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Mean political speech: Why?

Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at 11:33 AM

Just two simple questions: Do you think political speech has to be hateful and insulting (i.e. verbally destroying your opponent vs. simply disagreeing) to get a message across? And, if so, why? I've always thought that strength and power is indicated by staying above the fray. Seems to me that someone truly confident about their side can express it without tearing apart foes in the process.

And, for the record, I don't think the tragic Arizona shooting had anything to do with conservative (or liberal) political talk or that any sane person's going to actually be influenced to kill by such.


Comments
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Jon Stewart had a touching response to this topic. Colbert a joking one, but right on the money.

Obama's speech (or a eulogy, technically?) was also a touching reminder of the realities of our actions. A somber moment for everyone in the human race, bar partisan politics (except Palin, who stands in a class by herself - no class, that is. Her trite and saccharine robot-response was characteristically soulless, full of ingratiating teleprompter, and infuriatingly apropos for her).

-- Posted by Jazzy on Sat, Jan 15, 2011, at 1:21 AM

Steve, I believe you're correct. I don't remember anything about his campaign that was negative, although I could be mistaken. As a matter of fact, I don't remember a negative ad from Basil Marceaux either.

-- Posted by Thom on Wed, Jan 12, 2011, at 8:54 PM

I believe we have a good example of someone who ran a positive campaign (at least I never saw a negative ad) about to become our next governor.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Jan 12, 2011, at 6:46 PM

David, you are part of the reason of why political speech is so hateful and negative...the news media.

Scandalous headlines sell newspapers and airtime, so reporters nearly always look for the most outrageous angle when reporting a story.

If it bleeds, it leads.

-- Posted by quietmike on Wed, Jan 12, 2011, at 1:59 PM

David - No, political speech doesn't have to be "mean". Heck, it doesn't even have to be negative. Personally, I would love to see a campaign in which two contestants simply ran on their records, without saying a word about their opponent, and told the voters what they intend to do while in office (and then stick to it, of course). Unfortunately that's not the way of American politics, and hasn't been for quite some time...if ever.

-- Posted by Thom on Wed, Jan 12, 2011, at 1:56 PM

Actually, the comparison in my last sentence probably isn't valid as there is no evidence that political speech influenced the Tuscon shooter.

-- Posted by cortnerkin on Wed, Jan 12, 2011, at 1:25 PM

To answer your question, no political speech does not have to be insulting. Frankly, I don't mind when it is as it shows the true colors of the source. When politicians insult or belittle their oponents, they don't tend to last very long. Political speech or symblols do not need to be limited. The loons should be allowed to make themselves apparent. The calls to "tone down the rhetoric" are ridiculous. Nobody really feels like political debate right now in the wake of tragedy and common decency would tell people to pause for healing. Political disagreements most assuredly need to continue in the future and need to be aired. Limiting political speech in the wake of the Tuscon tragedy is as silly as trying to ban the Beatles's White Album after the Manson family murders.

-- Posted by cortnerkin on Wed, Jan 12, 2011, at 12:56 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.