Near Greensboro, NC, News-Record reporter Joe Killian was kicked and knocked to the ground by a hostile McCain supporter at a Sarah Palin event. Read his account on his blog. Just as disturbing are some of the reactions from McCain-Palin supporters. "It made my day to read about Joe getting kicked in the leg at a Sarah Palin rally," said one. ""I wasn't there to determine whether it was deserved," said another, an attorney who should know better. (Source.)
In Sacramento County, CA, the Republican Party posted on its OFFICIAL party Web site material linking Sen. Obama to Osama bin Laden and encouraging people to "waterboard Barack Obama." After even state GOP leaders were offended, the party has removed the material.
Sam Spagnola, Greensboro lawyer and blogger, lies that Obama "urged his supporters to engage in violent confrontations." This statement is comparable to his assertion that Hillary Clinton seriously called for Obama's assassination. Sam's educated, a lawyer, and should know better than to stoop to this crappola. In the heat of political battle, some hyper-partisan hotheads are losing all credibility. (Update: Sam claims he was just being sarcastic, and didn't mean the statements seriously, but his sarcasm is lost on me.)
Meanwhile, the charming and humorous Christopher Buckley, son of Bill (who I always liked and found intellectually stimulating), has resigned from the board of the National Review after endorsing Barack Obama. For that, he was blanketed with hate mail. "I have been effectively fatwahed by the conservative movement,” he says. "The only thing the Right can’t quite decide is whether I should be boiled in oil or just put up against the wall and shot. Lethal injection would be too painless." (Source)
He writes that his colleague at the NR, Kathleen Parker, "had written in NRO that she felt Sarah Palin was an embarrassment. (Hardly an alarmist view.) This brought 12,000 livid emails, among them a real charmer suggesting that Kathleen’s mother ought to have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a dumpster."
Buckley's essay, in which he declares, "I didn't leave the Republican Party. It left me," is well worth reading.
This is not to say that intolerance only emerges from one side. As CM points out on Ed Cone's blog, "intolerance is an equal opportunity emotion," pointing to a video of uncivil treatment McCain supporters received in New York City. At that small McCain rally in NYC, "a hostile local grabbed a woman's sign, broke it and hit her in the face," according to Politico.com. Republican Fred Gregory posted a link to that story in response to a video Ed posted of uncivil treatment Obama fans received from McCain supporters.
And certainly John McCain was correct when he stated in the third and final debate that if you attract a crowd of 20,000 people, there are likely to be a few bad-behaving fringe elements.
But civility and mutual respect -- even the fun -- of intellectual stimulation from political debate -- seems to be in short supply this year. We would all do well to remember the wise words of Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand: "The spirit of democracy begins with the notion that I might be wrong."