However, after the horrific shootings in Tucson, Ariz., two weeks ago, the editorial pages of The Chronicle bent over backward to deny a connection between vitriolic and violent political speech and images and the actions of the deranged shooter.
You can't have it both ways. You can't claim violent speech and images of a kind whose intent you support cannot have any adverse influence on behavior, then turn around and claim violent or pornographic speech and images whose intent you oppose do adversely influence behavior.
Words and images matter. They do influence behavior. The whole multibillion-dollar advertising industry is built on the knowledge of that fact. So are the newspaper and magazine industries. So are the broadcast media. To deny this is to deny human nature.
For a newspaper to deny it -- as The Chronicle did regarding violent political speech and images after the Tucson shootings -- is hypocrisy.