Several weeks before the shooting rampage in Tucson, local radio station KNST put up a Billboard for Rush Limbaugh's show.
It said: Rush Limbaugh, Straight Shooter. And scattered across the billboard were eight graphical bullet holes. After the shooting, the billboard quickly became part of the discussion about whether or not political rhetoric had gone too far.
In reaction to the billboard, Susan Campbell at the Hartford Courant asked simply, "Is this part of dialing down the overheated rhetoric?"
Yesterday, Clear Channel, the company that owns the billboard space, said the company had decided to take the ad down.
This particular ad — which used the common expression "straight shooter" to describe Mr. Limbaugh's candid and direct style — was designed and contracted for by the local station's promotion department — not by Mr. Limbaugh's program. In the wake of the tragedy, Clear Channel Outdoor management in Tucson quickly elected to take down this ad — believing that discussion of its interpretation would not contribute to the desire for healing in the Tucson community.
The discussion about political rhetoric was thrust into the spotlight during a press conference by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who said "vitriolic rhetoric" was a contributing cause of the shootings.
Sarah Palin was quickly brought into the conversation, because in the run up to last November's mid-terms her campaign released a map that depicted 20 vulnerable Democratic districts under crosshairs. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' district was one of them. The map was taken down of Palin's Facebook page.