Open letter to CD8 candidate Ron Barber - The Explorer: Columns

Open letter to CD8 candidate Ron Barber

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Emil Franzi

Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 4:00 am

Dear Ron,

Because of your involvement as a victim in the tragic events of Jan 8th, 2011 you have a unique opportunity to not only represent but unite much of this community. It is one thing to have been part of the tragedy, another to use that to better all of us in the broadest context.

It has been a year since you helped form the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding. It has also been a year since your friend Fred Duval and others formed the National Institute for Civil Discourse. While some of us believe that the actions of a lone and deranged individual had little to do with civility in political campaigns, there is obviously nothing wrong with striving to advocate civil discourse. Shouldn’t part of that include pointing to and chastising those who grossly violate that fundamental premise?

Some are unconvinced that Civil Discourse Institute is actually sincere and only a convenient place for liberals to hire each other with grant money and host nebulous symposiums. You can easily disprove that by publicly condemning those who engage in political name-calling and personal attacks as Sheriff Dupnik attempted right after January 8th.

You could begin right here in Pima County with your own Democrat County Chairman, Jeff Rodgers, who so far in this year alone called members of the citizen volunteer Rio Nuevo Board of Directors “cockroaches” and advocated “tar and feathers” for certain members of the TUSD Board. This clearly typifies and even exceeds the behavior that Dupnik was concerned with and a public rebuke from you and your colleagues would go far to give all of you real credibility. Even more important it would give those genuinely interested in raising the level of political discourse a rallying place from which to do so.

You might consider evaluating the conduct of the group of students and faculty who have disrupted several meetings of the TUSD Board, chained themselves to desks, shouted down and intimidated speakers and have also called those disagreeing with them racists. Hopefully you could help determine beyond the incivility whether the racism charges are warranted.

If you are including media abuse of First Amendment rights, a recent rant by Dave Fitzsimmons in the Az Daily Star blog added to many of his bitter personal attacks on those with whom he differs is certainly grounds for some discussion. Many consider Fitz to be way beyond incivility.

There are other totally repulsive examples that also exemplify what both your Fund and and the Institute were formed to help eliminate. The misogynist remarks made against both Governor Palin and Congresswoman Bachmann by certain national media personalities come to mind. We also never heard from you about Rush Limbaugh’s recent "slut" outburst either, so perhaps you are still in the organizational phase and have yet to set up firm criteria on what is considered uncivil behavior. Unfortunately you and others who proclaimed the case for civility a year ago appear to many people to simply be an equal opportunity ignorer.

You can change that. You can truly be the voice for moderation and non-partisanship you claim. You can end the suspicions of hypocrisy and gain the respect you need beyond the sympathy you already have. All you have to do is apply the standards you profess to champion publicly to those who violate them.

Even if you wish to give the media carte blanche, you can still at least comment and hopefully chastise those in the political arena. By doing so with violations that originate from members of your own party, you can earn the non-partisan label you seek.

You can start quite modestly by publicly telling Rodgers to put a sock in it.

I await your response.

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