Scott Tibbs
blog post
April 2nd, 2005

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Civility in politics

Kurt Van der Dussen opens his column today with a note of how former County Council member Scott Wells spoke at a County Commissioners' meeting regarding some billboards posted by Citizens for Truth that were critical of ex-Congressman Baron Hill.

First, if anyone actually believes that Wells cares about this issue, I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you. It is much more likely that Wells' complaints were an avenue to publicly rebuke his longtime political rival Bud Bernitt, the founder of Citizens for Truth. Bernitt, of course, made a phone call that led to Wells being arrested on charges related to drunk driving in the fall of 2002.

Second, given Wells' own self-proclaimed status as a "bulldog" and history of venomous attacks on political opponents, his hypocrisy is evident. Scott Wells also has a history of trying to personally intimidate those he disagrees with politically.

As to the rest of KVD's column, he does have a point. Mark Brostoff's letter attacking Peggy Welch on homosexual marriage was indeed unfair. Welch does not "hate" homosexuals, and Brostoff's implication that she would "force us to wear 'pink triangles' on our shirts and deny us medical care at her medical facility (Bloomington Hospital)" was out of line.

As readers may know, homosexuals were forced to wear pink triangles in Nazi Germany, the same way that Jews were required to wear a yellow Star of David. Does Brostoff mean to suggest that opponents of homosexual marriage are no different than the genocidal Nazi regime?

KVD is right when he says that "Peggy Welch voting with about 20 other Democrats in addition to 52 Republicans for a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to a man and a woman because she cannot and will not vote against her deepest convictions does not equate to (gay bashing)." No one, especially not Welch, is suggesting that homosexuals be persecuted.

KVD writes that he was "stunned" to see Brostoff's name on the latter. Given Brostoff's political history, I do not share this feeling of surprise. As I said in a March 2004 letter to the editor, "I wish Brostoff had his epiphany regarding individual liberty when he was publicly calling for Indiana University to censor Professor Eric Rasmusen." If Brostoff believes in individual liberty, that belief should extend to constitutionally protected free speech in addition to the "right" to get married to someone of the same gender.

Allegations of "hate" are too often used as an ad hominem to discredit political opponents rather than deal with the arguments they raise or the benefits of the policies they support. If you can paint your opponent as "hateful", he then gets trapped into defending himself, rather than dealing with the issue in the table.