By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – We really don’t know what was going on in the mind of the Virginia shooter Wednesday, but there’s enough circumstantial evidence that he was motivated by political anger and targeting Republicans to at least engage an important discussion – how did we get to this disgraceful and disturbing state of affairs?

Donald Trump didn’t start the degradation of political discourse by any means, but he did exploit it during his campaign, inciting his followers against protestors and demonizing ethnic groups.

And remember the 2011 campaign ad at the height of a debate over proposed Medicare cuts, depicting a Paul Ryan-look-a-like wheeling grandma to the edge of a cliff and disposing of her?

That’s the kind of overheated rhetoric that apparently moved the Virginia shooter to write angry letters and social media posts; if it also moved him to attempt mass murder, then it’s a problem.

I spoke with the head of the Dangerous Speech Project which explores the link between political speech and violence. She said the situation keeps getting worse as the internet provides an easy outlet for vile commentary and threats. And she suggests the only real antidote may be a renewed effort by politicians and other civic leaders to hammer home the message that however sharp our disagreements or rhetoric, violence is never an acceptable response.

To me, that only seems viable if the media, including Hollywood and internet content providers, and parents are all part of that crusade.

And I’m sorry to say that kind of consensus doesn’t seem likely.

Share your opinion with me at, or you can reach out on Twitter, @kelleratlarge.

Comments (2)
  1. Where were you, Jon, when six months ago, a young man was murdered in Atlanta just for wearing a Trump-supporting baseball cap?

    Where were you. Jon, over the past six months when incident after incident Trump supporters were attacked and beaten on our college campuses?

    Where were you, John, when a professor and a speaker at at New Hampshire college were assaulted after having the speech they were attempting to hold was irrationally disrupted and shut down by the snowflakes that need safe rooms if their psyches are offended by the slightest micro-aggression.

    Where were you when an University of Missouri “professor” called for “muscle” to intimidate A JOURNALIST from recording their intimidating activities.

    Where were you, Jon, when all of this is going on.

    Why does it take the attempted assassination of duly elected Republican Congressmen to get you out of your liberal bunker?

    Could you tell us, please? Your readers need a coherent answer to that question if you are to regain any more of the credibility that you lost last year. You DO take your readers comments seriously, don’t you…at least that is what YOU have told US several times over the years….

    And, Bees…Where are you? Cowering in the bee hive because you are afraid that all of you on the left are proving unequivocally the contentions that you have become unhinged?

    Where is YOUR condemnation of violence in political discourse? Where is YOUR self-righteous indignation over a threats that are FAR MORE SERIOUS ATTACKS on the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution than anything that you allege that Trump has done…

    And don’t, Bees, pass this off a being a Trump supporter. I am far from that. But I am willing to give him the opportunity to govern, the exact same opportunity that I gave Barack Obama until he and his administration decided to pass a healthcare bill that no one could find out was in it until Nancy Pelosi had rammed it through the House on parliamentary trickery and the most restrictive floor rule that has been seen since the days before Johnson was able to get civil right legislation.

    Where is you voice, Bees? I know you are reading this…Come on, time to buzz up to the microphone or keyboard.

    Your silence should be as embarrassing to you as Clinton’s losing the election that was hers to lose?

  2. Ten, nine, eight,…

    Starting the countdown until my above comment disappears into the maw of the wonderful WBZ commenting system, never to be seen again.

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