On March 2nd, 2011. The Massachusetts Tea Party and Liberty Coalition, a group of like-minded groups, sent a letter to Governor Patrick expressing their displeasure with the constant use of violent speech and rhetoric by public officials at public events. The most recent incidence in Massachusetts was at the February 22, 2011 rally at the Statehouse in support of the Wisconsin public service unions. There was at least one documented incident of actual physical violence, (a sign torn from a tea party members hands) and much verbal abuse, by union members against peaceful counter protest from the tea party movement. In addition, as was reported in the local media, US Congressman Michael Capuano (D) said sometimes things had to get a little bloody. Governor Patrick was present at the time this comment was made. Capuano has since made a statement regretting his choice of words. The letter also cites a statement made by George Noel, Director of Labor for the Commonwealth made saying “Make no mistake, we are at a state of war.”
“Individuals can make poor word choices. This is not our concern. What concerns us is that when this type of language comes repeatedly from officeholders and upper management of the Commonwealth, It takes on an appearance of the state inciting and encouraging violence against citizens with an opposing point of view.” – Letter to Governor Patrick
Public political figures, more than anyone else should temper their speech, no matter what they may think. It isn’t always easy to choose the correct words in the heat of the moment, but we all must try. True in some cases the interpretation of what is violent rhetoric can be a grey area, such as the “sniper targets” on Sarah Palin’s web page, the same as were on a Democratic web site as well, but there are many more examples of clear violent statements. These are the ones which need to be moderated, again, especially by persons who are seen as “Official” government representatives.
It is interesting how the left continually blames those in the Tea Party movement of inciting violence at rallies, when time and time again this is shown not to be the case. Yes, tea party members can be loud and vocal in expressing their opinions yet it is very rare for them to use violent threats or profane language at any event. Yet the Tea Party is always painted as the “instigators”.
It is more important than ever for the tea party movement not to be led into this type of dialog. Their opponents will constantly try to turn the tables on the movement making them the bad guys, they cannot let themselves fall into this trap. In the case of the rally at the Statehouse, it is interesting to note that most of the union attendees were not even members of the public service unions, and it was these who seemed t instigate the most problems.
As pointed out just this week by the Supreme Court, we all have the right to express free speech. This is guaranteed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, however it doesn’t mean we should not have respect for others or resort to violence when we disagree.
As of this writing, Governor Patrick has not responded to the above mentioned letter.