Former Congressman follows inflammatory comments with calls for changed rhetoric
January 13th, 2011
12:57 PM ET
4 years ago

Former Congressman follows inflammatory comments with calls for changed rhetoric

(CNN) - Former Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Paul Kanjorski is one of many public officials calling for civilized political discussion following the shootings in Arizona, but his own past remarks invoked violent language.

In an op-ed in The New York Times Monday, the 13-term representative who lost reelection in November described his experience as a member of Congress when Puerto Rican nationalists shot five members of Congress assembled on the House floor in 1954 as an example of how easily "political differences can degenerate into violence."

"Therefore it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation," Kanjorski wrote in The Times.

A piece in The Scranton Times-Tribune in October quoted Kanjorski from an editorial board meeting where he said large companies make money off the government, and therefore don't want them to change the way they conduct business. He then referenced Rick Scott, the then-Republican candidate for Florida governor who was ousted in 1997 as the head of a large health care company amid a national Medicare and Medicaid fraud scandal.

"That Scott down there that's running for governor of Florida," Kanjorski told the Times-Tribune. "Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he's running for governor of Florida. He's a millionaire and a billionaire. He's no hero. He's a damn crook. It's just we don't prosecute big crooks."

Kanjorski told Pennsylvania's The Citizens' Voice that "only fruitcakes" would take his statement about Scott literally.

"I probably would never have made the statement if I anticipated anything like this happening," Kanjorski said Tuesday. "It was obviously not in humor, but not literally."


Filed under: Pennsylvania
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Vancouver, WA Resident

    All this blame game and pointing fingers, enough. Stop it! Shut up! All this time I hear Democrats screaming this and screaming that.. complain here and complain there.. Enough okay. People are dying.

    January 13, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. LGNY

    We all know that there has been plenty of venom spread in the past.

    The important thing now is whether politicos are getting the message to "cool it" and return to more measured discourse.

    January 13, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Inmyopinion

    Guess what, some fruitcake, pot head, dysfunctional person will take any remark literally from any politician, media person, actor because that is how their dysfunctional brain works which is why we cannot allow ourselves to be manipulated by them into only saying things that will make them happy because you don't know what makes them happy or what makes them pull the trigger like Jared Loughner did. For all we know Loughner was in love with Giffords and felt rejection, maybe that is why he kept the note Giffords wrote him in a Safe, maybe he was angry that she used to be a Republican.

    January 13, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. If We All Agree to Be Civil In Our Discourse . . .

    Will Rush Be out of a job? He sure seemed upset this morning about all the talk of "civility"

    January 13, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It's just we don't prosecute big crooks."
    Kanjorski told Pennsylvania's The Citizens' Voice that "only fruitcakes" would take his statement about Scott literally.
    -------------------------------------------------–
    Mr. Kanjorski is right on both counts: We DON'T prosecute big crooks, nor well-known lawbreakers. Bush and Cheney are still walking around free, and uneencumbered.
    Secondly, he's absolutely correct in saying that a "fruitcake" would take his statements seriously. And they would seriously act on them. This is why you have to watch what you say when you have an audience,or when your statements will be made public.
    Hint, hint.

    January 13, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. DRCinDC

    only 'fruitcakes' would ever vote for a clown like this. good riddance!

    January 13, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    Hey – let's kill all the killers.

    What a bunch of idiots and hypocrits we have in this country. Makes me want to relocate to the moon or mars or somewhere else with NO PEOPLE.

    January 13, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Freedom of Speech in the USA

    Politicians seemed laser beamed focused on the idea that words can incite some to violence. That might be the case with a few lose screws out there. But we'll always have nuts out there with a population of over 300 million. Every day people crack and do insane things. It amazes me that politicians can not understand this and think they can control it.

    But what really amazes me is that these same congressmen don't understand that passing legislation that a majority of Americans disagree with makes Americans feel ignored and disconnected from their "representatives". The more laws they pass, the less freedom Americans have. The more government takes, the less people have. After over 200 years of this, the congress needs to be aware of everything they do and how it will be perceived by the American people.

    January 13, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Bill

    Well Well Well ... So this is not new ..... Hmmmmm

    January 13, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. ReallY!!?

