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Tag Archive: Political Discourse

Free Speech and the Peaceful Public Order

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 (11:19 pm), by John W Gillis


I arrived home from my sister Mary’s funeral Saturday evening, and saw that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several other people had been shot during some kind of meet-and-greet in her congressional district. I’d never heard of Giffords, but was discouraged that such a thing would happen – it’s hard enough just given our political process to get good people to run for public office, and it was of course a terrible tragedy for the people involved. It seemed to me that it had been a long time since something like that had happened.

As I read the AP story published on Boston.com, I began to get increasingly uncomfortable as the report progressively shifted from providing information about the tragedy and background on the people involved, to inserting accusatory innuendo aimed at various opponents of the Democrat Party and overall leftist political agenda: repeatedly finding a way to mention Sarah Palin by name in a setting suggestive of her being a menace to the lives of her political opponents; dredging up a reminder of a man who once threatened Nancy Pelosi over the telephone; dropping in a reference about a mad gunman from California the article tied to “conservatives” while simultaneously reporting that he wanted to “start a revolution” (note to moronic left-wing journalists: conservatives, by definition, are anti-revolutionary); pointing out that Giffords’ TEA Party-backed Republican opponent this past fall had fired a gun at a rally during the campaign; and suggesting in less-than-subtle language that this tragedy should be interpreted as the culminating denouement of “a highly charged political environment” that had hitherto not “reached the point of actual violence.”

I was, needless to say, dripping with disgust at the sleaziness of the journalism by the time I finished the story. Even the sketchy details in the earliest stories were enough to make it obvious that this was the handiwork of a deranged idiot, not an attempted political assassination. But the willingness of the leftist journalist class (and I quickly discerned that several other “mainstream” propaganda channels had picked up essentially the same meme) to immediately exploit the tragedy as an opportunity to try to score political points was just truly revealing – and infuriating.

Over the next several days, as we all know, we have seen an avalanche of contemptible opportunism from the leftists, as they’ve tried not only to pin the blame for the violence on the usual opposition scapegoats (Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, talk radio in general…), but have taken to self-reporting a mysterious hubbub of “concern” over “inflammatory political rhetoric:” an ailment that quite obviously knows no medicine except the silencing of such opposition.

And this new ethic of “civility” is being trumpeted by even some of the most screwball partisans in the leftist media! Even Keith Olbermann is in on the act! Keith Olbermann! This is the man who, on his April 23rd, 2008 “Countdown” show, back when Hilary Clinton was an opponent to Barack Obama for the Democrat nomination for U.S. President, and therefore a legitimate target for leftist bile under the ethics of the revolutionary order, wished on the air for “somebody who can take her into a room, and only he comes out," this on account of the "negativity, for which she is mostly responsible."

Negativity? Gee, sound familiar? This despicable clown all but called for someone to snuff Clinton out in order to save the narrative of the left’s favorite candidate from criticism, and the other left-wing loonies in the so-called “mainstream media” largely yawned and looked the other way. Three years later, he’s in the vanguard of a reactionary assault force intent on suppressing criticism of the leftist agenda by exploiting a personal and national tragedy to call for political speech censorship – or “an end to inflammatory rhetoric.” Priceless. You couldn’t sell fiction this corny.

The history of the leftists, from the Jacobins to the Bolsheviks to the Olbermanns, routinely resorts to characterizing criticism as “extremism” or “reactionaryism” in an attempt to marginalize and suppress it – a useful tactic when you can’t win the intellectual battle, and are stuck trying to sell a bagful of lies. Not only is this chicanery in and of itself, but in the American context, it is thoroughly disrespectful of the reality of what this country has managed to nurture as its political life.

Admittedly, being called a racist, or some other clever form of ”hater,” simply for opposing a puerile and idiotic political agenda, is frustrating (not to mention mendacious on the part of the accusers). On the other hand, for some reason, left-leaning people in this country resent being called socialists simply for trying to advance socialist ideas. And for some other reason, libertarians often want to be called conservatives, even though about the only thing they want to conserve is their bankrolls (and, I suppose, the U.S. Constitution, which is ironically an archetypical document of liberalism).

So while, yes, there are fissures in the political fabric of our society, they are fissures that run only from philosophy to rhetoric – and branding, or marketing. Political violence in the U.S. is virtually unheard of – unlike so many places in the world. Why is the media fixating on the Giffords shooting while giving short attention to those who died in the shooting – including a U.S. District Court Justice and a nine year-old? It may very well be in part because Giffords is a Democrat (the judge, on the other hand, was a G.H.W. Bush appointee), therefore facilitating the propagation of the above discussed agitprop, but I suspect is has more to do with the fact that elected officials are so rarely targeted for violence in the U.S. Even looking more broadly, I can’t recall any political violence in the U.S. in about 40 years, save a couple of abortionists who were assassinated in retribution for their death-dealing. People like Hinckley (and Loughner) are  lunatics, not partisans.

The idea of “overheated political rhetoric” fomenting violence in the USA is absurd – and worse than absurd: it is a dangerous threat to the country’s ability to retain the relatively peaceful political climate we enjoy. The left would like to suppress dissent, but that cannot be allowed to happen. The liberals who formed this country were so much wiser than their unfortunate French cousins precisely because they understood the value of political moderation, and the value of allowing political opposition secure standing.

