Friday, February 24, 2006

Freedom of Speech Liberal Style (Revised and Revisited AGAIN)

Yesterday I wrote a post titled "Freedom of Speech Liberal Style," which, if you read my blog, you now know I deleted. It was a rather lengthy post and while I deleted it because I didn't want to get as personal with particular people as I did in it, I do feel it is a subject which warrants a little attention. Also, this is something I have noticed in practice by both liberals and conservatives but with more frequency among liberals. I would first refer you to an opinion editorial at The Washington Times, An antiwar message from the Midwest, here are some excerpts:

"A conservative group recently started an advertising campaign in Minnesota showing veterans and families of slain troops expressing their support for the Iraq war, only to have the head of the state Democratic Party condemn the ads as "un-American, untruthful and a lie." He furthermore demands that Minnesota television stations pull the ads "and send a message that we will not tolerate this kind of 'swiftboating' anymore." At least one station so far has complied with the request, which is reason enough for outrage.

But there's been precious little of that. Aside from a handful of bloggers covering the issue and an appearance of one of the veterans on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes," the media has ignored the issue completely, essentially proving one of the ad campaign's main points. The current media meme, at least as it concerns the homefront, is that most returning veterans have turned against the war and those still in field are demoralized and jaded. Meanwhile, parents of slain troops like Cindy Sheehan continue to rack up air time and column inches. The ad campaign seeks to correct this blatant misrepresentation.

Which is exactly why Democrats are trying to stop it with accusations that the ads are somehow "untruthful...."

"...Democrats have also taken issue with the ad's statement that U.S. troops "overwhelmingly" support the mission -- a fact clearly upheld by record-setting retention rates in the military branches. The retention rate in the Army, for instance, is the highest it's been in five years, especially in combat units currently serving in Iraq....

"...The more disturbing issue here is that Democrats are trying to silence a contrary point of view, and are doing so by calling soldiers and military families "un-American." Whenever Republicans attempt to counter antiwar sentiment, be it from the Cindy Sheehans or Paul Hacketts, Democrats shed crocodile tears over the "crushing of dissent." But this is what crushing dissenters actually looks like -- a smear campaign designed explicitly to keep the public from hearing the other side.

Fortunately, readers can see the ads for themselves at and decide what's so "un-American" about soldiers and families supporting the war. " (emphasis mine)

This is where things get convoluted and twisted in my mind. I cannot tell you how many times in discussion with liberals that if anything "bad" was said about Cindy Sheehan, and by the term "bad" I mean factually contrary to her message or exposing her bias against the war before her son Casey was even killed, was viewed as a Conservative trying to silence Cindy Sheehan's message. Since when did commenting on an issue, a public figure's background, mean you are silencing them? Cindy has had well over her fifteen minutes of fame and the liberally biased media has given only the basest coverage to parents of the war dead who support the war, though they are in the clear majority. One would never know they are in the clear majority if one goes by what the media reports.

More evidence of this effort to silence those who merely wanted to take a look at the source of this "dissent" on Cindy Sheehan's part was the recent David Letterman and Bill O'Reilly exchange wherein David Letterman implied that Bill O'Reilly had no heart because he questioned Cindy Sheehan's motives and statements, though Bill O'Reilly has repeatedly stated his sympathy for her loss and her right to her views, but you see, if one, anyone, counters those views with a little scrutiny they are made to seem as though they are trying to squelch Cindy Sheehan's freedom of speech and personally attacking a grieving mother, the fact of the matter is, by telling people that they are cold heartless fiends if they question a public figure, which Sheehan has made herself, that they are trying to squelch her free speech rights, in essence, is an effort to squelch the free speech rights of the questioners.

Here are excerpts of the David Letterman, Bill O'Reilly exchange:

Bill O'Reilly and David Letterman Clash Over the War

""The United States, particularly the military, is doing a noble thing - the soldiers and Marines are noble," the Fox host insisted. "They're not terrorists. And when people call them that, like Cindy Sheehan called the insurgents 'freedom fighters,' we don't like that. It is a vitally important time in American history and we should be very careful of what we say."

The comment prompted Letterman to admonish O'Reilly, "Then you should be very careful about what you say, also . . . I'm very concerned about people like yourself who don't have endless sympathy for a woman like Cindy Sheehan. Honest to Christ, honest to Christ." (emphasis mine)

"Bill O'Reilly (commentator) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"When O'Reilly attacked the motivations of Cindy Sheehan, Letterman took exception, saying O'Reilly had never lost a family member in a war, and therefore O'Reilly could not speak for Sheehan's motivations. O'Reilly then asked how would those who did lose a member in the war, feel about Sheehan calling terrorists "freedom fighters"." (emphasis mine)

So, evidently, to a liberal, unless you have actually experienced something you have no right to scrutinize anything, anything at all. If you go along with this train of thought this should translate into, unless you've been a President you can't say anything about the motivations of the President, unless you've been a soldier you can't say anything about their motivations, unless you've acted in or written the screen play of a particular movie you shouldn't review it, etc. Is that how it works? No. This is purely an effort to silence those who disagree with Cindy Sheehan and smear them.