    I am furious over the accusation of the left towards conservatives. & now the want civility as it has backfire.
    There ought to be an investigation into Sheriff Dupnik who is clearly incompetent and shown himself to be a left-wing loon. As a law enforcement official how can he enforce the laws objectively, without his obvious bias slant. If Dupnik were a Republican, and accused liberal they would be calling for his resignation.

    But what is really overlooked is an investigation into the Dupnik's dept and any incidents with Loughner! Dupnik will not release public docs on how much his Dept knew about Loughner.

    January 13, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Al - Virginia

    Lets see how much this story gets carried since the comments came from a liberal. If this has been a conservative the
    the press would have been all over it. Just like when the DNC ran the map with the targets on it 2005 (I believe) nothing
    is mentioned about that but you liberals sure go after what conservatives do or say. It is time for all to take a step back
    and become civilized again.

    January 13, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. ReallY!!?

    Oh I and it is right's rhetoric that is so vile. This man was a sitting US Congressman when he called for the shooting of another person. Wow!! I guess when the left was so vitriolic during the Bush Admin that was ok right?
    Yeah and now we are being lectured on civility for the moron that said "they bring a knife, we bring a gun to the fight" Nothing like when ur own words come back to haunt u. Just words right?

    January 13, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. Duane

    I "probably" wouldn't have made that statement? That hardly sounds like someone who understands fully that HIS words were every bit as bad as the ones his colleagues are railing against. He should also remember that "only a fruitcake" would take Sarah Palin's crosshairs literally. I would take this man more seriously if he was actually contrite about his comments and first pledge to change his ways, then call on others to join him.

    January 13, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  14. bj

    I believe he has good intentions, however it probably will fall on deaf ears of the Republicans. Like Sarah Palin, it is alright for her to go on a 'witch hunt' and say questionable things about Obama and his wife, but all of a sudden people in her base still want to lie and protect her. Infact, she is a liar and she is the very thing she spoke about in her speech. . When you consider the number of days it took her to respond and then in a taped setting, I don't understand why so many people fail to acknowledge that she is not very intelligent. If she made a slip by using a term that is offensive, she doen't have the intellect to even go to a dictionary to look up any term or word that she doen't know. She can't speak to people in a regular setting because she has nothing to say. She attracts her base because she represents biggotry. Speaking of that, I guess Boehner either didn't want to ride on Air Force One with a Black President or he didn't attend because these were Democrats being recognized for the most part. And CNN, when I listened to MSNBC about the speech it was upbeat. As usual when I ventured into the DEN, I heard Velshi make reference to some negative feedback on the speech. Usually it is Mr. King that does that and I guess that in your world (and Fox News and your boss) will always find a way to denigrate Obama for one thing or another. I believe what is good for one is good for all. Spread the criticism around if you have the courage.

    January 13, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. ReallY!!?

    If the leftis loons like Sheriff Dupnik, Steny Hoyer, Dick Durbin, Charlie Rangle, Clyburn etc &NYT, NBC, CBS, & all other liberal outlet did not start trying to use this tragedy to advance their political agenda by blaming Republicans, America could all come together in this tragedy. But the lefts' vile, baseless lies did a lot of damage and Republicans had to defend themselves. This was another missed opportunity to unite this country on the Dems part. I will never forgive or vote for them again!

    January 13, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. karen

    I am taking a personal pledge to invoke the politicians and governmental officials who call to my higher nature as a human being and to give no voice to those who rlle my baser nature. I can say that Obama, Regan and, yes, Boehner, all fit the bill for me. If we can focus on and respond to those who inspire us to exemplify civility in discord, we will give no room to the others who inspire hatred. Their grip on our country is over.

    January 13, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. BJ

    I'm sure Sarah Palin is to blame for his violent rhetoric. Gobal Warming, Sarah Palin's fault; Winter, Sarah Palin, Summer Sarah Palin, huricanes, Sarah Palin, the price of potatoes, Sarah Palin. The fact that the world may end several millions year from now, it's Sarah Palin's fault.

    January 13, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. ehwilson429

    would it be posible to find an uglier man?
    didn't he call for the murder of Gov Rick Scott.
    This criminal should be indicted.

    January 13, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |