The Blog Squad

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hey, T-D! Thanks for reading me! Now about that editorial...

Since I don't believe in coincidence, let me just say that I am flattered that the folks at the Times-Dispatch editorial page are reading this obscure little blog so closely. If only they could get it right. A couple of posts ago, I pointed out a link between the so-called "moral authority" given (and also denied) Cindy Sheehan and now given the families of murder victims in Jerry Kilgore's commercials that are pounding Tim Kaine on the death penalty. Today, in its editorial section, the T-D does the same thing but, of course, with only the view as seen through its own ideological prism.

The point I was making was that the same people who excoriated Cindy Sheehan for protesting the Iraq war after her son was killed would most likely turn around and grant the moral authority of murder victims' families to speak out for the death penalty and against Tim Kaine. Conversely, the same folks who now condemn Jerry Kilgore's ads as exploiting the grief of those families probably gave Cindy Sheehan deference in her protest.

Of course, the T-D can't look past its politics for even a second: "Well." (They always start their sanctimonious editorials with that "Well.") "If Ms. Sheehan deserves deference by virtue of her grief, then so do Rosenbluth and Mrs. Timbrook. Nobody should be attacking them, or their arguments. By the logic of the Sheehan Effect, they're right and Kaine's wrong — and that's that. Or does grief deserve deference only when used in the service of left-wing causes?"

They start their sentence with "If Ms. Sheehan deserves deference" knowing full well that that statement is not at all a given — that she was the object of scorn from the right, including their own editorial section. In a September editorial they demanded that if the likes of Maureen Dowd granted absolute moral authority to Cindy Sheehan then the same must go for mothers like Rhonda Winfield, who lost a son in the war and still supports President Bush and the war.

The T-D seemed to understand in September what it does not understand today. That it cuts both ways. They easily can say: If you give deference to Sheehan you must give it to the victims' families. But they seem incapable of saying: If you give it to victims' families you must give it to Sheehan.

Perhaps it's time to abandon this notion of granting "moral authority" to anyone, even grieving families, whose politics are highly charged with the emotion of their experience. Perhaps we should simply give them what they deserve: a respectful hearing.


At Wed Oct 19, 02:12:00 PM EDT, Blogger maggie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Wed Oct 19, 02:13:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you go, girlfriend!

At Wed Oct 19, 02:14:00 PM EDT, Blogger Sterling said...

Well, the response to Cindy Sheehan evolved over time. At first hardly anyone on the right criticized her. Many said something to the effect of, "She's suffered a terrible loss and if she has something she wants to say then we should listen." But as her pronouncements got wackier, venturing into anti-American and anti-Semitic lunatic tirades, people began to criticize her pretty openly.

She had moral authority to begin with, but it wasn't infinite and she used it up. I don't see how that is any different than the respect afforded to the kin of murder victims.

At Wed Oct 19, 08:40:00 PM EDT, Blogger Janet Giampietro said...

sterling, i see your point. but still i wonder why we are even discussing the idea of anyone being able to claim this idea of moral authority just by virtue of having suffered terrible misfortune. cindy sheehan suffered an unspeakable loss, but her political position is no more valid because of it. the same goes for the families on jerry kilgore's commercials. (forgive me if i've repeated myself. my first comment didn't seem to post.)

At Wed Oct 19, 10:31:00 PM EDT, Blogger Sterling said...

Well, OK, I'll give you that.

One argument is that rationally we should not give weight to the victims of crimes because their suffering tends to obliterate their own reason.

Another is that they have no more to offer the discussion than anyone else.

A third argument is that the death penalty is not about reason, but about fear and intimidation and revenge. In this case the kin of the dead have quite a bit to say about it.

An important thing about law is that people have to believe it's equitable. If people come to believe that the punishment doesn't equal the crime, they'll stop looking to the government for justice. If the survivors of murder victims believe that only capital punishment is the appropriate end for the one who murdered their loved one, that's worth hearing.


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