Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Violent acts against citizen democracy indefensible

Actions perpetrated against recall organizers (and others) should be condemned

Political differences exist -- we shouldn't fret too much over this fact of life. But how we deal with our differences is of great importance to the preservation of our democracy.

There's no excuse for violence (rhetorical or otherwise) in political discourse, no reason for intimidation of any kind within the free exchange of ideas. Where's the value in it? What good does it do to debate with one another, only to win or lose that debate out of some unrelated fear rather than relevance to the topic at hand? Such deplorable tactics only serve to disrupt the examination of ideas and democracy itself.

Within our own state, such intimidating methods are sadly infiltrating our discourses regarding the recall of Gov. Scott Walker. Recently, these tactics have included the purposeful and celebrated ripping/shredding/burning of recall petitions (with legitimate signatures included), throwing soft drinks at signature gatherers, and even the swerving (and near collision) of vehicles toward those advocating for the removal of the governor (allegedly by a ranking member of that county's Republican Party).

The left isn't innocent in this mess either -- threats to lawmakers and the pouring of alcoholic beverages on their persons are nothing to take lightly, and correctly brandished as wrong when they occur.

But it seems that, with the stubborn refusal to play by the established rules (and the difficulties that stand in the way of changing those rules midway through the game), some on the right have taken to using other measures in the Badger State, apparently thwarting conventional democratic means of doing so, in order to "win."

These are not isolated incidents -- almost daily now, we hear of new events that cause headaches to recall supporters, including threats that not only affect them but their family members as well. Yet their growing familiarity is cause for alarm, and shouldn't become expected even if we have seen them before. Each new case of violence (both rhetorical and actual) is something that should be abhorred, never shrugged off as "more of the same" that we've already seen.

If we ever reach that point -- of familiarity of violence within our dialogues -- then our democracy, including citizen activism within it, is in grave danger.

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