Yesterday I started writing a long, complicated post about the double whammy that Tony Messenger, outgoing Editorial Page Editor and George Freeman, former Editorial Page Editor of the Springfield News-Leader wrote regarding "dignity," "respect" and Vincent David Jericho but I had a discussion with a friend of mine last night and I rethought my approach.
On the one hand we had a subtle suggestion that there is too much political squabbling going on in Springfield these days, implying that Springfield is beginning to sound a bit undignified, a bit too much like Jefferson City and Washington D.C. these days. I read that column first.
In it, a person might get the impression that dignity is exampled by a person who allows a newspaper editorial writer to sit at your table, go back to the paper and criticize your guest of honor but invites the newspaper editorial writer back so he can have the option of insulting your guest of honor again. According to Messenger, that's the way adults act. That's gracious. And to be dignified, well, the epitome of dignity, according to Messenger is retired Greene County Circuit Court judge J. Miles Sweeney, in fact, Messenger wrote, Springfield IS retired Greene County Circuit Court judge J. Miles Sweeney and this quote from Sweeney is evidence of that:
"Treat people with respect, even if they're not respectable people."
So, how do you treat people with respect? I guess it's as simple as shaking someone's offered hand even if one doesn't have respect for the person offering the hand.
In Tony Messenger's world dignity is a very simple matter, respect is due all. Sitting in prison because you beat your wife and hurt your young son? No problem, have a "Voice of the Day" column on Tony Messenger! Accused of hassling a young student in a university social program? Sit at Messenger's table and prepare to be defended by a 2,000 word editorial column. Don't worry, we respect all --- but, but...
If you are a Republican in Jefferson City working to give urban blacks an opportunity at school choice by offering tax credits to contributors of a scholarship fund but refuse to go along with Messenger's erroneous definition of tax credits and call them vouchers you are a LIAR, you walk like a duck, quack like a duck and you lie (?) like a duck (apparently Tony doesn't care much for ducks). When pressed that the tax credits WERE tax credits and not vouchers, it didn't matter what you called them to Tony Messenger and he never apologized for trying to bully Republicans into identifying them as such. He never apologized for his sad and dishonest analysis of the bill.
We agree and disagree with people at the table and we "do it as grown-ups," around here! None of our fine citizens fall short or "ride the short bus" around here!
Dignity, that's what we need. Today, there are simply too many "political squabbles" in Springfield, Missouri, the traditionally dignified city.
"Treat people with respect, even if they're not respectable people." - J. Miles Sweeney.
Then, as is my habit, I clicked on the online "opinion" page of the Springfield News-Leader and read the column written by George Freeman. Freeman wasn't so subtle as Messenger but that's okay. Freeman deserves a spot at the table, deserves respect and we should all act like "grown ups," here in the dignified city of Springfield. Wife beaters and former Editorial Page Editors, all are welcome, all have a place at the table.
As Freeman invited Springfieldians to work their wiles to try to cause radio talk show host Vincent David Jericho to lose his job, and his advertisers, it became apparent that he disagrees with Tony Messenger. That Freeman doesn't think everyone with whom we disagree should be respected and be given a place at the table of Springfield, Missouri.
Well, that's what dignified bullies (or editorial page editors) do, I guess. Decide for the rest of us what we should do, educate us. Offer us addresses to criticize a man out of a job while failing to offer us the full address of a wife beater criticizing the Sheriff.
There is a seat at the table for everyone? Really?
"Treat people with respect, even if they're not respectable people." Really?
Messenger's "ducking" out of town now and waddling back to Jefferson City's table. I hope there's plenty of room for him there. I hope they act like "grown-ups" there. I hope the ducks ain't too mad for being compared to Republicans.
Respect the ducks!