Silly me, expecting maturity

Well, let’s all just slap our needs, throw our heads back, and engage in prolonged belly laughter over my description of the S.C. Senate as "somewhat more mature" than the House. Sure, the House asserted its reckless foolishness first, but the Senate didn’t waste any time, either.

Well, I should have known better. That’s all there is to it.

But you’d think that even lawmakers who are completely within the thrall of the billboard industry would pause a moment when they see Phil Leventis, of all people, supporting a Mark Sanford veto. Those guys never agree on much of anything. If both of them see the wisdom in letting local communities set their own standards, why can’t the rest of them.

Oops, silly me again — using words like "wisdom" in such a context.

15 thoughts on “Silly me, expecting maturity

  1. Lee

    I’m waiting for Governor Sanford to veto another irresponsible tax increase, such as on cigarettes, and Brad Warthen to denounce him as an idiot.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Yeah, Herb, that’s the same kind of blustery nonsense we’ve read time and time again about the cartoons.
    All I can do is shake my head at the foolishness.
    If these people would think for half a second — assuming they’re capable — they would realize that the hard road, the gutsy road, is NOT to publish the stupid cartoons.
    Maybe you’ll understand this even though they don’t.
    The really hilarious thing is the way they say we’re “caving in” and “chickening out.” What the hell do they think we’re “afraid” of? Let’s see: My readership area includes maybe 2 million people who call themselves “conservatives.” And to call yourself “conservative” in South Carolina is to be much more in that direction than in most of the country. Many of these people are extremely vocal, and have a penchant for giving newspapers (all of which, to their biased eyes, are “liberal” — even when they’re not) all kinds of hell, and generally making life as irritating as they can for sensible, centrist editors (such as yours truly). Within that vocal subset, there are thousand upon thousands who are quick to anger, and filled with a sense of entitlement. They EXPECT, by God, to be listened to and heeded, or else.
    Meanwhile, my readership area includes — I don’t know — maybe 100 Muslims who read the paper. Oh, let’s stretch and say 1,000. And if there is an Islamist extremist among them, he has yet to be foolish enough to show himself. The very, very few Muslims I have EVER heard from in the course of doing my job are always timid, ultra-polite types who hope people will be nice to them, and go out of their way not to give offense.
    Now, of those two groups, which one do you think is most likely to give me problems?
    So what do you think I saw as the easy course in this? Well, it was to publish the cartoons, of course. People would slap me on the back and say, “Great American! I guess you showed them!”
    But I chose the more difficult route. Why? Because I believed it was stupid and irresponsible to run those cartoons the first time, and that I would be acting contrary to the interests of my country if I repeated that childish act.
    I don’t know why this is so hard to understand. It’s obvious to me. But then, I’ve spent more than 30 years studying readers from the perspective of an editor who KNOWS after all this time what kinds of reactions to expect. And most people haven’t.

  3. Lee

    The cartoons are a phony issue whipped up the Islamic hate leaders.
    They are also a distraction from journalists doing some real work of reporting the facts of this struggle, instead of the simplistic template expected by their bosses and peers.

  4. steve

    Was there a particular response you believe you have avoided by not publishing the cartoons? Did you do some type of risk analysis that said:
    “The probability of X occuring is Y%,
    thus we will not publish them”
    Did you fear for your own safety?

  5. Brad Warthen

    No, Steve. (Deep breath, adopt a patient, indulgent tone.) At no time did I fear for my own safety.
    In fact, there has never been a time in my career that I feared for my own safety. There WAS that time in the early 80s when I was standing out in the open at a scene where police had a building surrounded where they believed (wrongly) that armed bank robbers were holed up. I looked around, realized that everybody but me not only had weapons at the ready, but had carefully taken cover. I decided that I should probably step over a few feet to get behind something solid, too.
    Actually, I wasn’t afraid then, either — except maybe afraid of looking stupid standing in the open. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve never had enough sense to be scared. Or maybe I figured out earlier than the cops did that the gang wasn’t really there.
    Excuse the digression, but your question is so absurd that one hardly knows how to respond. I mean, did you READ what I just wrote?
    Fear? Fear what? Whom would I have been afraid of? Oh, I guess you’re referring to those thousands of enraged Muslims who have been tearing through the streets of Columbia, killing and burning down buildings.
    Yeah, that’s gotta be it. Ooooh, I’m SO SCARED….
    Dang. I forgot about maintaining the patient, indulgent tone.

  6. David

    Do you think in these days that some of our legislators are on the take?
    This bill seems to contrary to what we hear some of them preaching 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that I can not figure out why a good many would support it.
    I know Joel Lourie and Bill Cotty supported the Governor. I didn’t get any response to my emails to John Courson, Bobby Harrell, or Glenn McConnell.
    So since many of these “Conservatives” PREACH 100% local control every time they open their mouth, I can only believe that some took some payouts or something from the “huge and all powerful” South Carolina billboard industry (of all things).
    It is sad that so many of our House Members and Senators are so full of crap. I can’t wait until I am near one the next time they start fussing about how they support local control, etc. I think I might call them a liar face to face.

  7. Herb

    Thanks, Brad. You know, after I got home this evening, I asked myself, “why did I post that link, anyway?” I was in a hurry this morning to get off after spending too much time blogging about good ol’ St. Paul.
    Anyway, I still agree with your response on the issue, and if I had thought much about it, I wouldn’t have let William Bennett disturb me. After all, I’ve got Muslim friends of my own that I highly respect.
    Posting unripe thoughts is almost too easy.

  8. Mike C

    For a nice roundup of cartoonists’ take on the cartoon jihad, take a gander at “U. S. Cartoonists fight back”. (Hat tip to The Blogfather.)
    The State’s own Robert Ariail leads the crowd.
    But we knew that. His cartoon today was masterful.

  9. Old Hickory

    Mr. Warthen,
    Love to hear your take on the port situation.
    Its interesting to me because the fault lines between those supporting/opposing this deal haven’t been strictly partisan ones (yet).

  10. steve

    I guess you will have to try and remain patient with me. You wrote:
    “But I chose the more difficult route. Why? Because I believed it was stupid and irresponsible to run those cartoons the first time, and that I would be acting contrary to the interests of my country if I repeated that childish act.”
    I have yet to grasp what would be irresponsible about publishing the cartoons so your readers would know what the whole
    issue was about. Please clarify for me what response you would have expected from your readers had you done so? I’m guessing that the 5% of your readers who bother to glance at the editorial page would basically respond with “Oh. Hmmm.
    That’s not very funny. Where’s the sports page?”.

  11. Muhammd Al Biclighter

    The State knows that there are people like me who would burn their daily papers in the front yard in protest if they printed that profane cartoon.

  12. Herb

    Personally, I agree with Bennett and Dershowitz about media policy, but I don’t think it is necessarily new. And I also agree with Brad that it isn’t necessary to stir up trouble through a local paper like The State. As much as I respect my Muslim friends, when we make issues out of stuff like this, we create an opportunity for Islam to develop a greater profile by providing it a platform it wouldn’t otherwise have. And the more I think about it, the more convinced I become that we don’t need to do that.

  13. Lee

    Not on topic, but Internet users need to be aware that the Post Office wants to tax e-mails so they “can’t compete unfairly” with Snail Mail.
    Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (D-AK), says he thinks all “communications” services, which he defined for reporters after a hearing as “transmitting knowledge from one person to another,” should be forced to pay taxes. “I believe fax is a communication, I think e-mail is a communication, and I do believe they all should contribute,” he said.

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