Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Words Wasted on Scott Brown's Meltdown

There are two very different pieces on Senator Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) and his profanity laced tirade in front of King Phillips High kids last week. In the Boston Globe, Brian McGrory decides that it serves those punk kids right for getting their words thrown back at them. McGrory uses the Brown controversy as an excuse to lament the quality of political discourse, particularly that on the Internet:

Politics long ago lost any of its politesse. People no longer simply disagree; they vilify each other's existence. They don't debate, but assault, the more personal the better, facts and logic be damned.
Never mind that McGrory seems to be under the illusion that this is a new phenomenon, he seems not to appreciate that Brown's impolitic reaction actually contributes to the low quality of political discourse. An authority figure publicly calling someone out for remarks on the Internet is a way to silence or intimidate that person, not to debate them. But that's no big deal, because those kids had it coming to them.

More thoughtful commentary can be found in Brown's hometown paper, the Sun Chronicle. An editorial today laments that Brown taught the kids the wrong lesson:
[T]here is a time, a tone and a context for retort and for demanding vindication.

While we empathize with Brown's wish to redress the postings, his decision to use an appearance on legislative issues to scold everyone came across as inappropriate, unjust and seemingly out of character.

Replying in kind diminished, for the moment, his stature as a grownup who should have known better.


Instead of peppering the entire audience with a regurgitation of the postings and naming students involved, he could have taken the high road.
Indeed. If Brown had responded with a degree of dignity, we'd be talking about how well he taught those kids how to respond to political attacks, not about whether it was appropriate for him to name names and use profanity.

Update: Now this is a more classy response -- Brown has offered one of the students who posted on facebook an internship in his office. Maybe he'll walk out of this not looking like a lunatic after all.