Thursday, August 02, 2007

John Torinus on name calling.

Hi folks,

One of our anonymous readers passed this along to me just after I put up the previous note on Hegel. John Torinus says roughly the same thing in clearer, more immediately relevant English.

The real gangs that patrol Wisconsin
Negative bloggers, radio cost the GOP the state


August 1, 2007

I looked up the word "gang" to see what it means, and it’s not the same in the new blogosphere as elsewhere.

There are gangs in the "hood" and there was the "gang of four" in Communist China. I guess it’s the latter that the bloggers are alluding to when they talk about the "gang of five" on the West Bend Common Council.

From where most of us sit, five like-minded alderpersons out of eight seats spells a majority. In blogland, apparently, a "gang" means a group who disagrees with the blogviator. You take issue, and you become a gangster.


Now there’s a recipe for intelligent public debate. Essentially, it’s name-calling, fourth-grade stuff.

The latest "gang" crime by the majority on the council was to select as a replacement alderman a man who has been elected by citizens of the city to the County Board.

He was chosen over a candidate who has never been elected, but volunteered his services.

Seems like a perfectly logical decision to go with a citizen who has a track record of public support versus a rookie.

The offer to serve by the volunteer should be much appreciated, but the majority has a right to use logic to make the call.

Majorities rule in a democracy. Making majority decisions is not gang behavior.

Besides, the minority of three on the council seems to be acting as much in concert as the majority of five (counting the mayor). That, by the same token, doesn’t make the minority a "gang of three."

It would be positive step for council dynamics, and therefore for the city, if the newly elected alderman could play a mediating role between the two factions.

And here’s some advice for the minority of three: if you want to get to a majority position, stop listening to the entertainers in the blog or talk radio space.

Following right wing pundits may make you feel righteous and filled with certitude, but it is a sure-fire ticket to being in the minority forever.

That’s what happened to the Republican Party in Wisconsin. It started dancing to the drums of the nay-saying conservatives, the name-callers (think "rhinos") and it went in short order from control of the governor’s mansion and the Legislature to a minority in the Senate and on the outs in the governor’s job.

You can’t just be negative in politics and expect to win. You have to put forward positive alternatives. That goes for the Legislature or the common council.

Most voters don’t like candidates with a nasty tone to their rhetoric. They vote in general for candidates who show some respect for their opponents and for the system.

If the minority aldermen want to be in the majority, they need to make a positive case. Knocking the other side won’t get them there.

Some of the over-heated critics have suggested a recall of Alderman Mike Schlotfeldt on the blog sites. That’s an over-the-top reaction to a vote or two where the bloggers disagree with him.

Schlotfeldt is a hard-working, intelligent official and doesn’t deserve cheap shots.

If the bloggers don’t like where he’s at on the issues, run against him in a regular election. That’s how we resolve issues in most cases. Only extraordinary circumstances justify a recall.

Enough already with the divisive and disrespectful tactics. They remind me of a gang mugging in the political sense.

(John Torinus is chairman of the board of Serigraph, Inc. in West Bend and a past general manager of the Daily News.)



Anonymous said...

...."They remind me of a gang mugging in the political sense"

A good comparison in the urban culture would be "mean mugging". It's a non-physical form of intimidation - no laws are broken, but the result is the same.

Thanks for posting this topic - seems like some blogs that attack the Mainstream Media for selective reporting are also careful about what they put out there, and choose what gets dismissed or ignored. Furthermore, there is no attempt to "self-correct", once more accurate information is presented. One time I was googling some local topics, and was surprised at some of the inaccurate stuff that shows up linked to one of these blogs. I assume that once T. Turner announced his candidacy, the B & S site was "sanitized" to make sure any of Turner's posts that could be politically embarrassing were removed.

I guess some of those blogs are like "comfort food". If they suit your tastes, they are easy to swallow but not necessarily nutritious.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people are used to the current incarnation of the Daily News and assume it's always been this way. When the Torinus family owned it, it was an award-winner... one of the best in the state. They editorialized (something Conley Publishing will not allow), they did investigative reporting, they had space for lengthy local news articles.

Torinus was on-target. Robinson, Turner and their minions have a self-righteous arrogance. They fancy themselves as "the grassroots" fighting against "the elites" but then act exactly like elitists: snide remarks about people; making fun of their names (i.e. jokes about King Riffel's name); labeling. The RINO slander they heaped on Mary Panzer and Mickey Lehmann was appalling. They're never wrong and they can say and write anything they want. Criticize them, as Justman's daughter did, and "you're too sensitive".

I've read plenty of Turner's letters and posts over the years. He'll play Mr. Nice until he wins election.

Mpeterson said...

The old Daily News employed people like Jack Anderson. That's all you need to say. I can't imagine what it's like for the current crop of writers to live in that shadow.

And maybe we should ask Mr. Turner for a response to Owen's nearly prurient dissection of that letter?

Shall we?


Anonymous said...

Many years ago at UWWC I took an introductory journalism course jointly taught by Jack Anderson & John Torinus. At that time the News was embroiled in a legal battle with City Hall (Mayor Schoenhaar)about access to public information - I'm not sure if we had an open records law at that time, and I don't recall what the exact issue was. Now there was an arrogant Mayor & council! And West Bend survived & thrived - didn't need smartass bloggers to tell us locals how to resolve those issues.

Thanks for the memories! Jack Anderson was a great person - I think he was also the Student Affairs person at UWWC, besides doing some teaching. Of course, he then moved on to working for the West Bend News.

Anonymous said...

I assume that once T. Turner announced his candidacy, the B & S site was "sanitized" to make sure any of Turner's posts that could be politically embarrassing were removed.

You assume incorrectly. As a matter of principle, we don't delete posts or comments except for spam and the rare troll.

- Owen