RIP Chief Judge John Roll

District of Arizona Chief Judge John Roll was among the victims of the horrific Arizona shootings over the weekend. I’m saddened and depressed over all the lives lost in this senseless tragedy. The motives behind the shooting are not yet known, though some cautionary lessons are starting to emerge. We know there are mentally unstable people in the world, some of whom are prone to violence. We also know there are politicians and pundits who employ violent rhetoric to scare people, to cause fear, to create uncertainty, in order to obtain, maintain, or increase their political or economic power.

Indeed, before being killed on Saturday, Judge Roll was himself the victim of this violent rhetoric:

In February, when U.S. District Judge John Roll presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher, the Marshals Service was anticipating the fallout.

When Roll ruled the case could go forward, Gonzales said talk-radio shows cranked up the controversy and spurred audiences into making threats.

In one afternoon, Roll logged more than 200 phone calls. Callers threatened the judge and his family. They posted personal information about Roll online. “They said, ‘We should kill him. He should be dead,’ ” Gonzales said. Roll, who is the chief federal judge in Arizona, said both he and his wife were given a protection detail for about a month. “It was unnerving and invasive. . . . By its nature it has to be,” Roll said, adding that they were encouraged to live their lives as normally as possible. “It was handled very professionally by the Marshals Service.” At the end of the month, Roll said four key men had been identified as threat makers. The Marshals Service left to him the decision to press charges but recommended against it. Roll said he had no qualms about following their advice. The recommendation was based on the intent of those making the threats.

“I have a very strong belief that there is nothing wrong with criticizing a judicial decision,” he said. “But when it comes to threats, that is an entirely different matter.”

Still, I’ve been disappointed in the MSM’s reflexive “both sides do it” calculus in the wake of the shootings.


And for gosh sakes, let’s stop Rachel Maddow from buying another gun!

And which talk show hosts fanned the furor over Judge Rolle’s illegal immigrant decision in the first place?

All I know is if this was a school shooting, the girl who put up the cross-hairs map (and then tried to erase the entire Internet) would have at least been taken in for questioning.
Or consider if a prominent Muslim cleric put 20 politicians on a map with cross-hairs surveyor’s symbols and one got shot, would that cleric later be on Facebook erasing his posts and piously lamenting the tragedy? It’s also silly to pretend this was not a political act — at minimum it was an avowed attempted assassination of a POLITICIAN by an unhinged man who had strong if inchoate political views.

The Pima County Sheriff hit it on the head; compare this law enforcement officer to the guy in Maricopa County who stops brownies to check their “papers” and forces prisoners to wear pink underwear. 

George Packer makes an excellent point — words like “socialist,” “communist,” “tyranny” and the like have deep historical resonance in America.

In fact, for most of the 20th Century we were prepared to (and did in fact) take up arms and fight to the death against Communism and the Red Menace.

Thus these words by their very nature are violent dogwhistles because they arrive embedded with the cultural and historical baggage of war, armed conflict, and bloody national self-defense.

Time for another rally, Jon.