Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why we must choose our words wisely

This post brought on by this one at Mahablog.

I'd previously written, in a post I called "No class", that Michelle Malkin had posted on April 12 the contact info of a group of student protesters so that they could be "held accountable" by her readers. What I did not notice, was that Michelle also directed her readers towards the "capitulationist chancellor" Denice Denton (recall Michelle's post was titled "Seditious Santa Cruz vs. America"), whose contact info she also posted.

On June 24, Denton committed suicide.

Over at Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory, in the comments of the post Glenn had written about Michelle and other bloggers having no credibility after accusing the New York Times Travel section of treasonous conspiracy to get Donald Rumsfield and VP Cheney killed by al Qaeda, I noted

I'd also emphasize that its not just a deficiency of credibilty, its a deficiency of human decency. The malicious libelous accusations that the Times was attempting to facilitate violence against Cheney and Rumsfield is a dreadfully serious accusation. Basic ethics would require that a person not cavalierly say such things about other persons.

And, as Alonzo at the Atheist Ethicist is fond of pointing out, many of these bloggers consider the Ten Commandments to be their moral standard.

"Thou shalt not bear false witness" is supposed to be one of the supreme ethical prinicples, yet bearing false witness is what they have done here in spades.

Their failing isn't simply intellectual, it is ethical. It is a moral failing. And anyone in the media who continues to give them a platform to bear false witness against their fellow Americans without calling them on it is similarly challenged.
Denton was a troubled woman who had been wrestling with other serious problems (including death threats) for some time before the Malkin incident, and no one can say for certain what role, if any, the flack she received from Michelle's post played in her suicide. Yet I still wonder if Michelle, perhaps in the darkness of the night, allows herself to entertain the possibility that her hateful rhetoric might have had something to do with pushing Denton closer towards her untimely end.

In the post where Malkin directed her readers to hold accountable the chancellor of the "seditious" UC Santa Cruz, she wrote (to the students who began receiving death threats after her post), "You are responsible for your individual actions. Other individuals are responsible for theirs. Grow up and take responsibility."

Indeed. Grow up and take responsiblity for your actions Michelle.

Update: Malkin replies to Reason's David Weigel.

As it turns out, just as before, Malkin had nothing to do with Denton's death, just like she had nothing to do with the death threats the students received. Malkin is just the innocent victim, as she always is when someone calls her on her latest ethical failing. She didn't call Denton treasonous, just seditious. What's wrong with giving her readers the contact information of a controversial "public official"?

Keep telling yourself that Michelle, whatever gets you through the night.

Update 2: David Weigel responds.

Weigel's whole response parsing Malkin's reply is worth reading, but I think this part, where Weigel mocks the hyperbolic outrage that Malkin thrust upon the Santa Cruz story, particularly compelling.

I can't speak for my ilk, but I suggested Malkin should apologize because, for that brief, frantic moment when the terrorists almost took over Santa Cruz, Malkin thought Denton was worth going after. She blogged it for two days; it was a fairly important story, and you'd think crack correspondent Michelle Malkin was following it. It seemed strange that one of the villains of the story could kill herself and Malkin wouldn't care. But apparently she'd stopped seeing UC-Santa Cruz as a threat to America; she'd moved on to fresh outrages. Like any good hit and runner (the auto vehicular type, not the Reason type), she heard the bump under her tires and hit the gas pedal.
That was the exact reaction I had when I heard that Denton had killed herself. If I were in Malkin's position, I can not imagine not feeling some sense of remorse. I can't imagine not wondering if what I did had contributed to her death. I would be second-guessing myself. Weigel feels the same way: "Some people would put two and two together and feel a twinge of guilt for piling on this woman. Malkin didn't."


Sri Harsha said...

@ Dailydoubter:

You are asking a right-wing jacko like Michelle Malkin to grow up! Wake up man.

These nut heads think with something other than their brain. You jsut have to learn to ignore them.

And oh......don't forget to vote for the dems. in '06 and ' neutralize these people.

Hume's Ghost said...

It's difficult to ignore someone when they are screaming at you that you are an enemy to your country.

The Liberal Avenger said...

Speaking of "Reason..."

This post is the most reasonable I've seen on this story. Excellent work.

Smoovement said...
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