{Empty title} | The Nation

"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.