Friday, February 18, 2011

The First Amendment only for some

Last month Peter Welch lamented on the "toxic" political talk in the wake of the Giffords shooting in Tucson.  He said "It creates a sense of anger and you had some politicians talking about bullets not ballots. I mean things like that are obviously provocative and hurtful - they're harmful to maintaining civility in a democratic society."

Bernie Sanders also weighed in.  He said in a fundraising letter to his supporters:
"right wing reactionaries through threats and acts of violence Intimidate people with different points of view from expressing their political positions."

Finally, President said last month:   It's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that that heals, not in a way that wounds."

Vermont Public Radio covered the Tucson shooting with stories and commentary about being civil here,  here,  here,  here   here   and here. 

In Wisconsin,  teacher union members mobbed the state capitol with signs like these.  The protestors also surrounded the homes of their opponents, bringing intimidation tactics to a new level.

Did Peter Welch and Bernie Sanders decry such tactics? No.

Did President Obama?  No.  He called out the elected Governor of Wisconsin's attempt to balance his budget as an "assault on unions" 

Has VPR commented on the "vitriol"  in Wisconsin?  No.

We live in an era where big issues divide us.  It  should not be surprising that people speak passionately, even rudely.  People exercising their first amendment rights should not be decried or derided.  

Liberals and their media allies try to silence their opponents by calling opposition to their policies "vitriolic" and "uncivil"; but when the left does and says worse things, the left is silent, or like Nancy Pelosi, supportive.

The First Amendment is apparently only for some people.  


  1. Great commentary!

  2. I think you are barking up the wrong tree: the left looks out for the left, the right looks out for the right. Rarely does one look out for the other. The first amendment doesn't obligate one to speak out about anything, let alone everything... So, outrage on this issue is more likely found at Fox or NRO

  3. Dana: I don't think so. I think the Left does try to muzzle dissent more. Look, the Right did it in the 1950's, but since then the Left has dominated politics, academia and the media, and is now the Establishment--even though the Left still thinks of itself as those young hippies in San Francisco, or the courageous college boys marching in Birmingham--as the old often dream that it is still young. (Ever notice how many stories NPR does about the civil rights era? Its as if nothing else ever happened in US history.) As the Establishment, the Left has become sclerotic and increasingly intolerant of dissent. The Right has the advantage of having to justify its positions far more often than the Left.