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So, We’re the Killers Too?

11 Jan 2011

We’re not really going to use the murder of six citizens and the attempted murder of a U.S. congresswoman as a new inlet into a discussion on free speech are we?  Oh, we are?  Then, let me give you my perspective (And let’s leave Rev. Fred Phelps out of this because he’s just loony.).  My take on freedom of speech in the political arena is that it has become nasty, hate-filled, attack-oriented and disjointed to a point where work in Washington is deeply affected!  In far too many cases it has left the world of partisanship (Which has been with us since before we had a Constitution.) to hyper-partisanship–which, I believe, has become the word of the day on Capitol Hill due in large part to television, the Internet, radio and even dinosaurs like newspapers and magazines.  It is simply out of control.

All sides of the political spectrum are engaged in this relatively new and very deadly game. To suggest that talk radio or even radio and television political personalities caused the shooting spree in a Tucson, Arizona parking lot is tantamount to calling them co-conspirators, accomplices or even murderers themselves.  Such comments have been uttered, in code, by many; both inside and outside the Beltway and it is HYPER-partisanship incarnate!  It is ruthless, cancerous and contagious.  And it is wrong!

Former Illinois Republican Congressman John Porter recently recounted a story that was once used as a template for lawmakers, “It used to be that we would get on the floor and argue like crazy for our sides and then go out and … Bob Michel and Tip O’Neill used to do this … then go out and have a drink together. Because they worked together to find that common ground that made the country move forward. And while they were interested in having their own arguments put on the table, and their own positions, in the end it was the interests of America that counted to both of them.”  Has hyper-partisanship killed opportunities for jobs, economic growth and a government that listens to the little guy? The better question has to be, “Is there any doubt?”

But, this super-hatred for another’s belief system has spilled over to everyday commoners like you and me.  When I moved into my neighborhood, people were friendly–stopping by to say hello.  Then they heard I was a conservative talk show host and suddenly, with most, I had developed the plague.  These days if I talk about my core principles and a liberal is within earshot it is game-on and they go for the jugular.  I’ve seen it in reverse too.  Are we out of our minds?  It’s one thing to have a hearty debate on issues that matter but it’s quite another to curse, scream and make it personal.  Since when did this hyper-partisanship become the norm with We the People?!

It is no secret that certain liberal politicians want to control what can be said (politically) via radio, the Internet and TV and they have offered Bills (like the Fairness Doctrine and Net Neutrality) to move America in that direction though most radio shows have free and open telephone lines and Internet stories and blogs have “comments” sections already. Thankfully, such attempts have been thwarted but if both sides continue to act like babies–with their name-calling and hyped-up rhetoric there is little doubt the citizens of this country will grow tired and agree that some form of censorship is necessary.  Obviously, we can’t let that happen. One of the ways WE stop it is to demand that our side (whichever that is) refuse to take the bait.  If the sheriff in Pima county wants to attack Rush Limbaugh then Mr. Limbaugh needs to deflect the nonsense with eloquence and style–not via personal attacks aimed right back at the sheriff because we all remember from our playground days what’s going to happen next.

To blame former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for the deaths in Tucson is not just ludicrous–it is mean-spirited at it’s very core. The attacks are rampant as Limbaugh, Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik, Astronaut (and brother-in-law of Rep Gabriele Giffords) Scott Kelly all go at it, representing both sides.  The nutty Bill Maher claimed that the killer used Glenn Beck’s chalkboard and Rachel Maddow brought the issue of gun control to the conversation.  Meanwhile, Beck approached the story by begging for some sanity.

In the end, the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, was/is a troubled, lost, demented, angry and murderous young man who, according to family and friends, has been hanging on the edge of disaster for quite a long time.  Seriously, at the end of the day, we have a cold-blooded madman who will go down with the likes of the Son of Sam, Charles Whitman, James Huberty, John Wayne Gacy and so on–criminals who never had free speech or politics as their alibis.

Will we really let him claim that he was forced to kill because of “voices in his head?” Maybe we should? Perhaps then, the hyper-partisanship that has invaded this country will be called into the light of day and we can somehow dismantle it–before it’s too late!

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January 11, 2011 2:46 pm Reply

It seems everything is made so “personal” these days. I’ve noticed so many comments in comment sections after articles, blogs, etc. in no time get away from civil discourse to personal attacks on the posters. It’s like they’re just sitting there waiting for someone to post something they disagree with and then they pounce – calling them names, using profanity against them. I sometimes wonder what these people are like out in public. Are they the raging drivers we see on the road; the rude people in the grocery stores? And it’s coming from both sides.

January 12, 2011 11:10 pm Reply

Well I certainly agree with you about the need to put a stop to the poisonous vitriol that passes as political discourse among ordinary citizens today. I also absolutely agree that to say “such and such speech is why this psycho shot those people” is absurdity beyond description. However, your assertion that radio, political, and television personalities like Limbaugh, Palin, Beck, (yeah I know I won’t forget Olberman, Mahr, Rhoades, or Pelosi) aren’t feeding the fire of that kind of discourse you are denouncing is disappointing. It’s actually worse than that if we’re to be honest with ourselves. “We the people” are egging this garbage on. Nearly all of us , myself and at times you as well Ankarlo, have not only stood by when our side resorts to such methods, but actively participated in them! Self reflection is never pretty folks, but we better grit our teeth and take a good look soon. Political rivals are not enemies of the state. Fellow law abiding Americans ARE NOT OUR ENEMIES regardless of how far to the right or left they may be. High time we started behaving toward each other like adults.

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