Okay. When you are debating or having a discussion with someone on the internet, in a debate group or a comment section of a blog and they:

  • Tell you you cannot speak to a particular subject because you have no experience
  • Change the subject
  • Attack the style in which you write rather than the content and context of what you are writing about
  • Laugh at you
  • Call you names
  • Suggest you have no independent thoughts but are merely a blind follower, a kool-aid drinker, in other words, question your intelligence

Chances are you have struck a nerve and the person engaging in such rhetorical tactics is telling you to shut up. Should you? In most cases, I don't believe you should, however, in the case of commenting at another person's blog, I believe it is similar to visiting someone else's home and the etiquette which would apply to one being a guest in another's home should apply.

So, considering that you are a visitor or guest in another's home, if your host:

  • Tells you that you cannot speak to a particular topic because you have no experience
  • When you begin to discuss your views on any given topic consistently changes the topic
  • Attacks the way you articulate yourself when speaking, corrects the choice of words or tone of your voice incessantly
  • Laughs at you rather than with you
  • Calls you names
  • Tells you that you are not smart enough to form your own opinions and that it is clear that you are only parroting what others say

I wonder if you would feel welcome to return as a guest to that person's home? Even if that person sent you invitations in the mail, called you with invitations and repeatedly told you that you have an important viewpoint to bring to the discussion in his or her home would you feel welcome based on the actions of that host when you were actually in his or her home in the past?

I wouldn't. So, in those type of cases I would prefer not to continue to try to share my viewpoint at someone else's blog who consistently and repetitively has engaged in any combination of those actions.

Fair enough?


Brandon said...


If you really want to continue this little escapade, you're welcome to do so. I will not.

I only ask that if you are going to make judgements about what I was trying to accomplish in a personal email, you at least grant me (and your readers) the opportunity to read my email to you in full (reprint that email here).

This way anyone who reads this at least has some basis by which to either agree or disagree with your assessment of my private email to you.


Jacke M. said...

Brandon, I wouldn't post a private email here without your express permission, I did not have that at the time I posted my entry.

I can't believe that you are attempting to deny that you were giving me the reasons why you felt you were qualified to critique my writing style, even after I had requested you to stop at Zalm's blog. You are welcome to post whatever you want at your own blog. If you want to post your private it there or even here, in this comment section, if you so choose.

All I have ever asked from you is the same thing you have asked of me, the freedom to express myself however I choose. Obviously, you do not worry about offending particular persons at your blog in your efforts to make your points and yet you feel it is inappropriate for me to speak freely without receiving your point by point, unsolicited critiques on my style of communication.

I stand behind every word I have written at your blog AND at mine. I am sorry that you cannot see clear to honor me with the same respect to converse in freedom which you grant to yourself. I will not be restricted by what, in your personal opinion, YOU decide is offensive.

You continue to have my respect, just as always.

Brandon said...

If you're going to refuse to post that email in your post, I ask that you remove reference to it in your post.


Jacke M. said...

Brandon, it is not enough, apparently, that you would like to control how I communicate at your blog, now you would like to control how I communicate at my own blog, as well.

I have pointed out that you are welcome to post your private email here in this comment section but that is not enough for you, if you do not have a copy of your email I would even be willing to forward it back to you.

I'll have to tell you that it goes against my grain to have you ask of me to either post your private email in the body of my completed blog entry or remove reference to it. When have I ever tried to control what you have said in the past or asked you to make changes at your blog on my account? This seems very childish to me, and all this over an approximate 20 word partial sentence in a blog entry, You have the ability to post it yourself and make your case however you care to, Brandon, no one, certainly not I, is keeping you from posting it yourself!

You seem to now be suggesting that I should, I suppose out of respect for you, do your bidding. This while you have repeatedly lambasted my communication style on your own blog, and Zalm's, even after being notified that I do not welcome your critique and questioned about whether you would like me to do the same. You have implied that somehow I have restricted your comfort level of being able to say whatever you want without worrying about pleasing others. Me! The one who once defended your right to offend other visitors with foul language on your own blog to a brother of my own political persuasion and whose views on the subject I actually supported! The gall, Brandon, the gall!

You have full control over what you would like to communicate in this comment section. You may post your private e-mail here. I will NOT allow you interfere in what I choose to say in my blog entries. Make your case here or at your own blog. You do not control mine. Part of this issue to me is that it still remains a private email and I would be much more comfortable if you were the one to post it rather than I. You see, you can still claim that I posted your private email, even with your permission, that is a claim I do not want you to use against me out of context. It is also a matter of principal and a matter of lack of respect for me on your part, by coming here and continuing to make an effort concerning how and what I communicate you are only further proving my point.

This is truly becoming a very unfortunate exchange. I am sorry that you couldn't respect my right to communicate in whatever style I care(d) to in the first place, it never would have had to descend to this sort of disagreement. I am sorry that I have upset you, but like I said, it's a matter of principal. I just can't allow you the luxury of exerting control over what I say and dictate to me where I should say it, Brandon, I just can't do it.



