Seldom do things get truly out of hand and end up in violence. Nevertheless, it happens from time and time. In the best light, things like assassinations, attempted assassinations, and other despicable physically violent acts sober up ideological combatants and serve as a cautionary encouragement to ease some of the tension, and the vitriol, and the malice.
Not so with pundits like Ed Schultz of MSNBC. An avid liberal who frequently uses argument by outrage a la Keith Olbermann, Schultz was recently suspended by MSNBC for his remarks regarding conservative social commentator Laura Ingraham. While ranting about her ideological ways and alleging a double standard on her part, Schultz called Ingraham a “right-wing slut.”
What makes this horrible move hypocritical is that in the months leading up to this derisive remark, Schultz was all about bringing forth an end to incivility. This was because months earlier Schultz, along with the rest of mainstream society, were shocked and appalled by the Tucson, Arizona shooting in which Democrat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously wounded and others including a nine year old were killed.
And then there was Ed Schultz, who not long after the shooting called for a more civil discourse.
“[The shooting] certainly shines a light, a bright light, on the extremist rhetoric that the modern day culture gives us,” said Schultz.
“Words have consequences,“ added Schultz, who spoke with concern about Tea Party rhetoric and politicians who said they wanted their constituents “armed and dangerous.”
In that monologue, nearly all the examples Ed Schultz gave were rightwing in nature. Later in the month Schultz continued the blame game:
“President Obama I think has done everything in his power to unite this country and change the tone, but Republicans keep treating him with disrespect,” said Schultz.
“The tone in this country will never change until Republicans quit the perpetual campaign cycle and start acting like statesmen,” he added.
For all that talk demanding a better discourse and how it was the Republicans‘ fault, Ed Schultz threw all that out the window to attack an ideological enemy. In effect, he fostered the very hostile tone he claimed to abhor. Ed Schultz is not the only leftwing voice performing this double standard. Former MSNBC pundit Keith Olbermann’s rhetoric towards conservatives was so inflammatory that it was denounced by liberally-slanted Jon Stewart on a Daily Show segment. And the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation recently gave a media award to a blogger who frequently defamed conservative homosexuals.
While classifying Ed Schultz as a profile in hypocrisy, I must him some credit. He did sincerely apologize for his remarks against Laura Ingraham, who proceeded to accept his apology. Further, though only suspended for a week Schultz has openly talked of taking an indefinite leave, presumably to really think about the means through which he is propagating his views.
Between the sincere apology and the possible introspection, Ed Schultz is a step ahead of many of his progressive minded peers who continue to preach civility while resorting to name-calling and intimidation of ideological opponents. For far too many, it is horrible how the other side uses bad words and vile rhetoric, but not so bad when they use it back. Outrage loses its potency when people realize it selectivity.