Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Couple of things on the current "We must tone down

the talk" noise that's going around. First, from Jack Shafer:
Embedded in Sheriff Dupnik's ad hoc wisdom were several assumptions. First, that strident, anti-government political views can be easily categorized as vitriolic, bigoted, and prejudicial. Second, that those voicing strident political views are guilty of issuing Manchurian Candidate-style instructions to commit murder and mayhem to the "unbalanced." Third, that the Tucson shooter was inspired to kill by political debate or by Sarah Palin's "target" map or other inflammatory outbursts. Fourth, that we should calibrate our political speech in such a manner that we do not awaken the Manchurian candidates among us.

And, fifth, that it's a cop's role to set the proper dimensions of our political debate. Hey, Dupnik, if you've got spare time on your hands, go write somebody a ticket
.
(But writing tickets doesn't get him on the national news, so...)
The great miracle of American politics is that although it can tend toward the cutthroat and thuggish, it is almost devoid of genuine violence outside of a few scuffles and busted lips now and again. With the exception of Saturday's slaughter, I'd wager that in the last 30 years there have been more acts of physical violence in the stands at Philadelphia Eagles home games than in American politics.

Any call to cool "inflammatory" speech is a call to police all speech, and I can't think of anybody in government, politics, business, or the press that I would trust with that power. As Jonathan Rauch wrote brilliantly in Harper's in 1995, "The vocabulary of hate is potentially as rich as your dictionary, and all you do by banning language used by cretins is to let them decide what the rest of us may say." Rauch added, "Trap the racists and anti-Semites, and you lay a trap for me too. Hunt for them with eradication in your mind, and you have brought dissent itself within your sights."
Exactly. Remember the bit I noted on Rep. Brady's desire to make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress? Just how big is the truck you can drive through that description? Calling for someone to be thrown out of office, voted out of office, etc., could be defined as 'threatening'; and if you think there aren't politicians and some LE clowns who would do it, you're dreaming.

So we're looking at Don't Say Nasty Things Because Someone Might Do Something Stupid combined with calls for You Can't Say Something That Makes The Politician Lose Bladder Control laws. To borrow from Insty,
Anyone else find it creepy that new standard what me may and may not say is: How will it affect the behavior of an abviously crazy person who may or may not hear it?

1 comment:

DirtCrashr said...

Too right, and naturally SLATE readers get thier panties in a twist about it.