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Demonizing the conservatives

I read a lot of stuff every day. And a lot of the stuff I read is the work of syndicated columnists and op-ed contributors, who riff off the news of the day with their own viewpoints and opinions.

That's all well and good, but I've been getting a little tired of the unintentionally hypocritical bashing some of our liberal writers have been giving conservative commentators they perceive as somehow responsible for the hate crimes that have marked the past few weeks. There are valid points to be made about dangers that may lurk in "firing up the base," to play off Obama's own term, but some of the commentary has crossed a line into simply demonizing the far right for supposedly demonizing liberals and turning them into righteous targets.

Then I came across some balance from Clarence Page. The column we'll publish tomorrow discusses accused Holocaust Museum shooter James Wenneker von Brunn, accused Arkansas recruiting station shooter Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and concludes with this:

"Right-wing commentators and talk show hosts have taken a lot of fire from critics who say their excessive Obama-bashing fueled Brunn's hate. Some of that criticism is justified. But so is the criticism from the other side that holds liberals accountable for the loose talk that emits from their own side of the lunatic fringe. It's time for both sides to fight crazy talk with a dose of sanity, as long as we can still find some."

In a totally different context, Kathleen Parker emphasizes in her column on the same page that "Opinions don't get punished in this country, period." She's right -- or should be.

Words have consequences, and should be measured. But it's far too simplistic just to demonize the purveyors of certain opinions as the authors of evil. And there's danger in that, too.

-mike vogel 
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