Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Politics of Character Assassination

Posted by Teresa at 1:17 PM
"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word
as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may
give grace to those who hear." - Ephesians 4:29

As I've stated frequently, I'm deeply disturbed that in our current political
discourse people resort to malicious words against their opponents. This is
especially true on the internet. Not only are political opponents wrong but
they flat out have cruel and nefarious intentions. When reading political
blogs you are likely to find words like "warmongers," "war criminals," "baby
killers," "pansies," "traitors," and various others claims to describe their foes.
None of which are true.

Here's some pictures you'll find if you search for some politicians:

If you disagree with me, you are clearly evil. The photos above aren't even the
worst of them.

I believe this can be defined as character assassination because it's not about
people's policies any longer but about their their moral fiber. It's become about
the personalities behind the politics more than the politics. If one can't dismantle
their opponent's view ideologically then do it by getting personal and mean. I
want to take the time to discuss why this is wrong through a moral perspective
and why we must change it.

First of all I want to confess that I've written a lot of harsh words against those
I don't agree with, therefore, I am also guilty of this sin. I just thought I would
get that out of the first. I am not innocent.

I think we must understand the importance of what's in a name and the power
of our words. Proverbs 22:1 says:

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

I think words have the power to build people up and tear people down. Plenty of
people who defame others claim their free speech rights. They say, "I have the
right to say whatever I want." True, we have a constitutional right to say just about
anything. Also, public figures like politicians have a harder time proving libel and
slander (see New York Co. v. Sullivan) so they are fair game. Sadly, in rightfully
claiming constitutional rights we have lost our morality. Our Constitution can and
never will substitute for morality. Thus, I'm not advocating any type of censorship
but just a self-evaluation on how we conduct ourselves when we discuss politics
online and off-line and the morality of it.

Politics is about gaining power and in order to do that sometimes you build people
up with words and take others down from their high positions. The cycle of building
and verbally take others down has worked, politically speaking, over the years.
However, it has brought nothing but societal frustration towards our government
and no real political leadership.

I also want to make the point I'm not naive enough to believe that this type of
slanderous politics is anything new. I'm sure it's been there since the onset of
governing bodies. Although, the Internet does appear to add some fuel to the fire
because anyone can create content and post it online.

Another point I want to make is that I'm not calling for unity. For the most part I
think calls for unity produce very little. I think both political parties have drastically
opposing views and there's no way we can all agree. People can not unite when they
have honest political differences. What I am asking for us to stop the politics of
character assassination.

Everyone is flawed, including our public officials who we trust with making big decisions.
We live in a wonderful country full of diverse thoughts and ideas. We're not always
going to agree on much. However, how about we start by agreeing that those who are of
different opinion are well-intentioned and not out to get us. Perhaps, if we start there
we can move forward.



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