A University of Massachusetts at Amherst graduate student is apologizing to Pat Tillman's family.
Gonzalez said in an e-mail to a Boston TV station that he was trying to say Tillman's celebrity had factored into his being labeled a hero.
He admits he tried to prove his point in an "insensitive way" and that the article wasn't worth publishing.
There were many messages I got out of Gonzales's editorial, but not one of them had anything to do with Tillman's celebrity had factored into his being labeled a hero
Nor do I think this is any sort of apology. Gonzales's words cannot be taken on their merit simply because of things Gonzales has written in the past concerning war and politics.
But that's not the point today. We're going to talk instead about freedom of speech, as it pertains to both Gonzales, weblog comments and Ted Koppel.
Let's start with the comments. While I think Gonzales is a spoiled, ignorant brat who should be ashamed of himself for printing such an ignorant rant, I do not think that what he did calls for a beating to be delivered upon his person. Nor do I think he should be shot, hung, buried alive or scalped.
All of the above suggestions were mentioned in the comments on this post
. Some of the comments printed the phone number and address of Gonzales. I deleted most of them, but there are a few more I need to get to.
If you want to play the part of vigilante, I'd much rather not be your sidekick. Yes, you have the freedom to throw your ideas out there - but this being my website that I pay for, complete with a space provided to you free for all your commentary needs, I have the right to ask you to remove yourself and your ideas from this place. Frankly, I'd rather not be a part of it when Gonzales is found in a bloody pulp on his own doorstep, should you be so inclined to follow through on your threats.
And now a few words about Mr. Koppel. While I applaud Sinclair TV's move to not have their ABC affiliates air Koppel's thinly veiled swipe at the ongoing battle in Iraq, there is a part of me that hopes they reconsider.
In an ideal world, we all make our own decisions, which we are then held responsible for. By taking Nightline
off the air for that night, Sinclair is both making a decision for every one of its viewers and letting Koppel off the hook in those specific cities in which the show will not be seen.
Sinclair should instead give their viewers the chance to watch or not watch the show on their own accord, and put a disclaimer on before Nightline
stating that they do not agree with the content of the show, but are going to air it so as not to take away the right to watch it from those who want to.
Koppel was on Curtis and Kuby (WABC radio) this morning. He was explaining how important it is that he read the names of the war dead, otherwise the dumb American public will never know the cost of the war.
So, Koppel thinks that we are so uneducated about the war that we have no idea people are dying every day, that our soldiers are coming home in caskets, that death is a part of war.
We know that, Ted. We are well aware of the casualties of war, both civilian and military. What I want is for Koppel and ABC to be honest about what they are doing. Just come out and say it. But don't drape the program in some patriotic flag and tell us you are doing it for our own good. If that is the story they are sticking with, then that tells me that ABC and the producers of Nightline
believe that, as a nation, we are clueless, unniformed and naive.
We are not. Whether you are with this war or against it, you know the toll. You know the numbers (exaggerated as some of them may be). You know many of the names and faces. No one I know is hiding their head in the sand and pretending that every soldier who goes overseas will come home in one piece. War is ugly, brutal and deadly. And, sometimes, necessary.
This is what I said at Bill Quick's
this morning, when Bill linked to a quote
by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey:
bq. "The decision by Sinclair ... to keep this program off its stations is being made by a corporation with a political agenda without regard to the wants or needs of its viewers," Hinchey said. "This move may be providing a chilling look into the future if we allow media ownership to be consolidated into fewer and fewer hands."
To which I replied:
And one can conversely say "The decision to air Koppel's reading was made by a corporation with a political agenda without regard to the wants or needs of its viewers."
So where does that leave us? Perhaps we should just allow anything and everything to be aired and leave us to judge for ourselves whether or not to watch or listen? Then we can react to what we have seen or heard and not to what was not
seen or heard. Everything out in the open; biases, agendas, partnerships, affiliations - full disclosure. Have a crawl on the bottom of CNN saying, "This is an ant-Israeli station" whenever they report from Israel. Have Fox put up a disclaimer saying "We are staunch conservatives who suppor the war" on their station. Newscasters should wear buttons proclaiming support for their favorite politicians. Interviewe shows can open with a little segment in which the interviewer says "Not only do I hate the person I am interviewing, but I slept with her and she dumped me the next day, so I harbor much bitterness towards her." This way, we will have no guessing as to the subtext of a certain segment or editorial. We'll know exactly what we are watching and we can make our judgment on the show's worth based on that.
Yea, well Ted Koppel read those names the other night, but he came right out and said it was designed to lower support for the war, so I turned it off.
Oh? That's when I turned it up. I thought it was magnificent. But then, I'm anti-war.
Oh yes, I know - eventually it will lead to liberals watching liberal shows and conservatives watching conservative shows, and if one watches the other, it will only be to gather ammunition for the next water cooler debate. Much like blogs, where we visit DU or FR just to find out what the "enemy" is saying.
And then we'll all live in little echo chambers, where the only sound is the sound of our own opinions bouncing back at us, over and over. Or will we? Would you be more inclined to watch something if you knew outright that the moderator of the show was fervently opposed to your ideals? Would a gay person watch a politcal talk show where the anchor was wearing a lapel pin that read "I hate gays?"
See, there's no real solution to media bias. We just have to let it be and try to figure out for ourselves what's truth and what's half truth and what's plain old agenda.
I'm glad the Daily Collegian printed Gonzales's editorial. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard, no matter how ignorant and vile it is. Exposure of ignorance is a good thing.
But silencing that ignorance with rocks and clubs is not a good thing. It is not good for liberty, for freedom or justice for all - the very things we purport that Pat Tillman was fighting in the name of when he died.
If Tillman has become a hero, it is
because of his celebrity, in a way. And that's a good
thing. Pat Tillman's face and name, for many, have become the face and name of the war dead.
Unfortunately, Pat Tillman's name won't be heard on Nightline tonight. He died in Afghanistan. Koppel is only reading the names of the Iraq dead.
Maybe he should tell us why.
Related: When Idiots Attack
Ted Koppel, War Profiteer
, and The War Dead
On Pat Tillman