During the remembrances of last weekend, I heard expressions of regret at how little civility has improved since last January. For example, Tucson Weekly editor Jimmy Boegle wrote, in his paper’s issue that commemorated the anniversary, that “all those calls for civility seem to have fallen on deaf ears.””
If you wanted to see some of that ongoing incivility, all you had to do was turn the page of the Weekly, to Tom Danehy’s column.
“Come on, fake-ass conservatives. It kinda sucks when you can’t get even your own dogma right.” In the same article, he referred to Bush’s (as in George W., presumably) “cronies.”
I’ll readily admit—it’s no surprise to see Danehy express, um, displeasure with Republicans and conservatives. (“Two Thousand Eleven wasn’t a great year [mostly because of Republicans].” ; “the hell-spawn at Fox.”)
But, aren’t we ALL supposed to be setting a better example with our tone nowadays?
Here’s a link to a column Danehy wrote right after the shooting. (I.e., a time when we’d all been asked to think twice about the words we used and the tone of our discourse). In it, Danehy writes about “the rancid tenor of what passes for political discourse these days.”
He then calls Sarah Palin a “loon,” who “tries to pass herself off as this Frontier Babe of Substance.” He also refers to Republican House members as “clods.”
“The Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, having, in their minds, wasted an entire week of voter-outrage-fueled momentum, are getting back to work this week. They will attempt to pass the Big Fat Lies About the Health Care Reform Law of 2010 Act. It’s even money that at least one clod will suggest that the outstanding care that Giffords received will somehow vanish into thin air if President Obama gets his way.”
I checked to see if the motto of the Weekly is “Civility For Thee—Not For Me.”
OK, what about David Fitzsimmons? The featured political cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Star. Fitz has quite a reputation for wielding a caustic pen. It’s no secret that conservatives and Republicans are favorite targets of his.
So, in these times of minding our tone, and weighing the impact of the thoughts we express—-has Fitz changed much? Let’s see what he wrote in December—the month before the one-year anniversary of the massacre.
- This cartoon shows Santa as an elephant (the GOP symbol) with gifts for the rich 1%. Santa’s hat is helpfully labeled “GOP,” presumably to make sure the reader gets the message. (Funny—if you look in the bag of goodies, I don’t see gifts labeled “Solyndra,” “LightSquared” or other firms that benefited from Democratic Party crony capitalism).
- In this cartoon, a slovenly-looking chap wearing a “Go GOP” hat sees a person wearing a sign saying “Tis Better To Give Than Receive.” “Socialist vermin,” the “GOP” fellow thinks.
Socialist vermin. Merry Christmas, indeed.
Do I think Danehy and Fitz should be pressured to tone down their rhetoric? Is that why I’m writing this?
No! To both questions.
First of all, politics is the contact sport of the mind. It always has been. Thick skins and a polished back (so things can roll off them easily) are highly recommended. Personally, I think Danehy’s a hoot.
More importantly, many of us have drastically different ideas about how our society, economy, government, etc… should change (or stay unchanged) and what our country’s goals should be. We’re facing many weighty decisions in the years ahead, about critical issues that affect everyone. Health care, the federal debt, Social Security…the list seems endless.
It’s natural that passions will be excited. And, passionate people act passionately. They always have.
No, I’m writing this because, time and time again this past week, I’ve heard talk radio listed as a reason for why civility hasn’t improved around here.
Well, guess what? I can think of another reason.
Radio talkers like Jon Justice are on the air for just a few hours a day. You can pick up the Weekly or Star 24 hours a day, at most any convenience store or (in the case of the Weekly) in front of most stores and restaurants.
Fitz is one of the Star’s most visible and touted figures. Go to the paper’s Opinion page and click on the “Opinion” tab. Only two things pop up—the Fitz Archive and the Fitz Store. As for the Weekly, Jim Boegle and Jim Nintzel both appear on local talk radio (John C. Scott, Bill Buckmaster) to comment on the news and current events. Nintzel hosts a Political Roundtable on KUAT, Tucson’s local PBS channel. In other words, these gentlemen aren’t lightweights in the Tucson media scene.
To be sure, Jim Boegle wrote, in his Editor’s Note of January 27th, that he hadn’t expected “some on the left to keep trying to link the political vitriol to the shooter’s actions, even though not a shred of publicly released evidence has shown a connection. (I’ve disagreed with Tom Danehy’s writings on the topic.)” I’ve also never personally heard Jim Nintzel blame talk radio for making Tucson less civil.
Having acknowledged that, the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Weekly are the Old Pueblo’s most prominent print media. They’re also quite liberal, as talk radio is quite conservative.
So, if John Justice and Garrett Lewis need to tone it down, then Fitz and Danehy should tone it down too. It’s only fair…
…but, that sounds like a bad deal to me, all around. Let’s not go there.
Instead, let’s follow Thomas Jefferson’s advice: We should not be afraid “to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”
Let’s thicken our skins. Let the advocates speak (or write) their peace, air your counter-arguments in response, then let the people decide who is reasonable and who errs.
The alternative is to have someone else decide what’s acceptable and what isn’t. You REALLY don’t want to go there.