Republicans want more speech, Democrats want less

That’s the inescapable conclusion following the tragedy in Tucson in which a U.S. congresswoman was shot by a mentally deranged kid.

Democrats want to use the event for political purposes. They are losing the national argument on the economy, health-care and a number of other issues. So, they want their opponents who disagree with them to shut up. Tone it down, they say, or be forced into silence.

Republicans, meanwhile, advocate more discourse and transparency on national issues. They even go so far as to suggest that not only should the nation discuss big issues, Congress should actually read proposed legislation before voting.

Consider the congressman from Pennsylvania who plans to institute legislation to make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress. He’s dead wrong about that. Can I still say "dead wrong" under his legislation?

Or let the "Democrats know best" words of Rep. Jim Clyburn linger in your American conscience for a bit: "You cannot yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater and call it free speech and some of what I hear, and is being called free speech, is worse than that," Clyburn says.

Clyburn used as an example a comment made by Sharron Angle, an unsuccessful U.S. senatorial candidate in Nevada, who said the frustrated public may consider turning to "Second Amendment remedies" for political disputes unless Congress changed course.

Clyburn said the man accused of shooting Giffords did just that.

"He saw a Second Amendment remedy and that’s what occurred here and there is no way not to make that connection," Clyburn said.

Two points for Mr. Clyburn to contemplate: First, there is not any — not one shred of — evidence that the Tucson gunman was motivated by anything Sharron Angle said (if he even knows who Sharron Angle is). Second, one wonders if Clyburn thought the same thing 50 years ago when the white establishment thought Dr. Martin Luther King’s public speeches were a danger to civil discourse. Tone it down, Dr. King, the establishment said, you’re inciting people to riot.

And Clyburn’s not the only Democrat to publicly say that the words of the opposing party created an "environment" for the Tucson tragedy. Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley was asked about whether heated political rhetoric caused the shooting, she said: "For something like this to happen — I think it’s an indication."

I’ll tell you what the prevailing "indication" is here: Gross political grandstanding. Rep. Berkley says she the will hold a "Congress on the Corner" event just like the one her dear friend and colleague Rep. Gabrielle Giffords held when she was shot. She will attract a lot of media attention, something she craves. The truth is Rep. Berkley is about to be redistricted out of a "safe" Democratic congressional seat and is using the tragedy to bolster her planned run for U.S. Senate in 2012.

For a less exploitive and more democratic viewpoint, consider the ending of conservative columnist George Will’s latest column for advice post the Tucson tragedy:

    "On Sunday, the Times explained Tucson: ‘It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But . . .’ The ‘directly’ is priceless.

    "Three days before Tucson, Howard Dean explained that the Tea Party movement is "the last gasp of the generation that has trouble with diversity." Rising to the challenge of lowering his reputation and the tone of public discourse, Dean smeared Tea Partiers as racists: They oppose Obama’s agenda, Obama is African American, ergo . . .

    "Let us hope that Dean is the last gasp of the generation of liberals whose default position in any argument is to indict opponents as racists. This McCarthyism of the left – devoid of intellectual content, unsupported by data – is a mental tic, not an idea but a tactic for avoiding engagement with ideas. It expresses limitless contempt for the American people, who have reciprocated by reducing liberalism to its current characteristics of electoral weakness and bad sociology. "

Amen and amen.

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