Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The perils of punditry

Experience has shown that relatively few posts in The Ohio Republic draw comments. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, commenters to this space are either supportive, or are thoughtful in their criticism. We have been blessed by the absence of the childish sniping that too often occurs in comments to media and other blogs. On the other hand, there are times when I crave feedback and receive none.

My post on Monday so far has drawn an unusually large response – eight comments from others, three of them on the Facebook page. I would like to share one from an old friend, whose sympathies I know to be decidedly liberal:
Instead of trying to defend the indefensible (and how on earth do you defend Sarah Palin’s "reload" ...comments let alone all her other violent metaphors?),  why don't we just all agree the political rhetoric (from all sides) is poisonous and contributes to the agitation of those who are unbalanced. We need to respect each other despite our VERY different viewpoints on how to achieve progress for mankind.
I would not go so far as to argue that all political rhetoric is poisonous; but we clearly need to work toward eliminating all poisonous rhetoric. We need to reject all political rhetoric that calls for violence, even metaphorically.  Everyone of good will agrees that our society is very broken. Our (good) rhetoric should aim toward its rebuilding.

I do not apologize for my appeal to the Left (the need for which was thoroughly documented by Michelle Malkin); but as two commenters pointed out, the Right is not blameless. They support their charges with examples of a vitriolic statement by Glenn Beck against filmmaker Michael Moore and some tasteless t-shirts offered for sale to Tea Party followers.

In my second anniversary post (Sept. 13, 2009), I cited State Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Upper Arlington), who has campaigned for greater civility in political discussion. He said:
We politicians are as much to blame as anyone. Our discourse has become partisan and angry, thoughtless and hurtful and totally lacking in civility. We are headed down a very dangerous path, and this is not the type of leadership that our constituents expect of us.
Last Saturday, we saw where that dangerous path ends. While we are not responsible for what Jared Loughner did, we are responsible for what we say and the way we say it. Freedom of speech carries with it the responsibility to use it wisely.

Being human and passionate about the cause of liberty, I will make mistakes. And I am thankful for the commenters who make the effort to keep me honest, because it is the truth that will set us free.


Charlie Earl said...

The value or intensity of political discourse is overrated. I refuse to allow the Politically Correct police to censor my remarks. Pulling one's punches may lead to more civil discourse, but in the end will not lead to better understanding or serious problem solving. As a former football player and farmer, I have lived with martial language my entire life and will not cease because some controlling progressive wants me to.

Anonymous said...

AZ Republicans Resign After Giffords Shooting, Citing Threats From Local Tea Partiers

Harold Thomas said...


I am not asking anyone to be "politically correct." Lord knows, I'm not. I have no doubt that you are responsible in your speech, even if martial imagery gets in there sometimes.

I am more concerned with those who say they would "kill" someone, or suggest that someone commit a violent act, perhaps intending to use hyperbole.

Harold Thomas said...


After reading the Arizona Republic article on which your thinkprogress post is based, it appears to me to be a lot of "he say, she say." Mr. Miller clearly has received a great deal of flak from factions in his party. Maybe he does face threats of violence, but the article did not substantiate that.

Keep in mind that the Tea Party is a loosely-organized grassroots movement. There are at least three national organizations purporting to represent the Tea Party, and many local groups likely to be unaffiliated with any of them. To generalize that the Tea Party as a whole is violent will require much more evidence than that provided by this one article.

If Mr. Miller is, in fact, threatened with violence, the perpetrator should be prosecuted -- I don't care who that person represents.

Barga said...

As you know, I do believe that the rhetoric from the far-right is partially to blame for the situation in Arizona.

Barga said...

That said, howevr, it is far from unique to that viewpoint. Various members on the far-left also preach violent views (The commies require them) and imply, expressly or implicitvely, that something violent needs to occur
The real problem is that these statements all the truly insane to find comfort in their thoughts and that they are somewhat acceptable. The more we allow this rhetoric to occur, the more likely these attacks become

that said, we must allow the rhetoric, but, as a society, condone it

Harold Thomas said...

Your last sentence hit the nail on the head, assuming that you meant "we must allow the rhetoric, but, as a society, not condone it"