By Scott Tibbs, April 1, 2005
Over on the AssMoTax message forums, there are no fewer than three threads where ConservaTibbs.com was spontaneously attacked, including two threads started to attack this blog. That caused me to wonder: what, all of a sudden, has put me in the sights of the local Left?
I think I have figured it out, but first here is some back story. From various sources, I have gathered that an anonymous letter was sent to Jewish groups, the Herald-Times, and the City of Bloomington Human Rights Commission during the 2004 campaign detailing anti-Semitic statements made on the talk.assmotax.org message forum. Since Greg Travis (husband of Sophia Travis, then a candidate for County Council) administrates the forum, the letter was informing said groups about what Sophia's husband was allowing on his Web site. As of yet, I have not been able to see the letter for myself. I also do not know who sent the letter, though I have my suspicions.
First, I do believe that the letter was handled inappropriately. I think whoever sent the letter should have signed his or her name to it. While I respect the right to anonymous speech, I do think that, if someone is going to be sending these kinds of letters he or she should be willing to have his or her name associated with the letter. Second, the letter should have been submitted as a letter to the editor for publication in the Herald-Times, or (if it was too long) a modified version of the letter should have been submitted as a LTTE.
I am certain that I have been targeted because of continued bitterness about the letter. As to the letter itself: Democratic activist Don Moore floated the issue again this week, claiming that statements in the letter were false. I replied with the following question: "What claims in the letter were "false", Don? It is my understanding that whoever sent the letter simply quoted things posted here at AssMoTalk." What, exactly, was wrong with that question? If Moore believes statements in the letter to be false, what is wrong with asking which statements were false?
Greg Travis has been extremely defensive about the letter, and has exhibited anger toward whoever the author of the letter was. He called the letter "dirty politics". Greg seems to think that political speech regarding things said in a public forum is somehow "dirty politics". It is not.
Sophia Travis is a public official. She chose to put herself into the public arena by running for county council. Whatever Greg might think, she does not have a divine right to be in elective office. If the voters choose to withhold support from Sophia because they don't like the political actions of her husband, that is their right. (The voters never got a chance to make that decision, however, because the Herald-Times buried the story.)
Greg Travis moderates what has become the most active discussion forum on local politics in Monroe County. While he (obviously) does not agree with everything posted, he does make a decision about whether things posted there should remain on his server. Greg has never removed the thread with the title, "The Jews have become animals!", a thread that qualifies as anti-Semitic hate speech.
Do I believe that Greg (or Sophia) is necessarily responsible for everything said on AssMoTax? No, I do not. However, it is wholly appropriate to question and/or challenge Greg (and, by extension, Sophia) in a public forum for what he allows to remain on a Web site that he administrates. Greg could easily explain that he is providing a forum where people can express their opinions (not only on politics, but on movies or music, for that matter) the Internet, then simply trust that the voters will make the "right" decision.
I find it amusing that not the local Left continues to run terrified from my multiple public challenges as to why it was acceptable for County Council member Scott Wells to challenge fellow County Council member Jeff Ellington in a public forum regarding a letter to the editor by Jeff's wife Hope, but it is not acceptable for anyone to mention the sleaze posted on talk.assmotax.org in the context of Sophia's campaign for elective office or her service as an elected official.
Some of the Leftist crybabies on AssMoTax whined that publicly criticizing Sophia for Greg's actions somehow damages free speech. That is a silly, drama-queen argument. People there have the right to free speech. They do not have the right to speak with the expectation that no one can criticize you for that speech.
Greg and his defenders would be wise to let this issue die. Every time it is brought up, people are reminded that a Sophia's husband moderates a forum where he has allowed anti-Semitic hate speech. A veteran of local politics once told me that if you're on defense, you're losing. Continuing to whine about a letter that virtually no one outside of Greg's forum knows about does not help Sophia.