By Shelli Dawdy
The publishing of my editorial in the Lincoln Journal Star on Wednesday and resulting comments on the paper's website is a good time to recall other GiN members' articles and urge GiN members and site visitors to engage in the debate.
At the beginning of October, the Lincoln Journal Star published three editorials about Glenn Beck and his theories about Progressivism in particular.
Two of the three articles run by LJS were reprinted from The Washington Post, the third was an original from LJS. The Milbank editorials were only available in the print edition of the Journal Star, but I believe I have found the full column on the Post's website, HERE. The Milbank piece was published over the course of two days. Journal Star's "Glenn Beck, Meet George Norris" column was published on the third day.
I'll admit, reading through the first two articles, in particular, was a chore due to the nasty and condescending tone alone. The job wasn't made easier by the rampant quoting out of context, twisting of history, or not-so-thinly veiled insinuations that readers who might question the standard renditions of history, are hate-mongering stupid insane conspiracy-theorists.
The LJS editorial was much better written, but very frustrating, since it rehashed the standard notions about George Norris and Nebraska's change to a Unicameral legislature. The influence of Norris on Nebraska and the Unicameral are related topics that have been a frequent subject of conversation between those of us who have spent the past year and more learning about the workings of Nebraska's government.
It was not especially easy to attempt a response to the three articles within the confines of about 800 words, but I did my best, and the Lincoln Journal Star opted to publish it as a "Local View Column". The result has been that the fur is really flying.
Not surprisingly, most tend toward the nasty; as of 10:00pm last night, I'd been called a number of names, including as many variations of stupid as exist in Roget's Thesaurus. I've also been labeled the purveyor of tea party propaganda and, amusingly, Glenn Beck's wife, among other things.
There are some comments from folks who seem to have done their own study of Progressivism and don't like what they find, and there is a bit of substantive debate going on as well. In too many comments, however, petty childishness substitutes for what could and should be substantive debate.
Linda deserves many kudos for noticing the original columns in the first place, the encouragement she gave me to write the column I submitted, and for her consistent and valiant efforts to present facts and logic in a calm, thoughtful, and respectful manner on the LJS site, even when totally outnumbered.
Linda is well practiced not only at regularly making an effort to present facts and logically deconstruct the errors of those who are enamored with big government, but also in producing well-written local view columns herself.
A June 2009 Letter to the Editor on the subject of the skewed method for obtaining public input on the City of Lincoln budget was published as a Local View Column and later resulted in Linda's serving a stint as a Community Columnist.
LJS Community Columnists write three editorials over a nine month period. Of course we did share those posts here on the GiN site, usually with some "value added" feature or other, such as an additional paragraph or, at the very least, art work selected by Linda.
Besides Linda, two other GiN members served as a LJS Community Columnist team last year and at least one other had a Letter to the Editor published recently which was expanded for our site into a longer article.
Among the many options available to people who are interested in spending a few minutes here and there having an impact on hearts and minds, one is to periodically visit the Lincoln Journal Star website and comment on any of the articles.
While I urged people in 2009 a number of times that writing Letters to the Editor is one way to have some impact on the public discourse, this action has not been mentioned in a while and we have not spent much time urging people to engage in "the debate" on the LJS site.
We've already spent some time looking at various tools that would allow us to automate the process of bringing the most active topics of conversation on the LJS site to GiN visitors' attention. The reason we believe the few minutes occasionally spent is worth the investment is that LJS is the paper of record in Nebraska's Capital and the majority of people who make comment are decidedly for big government.
Advocates of limited government in Lincoln, Nebraska, are far too quiet, still.