Political Speech Doesn’t Kill People, People Kill People
A nice little editorial piece by Matt Welch of Reason that I thought you all might like to read. You can read it in its entirety by CLICKING HERE.
Political speech doesn’t kill people, people kill people
Matt Welch from the April 2011 issue of Reason
When a significant portion of the commentariat decided in early January that enough hyperbolic, martially themed political rhetoric was enough, that it was time for journalists to purge words like “battleground” from their election reporting and certainly long past time for the Republican Party to erase such eliminationist modifiers as “job-killing” to describe Democratic legislation like Obama-Care, not a single member of the newly cautious caucus pointed a cautionary finger at Chris Hedges.
Chris Hedges, if you haven’t heard of him, is a Pulitzer-winning New York Times war correspondent turned apocalyptic essayist for the lefty website Truthdig.com. He is someone who, after Greek protesters burned banks and murdered innocents in 2010, wrote: “Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country.” Around that same time he wrote a piece titled “This Country Needs a Few Good Communists.” And as many commie nostalgics tend to do, Hedges has repeatedly claimed that the modern U.S. is comparable to Hitler’s Germany.
Jared Loughner’s murderous rampage in Tucson, Arizona, which killed six, wounded 13 others, and prompted a national re-think of violence-tinged alarmism, did nothing to dull Hedges’ tongue. Days after the massacre, he wrote that “Corporate systems of power are instruments of death that can be fought only by physical acts of resistance.”
And yet the only mention of Hedges I could find in the lengthy discussion of post-Loughner political rhetoric came from Hartford Courant columnist Susan Campbell, who paraphrased him arguing that “the left’s dedication to tolerance makes it ineffective in the face of intolerance.” Intolerance in the face of intolerance is no vice.
I bring up Hedges not because I think that his words incite violence, but because I am convinced they do not. And I am just as convinced that most of the people calling for a “new tone,” for a rhetorical disarmament in the discussion of politics, are motivated not by an equal opportunity antipathy to non-empirical hyperbole, but by a partisan revulsion at excess from the side whose beliefs they happen to find distasteful.
There is a happy ending to this grim business, and not just Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ miraculous recovery from a bullet to her brain. Politicians and pundits may be panicking, but the American people have largely kept their heads—much as they did in the days and months after September 11, though few gave them credit at the time. Polls showed solid majorities rejecting any link between political rhetoric and Loughner’s violence.
Um… By using a parallelism, is he suggesting that there’s no link between Islam and terrorism? I sure hope not.
Calls to enact ill-advised legislation have mostly (though not totally) stalled out. Not only is Chris Hedges still free to make hyperbolic comparisons to Hitler’s Germany, so are his analogues on the anti-Obama right. We should welcome the opportunity to refute them on their merits, instead of seeking to banish them from the great American debate.
Matt Welch is editor in chief of reason.Explore posts in the same categories: Leftists, Liberals, politics, protest