If you miss the Back of the Book segments Wednesday’s on The O’Reilly Factor (approximately 7:50 pm), you miss a pretty good segment. Last night’s segment (thanks for the DVRing, AP) is no different, as Mary Katharine Ham explained the difference between the Huffington Post and the Nazis to Bill O’Reilly. She expanded upon that today, which leads me to throw in my own two cents’ worth.
Political discussion has never been “civilized” in the main. With the “common folk” able to put their ruminations out there almost-completely unfettered for the whole world to see, with nothing more than access to a library, I doubt it is as “civilized” as it was in the recent past. Heck, I’m as guilty of the cheap shot as the next person. However, there are some lines I try not to cross, like kicking a public figure when he or she is down for health reasons and joining the “death-wish” crowd. That sense of self-control is something lacking, relatively speaking, on the other side of the aisle. I’ll admit there are those on my side of the aisle that harbor similar lack of graciousness, but the term “lack of graciousness” describes that perfectly.
I tend to fall into Charlie Sykes’ camp that the best way to combat “bad” speech is with more speech, not just from the other denziens of a particular website but from the powers-that-be. It generally is illuminating to see who falls into the “death-wish” crowd, and who repudiates it. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with that aspect here, but depending on how ugly it gets, I can see the proprietors getting involved by removing the “death-wish” crowd.
Like MKH, I don’t see a role for government to get involved, at least without a credible, specific threat. That involvement is the true analog of Nazism, or more-properly, the parent governmental philosophy of totalitarianism. Indeed, it is one of the main reasons of the “free speech” portion of the First Amendment and the various state analogs.