The answer might be to deal with it as directly as Stewart does, to be vigilant in acknowledging the lack of a connection before arguing one isn’t needed for the debate to begin and develop. To treat the relationship between Saturday’s bloodshed and the violent rhetoric we have since discussed as an atmospheric one and not one of cause and effect. And to have the debate in some historical context—our current impassioned debate is nothing new; violent political rhetoric is as old political violence. It is the tools of with which we communicate it and the reach of that rhetoric that has changed.

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Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.