The recent shooting of a US Congressman and others by a deranged individual who seems to gotten radicalized against the GOP online resulted in an editorial about dangerous political speech in The New York Times, which included an unproven claim that was subsequently scotched, namely, that Sarah Palin, former half-term Alaska Governor and VP candidate, somehow encouraged Jared Loughner in his 2011 gun rampage that left several dead, and a US Congresswoman with severe head trauma. Sarah Palin, indignant that her exercise of free speech has been, however temporarily, maligned in this way, seeks suit against NYT for their intentional "blood libel", I guess.
Her lawyers are the Gawker-killers who represented Hulk Hogan over the Bubba the Love Sponge cucking sex tape. (I describe it this way although I haven't seen it. The last thing I saw Hulk Hogan in was that show he had for a little while with Jack Lemmon's kid. I really don't want to mess up my memories of that or those WrestleMania's of the 1980's where a Very Large Human would be fluffed as a person who would totally wreck Hogan, and then they failed to do that thing at WrestleMania because they were Very Large Stiffs. ) I guess they feel good about this one, but...I dunno.
See, I don't think the case can really be made that they intended to harm Sarah Palin because I don't know why they even would--would they be trying to end her career? Because I think you have to have one. I don't know what she does. Her PAC is pretty much moribund. She posts stuff on Facebook, but that isn't a job. And I think, more than trying to put Sarah Palin's name in the NYT mouth to do her harm, the editorial was just misremembering what everyone was talking about: there really was a discussion about the crosshairs back in 2011. But Sarah Palin had already by 2011 been established as a person who gravitated towards violent rhetoric. In 2008, she was accusing then-candidate Obama of "palling around with terrorists" and ginning up anger with her talk about how he was "Un-American". (She remind me of a current political figure in that...) Regarding the Obama first term health care battle, she continued to be incendiary, even promulgating a gigantic lie regarding Obamacare and "death panels", as if she was insinuating that the health care reform bill would somehow result in a sort of...genocide?
I recall my own response from 2011 (because I wrote it down!) and I felt like Palin was welcome to her free speech so long as other people were welcome to criticize it, but using the term :"blood libel" was absurd and wrong.
I think the NYT made an error in overlooking the lack of a direct connection between violent rhetoric and Loughner's actions (Loughner appears to have been more mentally-disturbed than politically-motivated, although politics and anti-government sentiment did comprise a part of his mania). They tried to rectify it swiftly. I don't know that malice can be proven, here, to be honest. Also, I think discovery might bring out that Palin had a pattern of what looks like deliberately inflammatory speech that could be construed as dangerous as a matter of opinion, as in, the words in an opinion piece not intended as a hard-news story.
We're living in a time of some reckless speech. Some of my recent posts have been trying to find context for Kathy Griffin's fairly dumb and gory performance art, and trying to defend the interpretations of the Bard from the ham-fists of barbarians at the ticket-gate. I have recently been disturbed to discover that there is an Elliot Rodger fan club, of sorts, and that the froggy denizens of KEKistan have hashtagged #freedylann . There are examples of "Ander Breivik had a point" online--I fully believe that some exercise of speech is clearly meant to exhort people to do horrible things. I think a person who gives into that rhetoric is soft-headed, but this is a potential that free speech of necessity contains.
I don't think there is a connection between what Palin was putting out and Loughner, per se. I do think some language is inflammatory and can lead to violence. I think the NYT was not even thinking of Palin when they let her name slip through the cracks. And I don't think this suit will go well, because again, hard to connect the dots to see why they'd do that.