Friday, October 22, 2004



A would-be Republican political sign thief got his just desserts in the Denver area recently:
A Lakewood Republican stealing campaign signs late one night got nabbed when he ran across a low- hanging driveway chain, fell face first onto a pilfered sign and the concrete and knocked himself unconscious.

Randal Wagner, 50, was loaded into an ambulance, treated at Lutheran Medical Center for abrasions and facial cuts and issued a summons.

Wagner, who unsuccessfully tried to steal a "Dave Thomas" congressional sign that evening, had signs for other Democratic candidates in his Toyota pickup, Wheat Ridge police reported.

"I did a very stupid thing," Wagner said Monday, admitting theft of the signs. "I got caught up in the political passions of this highly contested election."

Wagner said that he and his wife, Jan, who was driving their pickup that night, "want to apologize to the people" they have offended.

"Everybody has a right to express their political opinions," Randal Wagner said.

Jan Wagner, who was not cited, said she did not want to discuss what happened. She also is a Republican.

Oh, and speaking of just desserts ... it seems someone pasted Ann Coulter with cream pies in Arizona last night.

Someone named Professor Bainbridge (who doesn't even have the courtesy to link to the post he cites) mentions this incident in taking me to task for my remark about "small acts of nastiness and mean-spiritedness" (in Part 4 of "The Rise of Pseudo Fascism").

OK, so I'm going to write this verrrry sloowwwly, just so everyone can understand:

I've never claimed that nastiness and mean-spiritedness is the sole purview of the right. I've remarked on several occasions about such acts from the left as well, and have made clear that there's simply no excuse for it, regardless. The idiots who attacked Coulter should be charged with battery, just like that Bush supporter in Portland should have been.

I am fairly confident, however, that if we were to catalog all of these acts, both big and small, over the past four years, the list on the right side of the aisle would be considerably longer, and considerably nastier, than that on the left. And there's a reason for that: Unlike the nastiness on the left -- which is often reactive -- the impetus for that on the right is being encouraged (and in some cases directly fomented) by people in positions of national leadership of the conservative movement.

This ranges from figures like Rush Limbaugh (who fantasizes about killing all liberals except for a few to be kept in museums) and Ann Coulter (who argues in favor of "a little local fascism" and thinks Tim McVeigh should have targeted the New York Times Building) to Dick Cheney, who tells a senator on the floor of the Senate to go fuck himself -- and then not only refuses to apologize, but recommends such discourse as a feel-good measure.

This is only a small and partial list; as regular readers know, this kind of behavior has become so commonplace on the part of both media figures and political leaders on the right that it has become nearly unremarkable -- especially, it seems, to people like Bainbridge. And there is simply no correlative behavior from anyone on the left in any kind of similar position, media or otherwise.

Bainbridge mentions Hitlerian tactics in this context. Well, if we're going to be dealing in analogies, perhaps he is unaware, as a point of history, that Hitler's fascists regularly pointed to violence on the part of Communists and Socialists -- which were disproportionately played up and publicized by the German press in contrast to the acts of the Sturmarbeitelung -- as justification for their own massive campaign of violence ... which, of course, was being perpetually encouraged by media and political figures at the top of the party.

Mote in the eye, indeed.

UPDATE: Bainbridge has now rewritten the post and linked directly to me. Its original text referred to me as "someone named David Neiwert," which inspired the rejoinder. He's also deleted the link to Brian Leiter's original post.

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