Thursday, December 30, 2004

2004: The year of "hate speech"

The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby looks back at a year of "hate speech" emanating from the left. Though he gives a nod to a few lame examples of conservatives racheting up the rhetoric, his focus is almost entirely on the langauge of the lefties.

It has increasingly become a habit of leftist argumentation to simply dismiss conservative ideas as evil or noxious rather than rebut them with facts and evidence.

That is why there was no uproar when Cameron Diaz declared that rape might be legalized if women didn't turn out to vote for John Kerry. Or when Walter Cronkite told Larry King that the videotape of Osama bin Laden that surfaced just before the election was "probably set up" by Karl Rove. Or when Alfred A. Knopf published Nicholson Baker's "Checkpoint," a novel in which two Bush-haters talk about assassinating the president. "I'm going to kill that bastard," one character rages.

Bill Moyers warned a television audience on Election Day that if Kerry won narrowly, "I think there'd be an effort to mount a coup, quite frankly. . . . The right wing is not going to accept it." Chevy Chase, hosting a People for the American Way awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, slammed Bush as "an uneducated, real, lying schmuck." A cartoon by the widely syndicated Ted Rall described Pat Tillman, who gave up his NFL career to enlist in the Army and was then killed in Afghanistan, as a "sap" and an "idiot."

So many examples, so little space.

Indeed. Had he taken the necessary column inches to provide even half of this year's choicest examples, it would likely fill a Sunday edition and then some.

There is room in the marketplace of ideas for passionate, even angry, rhetoric, but there are also lines that, as a matter of decency and civic hygiene, should not be crossed. The violent invective so often hurled at conservatives pollutes the democratic stream from which all of us drink. Democrats no less than Republicans should want to shut those polluters down.

(Sigh.) Another year, another call for civility. Almost makes me . . . (snf) . . . nostalgic. I doubt anyone's listening, though.


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