Thursday, March 31, 2011

Intentional Ignorance, Political Fuel

Remember how, years and years ago after a shooting in Arizona, everybody in the media was talking about toning down the rhetoric? What, was that really just last January? My mistake.

Here's an example of how media, both liberal (as in this example) and conservative (watch any broadcast of the Daily Show Starring Jon Stewart for an example from the Fox News Follies) use language to ramp up the tone of rhetoric, even when they know, intellectually, that what they're saying isn't true:

In the March 30-April 5 issue of the San Antonio Current, one of those weekly throwaway "alternative" newspapers, is a report about divisions in the local Democratic Party organization, caused by bigoted comments by its local chairman, who managed to alienate with a sentence or two just about anyone who isn't a heterosexual Hispanic. A group called Stonewall Democrats (after the 1969 riots in Greenwich Village that followed one too many police raids on a gay bar, and gave birth to the Gay Pride movement) endorsed several candidates for local office. One of the candidates who met with the group, the Current reports, "said that if she were endorsed by Stonewall she would not carry that endorsement on her website or campaign literature. 'Many in our area would look at that as something that would be divisive,' Ivy Taylor told the group."

Then the Current sinks into intentional ignorance. "Interesting to note," it continues, "that 'divisive' was the same word she later used to describe [the party chairman]'s comparisons of Stonewall to the Nazi Party, in effect placing Stonewall's potential endorsement on parity with Nazi comparisons."

The writer of "The QueQue," the column where this appears, is not an ignoramus. He or she (there's no byline) regularly delivers intelligent insight into matters of local political interest. But even this intelligent, capable writer is willing to stoop to this kind of disingenuousness in order to score a petty point. 

Ms Taylor is right both times: an endorsement by Stonewall would be divisive in her conservative district. And Lord knows that the party chairman's comments were divisive, in spades. But the fact that both are true, and  the fact that she accurately used the same word to describe both, doesn't mean she's "in effect placing Stonewall's potential endorsement on parity with Nazi comparisons." 

The Current ought to be ashamed, but I bet it's not.

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