Bob Caldwell, editorial page editor of The Oregonian, in a column about civility in public discourse. (article not on-line right now, print version Jan. 11, 2009, page B1)
Also last week, some readers greeted the launch of Elizabeth Hovde’s local conservative column as the occasion to make their comments personal, and, in a few cases, downright vile.
And here’s the first sentence from Hovde’s debut column last week:
I’m not David Reinhard, but I’ll take his hate mail.
Hard to imagine a few kooks took her up on it. Dirty hippies!
It’s a strange newspaper world when shoving right-wing columnists down people’s throats is a civic duty. I’m not tempted to cancel my subscription over the hiring of Hovde, as a newspaper can print whatever it wants pretty much, but I am tempted to cancel my subscription because Caldwell insists on defining his new columnists as “center-right,” which is essentially a Republican canard. (You’ll recall the desperate attempts after the election by Republicans to reassure themselves that the country is still conservative, despite the most solid evidence of all, the election itself.)
By defining his new “center-right” columnists as being in opposition to the O’s editorial board, he magically transforms a traditionally Republican-leaning newspaper into a liberal one. Voilà! (Yes, they endorsed Obama. So what? The choice was between insane and not insane, the insanity being another four years of Republican rule rather than John McCain himself, the choice of running mate notwithstanding.)
Hey, here’s an idea. Newspapers, seeing as they are all going out of business and stuff, could judge their opinion columnists by the intellectual strength of the ideas they write about rather than making sure enough of them piss off the DFH. It may be fun to make the libruls mad but it’s kind of a zero sum game, and there was enough of that mindlessness in the last eight years to last a lifetime.
Thus when columnists are inclined to parrot RNC and stink tank talking points, this would count against them! Those with their own knowledge of history, government and politics and original ideas might thrive!
For example, if a conservative could actually make a convincing argument why unions have no inherent right to exist, based on history and the law, I might listen. Here’s a hint: personal resentments and “free-market” folderol are not convincing arguments.
I know, I know. I’m being uncivil by bringing any of this up.