'Civil' Discourse: A One-Way Street?

And where’s the outrage about the many recent wishes for Palin’s death -- natural or otherwise -- on Twitter?

Naturally, we are once again hearing calls for the restoration of the Fairness Doctrine. Don’t forget, however, that both Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan had attempts on their lives under the Fairness Doctrine -- not to mention the murders of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Who was to blame then? No one, of course, except the ones with the twisted agendas who pulled the trigger.

I may not like what the likes of Keith Olbermann or Chris Matthews have to say, but I would never suggest that they be prevented by legislation from shooting off their mouths. The answer to unsavory free speech is, naturally, more free speech. In fact, the father of the youngest victim in Tucson says that what happened to his child and the others on that day is the price of a free society. Do we really want to rush to the alternative?

Of course, a visitor from another planet might wonder, “Why Sarah Palin? Why is she getting blamed for all of this?” A caller to Al Sharpton’s talk radio show offered this keen insight:

Everybody do have to take some blame if somebody is going to take some blame, but Sarah Palin, no way! I think the reason why Sarah Palin taking all the blame is because they scared of her. There’s a possibility she could be president. Why, she’s public enemy number one to the left. Now for her to get all this attention, she must be top dog.

On January 25, President Obama will deliver the annual State of the Union address. I’m sure he'll touch upon all of the usual topics -- the economy, national security, and so on. Normally, these addresses are a bit stale and boring. But consider that in his first such address, Obama took a cheap shot against the Supreme Court by scolding the justices for their decision on campaign finance, causing some Democrats in attendance to stand up and applaud. As a captive audience in front of Obama’s bully pulpit, there was little the justices could do but sit there and take it (although Justice Alito was seen to mouth “not true” in response to Obama’s charge that the decision would allow foreign interests to influence our elections).

If Obama is willing to turn what is supposed to be a fairly non-partisan address into a partisan attack when the Supreme Court makes a decision he doesn’t like, I wonder what will he do in the wake of the Tucson memorial service (dubbed by critics a pep rally), where he said this:

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized -- at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do -- it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.