Ethics Alarms has expanded its tutorial subject matter. We began by helping the satire and metaphor-challenged understand what does and didn’t constitute incivility ( putting Sarah Palin in a Victorian satirical song, no; calling Republicans Nazis, yes) and now will add the elusive concept of “hypocrisy” to the course list, for those, like Rush Limbaugh, who are confused about that as well.
Today’s lesson: Democratic Representative Michael Capuano of Somerville, Mass. When Arizona loon Jared Loughner killed a little girl, a judge, some other Arizonans, and grievously wounded Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Capuano was one of the Democrats who joined with some shameless voices in the media to suggest that the madman’s rampage was provoked by hot partisan rhetoric….specifically conservative rhetoric, since the victim was a Democrat.
“What the hell is going on?’’ he said at the time. “There’s always some degree of tension in politics; everybody knows the last couple of years there’s been an intentional increase in the degree of heat in political discourse. . . . If nothing else good comes out of this, I’m hoping it causes people to reconsider how they deal with things.’’
But it didn’t cause Capuano to reconsider how he deals with things. Speaking to a union group in Boston in support of the protests of public union members in Madison, Wisconsin, the Congressman told a cheering crowd:
“I’m proud to be here with people who understand that it’s more than just sending an email to get you going. Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.”
Now that’s hypocrisy.
Also hypocrisy: the fact that neither the New York Times, nor MSNBC, nor Chris Matthews, nor Paul Krugman, nor any of the Sarah Palin bashers who wanted to implicate her in Loughner’s murders and mayhem because months earlier she used a target graphic on a web site campaign map—that he didn’t see— felt that a U.S. Congressman suggesting that a still demonstrating group of protesters need to “get bloody” was equally worthy of criticism, or even worthy of reporting on. I don’t usually adopt this line of argument, because it is over-used and mis-used by both ends of the political spectrum, but in this case it is called for: can you imagine the uproar and the outrage from these “objective” commentators if Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Rand Paul or the afore mentioned Rush Limbaugh dared to say anywhere—in a speech, in an op-ed, in a Facebook post, in an interview, anywhere— that it was time to go out on the streets and get bloody?
By the way, Capuano has advocated violence before, and in a statement that could also be used in the Ethics Alarm “What is incivility?” series. Last month, he said, “Politicians, I think are too bland today. I don’t know what they believe in. Nothing wrong with throwing a coffee cup at someone if you’re doing it for human rights.”
All right, class, let’s tell the Representative. What do we call it when we throw a coffee cup at someone we disagree with?