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Still More on Edwards-Marcotte Non-Scandal

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, February 7 2007

So now the rightwing Catholic League has waded into the presidential scrum with an attack on the John Edwards campaign for hiring two bloggers who have, in the past, written harsh, even profane, criticisms of the Church. Free speech is a bitch, isn't it?

I don't have much time today for this, alas, but I think liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald makes two terrific points today. First, he shows that if people want to, they can comb thru the old posts by other campaign's staffers and find equally controversial writing. He demonstrates this by pointing to a couple of pithy remarks by Patrick Hynes, one of John McCain's internet consultants. And, interestingly, he points out that there's been no lynch-mob campaign to get McCain to fire Hynes on the part of liberal groups or bloggers.

Greenwald's second point is the key one: do we want a political process where anyone who has ever expressed themselves the way political people do--with strong, provocative opinions and language--is going to be drummed out of campaigns and we all act as if we don't have strong opinions? Greenwald:

"if this is going to be the standard that is applied, I don't think there are many bloggers, if there are any, who will be able to be affiliated with political campaigns in the future. Whatever is the case, the standards should be applied equally, not driven by the hysterical lynch-mob behavior that is the fuel of the right-wing blogosphere."

Personally, I'd prefer a free-wheeling and highly provocative debate where a) campaigns are judged primarily by what their staff says and does while working for the campaign (see Terry McAuliffe, Clinton campaign chair, for a real controversy in that respect, given his immigrant bashing remarks this week), and b) civilians not working for campaigns feel free to express themselves robustly and not trim their speech to maintain their political viability.

And by the way, that also means if the Catholic League wants to use its free speech to criticize the Edwards campaign for whatever the league thinks his hiring of these two bloggers means, they should go right ahead. Let's have more speech, not less.

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