Time Magazine – “What New Civility?”

Time Magazine, who just two months ago wondered aloud if violent rhetoric from the right wing led to the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, has decided to title their newest piece on Wisconsin, “Wisconsin’s Governor Wins, but Is He Now Dead Man Walker?“.

Let’s go back to January 8, 2011 and Time’s piece “Violent Rhetoric and Arizona Politics.

Sometimes, rumors of violence beget actual violence. Saturday’s mass shooting at a Safeway on North Oracle Road in Tucson, which killed six and left Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others gravely wounded, may well be one of those occasions.

The piece is a study about how Republican talk of crime and border control may have influenced Jared Loughner.  We now know that to be rubbish.  But it did not stop them from mentioning the infamous “target map” and painting the Tea Party as shadowy, menacing figures.  The “violent rhetoric” narrative worked so well that even President Obama pleaded for civility at the memorial service for the victims of the shooting.

Wisconsin changed all of that.  The “New Civility” championed by Democrats (alternate title, “we can say what we want, and Republicans, shut up”) can now be seen for what it was.  A dishonest attempt to score political points on the back of a national tragedy.  Wisconsin has shown that the left feels no obligation to play by the same rules that they felt oh, so strongly about two months ago.

The fact of the matter is that no, Time magazine is not advocating the murder of the Governor of Wisconsin any more than Republicans advocated the shooting of a Congresswoman by “targeting” districts or using “war” in a speech.  The talk of a “new civility” was soundbyte material that was intended to slyly shame the right and to make sense of the senseless. The fact that it has been so quickly abandoned by those seemingly so concerned about it after Tucson is proof of that.

One thing that can be agreed upon, however, is that in light of the fact that the governor has received real death threats, the title is in extremely poor taste. But consistency requires that those outraged over perceived “violent rhetoric” on the right make the same observations with respect to Time Magazine and their piece on Scott Walker.  Either a “new tone” is important or it’s not.

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2 Responses to Time Magazine – “What New Civility?”

  1. roopost says:

    Gripweed,

    What is clear is the safe ground for intelligent discourse is fast evaporating. Soon, the only place to hear someone speak with civility will be the local public library – providing one doesn’t speak too loudly.

    Kind regards,

    • Gripweed says:

      Agreed. I may question both the timing and the seriousness of the recent call for civility, but I certainly agree it is what is needed. Not because I believe people will die from it, but because it is right, it is intelligent, and real problems could get solved as a result of it.
      Martial language and imagery (“war,” “battle,” “target”) is ingrained into nearly all cultures. It’s not going anywhere and I believe that people are smart enough to understand its usage without resorting to violence. Death threats, calling for “the tree of liberty (to be) watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” and insensitive turns of phrase like “Dead Man Walker” used to describe a man who has received death threats are another thing entirely. Maybe next time people will be serious about this.

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