a public forum screaming about targetting public officials.. you'd be hung on the street. Maybe we should think before we speak.

    Point being: one minute you're screaming for revolution, the next you're screaming at some drive-through window about your burger not being ready on time.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Paul it's the right who are calling on REVOLUTION. Now that some assorted crazie a re following their calls, we are simply trying to hold those inciting anti-government gun violence accountable. It's very simply really.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. abby

    The media has promoted and encouraged extremism by allowing demagogues to take over the media. Spewing distortion, lies, and hate and even using terms that could incite an unstable person to violence, political pundits (Limbaugh, Beck, etc.) and politicians (Palin) have managed to create an environment where reasonable, rational discourse is disregarded. Of course to hear Palin and Limbaugh tell it, the problem lies with everyone but themselves. The minute the discussion arose about the lack of civility and the over-the-top rhetoric, Limbaugh was on the airways trying to say that freedom of speech was at risk! Palin is blaming everyone but herself for her own words and actions, including the web-site that had cross-hairs on it. Why do we not see them for what they truly are? Why are people so blind? Why, oh, why are the people of this country even listening to these dangerous demagogues? And they are dangerous because they do not seek to solve our nation's problems but rather seek to incite hate (while garnering millions of dollars into their bank accounts).
    Where is Edward R. Murrow when we need him to say:
    "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

    January 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pliny

      This is nothing new, abby.

      Check out 'Father Coughlin'.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Why don't you stop watching or reading any for-profit media contents and just listen to NPR or CSPAN and then complain? It is our taste of entertainment that has screwed up the society. Now that all real jobs are outsource, all that Americans do is, send our money to work and wait for it to earn our income. The emergence of facebook as the busiest website, FOX as the most profitable channel and iPhone in every ones hands (even though the don't really need it) shows the society demands more entertainment, action and bling. Those things needs to be fixed, other wise next few generations will be lost to .... you know what.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Brieske

      Abby. Honestly, come on. You are not more intelligent than Rush Limbaugh. Sarah Palin was a governor and mother. You can not judge these people unless you are more intelligent than Rush Limbaugh and have been a governor with a bunch of kids.

      January 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. a2rjr

    Tony the idiot missed the fact that the judge who was murdered on Saturday was a Conservative Republican appointee. I wish he would back up his moronic made up statistics with actual facts about these hundreds of similar crimes. If you look back a the last several such crimes you find them to be committed by Jihadists or far left environmental nut jobs. Facts Tony. Stop your hatred before you insign a violent crime. As far as heated political vitriol check back to the first few Presidential campaigns after the Revolution. Makes today look like a picnic.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      The judge simply stopped by, he was at the wrong place at a wrong time. And by the way, this "conservative" judge was pro-immigration, just google it. But enough free education. You righties are all about being "self-sufficiency" right? So limp right along. 😉

      January 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Just Me

    Public vitriol makes for toxic soup.
    Unstable, fragile, susceptible schizophrenics swim in it's magnified distortion finding validation and direction.
    Being generally undiagnosed and most certainly under-treated, the schizophrenic is left to fend for himself/herself.
    Reaches easily for automatic weapons in a country with lax gun laws to manage inner directives and voices.
    Toxic soup+mental illness+non-existent safety net+guns at will=disaster.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      throw 2nd amendment remedies in that soup

      January 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. descarado

    What a strange question to be posed by a shamelessly hypocritical CNN! CNN was the very first on the scene connecting the imaginary dots from this whack-job assassin to a graphic on Sarah Palin's web site similar to one used by The Democratic National Committee to "target" its vulnerable opponents.

    CNN is a complicit collaborator aiding the Obama Regime in its attempt to turn this senseless tragedy into a "Kristallnacht" opportunity to silence opposition to its aberrant agenda after the overwhelming rejection of its direction by the voters in November's election.

    "Move along folks...nothing to see here. The Obama Gestapo has everything under control. Move along now."

    January 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      hey thanks for using Nazi excuses and references to once again emphasize what Republicans stand for!

      January 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sherri W.W.#1~ILLinois

    @JulesT~thanks~well,I sure dont know evry answer but I know a few.We hv a big family~9 children~all leading nice lives.Not a 1 of them,or their spouses even smoke a cigarette,and nobody has ever been in any kind of trouble.We believe in God,but are not church goers~some of the kids do.And,all of us will have a social drink,and we arent against REASONABLE guns~certinly no automatics for regular folks!Several kids are Police an Firefighters so we know guns HAVE THEIR PLACE.they ALSO have places they should NOT EVER BE! Our one daughter said,that she cant understand it today~that when they were in school,they never knew they COULD do anything but behave an get As&Bs in school,and that if they had ever gotten in trouble ,they would hv been in SO much trouble at home,would not hv been worth it!

    January 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Alonzo T. McZephyr

    When we have current and former members of congress insulting the American people, then politics have gone over the top as far as being angry and hateful.

    My two examples are Phil Gramm, who once referred to Americans as "crybabies" and Nancy Pelosi, who once said any American who did not agree with Democratic legislation pending in Congress was unpatriotic.

    My response is to tell such politicians where to go, how to get there, and buy a one-way ticket.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
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