Monday, January 30, 2006

Labels and Reasoned Debate

Submitted to the Highlands Ranch Herald on 1/29/06:

Recent exchanges on these pages have just about convinced me that it is impossible to have a reasoned debate about the issues in America, or at least in our little corner of it. Once again, writers like John Ebel and Kevin Colas are unable to present their views without resorting to their label of choice, the dreaded "L-word."

Regarding allegations of media bias, John provided us with some questions he claims are never asked. Well, I have my own list of questions that are never asked. For example, Ted Harvey's House District 43 went for Referendum C by a margin of 54% to 46% in 2005, even though Harvey was a vocal leader of the opposition. In 2004, voters in Highlands Ranch approved issues 4A and 4B, as well as Amendments 35 and 37. Harvey was opposed to all of these winning issues. Why is it that our local media never asks Ted why he is so out of touch with the voters in his district, or why Ted thinks he is now qualified to serve in the Colorado Senate? Is that biased reporting, or something else entirely?

Kevin Colas accused me of using the label "Pharisee" for those who use the "L-word." In truth, (in a bit of unintentional irony, I admit) I was using it to refer to everyone who resorts to labels. I have no respect for those of any political persuasion who are too lazy to think for themselves, and who substitute labels for rational argument. Kevin also offered Jamie Larue’s recent column about the First Amendment as an example of bias. It’s funny -- I always thought that taking a stand was what columnists did. How could they convince us of anything if they never stand for anything? At least Jamie doesn’t pretend to be a journalist, unlike the talking heads and pundits who haunt the airwaves and the major newspapers nowadays.

Finally, when was the golden age of American journalism when reporters and editors were completely unbiased and impartial? Maybe it was during the Civil War, when the Chicago Tribune said this about William Seward and Abraham Lincoln, “He is Lincoln’s evil genius. He has been President de facto, and has kept a sponge saturated with chloroform to Uncle Abe’s nose.” Imagine the outrage if the New York Times said the same thing today about Karl Rove and George W. Bush. Just imagine…

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