Brandon said...

I'm not suggesting that you do anything out of respect for me, long ago you've displayed that you have no such respect.

I'm suggesting that, because it's not publicly available (like our interchanges on my blog and Zalm's blog) you post that email that you referred to out of respect for the people that read this blog.

They should be given the opportunity to make up their own minds about what you're talking about. And, yes, I'd be thrilled if you posted the exact words I wrote to you in that email.

Honestly, I don't see the problem, here. If I'm the awful person you're portraying me as, the email should go to further prove your point.

Of course, if, as I contend, that email was simply an opportunity to extend a hand of understanding to you, then your readers can come to that conclusion.

If you don't want to do that. Fine. I simply ask that you remove your reference to that email in your post. That solves the problem.

What's not fair is you reporting one thing about what I wrote, when I would argue that you're misrepresenting my position.

My argument is this. Neither of us is going to change our minds about what we think of one another. You don't like me and I don't like you. But, it's another thing entirely to now be publicly writing about how awful of a person I am--trying to influence others that I am, in fact, Satan. And, it's especially another thing to be writing about a private communication I had with you (which I never gave you permission to mention) and then talking about the private communication publicly, AND THEN not offering your readers the fair opportunity to judge for themselves.

Do you really think so little of them?

Either post the email, or not. I don't care. Change your post or not. I don't care. But if you want to talk about matters of principle, show your readers at least a modicum of respect.

Jacke M. said...

Brandon, here's the deal.

I agree with you that it might not have been the best thing to mention your private email but I cannot change the fact that I have done so. What is done is done, my removing the reference to it doesn't change that others have already read it, I can't go back now. What I can refrain from doing is posting your private email, not because I have no respect for my readers but because I do not feel it is my place to do so. If you feel I have misrepresented what you said in that private email then it is your place to show my readers and I that what I said is incorrect, The private email was your words, not mine, therefore I give you that option to set the record straight by posting it. If you choose not to do that it is your business but I stand behind what I said and the reply I made in turn to you.

You are wrong that I don't like you, Brandon, I do and I have repeatedly said so, that is why this grieves me.

The ball is in your court to either post your private email or not, as I said, I agree it was a poor decision to refer to it in my blog entry, I also feel it would be an equally poor decision to post it when I have repeatedly offered you the option of doing so yourself. If, as you say I misrepresented you, you also have the ability to show that to my readers and it is more your place than mine to do so.

This is one of the reasons I like you, Brandon, and one of the reasons why I think we clash, you are just as stubborn as I am. It doesn't have to be this way and it is not my intention to turn anyone against you or make you look bad, you have always had the option of answering me and responding to what I write, you still have that option.

Momma Twoop said...

Momma Twoop, coming out of semi, self-imposed retirement to say:

Brandon, kwit yer winin' an' post yer own e-male hyar if'n yew thank it'll add ta tha diskushin. Jeez looweez, kwit waytin' fer sumwun elst ta dew sumthin' yew thank' needs dun an' winin' win thay ain't 'a jumpin' threw tha hoops yer'a holdin' in tha air fer 'em.

Jacke M. said...

NOW you have heard from one of the people that I trust implicitly to critique my words with no ulterior motive, Brandon.

Smoochies tew Twoopsie! ;)

Momma Twoop said...

Hugs bak ta yew, Jacke.

The way I see this whole situation is this: You've complained (rightfully so, IMO) that Brandon has attempted to control what you say and how you say it. Evidence of that is easily found in the public exchanges between the two of you. You made one reference to his private e-mail, terming it as a further critiquing of your writing style. Brandon then charges that is untrue and demands that you post his e-mail "out of respect" for your readers (yet another attempt to control what you say and how you say it, BTW). He has made the charge. He can easily prove it. Instead, he chooses to walk all around the issue instead of taking the bull by the horns and proving, for all to see, that you've "misrepresented" him. He prefers to charge that you "don't like him" (waaaaaaa!), that you have no respect for your readers, that you have no respect for him, that you think he's an "awful person," blah, blah, blah, and so on and so on.

Well, slap my butt and call me Sally, but if that ain't a HISSY FIT, I don't know what is! I say that IF he doesn't post his private e-mail to you, thereby proving that you intentionally misrepresented it, it is because he KNOWS his e-mail will bear out your representation of it.

Any respect I have for this person is held simply because you, a trusted friend, have respect for him. I've been on the receiving end of your private e-mails discussing the grief you've felt at this tiff between the two of you. Apparently Brandon believes it's acceptable to PRETEND to respect someone while secretly not liking them, but I know that is not the case with your feelings towards him. So, with a heavy heart and a mind for your feelings, I would say that unless this person is willing to provide teeth to his accusation that you misrepresented him, by posting his own e-mail, but he, instead, chooses to continue accusing you of various things, such as disrespecting your readers, any respect for him has been misplaced and ill-deserved.