I’m curious as to which political speech we find more offensive, a theater company portraying the title character in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” as Donald Trump or the U.S. Senate refusing to tell the American people what’s in the health care bill they’re trying to pass?
For me, that’s an easy call; yes, there’s a political assassination in “Julius Caesar,” but it’s a tragedy. Anyone who thinks it’s a lighthearted romp about how we can stab, stab, stab our troubles away hasn’t actually seen or read it. The play clearly links the fall of the Roman Republic to the killing of Caesar. In fact, portraying Caesar as a Trump-like figure is one of the most rhetorically powerful arguments against the idea that a there is a legitimate or useful violent solution to our political problems.
The Senate health care bill, by contrast, could take health care away from millions of Americans, which could kill them — and they’re trying to hide it from us. That, to me, seems much worse.
Let’s try another one. Which political speech act is most despicable, the death threats sent to Democratic congressional candidate Kim Weaver, causing her to drop out of the race for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District; the white powder sent to Karen Handel, Republican candidate for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, and two local news stations (tests indicate it was baking soda); or the U.S Senate refusing to tell the American people what’s in the health care bill they’re trying to pass?
Wow, this is a tough one. I mean, I count the white powder as a death threat, too, and it doesn’t matter which side of politics you’re on, that’s just unacceptable. Lines have to be drawn here.
Intimidating candidates out of elections cannot become normal.
On the other hand, Congress trying to draft and vote on laws in secret holds our entire democratic system in contempt. They are our representatives; if they are not accountable to us, we are no longer free. This can’t become a new normal either.
Round three, here we go. Which political speech act is worse, the student protests at Evergreen State University; white supremacists holding a “free speech rally” in Portland, Oregon, shortly after another white supremacists killed two men who tried to keep him from harassing a Muslim woman; or the U.S. Senate refusing to tell the American people what’s in the health care bill they’re trying to pass?
Trick question — any march or rally in favor of white supremacism is automatically the worst. Come on, some of these people are literal Nazis. Are you seriously on the side of the Nazis?
But that health care bill in Congress — look, if Congress can’t be honest with the American people about what they’re doing, they shouldn’t do it. Their one job is to represent the interests of the American people.
Meanwhile the student protests at Evergreen were peaceful. Yeah, there was a lot of yelling and profanity, but nobody was assaulted. There were no death threats. Maybe the students are right — note: they’re not — and maybe they’re wrong — note: they are — but they engaged in a peaceful protest about something they believe in, attended community meetings and spoke openly and honestly about their issues. That’s exactly how this is supposed to work. Don’t we wish every protest was that way?
The white supremacists aren’t nearly so nice. Also, they’re Nazis.
There will be no question about the actual shooting of U.S. Steve Scalise, R-LA 1st Dist., because there is no question that it was a reprehensible act that has no excuse, no justification and should give everyone pause to think about what they’re saying, what they’re doing and whether we are implicitly — or God help us, explicitly — encouraging such behavior.