THE CONTEXT OF ‘EMPTY THE CLIP’ DOESN’T HELP…. Scott Beason, a Republican state senator in Alabama, appeared at a party event over the weekend, and spoke a bit about immigration.

“If you don’t believe illegal immigration will destroy a community go and check out parts of Alabama around Arab and Albertville,” he said. Beason went on to advise Republicans to “empty the clip, and do what has to be done.”

Yesterday, the Alabaman clarified matters.

Beason, whose Senate district includes parts of Blount, Jefferson and St. Clair counties just north of Birmingham, doesn’t deny the remarks, but said in several interviews Monday and Tuesday that were misunderstood.

“I did say that but it was completely taken out of context,” he told the Birmingham News on Monday. “Look, I’ll take my beatings when I mess up. But no way was I urging anyone to do harm to Hispanics or illegal immigrants. I would never do that.”

Beason said he wasn’t thinking about the January shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and a dozen others, and killed six, when making his comments. “Frankly, didn’t think about what happened in Arizona but I wish I had,” he said. “I think it was maybe the wrong example to use, but honestly I didn’t call for violence to solve political problems.”

I’m hard pressed to imagine how Beason thinks “context” would help make his comments more acceptable, but Matt Yglesias notes the state senator’s walk-back and finds the silver lining.

This highlights something that is, I think, a central issue for immigration politics. It turns out that Mexicans are human beings. Even if they move to the United States. Even if they do so without permission. Murdering them is wrong! Whenever I write that the interests of the immigrants themselves deserves to be part of the immigration calculus, folks will email in to observe that this argument is hardly likely to carry the day politically. And it’s probably not. But on the other hand, Beasons back-tracking underscores the fact that the American people aren’t monsters. Even in Alabama it would be politically damaging to be thought of as the guy who wants to shoot Mexicans. And the reason it’s wrong to shoot them is that they’re people and their interests count.

So that’s progress.

That seems to set the bar for human decency pretty low, but at this point, given the right’s attitudes, I’ll take progress where I can find it.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.