Ron Smith says that neither he, nor Sarah Palin, nor Rush Limbaugh have urged violence toward anyone ("Mental illness, not political speech, to blame for bloodbath," Jan. 14). Of course that's true. It's never that straightforward.
What the right does is dehumanize those that disagree with them. Check out the comments section of any right wing website, and you'll see plenty of what Charles Krauthammer (as quoted in Mr. Smith's column) called "...clinical thought disorder ... ideas disconnected from each other, incoherent, delusional, detached from reality." To hear conservatives tell it, liberals want to destroy capitalism, promote Shariah law, hate America, etc.
Is it unfair to concentrate on anonymous commenters on the Internet? How about the books published by leading conservatives like Ann Coulter ("Treason," "Slander"), Sean Hannity ("Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism Despotism, and Liberalism"), or Michael Savage ("Liberalism is a Mental Disorder").
Remember the shooting at the Unitarian Church in Tennessee? The shooter said he was motivated by hatred of Democrats, liberals, African-Americans and homosexuals. In his home were books by Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly. Also, Mr. O'Reilly repeatedly called slain abortion doctor George Tiller a baby killer. Anyone paying attention knows that eliminationist rhetoric comes almost exclusively from the right.
Fortunately, Mr. Smith is always civil, for which I thank him, but he should not be defending these people.
Davis L. Statton, Columbia