The editorial on nasty political rhetoric (TNT, 1-14) condemned “political hyperbole, sarcasm, name-calling and mud-slinging” without acknowledging one overriding fact: It’s constitutionally protected free speech.
While name-calling is rude, it’s a civil right; free speech isn’t limited to restrained speech. Of course, calling out a name-caller is also a civil right, since the free-speech sword cuts both ways. Knock yourself out.
As the culture has become more coarse, so has communication in it become harder, sharper and more shrill. But you can’t dismissively attribute this to “the Internet, shout radio, attack television and other rage amplifiers.” Been to a slasher movie lately or heard what passes for popular entertainment, much of which is advertised in The News Tribune? Welcome to “you reap what you sow.”
The ultimate contempt for American democracy isn’t the content of speech, offensive and hateful though it may be, but the censorship of it. The News Tribune zealously defends protections afforded it under the First Amendment, but gets a little slippery-slope-ish when it comes to protections afforded others.
If you’re going to tell some to mind their rhetorical manners, please tell others to keep their hands, and their speech codes, off.