In the wake of Saturday’s deadly shooting in Arizona, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in Congress, has called for a reassessment of the parameters of free speech, reports The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.
Clyburn said he believes vitriolic public discourse is one of the factors that led a 22-year-old suspect to open fire at a meeting between U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents in Tucson, killing six people and injuring 14 others, the story reports. Giffords was shot in the head but is recovering.
“Free speech is as free speech does,” Clyburn said. “You cannot yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater and call it free speech, and some of what I hear, and is being called free speech, is worse than that.”
Clyburn called for implementation of standards to guarantee balanced media coverage, with reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. He also chided elected officials and pundits to use better judgment, the story says.
Law enforcement officials had not disclosed any motives for the shooting, but much of the speculation has focused on the media and the angry tone of public political discussion, including the increasing popularity of partisan cable news coverage.