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09.25 Labour wants green energy to power most UK homes by 2030

09.25 US to be hit worse than almost any other country by climate change, report says [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

09.25 Climate gentrification: the rich can afford to move – what about the poor?

09.25 Monsanto's global weedkiller harms honeybees, research finds

09.24 Everything you've been told about plastic is wrong – the answer isn't recycling

09.24 Unlocking secrets of sea level rise in Greenland [15 minute video]

09.24 Air pollution rots our brains. Is that why we don’t do anything about it?

09.24 What are public lands?

09.24 The Netherlands Unveils the World's First Recycled Plastic Bike Lane

09.24 Americans: the next climate migrants 'We're moving to higher ground': America's era of climate mass migration is here [estimates do not include migrants from other nations even more affected]

09.24 Opec predicts massive rise in oil production over next five years [wonderful for fossil fuel investors; terrible for all plants and animals]

09.23 Nasa launches satellite to precisely track how Earth's ice is melting

09.23 Climate study ‘pulls punches’ to keep polluters on board

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09.25 Dozens Arrested as Survivors Flood Capitol Hill to Share Trauma of Sexual Assault, Demand Senate Reject Kavanaugh

09.25 Why I find the Kavanaugh/Ford case so unsettling

09.25 The Republican party is about to face the wrath of women

09.25 Trump has given women yet another reason not to report rape

09.24 Sexual assault is fun if we can all 'lighten up' about it

09.24 Brett Kavanaugh faces second allegation of sexual misconduct09.23 MARYLAND GOVERNOR REBUFFS CALL FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO BRETT KAVANAUGH ATTEMPTED RAPE ALLEGATIONS [Republicans above the law...]

09.23 Trump Is Strangling the U.S. Refugee Program to Death

09.23 Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 11/9" Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise

09.23 The Trump Administration's Latest Tax Scam for the Rich [video]

09.23 One Tiny Tax Reform, Billions for America

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09.22 Making Tariffs Corrupt Again

09.22 Why isn't Mark Judge testifying about Kavanaugh? He is an alleged witness

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09.20 Trump Should Be More Worried About the Brennan Dossier

09.19 'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen [Does America's government have empathy? Does it understand the concept of morality? The Saudi Air Force would be ineffective without U.S. military assistance...]

09.19 ‘Tied to trees and raped’: UN report details Rohingya horrors

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09.23 The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire [1:18:01 documentary video; the Book]

09.23 Why We Have To Break Up Amazon

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09.25 US Isolated: Europe’s Big 3, plus China & Russia Outmaneuver Trump to keep Iran Deal at UN

09.25 Spain to Recognize Palestinian State, work for European Union Acceptance

09.25 The male cultural elite is staggeringly blind to #MeToo. Now it's paying for it

09.25 'A smell of death:' Mexico's truck of corpses highlights drug war crisis

09.24 'Stop this disaster': Brazilian women mobilise against 'misogynist' far-right Bolsonaro

09.23 For This Year’s International Day of Peace, Korea Takes the Lead

09.22 Which nation is 'most generous' to refugees? Certainly not the US

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  A Lot of Sorry But(t)s
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VIEWPOINT:

A Lot of Sorry But(t)s

by Rosemary and Walter Brasch

Within a week of his outburst during Obama's speech, Rep. Joe Wilson solicited for, and received, a sudden cash spurt of more than a million dollars in contributions from the ultra-right.

Within two weeks in September, Americans were cluster-bombed by hate speech and a shock wave of incivility. From politics to music and sports, with the mass media more than willing to devote thousands of column inches and hours of air time to salacious reporting, those shock waves eventually degenerated into mere ripples that have become commonly accepted.

At Fox-inspired teabag parties and the 9/12 demonstration in the nation's capital that drew about 75,000 persons, frustration and a power of helplessness mixed with hate speech. The riled-up Right called those who opposed their views fascists, socialists, Communists, and Nazis. Pictures showed President Obama with a Hitleresque mustache or looking like Chairman Maobama. The mob accused the President of unproven lies, and then added, apparently for good measure, that he wasn't even a true American because he was—pick one or both—a Muslim and/or not even born in the United States. A few signs even called for lynching members of Congress who didn't agree with the Teabagger views.

In a joint session of Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted out to the President, "You lie!" Republicans around him didn't seem to be shocked at his inappropriate outburst. During the 50-minute address to the nation, the President was subjected to Republican catcalls, one member who wore a sign around his neck asking, "What bill?," and several members who raised papers over their heads during some of the President's statements. Apparently, they didn't think the 161 Republican-proposed amendments already adopted into health care bills weren't enough.

At the U.S. Open, tennis star Serena Williams at the end of a singles match unleashed a profanity-laced diatribe against a line judge.

At the Video Music Awards, rapper Kanye West jumped onto the stage, grabbed the microphone from Taylor Swift, who had just been declared the winner in the Best Female Video category, and announced that Beyoncé should have won.

Although the teabaggers, Republicans who catcalled and raised papers, and news pundits who had inflamed their conservative base never even thought apologies were necessary, at least Wilson, Williams, and West all said they were sorry.

Wilson, pushed by the Republican leadership, quickly apologized to the President, stating that his comment was "inappropriate and regrettable," and reflected a "lack of civility." He said he was sorry, but he believed what he said was accurate. Wilson also claimed the outburst was spontaneous, although he, like the rest of Congress, had a copy of the speech ahead of time. The next day, he joyously signed photos in the halls of Congress and solicited for, and received, a sudden cash spurt of more than a million dollars in contributions from the ultra-right within a week of his outburst.

Williams, a day after her outburst, said she let her passion and emotion get the better of her, that she was sorry, but still thought the line judge made a bad call. She then teamed with her sister to win the doubles title.

West went on a media blitz to apologize for his behavior, after getting booed and tweeted by a horde of media personalities. He repeatedly said he was sorry, but he still got some "street cred" for his outburst.

Even if their comments were out of character—and there's no evidence they were—they failed to adhere to the basic standards of conduct expected in a civil society.

Apologies won't erase incivility. Those who use the invective of hate and don't apologize can easily be dismissed as unworthy of much consideration in the public arena for rational discussion.

Joe Wilson, Serena Williams, and Kanye West all knew what they were doing when they did it. And, they all knew they could make these seemingly unscripted outbursts, apologize for them, and expect Americans to accept them.

But, Wilson, Williams, and West all knew what they were doing when they did it. And, they all knew they could make these seemingly unscripted outbursts, apologize for them, and expect Americans to accept them. It’s not much different from lawyers who slyly make inappropriate comments in court, get rebuked by a judge, apologize, and yet have made their point with juries.

As a nation, we like to believe we are compassionate and forgive those who apologize and reject the hurt they may have caused—even if it’s only a show for the media. Maybe, instead of allowing half-sincere apologies, we can apologize for our own behavior for allowing crocodile tears to wash our seeming compassion.


The Brasches live in a conservative blue-collar northeast Pennsylvania neighborhood whose residents are appalled at the level of hate speech and uncivil behavior that exists in the country. Walter Brasch's latest books are Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush and 'Unacceptable': The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina, available at amazon.com and other bookstores. You may contact the Brasches through www.walterbrasach.com


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This story was published on September 28, 2009.

 

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