Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Of violence, rhetoric and free speech

First, a little bit of a palate-cleanser as President Obama talks about violence with Sarah Palin. Please go to xtranormal for the video.

(From the video if you chose not to click on over) Now, we don't think that Bill Ayers actually wrote Obama's Dreams From My Father.
A far more rational explanation for the uncannily similar phrasing and use of terminology the two employ in their books is that the two have been stewing in the same Hyde Park leftist-academia jerk for years and to expect either one of them to rise above this group-think so as to express an original or unique literary voice is simply hoping too much of these two mediocre intellects.

Now, how is that for a defense of Obama as the author?

OK, with that out of the way, how about a video that we can actually embed? Obama, the author, and in this clip an apparent American history expert has some words on incivility and hostile rhetoric.


Up for some more incivility and over-heated rhetoric. Via Capitol Commentary:

Howard Dean - Former governor, head of DNC: I hate Republicans and everything they stand for.

Barack Obama – Former senator, President of the United States: If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.

Jesse Jackson – Reverend, former presidential candidate: [H]ate and hurt are on a roll in America. If what was happening here was happening in South Africa, it’d be called racist apartheid. If it was happening in Germany, we’d call it Nazism. And in Italy, we’d call it fascism. Here we call it conservatism.

Nina Totenberg – NPR Journolist: [B]ecause if there is retributive justice, he’ll [Jesse Helms] get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will.

Alec Baldwin – Actor: We would stone Henry Hyde to death and we would go to their homes and we’d kill their wives and their children. We would kill their families.

Mike Malloy – Radio talk show host: I am only hoping that when Glenn Beck does put a gun to his head and pulls the trigger, that it’s on television, because somebody will capture it on YouTube and it will be the most popular little piece of video for the month.

Timothy Horrigan – NH state representative: [A] dead Palin would be even more dangerous than a live one…she is all about her myth.
Our buddy, Harrison, has more at the link above but you get the point. So, why are we engaging in this particular little exercise? Is it to play gotcha or to show that "the other side does it too"? Well, maybe a bit but mostly we're doing this to demonstrate that WE DON'T CARE.

When the President made his knife/gun comment, it raised our eyebrows a tad but then we realized he's a politician and that both Democrats and Republicans have used weaponry/warfare terminology for years in politics. We're confident that 99% of the people in this country who heard that remark knew it was a metaphor and one that was particularly appropos for a Chicago pol. Hey, no harm, no foul, right?

For that 1% who weren't in on the joke, that 1% of whom the Tucson shooter is a part of and who represents the idiots and complete wack-jobs in this country, we really can't do a whole lot about them anyway. No amount of "civility" and "open dialog" is going to prevent these people from deciding to take the life of a public figure if he or she decides upon it.

It's called free speech and when someone like Keith Olbermann calls Michelle Malkin "a mashed-up bag of meat with lip stick", the vast majority of people in this country process that statement and view Olbermann and his show accordingly as the ratings surely indicate.

The smearing of the right, Sarah Palin and particularly the tea party is one thing. We're kind of used to it, though we're glad to see that we aren't taking this laying down and we are hitting back and hitting back relentlessly as recent posts from fellow SLOBs like W.C. Varones, B-Daddy, Temple of Mut and Left Coast Rebel have indicated.

What is entirely more egregious and unforgiveable, however, is to politicize and leverage this tragedy to enact laws that are bald-faced attempts to silence dissent and thus free speech.

As we have said before, this is not about civility for the liberal-Left, this is about getting their asses handed to them in the mid-terms and their ineffectiveness in controlling the media and public square narrative with respect to their legislative agenda.

If the liberal-Left and their willing accomplices in the media continue in this vein with smear tactics and attempts to shut down speech they don't particularly care for, it will only serve to steel the resolve of their targets so that another ass-beating they won't soon forget may be in the offing in 2012. The choice for "civility" is really up to them.


steve said...

"The smearing of the right, Sarah Palin and particularly the tea party is one thing. We're kind of used to it"

I can give you the names of many blogs, newspapers, TV shows and radio people who have smeared people on the left. That is just how politics work. Do you think Sarah should be exempt? Why?

While I oppose any nonsense bills aimed at restricting free speech, I see nothing wrong with advocating for more civil speech. However, if I had my way, we would be pushing for smarter speech.


Teresa said...

Steve - What if someone stated that Obama's heated rhetoric egged on or caused the nutcase shooter to snap would you be okay with that?

Here are a few examples of Obama's fiery rhetoric - ** Obama: “They Bring a Knife…We Bring a Gun”
** Obama to His Followers: “Get in Their Faces!”
** Obama on ACORN Mobs: “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
** Obama to His Mercenary Army: “Hit Back Twice As Hard”
** Obama on the private sector: “We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.“

I think Obama should start the ball rolling and follow Krugman and his ilk's advice and be the first to stop the heated rhetoric.

drozz said...

Steve-you can give us all that information, but i respectfully submit that said sources do not have the same public impact as those* who immediately promoted the idea that this tragedy was linked to "heated political rhetoric", sara palin, and the tea partiers.

*CNN, MSNBC, NYT, etc.

