No, it’s not Okay to punch reporters. I have some thoughts (best unexpressed) about reporters and pundits who couldn’t seem to move past the Benghazi Bamboozle and Ultimate Emails and give voice to reasonable opposition. I have some thoughts about cable news outlets which prize confrontation above discussion, and who repeatedly request the services of Talking Point Bubble Heads (also best unexpressed.) However, it is never appropriate to vilify The Press. After all is said and said again, the Press is the only vocation protected by our Constitution. There’s a reason for that.
No, the press is not the enemy of the state. To make this statement with any sincerity is to contend that the State should be (1) immune from criticism, (2) enabled to declare its own truth, and (3) able to defend its singular version of ‘reality’ against all comers. This is not the basis for a democratic society.
No, the function of the press is not to make anyone feel comfortable. Am I uncomfortable with some of the criticisms of the Affordable Care Act, yes, I am, but I am also willing to admit that the law needs some revision to deal with problems in the individual health insurance market. I don’t need to be comfortable, I need to be informed. I need information about options, such as a “public option,” or “single payer,” structures. What I need is more light with less heat. I would like to hear or read an explication of the problems associated market issues in the insurance business. The function of the Press is to provide the informed discussion about those options.
No, punching out a reporter, and then cheering the assailant isn’t manly. It’s cowardly. It’s “Junior High.” Or, it’s messaging for people who may be long gone from the creaking lockers of the ‘old high school now the junior high’ chronologically, but not so far removed in social and emotional immaturity. It’s the bravado of the bar room. It’s the bombast of the insecure. It’s the reflection of the dark place in which to offer arguments against a political, or ideological sentiment isn’t differentiated from a personal assault.
No, physically attacking (or indulging in rancid verbal attacks) isn’t the new normal. Such things are socially unacceptable. They make the news broadcasts, as do highway accidents, gun fights, and public brawls — but that doesn’t make them “normal.” Attaching the word “normal” to instances of brutality, incivility, and immature rancor is to demean the efforts of every parent on the planet advising children to behave themselves in both public and private places. Norms are standards of social behavior, to be considered typical and expected. We don’t expect people to indulge in emotional outbursts of undisciplined aggression. That would violate our Norms. As in “normal” behavior.
We could do with a bit more normality these days.