Comments Worth Commenting Uponby Kyle Michaelis
For starters, I was very appreciative of the following anonymous response to coverage of the highly-charged political dynamic between Pete Ricketts and his sister Laura as regards equal rights for gay citizens and whether or not the U.S. Constitution should be used as a means to discriminate against them.
I too had hoped that [Laura] would help to usher in a public discussion on this charged issue. Perhaps those of us who hope for people like Laura to stand up should reconsider her circumstances. Should she make her personal relationships with her family public so that the media could pick them apart? Should she use her brother’s campaign efforts to advance her cause? What would it really accomplish—genuine dialogue or more polarization? Should Pete lose, is there a risk of being blamed for her brother’s loss?
I believe that if Laura would reply to the media’s appeals to contribute to the debate, she would find herself alienated from her family, used, devoured and discarded by the media....ruin[ing] any opportunity to influence her brother’s apparent polar views on gay civil rights....
Before we judge Laura for not taking this supposed disagreement with her brother to the media, we should keep in mind the high price she would pay, and respect the integrity that she displays by walking her own path in her fight for civil rights.
While the above does not criticize NNN's own handling of this situation, I take very seriously the concerns it raises about Laura Ricketts being exploited by the media. Hers is not an enviable position, and I'll be the first to admit how difficult it is to measure her right to privacy against the public good. As a partisan site that no less strives for fairness, it's been hard to accurately gauge my own motivations in focusing on this issue, hoping that I'm not partaking in the same manipulation of the GLBT community and their struggle for equality for which I've accused Pete Ricketts on the campaign trail.
Whereas bringing attention to the fact that Ricketts has a lesbian sister could hurt his campaign with certain voters - particularly since she's an activist lesbian at the forefront of the GLBT community's legal efforts to achieve equal rights and recognition of same-sex relationships both in Nebraska and across the nation - it's not easy to divorce the principle demanding the story's reporting from its potential political consequences, which may unitentionally turn some people's bias to the advantage of incumbent Sen. Ben Nelson.
Since I support Nelson's reelection effort, I can't help worrying that each time I write about this subject it might - on some level - be an act of exploitation. Pete Ricketts has treated his sister as a political liability. His sister's silence - so contrary to her works and her lifestyle in Illinois - is all but an acknowledement that she thinks of herself in the same terms.
Although I can't vouch for the whole media, I can make personal assurances that my own discussion of this situation has been rooted in its undeniable relevance to the progress of Nebraska and the thinking of its people, not the short-term impact on any candidate in the November election. I have not sought to use or devour. Readers may take my word in this matter for what they will.
Meanwhile, another comment responding to a post last week puts into perspective the very fears I've just expressed of what this site is or may become if one is not eternally vigilant in guarding its supposed purpose.
i have been reading your blog for sometime now so i am going to take this opportunity to make a couple comments. first, why the hell are you so nice to the crooks of the republicon party ... would they be nice to you ... moderation in the face of republicon nastiness wont feed the bulldog ... hit back hard. ... i think during the election process if would be better to worry less about policy then electoral concerns ... you seem to focus alot on policy ... enjoy this time of the political cycle ... beat up on the republicons with anything that is handy even if you have to invent it. ...
as a resident of a blue state ... i feel your pain ... but dont forget pain can be optional ... create some of your own.
I don't mean to put myself or this site on a pedestal, somehow above the approach called for by our new friend bama_barron. However, I must be upfront with the fact that I have no intention or desire to engage in the approach for which he advocates. Such a site would probably be more useful in building a progressive online community. It would certainly be less boring. But, I am not the person to run it and have no aspirations to be so. In fact, the very idea that I might be beating up on Republicans "with anything that is handy" (for example, Pete Ricketts' sister) is so unsettling and in such violation of the principles to which I claim to adhere that I would rather give up this entire venture and perhaps even my political involvement in general than go any further down that road.
I am not a good "blogger." I accepted that fact long ago. If Nebraska had a better progressive alternative, I would gladly give this up and devote myself to other pursuits. Until such a voice emerges, though....or, at least until I or my readers can no longer tolerate this site's self-important delusions of noble intent...I'll just keep doing what I do.