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Web Letter

There is something really disconcerting about the rhetoric being unleashed on the public by the Palin/McCain ticket.

I remember old drunken Joe McCarthy. I remember the crazy talk of law and order that led to National Guard kids shooting a bunch of college kids at Ohio State and Kent State, I remember the crazy stuff before Bobby Kennedy was shot, I remember the angry underground unhinged garbage about John Kennedy. I remember all the crazy crap said about Martin Luther King Jr. It isn't enough to say we can't control all that the crowds say at our rallies. I remember the hero-worship by the rabid pro-life crew of the man that shot and killed the abortion doctor. The worst thing we have in this country right now is allowing for plausible deniability. Not all of the unhinged crazy bigots are in jail or committed.


Caribou, ME

Oct 22 2008 - 12:42pm

Web Letter

"Sure, politics ain't beanbag, but the cost of tolerating this kind of thugishness in today's environment is too high to ignore. Verbal violence has already begun to infect conservative discourse as Obama cruises to victory, and its physical manifestation may not be far behind," writes Alterman. I take issue with the term "verbal violence"; words are not violent. Not even a little. Words are only violent in a metaphorical way (you know, the sticks-and-stones thingy). As a liberal, I am increasingly annoyed by the growing censorship among "free speech" portals on the Internet, in magazines etc.

As Noam Chomsky states: "If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like." Opening dialogue between opposing parties needs to be encouraged, and that will inevitably include a lot of mean, even threatening words. The Republicans and Democrats have debated themselves into opposite corners of the media arena, where they primarily play amongst themselves. When will they ever have a chance to confront each other's views (vulgarity and all), person to person, and then learn from it? This open environment of free speech may include a "physical manifestation" of violence but that's life. Life can't always be safe.

For example: I think that I should be able to leave a comment on Feministe's website calling a new controversial Pepsi ad "sexy, avant-garde pop art." Other user comments all agreed with the original post's thesis, saying the Pepsi ad promotes "rape culture" (the ubiquitous feminist hallucination). I know that others will disagree, and find this image offensive. But why must dissenting voices (even loud obnoxious ones) be shut out? I strongly believe in absolute free speech, and if I want to say these things, I must give others the same right.

The French Revolution had a hugely progressive impact on the world. The price was many people's heads. Jean-Paul Marat perfectly illustrates the possible cost of truly revolutionary writing: he was stabbed to death in his bathtub (fun fact: it was full of feces) by the Girondin sympathizer Charlotte Corday.

Palin's terrorist comments on Barack, Andy Martin's unfiltered mind, and Mary O'Grady's "footsie diss" all fall under, what I consider, free speech. You, my good sir, should also be allowed to "go at it" with your painstaking analysis of politics and history, looking for injustice and taking fun jabs where you want. I'm sure others find you to be a verbally violent "scorpion," but that shouldn't stop you from speaking out. It may be bad taste to some, but should we really keep pundits, writers and VP's from their verbally "thuggish tendencies"? I think not.

Christina Stroz

Brooklyn, NY

Oct 19 2008 - 1:00am