Some of the people being lambasted by the leftists today for their “inflammatory rhetoric” do indeed go over the top sometimes, and the Ed Schultzes and Keith Olbermanns on the left are even worse; and we’d all be better off if political discourse was always more polite and more thoughtful; but that’s not the important point at all.

Our institution of free speech is crucially important to maintaining not just an environment ripe for good intellectual discourse, but, more importantly, the very requirement of a peaceful public order that is capable of solving its political differences at the ballot box, regardless of how much yelling and screaming precedes it. Only a fool would fail to recognize what a good that political freedom truly is for society.

Out, Off, End… Goodbye

Posted: Friday, November 19, 2010 (7:27 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day: West Virginia Democrat Senator John (Jay) Rockefeller IV:

I hunger for quality news. I’m tired of the Right and the Left. There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the FCC to say to FOX, and to, to MSNBC: "Out, off, end… Goodbye.”  [It would] be a big favor to political discourse, our ability to do our work here in Congress — and to the American people to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government, and in their  – more importantly – in their future. 

(U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology & the Internet, hearing on Cable & Broadcast TV Carriage Negotiations, Nov. 17th, 2010)

Translation: “The liberal political establishment is very concerned that a lot of good politicians just lost their jobs because the voters were agitated. This is unacceptable. Maintaining the status quo demands that the voters be pacified, and that requires securing a propaganda echo chamber to guide our public dialog. Dissent must be banished. For the sake of the appearance of fairness, we will sacrifice a noisy and ill-mannered ally to “balance” the necessary crushing of our critics. That will make us appear “moderate” to the average stooge. Only when the voices of serious disagreement have been silenced can we proceed in peace and quiet to quibble over whether or not the prevailing Progressive view of society needs to be more Progressive.”

Final Election Verdict: Throw the Journalists Out

Posted: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 (10:26 pm), by John W Gillis


I’m trying not to pay attention to the election results coverage tonight. Not that I’m not interested, but I can’t stand the thought of listening to the television network infotainment blowhards passing their usual gas. To some extent, I will admit, this attitude is sour grapes over the way virtually every TV news media outlet (other than Fox, of all places) has been in the tank for Obama since… well, face it, since the DNC convention in 2004. The conventional wisdom has the journalist class succeeding in this election in getting their man in, but I’m still holding out hope that enough John McCain voters will come out in key states to tip the final tally into the Republican column. But, yes, I’m avoiding the news in a probably vain attempt to stave off depression.

I voted on my way to work this morning, and did not at all experience the kind of long lines that have been reported throughout the day as existing all over the place. I was in and out within a few minutes. Naturally, every vote I cast has come up on the losing side of the ledger in Massachusetts, according to early projections (OK, I peeked). But I felt good voting today for the first time in a while. I’m not a big fan of John McCain, but at least I could support him without serious reservation. It’s been a while since I could vote in a general election without holding my nose.

But whichever candidate ends up losing this struggle, the biggest loser will be the republic, as yet again the blowhards and morons who have anointed themselves the arbiters of American political discourse have succeeded in reducing the most important political process in the world to trite sloganeering and posturing. The candidates are not above responsibility for this situation themselves, but I think the lion’s share of the blame needs to be placed on the shoulders of the journalist class. They are a disgrace. They seem incapable of even understanding that political questions might consist of competing ideas, being instead thoroughly wed to the imbecilic reduction of everything to competing opinions. They are an impediment to intelligent political discourse, not only in how they frame the struggle in reporting and analysis, but even in how they manipulate the candidates themselves. And they are the lens through which almost the entire democracy views the problems to be solved!

Watching the four presidential and vice presidential “debates” was an exercise for me in how not to manage stress. Again, it’s not just how the questioning tended toward addressing controversy instead of meaningful content, but there were even occasions when the celebrity News host was striving to keep the candidates from addressing important matters (such as each other) in order to keep themselves front-and-center in the process. I nearly fell out of my chair at the end of one of them (can’t remember which) when the celebrity host announced that the next “debate” would be on such and such a date, “with celebrity host B” (again, I forget which one – as if I care). Is it even possible that Senators McCain and Obama themselves might star in the next episode of Presidential Debate ’08? No, no. They may be there playing the contestant roles (who cares?), but the star would be Fred Flintstone – or was it Barney Rubble? Or Captain Kirk? Or Oprah? Or was it George Stephanopoulos? No, George would be needed afterwards to analyze the candidates’ facial tics.

The bottom line, as far as I’m concerned, is that these buffoons have to go if American democracy is ever going to rise back above the level of bumper sticker philosophizing. We do need someone to facilitate the public presentation of political process, but these people are incompetent, and we need to find a way to throw them out. Changing the politicians will avail nothing if the gatekeepers remain the same.

But where do we go to find suitable replacements? The universities? Ugh. The public sector? No point giving the inmates the keys to the ward… The religious sector? Can you imagine the uproar that suggestion would cause on campuses and in latte shopppes across the land? But it might actually be the most responsible (and practical) approach. The private sector has clearly failed badly, and the universities are wastelands of trendy inanity. The public sector itself is a non-starter. Maybe the religious leadership in the country could, collectively, provide a balanced framework for serious discussion of serious matters…

But what am I talking about (sorry for stealing your line, Senator Biden)? I’m just thinking out loud – I have no idea how any such thing would work – but I can’t help but think that the folks who might have the best chance to drive our political discussion past the ratings-driven diatribe of controversy and opinioned buffoonery just might be those whose lives are ordered to the transcendent, yet who understand profoundly (pastorally) the sufferings of the world.