Understandably, they want to take the higher ground and make sure they don’t conflate the national dialogue even more with their own gut reactions, lest we take our freedom of free speech for granted and contribute to the degradation of our national political dialogue. However, I think some of what is said is a reflection of something that is being confused in this “did the vitriol in our political rhetoric cause this?” debate. For example, I’ve seen people say “political rhetoric didn’t pull the trigger, the shooter did.” In all this, seems like people are conflating “causality” (in the general, every-day sense) with “motive” (in the context of criminal investigations). To elevate this whole thing to a “causality” relationship would be of course, absolutely dangerous, Yet, when people in mass media like Jon Stewart assume that all that people are doing is defining it as a relationship of “causality”, it runs into the danger of making sweeping statements that at the end of the day cover up the underlying problem: making false equivalences, something that I’ve pointed out about Stewart’s style in the past.
Furthermore, to diminish the correlation between the violence in our political rhetoric whether they be against immigrants, Jewish people, or any other minority and its potential influence on the development of a murderer’s motive by saying that “it’s not a relationship of causality” is just as dangerous because 1) you dismiss and misinterpret the real anger and desire of people to make some sense of this tragedy and 2) you do not acknowledge the elephant in the room: what motivated this individual … something that is a serious issue in criminal law. Yes, we can’t have 100% certainty of pinpointing the linear influencer on the motive, but just as with anything else in our human existence, we have to look at aggregates and make informed inferences. However, it is still worthwhile to have that debate (notice I say “debate” not violence against each other) rather than shutting it down by labeling it the “blame game”, implication thereof that it’s a “childish thing”. Anyway, here are Stewart’s and Colbert’s reactions: