Media double standard when it comes to civility

by Rob Roper

Rep. Susan "Pitchfork" Hatch Davis

About a month ago, many in the Vermont media were moved to outrage over a repeated joke in the Ethan Allen Institute newsletter. The context of the remark was a debate over the future of Vermont Yankee. A representative from VPIRG, James Moore (or perhaps Senator Mark McDonald) stated that the nuclear plant hadn’t killed anyone, “YET.”

After the debate, an observer quipped that he also hadn’t killed anyone yet, but was considering Mr. Moore as a candidate.

Anne Galloway of the online news site, VT Digger, was “appalled.” She devoted a full column to the to the “death threat.” Indeed, after hearing about the remark Mr. Moore reportedly called the Attorney General and the Montpelier police.

Shay Totten of Seven Days devoted a section of his weekly column to the issue, concluding, “There’s nothing droll about death threats – not now, not ever.”

Ross Sneyd of Vermont Public Radio was scheduled to do an interview with McClaughry to talk about Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, but the interview was cancelled when Sneyd indicated he’d rather talk about the dust up.

This is obviously an issue that these journalists feel passionate about, which is why it’s curious none of them mentioned Representative Susan Hatch Davis’ comments in their coverage of the pro-union rally at the State House.

Davis, a Progressive, called on the crowd to take up weapons, presumably for the purpose of doing violence against their political opponents. Like McClaughry, Davis was repeating the words of a supporter when she said, “It’s always a little hard to understand why working class people are not marching with pitchforks.” The remarks drew a round of excited “whoos” from the crowd and at least one call to “bring out the pitchforks.”

For those espousing the “McClaughry Standard” of civility, this should spark outrage as well as calls to the Attorney General and the city police department. After all, there’s nothing droll about threats of violence (mob violence, no less) – not now, not ever.

However, even though Galloway, Totten and Sneyd all penned articles about the rally, not one of them saw fit to comment on Davis’ “appalling” rhetoric, which very well could have incited a riot.

I’d go on, but I think this speaks for itself. Besides, if I don’t put the computer away and help with dinner my wife will kill me.

One thought on “Media double standard when it comes to civility

  1. Don’t worry, Rob. Soon the “National Institute for Civil Discourse” at the University of Arizona will rid the entire country of hate speech (and pitchforks). The “institute” is bipartisan so there will be no more media double standard.
    Now let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya:)

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