IN Touch: Uncivil dissent (update)
Boy...we sure are lucky none of this type of foolishness happened when the last
administration was in office.
I mean a faux poisoning on TV...what if they made a faux movie about assassination of the sitting President...oh wait, already been done.
And calling the President-to-be a terrorist, what if they printed up signs with his picture that said #1 Terrorist...oh wait, already been done.
What if they shouted down political speakers and even tried to make a citizens arrest for what they thought those politicians were breaking the law for...oh wait, already been done.
Man, I'm having a hard time coming up with something that hasn't already been done.
I hope you realize this happened for 8 years before you finally opened your eyes and acted like it was some sort of travesty.
Like I've said before, what's good for the goose ain't so good for the gander.
Sorry, but a movie about an assassination is very, very different from the host of a "news" show staging a faux poisoning on his program. A movie is clearly fiction and I suspect that most Americans understand that. On the other hand, when members of the media who Republicans identify as "leaders" app[e]ar to advocate assassination... well that is a very different situation. If you can't recognize that difference, both in terms of magnitude and meaning, then perhaps we've identified part of the problem.
It is also worth noting that "Death of a President" was not made by Americans, but rather, by the British. And it was made in order to advance discussion of certain political issues. How does talking about poisoning Nancy Pelosi facilitate discussion of healthcare reform?
As to shouting down politicians, yes there was some of that during the Bush administration, but I would contend that it was neither to the extent or extreme that it has been taken now nor was it largely based on lies and falsehoods being intentionally repeated in order to sow fear and distrust.
Finally, you seem to suggest that I've endorsed violent political rhetoric in the past and only condemn the current wave of disruptive activity. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think that the lack of civility, from whatever quarter, is dangerous for our system. But I think that it is even more dangerous when it appears to be endorsed by so-called leaders.
I think, after watching what Glenn Beck said, more as joke, than anything pales in comparison to the "kill Bush" rhetoric that existed during the Bush administration. If you want an example, take Chris Matthews who heaped praise on the Green Party candidate for NY Governor after he stated that he only supported capital punishment in the case of President Bush being tried for treason. And need only Google "kill Bush" to find numerous stories of people advocating either through art or otherwise the death of President Bush.
Does it make what Beck said any less stupid, no...but it does prove my point that none of this is new and as usual, Republicans are tared and feathered for doing something Democrats consider the norm.
I'm sure you don't think it's productive from either side of the aisle, as do I, but I'd find it more believable had you condemned the same actions when they happened to Republicans.
I don't know, perhaps you did, but I would highly doubt it.
[T]he left can't have it both ways and that's what they want.
When it was the Iraq war and Republican Congressmen being shouted down it was a-ok. Now that the shoe is on the other foot it's time for peaceful dissent?
Give me a break.
You are the face of hypocrisy.
I'll cut you some slack if you can show me where you denounced those shouting down Republicans. If you can't don't bother commenting.
I agree with you about civil protest and don't agree with what is being done at town hall meetings right now. And trust me, I've had my fair share of experiences being the unwelcome Republican.
As long as you can show me where you complained about the same tactics that were employed by those on the left when George W. Bush was President we'll get along just fine.
Otherwise you can join the rest of the partisan hack hypocrites in the corner.
[M]y point isn't that this kind of protest is civil or the right thing to be doing, it's that when the shoe was on the other foot, it was the "highest form of patriotism" and now it's Nazism and the Klan come home to roost. It's the hypocrisy that upsets me.
Seriously? An attorney that displays a blatant ignorance of both the First Amendment AND legal precedent? I suspect business is not very good for Mr. Wallack.
In addition to all the responses here that point out SCORES of examples of other "hate speech" demonstrations by "progressive groups" (which I suspect Mr. Wallack considers justified protests), he obviously misses the fact that these American citizens would not even have had the chance to exercise their RIGHT to free speech had the Congress gotten their way and hurriedly shoved this socialist tripe legislation down our throats before the August recess.
But alas, even patently partisan people like Mr. Wallack have the right to voice their opinions... a right that he seems to want to deny others who don't share his radical idealogy.
