Rakoff: Well, maybe I am misunderstanding the question. What you’re linking to political incitement is the shooting by Mr. Loughner in 2011 of Ms. Giffords and others, yes?
Bennet: Your Honor, what I was thinking of with the word the link to political incitement was clear. What I was thinking of was the link between an example of political incitement and this larger atmosphere. What I mean is I was very mindful as I was editing this editorial, I was thinking here we are, we’re deploring political incitement on the left. We’re not actually calling out any concrete example of such incitement, not citing a single politician or political organization. And we were looking for — I had asked Elizabeth, I had said — the shooter in Virginia was a Bernie Sanders supporter. One of the questions I’d asked was is there an example of really incendiary rhetoric from Bernie Sanders? Is there a connection between — we didn’t see that word and we didn’t see a connection between the victims in Virginia and any specific political incitement. That was the link I was thinking of.
Rakoff: Well, maybe I am asking a more narrow question. I am asking a question about grammar and sentence structure, which presumably you have some expertise in. The sentence in its entirety reads: “In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear.” Doesn’t that mean as a matter of ordinary English grammar and usage that that sentence is saying that the shooting in 2011 was clearly linked to political incitement?
Bennet: That is not what I intended it to mean. I understand what you’re saying, Your Honor. But what I was thinking of was of the link between the victim and the overall climate, that there was actually an example of political incitement that we could point to in that case to create a link between the victim and the incitement. I wasn’t — what I wasn’t trying to say was that there was a causal link between — a direct causal link between this map and the shooting.
Rakoff: In the next sentence you seem to be saying that the political incitement was the result, in part, of Sarah Palin’s political action committee’s map, yes?
Bennet: In which sentence, Your Honor?
Rakoff: The very next sentence, “Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized crosshairs.”
Bennet: Right, Your Honor. That is the — is again — in my mind was the example — the specific example of — and the word I used was “political incitement” or “incendiary rhetoric” that connected the climate to the victim.