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Palin Refuses to Back Down from Gun Rhetoric

Sarah Palin

Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is refusing to back down from her provocative rhetoric from the past week, which some say is encouraging violence against Democratic lawmakers who supported the health care reform bill.

In fact, Palin took to her Facebook page Sunday night to taunt her critics.

In a note entitled, "Warning: Subject to New Politically Correct Language Police Censorship," Palin wrote about the NCAA college basketball tournament using the same sort of language that she has been criticized for using when discussing politics.

"To the teams that desire making it this far next year: Gear up! In the battle, set your sights on next season's targets! From the shot across the bow -- the first second's tip-off -- your leaders will be in the enemy's crosshairs, so you must execute strong defensive tactics," Palin wrote. "Get in their faces and argue with them. (Sound familiar?!) Every possession is a battle; you'll only win the war if you've picked your battles wisely. No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!"

Palin's point is that metaphors evoking violence are common in sports, and that they don't reflect anyone calling for murdering one's opponents. (Though it does seem fair to ask the last time anyone implored a basketball team to "reload.")

Last week, Palin earned negative attention for using the phrase "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" on her Twitter account to promote the list of Democrats she is targeting for defeat in the November elections. The Twitter message corresponded with a wave of threats against members of Congress that cropped up in the wake of the passage of health care reform.

Democrats pointed to Palin's language as an example of the way they said Republicans have incited angry actions and threats from citizens. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), for instance, said Palin and others were "fanning the flames with coded rhetoric."

At a Tea Party event in Searchlight, Nevada on Saturday, Palin said she wasn't inciting violence, just trying to inspire people to get involved. Earlier in the week at an event with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Palin said, "We know violence isn't the answer."

McCain last week defended his former running mate: "There are targeted districts, and there are areas that we call battleground states, and so please, that rhetoric and kind of language is just part of the political lexicon," he said.

Still, a number of people have continued to criticize the former Alaska governor. Heidi Beirich, the director of research at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Palin went too far in her language, McClatchy reports. With respect to the image of crosshairs over the congressional districts Palin intends to target, Beirich said, "It doesn't really get more violent than that. Even if it was meant in some kind of twisted jest, certainly the time to take it down has more than passed."

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