Monday, March 17, 2008

Tony Messenger Ducks Out of Town

Takes *dignity* with him

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!



Jason said...

It's amazing the people who will refuse to give a place at the table to others. Whether it's as you wrote or not giving them a chance to speak their side in the same forum you use to slander them.

Control the access to debate & facts and you can pretend that you're winning every discussion.

FWIW, I agree with what Sweeney said because how you treat others reflects on the kind of person you really are inside.

Jacke M. said...

I have nothing against Sweeney. I think Messenger's idea of what constitutes dignity is oversimplified and a bit self-serving but that's okay.

More discussion, not less, is what is needed in order for people to be truly educated or fully understand any given issue. The thing is, people communicate in a variety of ways. What constitutes "dignified behavior" and doesn't constitute "dignified behavior" in the political debate realm is sort of a matter of opinion. I think Messenger and Freeman's opinions are oversimplified on the one hand (Messenger) and very selective on the other (Freeman).

I like dignity, it's, well, *dignified,* but if you look the definition up in the dictionary the definition is really rather elusive, leaving a lot of room for debate about what is dignified and what is not.

Momma Twoop said...

I certainly didn't find Freeman's article to be dignified. Far from it. He seemed to work overly hard to find derrogatory labels with which to slap on those whose opinions he disliked, and furthered the indignity by asking everyone to help him, in essence, get Jericho fired. What dignity! What respect!! With respectful, dignified people like that, who needs enemies?

You're right, Jackie, dignity means different things to different people. It's very subjective.

Anonymous said...

The News Leader blew it with Freeman's piece...

SNL usually does a better job of hiding its bias... This time, however, they gave us the full moon of their hatred and disrespect for other views...

What a disgusting, despicable column from a joke of a publication.

Busplunge said...

Freeman's wanting us to stop patronizing Jericho's advertisers assumes that we listen to Jericho and know who his advertisers are.

That is an old Springfield trick that used to work on school board members, if you didn't like a decision they planned to make, threaten to take your business elsewhere.

tom said...


Great piece of writing and straight to the point. I wonder who is more despicable the individual who offers a hand after many columns called into questionable writing or the person who never lent his hand to be shook.

I hate to say it but respect is something that is not given it is earned and even I know I haven't earned the respect of many, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it since I look at the positives not the negatives. Even in sales you hear the word NO 3 times as much as you hear the word YES, but if you only count the yeses while learning from the no's you succeed much more often.

Tony believes he is right while Vince believes he is right, however after listening to the immigration debate one has to wonder if Tony was even prepared for such an event or did he hope to win over the crowd with appeasement ??

It is really quite simple if you come into this country without following the rules of such you have broken the law. Protecting our nations borders is the job of the federal government as per Art IV sec IV of the Constitution.

If the lady that was along side Tony M that evening didn't follow the proper procedures to be here then YES she is a criminal and Vince was correct.

I grow weary of people trying to find a middle ground on this debate, you either are or you aren't a legal immigrant. Just because a state sees fit to give you some government entitlements such as schooling, food stamps, medical cards does not make you a legal participant of our republic.

Tony should understand this portion of our countries history.