Keep incivility out of opinion pages
July 9, 2012
Publishing the hate-inspired rhetoric of Tim Cooney does not serve the cause of The Aspen Times, or our society, well (“Columnist Melanie Sturm needs to Think Again,” Letters, July 2, The Aspen Times).
One would hope that the thought “socialists hate Americans” is so well ingrained in our society that it need not be perpetrated in the editorial pages as a reminder. Expressing contempt is a slovenly mental exercise, requiring nothing but reactionary regurgitation of other hatemongers’ diatribes. The austere pages of a newspaper should more appropriately be devoted to civil debate.
After two paragraphs of invectives, Cooney attempts a cogent thought. In his world, 620,000 Americans gave their lives for the proposition “The United States is,” renouncing for all time “The United States are.” This ancient announcement from on high is to be accepted by all despite the lack of any logic or citation of authority. The intellectually honest are forced to do the work for Cooney.
Evidently, he believes the Civil War was a battle over the Ninth and 10th amendments and that the victors have successfully redacted the same from our Constitution. Anyone who disputes such is to be vilified, slandered and shamed into silence and should “think again.” Yet, a scholar or honest participant in such a debate might look to the Constitution or precedent to confirm such edicts.
Over time, three constitutional amendments were adopted in response to that war. The 13th abolished slavery. The 14th, in essence, makes the Fifth Amendment applicable to the states. The 15th grants voting rights to all citizens. None of these three amendments mentions any assault on the Ninth and 10th amendments. The very cases Cooney mentions, as if he alone has read them, specifically cite both amendments and confirm their vitality.
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To think again requires one to have original thought. Original thought normally entails some degree of dispassionate contemplation that challenges numerous concepts. Original thought might follow hate. But spewing hate in the written word is not proof of reasoned, cogent thought worthy of publication. And when concepts are thrown like mud balls for others to clean off the wall of discourse, we tear down more than the notion of civil debate. We destroy our nation.
“A nation divided cannot long stand” is not a declaration of a solution. It is a declaration of the problem. The solution to that problem is not always going to be a war of union. Next time, it might be a war of dissolution. If dividing the nation is the goal of the editorial page, then by all means give every bile-induced submission notice.
The First Amendment does not require the publication of every submission. You are free to return the submission for a request that some logical point be made. And should certain people require that their names be associated with the hatred of others, you could start a simple column of hate similar to the wedding announcements. The first could be “Timmy hates Melanie.” Enough said!