Wednesday, August 12, 2009

IN Touch: Uncivil dissent

My ninth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. As you'll see, it continues the theme of my last few posts for this blog. My absence from IN Touch was due largely to the difficulty that I have with finding topics that I feel that I am capable of competently discussing, in 150 or so words, without losing my "voice".

I'm going to keep re-posting those entries here (at least until someone from the Star asks me to stop). Go ahead and visit the post on the IN Touch site, anyway.

A disturbing trend from the 2008 election is now infecting our political discourse. One of the things that has always distinguished America from much of the rest of the world was the civility of our political discourse. Sure, voices get raised and passions aroused, but we've largely avoided inflammatory speech and incitements to violence.

Until now.

Blame for the current trend in political hate speech with bullying and shouting to drown out debate and discussion can, I believe at least in part be traced back to the Republican campaign rallies where cries of "kill him" and "terrorist" directed at Barack Obama went unchallenged by Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin.

Now, we see people threatening their congressional representatives, hanging officials in effigy, using vile and racial epithets to describe politicians, shouting and pushing instead of talking and listening, and preventing those who disagree from being a part of a civil debate. And don't forget people like Glenn Beck who "joke" about killing politicians. (Beck actually staged a faux poisoning of Nancy Pelosi on TV.)

Screaming, yelling, bullying, fighting, death threats and acts of violence may be a fact of life in many political systems, but they are not part of the American tradition. Anyone who truly values our system and sense of democratic ideals must stand up and help put an end to this orchestrated slide into anarchy. If we don't act soon, how long will it be before some crackpot decides that assassination or terrorism is a legitimate tool of political dissent

One other thing about this post is worth noting. Here is how a part of my original post (as submitted to The Indianapolis Star) was written:
I believe, at least in part, be traced back to the Republican campaign rallies where cries of "kill him" and "terrorist" directed at Sen. Obama went unchallenged by Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin.
However, when posted on the IN Touch site, this clause underwent some subtle, but perhaps significant revision:
I believe at least in part be traced back to the Republican campaign rallies where cries of "kill him" and "terrorist" directed at Barack Obama went unchallenged by Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin.

Do you see the difference? It took me a moment to notice it, too. In my original version, each of the three people mentioned was identified by the title he or she held at the time in question and the person's last name. In the version posted by The Indianapolis Star, each of the three gained a first name (no big deal). More importantly, however, then-Sen. Obama lost his title (and didn't gain another one) while both Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin kept their titles. This is particularly odd given that President Obama still has a title and former Governor Sarah Palin does not. There may be some simple journalistic rule of which I'm not aware, but I want to be sure that no slight was intended (either by me or by The Indianapolis Star).

I've asked the editorial staff of The Indianapolis Star for an explanation of this editorial change.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older