Posted by: Paul | 06/15/2009

Tilting the Playing Field

We don’t want there to be any misunderstandings. So let’s go over the ground rules governing political debate one more time.

When the Left criticizes a standing president, it’s free speech … spirited debate … honorable dissent. When the Right does the same, it’s over-the-top hate … shameful bigotry … the ranting of irresponsible nutjobs.

I’m not denying that we conservatives have some screwball fellow travelers trying to make common cause with us. But the Left has troublemakers, too. So why do liberal pundits such as the New York Times’ Frank Rich seem to have trouble acknowledging that?

Take two typically contentious issues: abortion and the environment. Many (not all) liberals appear eager to link me and millions of other peaceful pro-life Americans with the deranged man who shot and killed George Tiller. (Both deserve our prayers, I might add.) Never mind that responsible pro-life groups immediately and vociferously denounced this blatant display of murderous hypocrisy.

But few of these liberals assail the extreme tactics of, say, the Earth Liberation Front. Some, if asked directly, will deplore ELF’s behavior, but they usually just ignore the group. How would they like it if media pundits on every channel were saying, “Typical tree huggers! You have to watch those environmentalists. You never know when they’ll snap. They could erupt and turn violent at any moment. After all, listen to the hot-headed rhetoric of Al Gore and other enviro-wackos. It’s feeding their rage.”

Sure, there are conservatives who mock the enviro-left. But they don’t try to say that we can expect extremist tactics from others in the movement. Yet that’s exactly what liberals will do when it comes to their pet topics.

Yes, there are responsible voices and nut jobs on both sides. But c’mon — liberals are the ones most likely to get a free pass in the media. Can you imagine how Frank Rich would have reacted if, in the wake of one of his many columns criticizing President George W. Bush, the media raised alarms about the dangers of any Angry Left? Yet there was plenty of anger, and yes, downright rage, on the left during the Bush years. Indeed, it even formed the basis of a dead-on parody from the Onion (one of the few places brave enough to criticize both sides equally).

Remember how the Left would react when anyone took them to task for criticizing President Bush (who, I might add, deserved some criticism)? “How dare you question my patriotism, you right-wing zealots!” they’d sputter. Fine. But now, when many of those same people hear the slightest criticism of President Obama, they start talking about gun sales and “rage” and how we all can be expected to go postal at any minute. Many of the same people who turned purple-faced with rage at President Bush tell us it’s time for “unity.”

Let’s face it, folks: This is a clear-cut attempt at censorship, no matter how high-sounding the rhetoric is. I hate to break it to them, but the First Amendment applies to EVERYBODY. (To be fair, some of the Right need to be reminded of that, too. Human nature being what it is, nearly everyone has to fight some urge to play dirty.)

Politics may be a full-contact sport. But does the Left have to tilt the field so sharply to win?

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Responses

  1. Nicely put, Paul. I often wonder: Are such folks on the Left blind to their own double standard or purposefully dishonest?


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