Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is so Important

*The following is a response to the Press Enterprise Editor, Jim Sachetti's threat to banish me from posting remarks on local and national issues. My aim in posting it here is to reiterate the point that until progressive change comes to small towns like mine--Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania--it cannot endure anywhere.



To the Editor,

Is it possible to condone an act of violence, even murder, through inaction? Through words that cry foul, but in fact excuse? Yes. Few who condoned the Ramirez murder used words like “his death’s OK with me.” But as the meaningless sentence, lack of local outcry for justice, and comments that begin in faux-condemnation but quickly give way to a “BUT, he had it coming,” show, it’s not NOT OK to murder undocumented workers.

As I point out in 30 Seconds (6.26), this same condoning posture informs J. Pushinaitis’ 6.20 O-Ed remarks concerning late term abortion.

Pushinaitis: “Dr. Tiller killed 60,000 babies with a saline-filled syringe,” and “not one word uttered by [Bruce] Rockwood to impose syringe controls, but instead he chooses to clamor over gun control.” Pushinaitis’ point is that while we ought to repudiate LTA, we ought not to regulate gun-ownership. He offers no defense of the assumption that LTA is murder—and none to support unregulated gun ownership. One’s evil, the other good; end of story.

There is much to be said about the gun ownership side of this strained analogy, but my aim is to concentrate on the subject of Sachetti’s “challenge,” or rather threat to banish me from 30 Seconds for claiming that Pushinaitis condones the murder of Dr. Tiller.

Pushinaitis’ assumptions: (a) although LTA comprises fewer than 1% of abortions, and (b) is performed to save the mother’s life/health and/or to prevent suffering for a hopelessly damaged fetus, that if (c) LTA nonetheless constitutes murder then (d) the fetus’ life-value outweighs the mother’s. It should thus be banned regardless the consequences for the mother. Given that ignorance of the facts is no excuse, “P. denies that women have an equal right to life/health.”

Pushinaitis thus condones Tiller’s murder on two grounds: first, in inciting public outcry against abortion, the “baby-killer” rhetoric fosters callousness towards the lives of doctors who perform them. We turn away, and say to ourselves, ‘Well, I didn’t kill him, BUT he had it coming.” Second, why else refer to Tiller only in the context of “baby-killing” except to imply that his murder embodies a certain justice—that Tiller deserved to be murdered?

Editor Sachetti claims my response to Pushinaitis is unjust, and challenges me to defend it on threat of banishment. Done. But isn’t this strange for someone who claims not only to be committed to free speech, but who publishes comments that border on libel? I neither impugn Pushinatis’ character nor slander him, yet not a day transpires that Sachetti doesn’t publish personal and professional assault aimed at me.

Does he forget that in 2007 he printed numerous false, potentially libelous, claims about my divorce, all without comment? In fact, although he had access to the evidence, he silently condoned this defamation and even defended the assassination of my character (October-December, 2007). I’ve never requested anyone’s banishment.

I BELIEVE in free speech.

But if it applies only to those whom Sachetti favors, it’s not freedom, not even for those who applaud his challenge. They’re in fact the biggest dupes of all in Sachetti’s game of “up the stakes.”

Perhaps 30 Seconds is really the Truman Show, its contributors unwitting sit-com actors. Maybe the show was getting dull for Sachetti, and he needed to ratchet up the anger at one of its antagonists. We’re about to find out—and it applies to us all. Will it matter that I’ve met the challenge? Probably not. Were Sachetti committed to free speech, he would never have leveled it.

Your move, Mr. Sachetti. Who’s next?

Wendy Lynne Lee

592 words.