I notice that the Conservative Party of Canada is launching attack adds aimed at opposition parties, nasty business designed to demonize opponents and score points with partisan voters. Undoubtedly, they are readying their campaign should the budget be opposed and the government falls.
Everyone claims that they hate this kind of advertising. Everyone agrees that it works.
You can't ignore last week's events in Tucson as you consider the debate about politics and civility. Like many of you, I listened to President Obama's speech at the "pep rally" for the victims. (Was it just me or did the whole thing look and sound "off"?)
Of course, the President's message was important even if the backdrop was hard to fathom. Society has become increasingly polarized and discourse increasingly aggressive.
Even here in mild-mannered Canada that is evident. You wouldn't have to go any further than Mayor Ford's inauguration, where Don Cherry characterized the left as commies and pinkos, to experience the demonization of those that see the world differently. Propaganda 101.
Frank Rich, writing in the New York Times, points out: "If we learn nothing from this tragedy, we are back where we started. And where we started was with two years of accelerating political violence–actual violence, not to be confused with violent language–that struck fear into many, not least of whom was Gabrielle Giffords." Rich, an excellent analyst and writer, suggests that "antigovernment radicalism" has contributed to this acceleration of vandalism and attacks.
In a comparison worthy of her intelligence, Sarah Palin says things are, in fact, getting better: "When was it less heated–back in those calm days when political figures literally settled their differences with duelling pistols?"
Is the President-In-Waiting suggesting that words do not lead to action and that hateful words do not incite violence? Uh, Sara, remember Hitler? Mao? Milosevic? Osama bin Laden?
Or is she suggesting that a psychopath at a meet-and- greet represents progress?
Those of us capable of rational thought need to send the politicians and pundits a message: Knock it off! Violent language leads to violence. That's all there is to it.
We can turn off Fox News, the extremists on the left and right, and our elected officials. Maybe then they will understand that freedom of speech and irresponsible rhetoric are not one and the same thing.
© Patrick O’Neill 2011. All rights reserved.