"Radical ideology"? Sorry, but I don't understand how the belief that I system is better served by civil discourse than by yelling, screaming, pushing, and threats is a "radical ideology". Dabs, come down off of your holier-than-thou pedestal, go back and look at what I wrote, and stop trying to put words or ideas in my mouth. I did not advocate for or against the proposed healthcare reform legislation. Nor did I suggest that anyone be prevented from expressing their opinion. Nor have I ever condoned hate speech, whether from the right, left, middle, or otherwise. I think that if you look at what I've written, you'll find that I'm worried about the impact of hate speech in all of its incarnations. And I think that you'll find that I encourage people to take time and learn the facts so that they can be properly informed to participate in the political process.
My comments were about the tone of the debate and the fact that yelling and screaming and threatening are not debate at all. If you'd like to debate the healthcare reform proposals, please do so. And let others share their thoughts and opinions, too. Don't scream about "death panels" or yell about socialism. Instead, talk about whether a particular policy is good or bad and why. And take some time to listen to the other side, instead of just screaming. And that goes for most everything in our political process, not just healthcare reform.
Yes, an incitement to violence may be protected by the First Amendment, but that doesn't make it right. Nor does that mean that it is a productive form of discourse and debate.
Finally, I see distinct differences between protest, protest that disrupts others from engaging in core political speech and debate, protest that includes an incitement to violence, protest that includes actual or perceived threats of violence, the staging of violent acts, and the actual commission of violence. I advocate for civility from all sides on all issues. Please tell me where I've ever condoned anything that disrupts civil discourse or the political process.
Unfortunately, two new types of lies seem to have entered the political process. (OK, I'll admit that they've both probably been around as long as elections have, but they seem to be becoming more prominent recently.) The first is the lie of destruction. That lie puts out disinformation about the opponent that has nothing to do with the issues in the election; rather, the lie attacks the opponent's character or fitness to serve. This year, we've seen lies about Sen. Obama's religion and lies about Sen. McCain's involvement in the fire aboard the USS Forrestal. We've seen lies about Sen. Obama's citizenship and lies about Sen. McCain cooperating with the enemy while a POW. These sorts of lies are very damaging to the candidates, and, more importantly, they are very damaging to our very electoral process (would you want to run for office knowing the kinds of things that might be said about you and your family?). Between mass communications and the Internet, these lies can spread faster than they can be rebutted; by the time a rebuttal can be issued, the lie has taken on a life of its own and, to many people, become "true". So, if people are basing their electoral decision on the basis of lies about a candidate's character and background, those electoral decisions will, almost by definition be flawed and the issues on which the election should turn are relegated to a position of lesser importance. This trend has me gravely concerned. If people don't want to vote for Sen. Obama because they don't like his economic policies, fine (although I'd like to talk to them...); but if they don't want to vote for him because "he's a Muslim" then we have a problem. If people don't want to vote for Sen. McCain because he opposes a woman's right to choose, fine; but if they don't want to vote for him because they think he is responsible for the deaths of 134 sailors on the USS Forrestal then we have a problem. And given the prominence of chain emails and websites with just these sorts of allegations, I think that we do have a problem.
When politicians use hate and division as tools, some supporters will take their speech at face value. And when politicians don't listen to what their supporters are saying, they can't help either control those supporters or try to keep a lid on the actions those supporters may take. And should Sen. Obama win the election, then one can only wonder what disaffected McCain supporters will do, especially those supporters who have felt emboldened to shout "kill him" or "Bomb Obama".
One of the constant themes running through many of my posts since I started this blog has been my concern with the use of language in our political discourse that serves no purpose other than to demonize a political opponent (or, all to often the "enemy") without regard for the damage that such actions will have upon the nation as a whole, especially when the use of such language is devoid of constructive thought or ideas. That we're now hearing elected politicians even mentioning notions like secession is yet another aspect to this radicalization of political dialoge. [sic]
[O]ur nation has for too long been torn apart by infighting where our political opponent is our "enemy" and where we allow ourselves to be divided not just by political party, but by race, religion and so many other categories. We have allowed those divisions to be the basis for our national discussions, often forgetting that we are all Americans, united by the Constitution.
So let us hope that we can take this transitional inauguration as an opportunity to try to bridge those divisions. We may continue to disagree; that is what democracy is all about, after all. But let those disagreements remain civil and principled and let the name calling be replaced by honest debate. We must recognize that those on the other side of an issue are still Americans and that there is more that ties us together than tears us apart.