Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Matthews resorts to sticks and stones

Political discourse took the form of a new low yesterday when talk show host Chris Matthews called former Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin "profoundly stupid" on-air.

Here's the clip (check out about 8:15 in for the main part we're talking about).

We think that calling someone "profoundly stupid" is not an appropriate choice of words by a journalist. It is "profoundly" unprofessional and disrespectful. It is an action that exposes personal beliefs and biases.

And, it's downright immature.

There's really no practical difference between calling someone "stupid" and calling them "ugly" or "fat" or "smelly" -- and hopefully we can all agree that calling anyone any of those names would be a serious no-no.

This sort of commentary by anyone, much less a member of the media, brings down the level of presidential political dialogue. Our country stands at a moment when we need political leaders to inspire us and to offer real solutions to problems. Political debate that is robust, substantive and principled is an important part of the process. Calling people "stupid" as a way to score points belittles things.

You don't have to be a Sarah Palin fan, or even a Republican, to cry foul about this. Today it's Sarah Palin. But, if they can do it to her, they can do it to anyone, right, left or center. Tomorrow it will be someone else. Pretty soon, it will be everyone - and isn't that the sort of political "silliness" that is so often bemoaned in the first place?

The best way to respond to these attacks is to not buy into them. Recently, Newt Gingrich found himself under attack from an activist who threw glitter at him and from an activist who criticized him for undercutting fellow Republican Paul Ryan. We're sure Gingrich probably had a few choice words in mind following the glitter attack. But instead, he exhibited extreme self-discipline by taking it all in stride and saying simply, "Nice to live in a free country."

Well said. Freedom is, after all, what makes our country great. The question is, are we capable of handling that kind of freedom? It doesn't seem so when you have people calling each other names like twelve-year-old boys in the school yard.

Grow up, people. Grow up.

1 comment:

  1. I thought Palin went to several colleges majoring in journalism - or was it communications? She's claimed both. The Hater In Chief has been throwing stones and name-calling since the world first met her. Now she's gotten even worse. I'd say her glass house has a lot of cracks in it.


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