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Republican Charles Djou Tied With Democratic Candidates in Hawaii Special House Election | Main | Gallup: Obama Falls Again to All-Time Low, 47%
April 12, 2010

Union Refuses to Fire Goon Who Printed Christie Death-Wish Prayer

Do as we say, not as we do:

The president of a state teachers union left a meeting Monday with Gov. Chris Christie after refusing to fire a local president who wrote a memo that joked about the governor's death, further escalating a rift that began before Christie's election.

Christie spokesman Mike Drewniak said the governor wants Bergen County teachers union head Joe Coppola fired for his "irresponsible" memo. The memo from the Bergen County Education Association to its locals included a closing prayer that read:

"Dear Lord this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor."

Coppola and New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian have apologized for the memo. Coppola has said the "prayer" was a joke and was never meant to be made public.

Keshishian left her first face-to-face meeting with the governor after 15 minutes Monday afternoon when she refused to fire Coppola.

"Barbara does not have the authority to fire him," New Jersey Education Association spokesman Steve Baker said. "She doesn't intend to ask for his resignation. He has made an apology to the governor; it is a sincere apology. She considers that to be the end of that issue."

Claiming something is a "joke" is the all-purpose escape for anyone who's said something offensive, hateful, or irresponsible. When people claim they were "just joking," they intend to convey the message "I certainly never meant to say anything of a sort."

That is usually a lie. There are ironic jokes like Sean Hannity's reference to "racist teabaggers" -- in that case, he really didn't mean anything of the sort; his intent was to parody liberals' stereotypes of Tea Partiers.

But most jokes are not ironical. Most jokes do not have the intent, as Hannity's did, of suggesting the absolute opposite expression than the literal, surface meaning of the words.

Most jokes intend to say precisely what they say -- they are, as no lesser light than (groan) Senator Al Franken called them, examples of "kidding on the square" -- yeah, you're kidding, in that you're expressing your views humorously, but you're doing so "on the square" -- that is, honestly. It's what you really mean.

Joking is a time-honored method of expressing forbidden/taboo/socially-disapproved thought through a more socially-acceptable manner of expression.

This is news to anyone? No, it's not. Everyone knows this. And everyone knows that in political humor especially, 95% of what is stated as a "joke" is kidding on the square and not ironical at all.

Yeah, if I call Obama "Captain Wonderful" I'm being ironic and I mean the opposite. But if I call him "The Jugeared Jackass," yeah, I'm quote-unquote "joking," but obviously I mean it, or at the very least I mean something very close to that. Maybe I've overstated something for comic effect, but an overstatement is still meant seriously on some level, isn't it?

So why is it that these idiots on the left continue claiming "it was just a joke" as if it's an all-purpose defense against criticizing their words?

A few days ago the Mudville Gazette suggested we ID some of the less-reputable guys showing up at Tea Party rallies to vent their crazy and damage (inadvertently) their cause. One guy brandished this sign...

Now, if that jackass got called out on his sign, I'm sure he'd say "It's just a joke."

But it's not just a joke, is it? Would any liberal buy the "just a joke" defense in that situation? No, they wouldn't. In fact, I don't buy it myself. He might, if ID'd and called upon to defend his pro-violence message, claim it was just a joke, but by a "joke," he means only a little bit of overstatement.

Overstatement doesn't mean one doesn't mean what they're saying. Overstatement means only one has exaggerated, for comic effect or shock value, what one actually believes, what one actually wishes, and what one actually intends to communicate.

And so it is with this union thug as well.

During the Bush years, I grew extremely agitated at the intemperate rhetoric against Bush and the clear expressions on the left of a desire to assassinate him. The desire on the left that Bush should be assassinated wasn't the thing I was worried about, per se -- if attention-getting histrionic idiots want to shout out death wishes against the president like some old pathetic gypsy hag who has no power except to spit venom, so what? It exposes them for the ineffectual, hysterical weaklings they are.

No, the danger there was secondary-- that they were communicating to all unbalanced individuals with a rifle that the assassination of George W. Bush would be viewed as a heroic deed among the cohort that matters to such a would-be killer. That a loser in a basement with a decent rifle and nothing left to lose could go from zero to hero -- at least with one largish segment of the population -- by taking a single shot.

And that such hateful rhetoric thus increased the chances that Bush would be shot and killed.

Which was, actually, the intent of such rhetoric. A lot of girlishly-excitable lefties were in fact attempting to psych up the would-be killers in their ranks to do what they themselves were too afraid to do.

Ten years after such hate and incitements-to-assassination were directed on a daily basis at President George W. Bush, the media has finally decided to start calling out such rhetoric as dangerous... just in time to protect the president they elected, Barack Obama.

I don't want this rhetoric directed at Obama, either. I certainly don't want any harm to come to the man, apart from the humiliation and ignominy of being voted out of office by 40 states in 2012.

And yet it angers me that the media only cares about the physical safety of a political leader when he's a liberal Democrat.

They're not covering the Christie thing at all, for example. Just a "joke," it seems. A joke communicated to union guys -- who have no history of violence, after all! -- against a governor who is pretty ruthlessly (but necessarily) cutting their compensation. No chance of incitement there, I guess!

It seems to me common-sense (common-sense, though not necessarily accurate) that the risk of assassination becomes acute when a leader is viewed as singularly capable. By which I mean: If this particular politician seems to be almost unique in having the the desire to drive a controversial policy into action, and he seems further more unique in having the political guts and political skills to be effective at doing so, he becomes especially endangered as regards would-be assassins, because an assassin might think that if this one person were eliminated, they'd succeed in having their political ambitions advanced.

By which I mean: A Mitch McConnell seems to me in far less danger of being assassinated than a Newt Gingrich, because a Mitch McConnell will likely just be replaced with another Mitch McConnell, whereas a Newt Gingrich -- the 1992-94 model, I mean -- seems irreplaceable.

So by that sort of thinking, the media is right to afford Barack Obama a special level of protection, a special level of vigilance in calling out and castigating overly-heated, violent rhetoric.

But, on the other hand, so was George W. Bush.

And so, in fact, is Chris Christie, who seems to me (observing from a distance) to be the first guy elected in New Jersey not only willing to take on the unions, but who has unexpectedly become popular in taking these usually-unpopular measures. A hyperpartisan laid-off union thug with a gun might well think that if only someone would remove this troublesome governor from the equation, the unions could get back to business as usual and directing state government.

And yet the media continues to only be concerned with death-rhetoric when it's directed at their Bonny Prince Barack. I guess if Bush were killed, or Governor Chris Christie, it wouldn't be so bad, in the media's eyes. I guess some people's violent deaths are acceptable collateral damage in rhetorical wars.

It incenses me to nearly-physical anger that the media continues deciding for the country which political leaders are worth protecting against assassination, and which others are expendable.

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posted by Ace at 07:21 PM

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