Writing In Public celebrates the art and intelligence of essays, online and in print.

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Kristin Dombek on the violence we despise and embrace @ n+1.
At first the question was whether he was a lone wolf or a Tea Party operative, or at least influenced by the Tea Party, or perhaps just by our culture of hate, the vitriolic rhetoric of our culture of hate, for which either the former vice presidential candidate-turned-reality-television-star or people on “both sides” are to blame. It mattered what we called him because the shooting was rapidly becoming “a tale of two moralities,” or even “a tale of two Americas,” in which the shooting’s heroes and victims were our “best,” and the killer was supposed to be our “worst.” So what was our “worst,” exactly? Like everyone, I went to the internet to find out.All we had to go on, at first, was his MySpace page. I don’t need to tell you how thick with both possibility and potential pitfall was his list of favorite books: there we found not only Marx’s Communist Manifesto but Ayn Rand’s We The Living, not only Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf but George Orwell’s Animal Farm. His YouTube videos seemed similarly bipartisan, consisting as they did mainly of syllogisms like this: “If you create one new language then you’re able to create a second new language. If you’re able to create a second new language then you’re able to create a third new language. You create one new language. Thus, you’re able to create a third new language.”Then we discovered that during the midterm elections, the former vice presidential candidate-turned-reality-television-star had put a target over the congresswoman’s district. For about five delicious minutes, it seemed clear that it was all the former vice presidential candidate’s fault. But then it turned out that everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike, puts targets over congressional districts. Moreover, only two days before the shooting, someone on an important liberal blog had written that the congresswoman was “dead to him,” which effectively cancelled out what the former vice presidential candidate had done.read more

I am not the only Frank Smith

I am not the only Frank Smith

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