CNN really let me down on this one. I generally like the network, but this kind of reporting was low by MSNBC standards.

steve said...

@Teresa- Some folks have already made that claim. No one person, other than the shooter, or group or statement caused the shooting. While I would like to see things toned down, I dont see it happening. Too many people make too much money keeping us outraged. We will see the same thing happen at the next shooting/catastrophe. At this point, I would settle for more intelligent discourse.


Dean said...

Steve, I never said or even implied that Sarah Palin should be exempt from anything.

Provide all the links you want because the slings and arrows hurled at each other from the left and the right are of little concern to me. As I stated in the post: "(I) DON'T CARE".

The 1st amendment protects the liberal-Left's efforts to ascribe psychotically-motivated shootings to the tea party and the 1st amendment protects my right to call bullshit on them and to point out their hypocrisy in the matter.

Again, what is really at issue here is the craven behavior displayed by some people to use this horrible tragedy to enact laws to shut down language and behavior that they and they alone find objectionable.

Also, please give me an operational definition for both "pushing for" and "smarter speech".

steve said...

Pushing for means more writing supporting the idea. Ideally it would also be advocated for on TV and radio, but I have little hope for those venues.

Smarter speech would be an emphasis on data. For example, whenever anyone lays out a lengthy claim about reducing the debt, but fails to mention entitlements, they should be called on that. Or, whenever someone starts talking about gun control, stats on the numbers of safe gun owners and how they are used for defense should be cited.


Mutnodjmet said...

steve: Let me know when you find that magic civility genie; I would sure like to meet him.

If you look back on the entire course of political spectrum, from the time Athony challenged Octavian on the number and type of lovers Octavian enjoyed, through the area when Burr and Hamiliton dueled, until now, you will find the style and passion associated with rhetoric is probably better today than in the past.

I am a Blue Dog Democrat. While I personally make it a point to never write something about a person I am not willing to say to their face, I accept the slings and arrows of insults as the price of admission of political punditry. I get it from both sides. It is all hurtful, but worse from the lefties.

Frankly, I find your assumptions condescending and disturbing. It is this elite, judgmental attitude about the quality of dialog that is the driving force behind rules being proposed to limit my First Amendment Freedoms. Who, exactly, is to be the arbiter of this "smarter" debate?

Here's a quote for you: If you can't take heat, stay out of the kitchen. I hope that rhetoric isn't too heated for your sensibilities.

(Great post, BTW, BwD.)

Road Dawg said...

There is no money in smarter speech. Usually your comments are thoughtful, but there is no comparison of the media glare on one side over the other. You can't see that?

steve said...

I dont think I said and did not mean to imply that one side was dumber than the other in our debates. Both sides are capable of stupidity. Frankly, I find it odd that a request for data in public discourse would be seen as elitist. We should really just generate public policy on feelings? I also find it disappointing that more civil discourse is seen as something wrong. There is plenty of room for passionate, heated debate without crossing into ad hominem attacks and personal smears. But, if you prefer name calling, go for it.

"Who, exactly, is to be the arbiter of this "smarter" debate?"

We are. I guess I did not make this clear enough. Limitations on free speech should only include things like yelling "fire" in a theater and limiting the number of Dallas Cowboys games on TV. I am not asking for laws here. I am asking that people expect more of their elected representatives. As an example, I would offer Paul Ryan. While most Congress people avoid taking on the issue of entitlements, especially Medicare, he took it on directly in his budget proposal.


Road Dawg said...

Although your proposal for more data in public discourse is reasonable and logical, it will never happen.

1. There is no money in it because it’s logical and boring to the average American, therefore no ratings. This may speak to the sad state of America, but it also speaks to the truth. Vitriol and salaciousness are far more exciting and generate more revenue.

2. There is a team mentality that goes with Rep & Dems in the American public. With such a mentality, there seems to be no quarter with the other side. Each perceives the other side as evil or wrong. In their quest for power the political leaders discard the public interest with their slander of one another.

I don't believe your wish for a more civil discourse through data is elitist, but utopian. But I see far more reasoning based on data brought forth by the right in arguments than the left. Maybe that's why conservatives lose in the media. Their process of reasoning is based more on facts.

To set your self above the fray and ignore the one-sided media attention, without acknowledging the bias is irritating, not elitist.

steve said...

" But I see far more reasoning based on data brought forth by the right in arguments than the left. "

Excellent! I am always looking for writers on the right who use data in their arguments. Manzi does frequently, as does Mankiw, Kilng and the Cafe Hayek guys, but I dont ever see anyone else, so I must be missing some people. Please link to some occasionally when you see them.

Thanks, Steve

Road Dawg said...

The context of the post was the media, talk radio, and the national rhetoric. I am included in the great unwashed that doesn't read as much as I should and get my facts from media sources unlike the well informed pointy headed intellectuals such as some of the bloggers and commenters I love so much. I believe I've seen you at Bdaddy's blog. He is great at the facts and data that put the great unwashed masses to sleep. But I still get so much from his blog. He is my mentor for Libertarian thought; although I find some with which I disagree.

I hope you keep commenting Steve, I very much enjoy your view. In this matter, I feel you have unrealistic expectations of Americans, the media and our polititians.