“Wishing for John Roberts’ Death” – NOT!!!

Patterico and Glenn Reynolds accuse either Wonkette or TPM of “hate speech.” They’re grossly and irresponsibly wrong.

Having beaten up on John Aravosis and Atrios for abusive misrepresentation, we now return to our regularly scheduled beating-up: in this case, of Patterico and Glenn Reynolds for doing the same dishonest thing.

Background: John Roberts had a seizure. TPM ran a completely straight story about John Roberts having a seizure, with no speculation at all about political fallout. (This by strong contrast with the ghoulish treatment the mainsteam media, fed by GOP sources, gave to Tim Johnson’s illness when it looked as if it might undo the results of the 2006 election and tip the balance of the Senate back to the Republicans.)

Wonkette (hardly a “lefty” site now that Ana Marie Cox has moved on to bigger things) linked to the TPM story with a snarky comment (quoted here in full):

Chief Justice John Roberts has died in his summer home in Maine. No, not really, but we know you have your fingers crossed.

Wonkette’s snark is obviously directed at opponents of the current ruling cabal who might, on political grounds, wish for Roberts’s death. I can’t deny that such a desire might be felt by someone; “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” But Wonkette wasn’t expressing that desire &#8212 on the contrary, she was satirizing it &#8212 and as far as I know no one has expressed that desire in any public way except for a few of the nut-cases at Democratic Underground (a site studiously ignored by the rest of Blue Blogistan; compare the treatment of Coulter, the Rottweiler, Malkin, and LGF in Red Blogistan). Certainly, TPM expressed no such desire, which makes Wonkette’s item unfair to TPM.

Enter Patterico, who quotes the item (again in full) and comments:

B-b-but . . . I thought hate speech was a problem only on prominent righty blogs &#8212 not prominent lefty blogs.

I’m not sure whether Patterico regards Wonkette as “lefty,” which it isn’t, really, or is adopting Wonkette’s snark toward TPM as his own and accusing TPM of proffering hate speech, which it didn’t, at all.

And Glenn Reynolds, who never thinks before he links, runs an item that reads, again in full, “Wishing for John Roberts’ Death,” (linking to Patterico).

Let me say this one more time, slowly and loudly: NO ONE AT WONKETTE OR TPM WISHED FOR JOHN ROBERTS’S DEATH. TPM reported that he was sick. Wonkette snarked at people who might want him to die. So Patterico, in accusing either Wonkette or TPM of “hate speech,” was forcefully stating the contrary of the truth. And the Instapundit was doing the same thing.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t dishonesty; maybe it was some combination of sloppy reading and sloppy writing. The same might be true of the claim that O’Reilly wanted to burn down the Capitol. But when you accuse someone of hate speech, you really ought to be sure you have the goods. Otherwise someone might think you’re engaging in a little bit of hate speech yourself.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com