Republican / Democratic Dialog
Michael P. Torpey: The survey shows conclusively that groups which have been historically subjected to discrimination, such as women and minorities, are more likely to be sympathetic to those who find the cartoons offensive. Despite this sympathy, however, there is still healthy skepticism of government intervening to regulate free speech. For all of the complaints often heard about the coarsening of the public debate in America, it is precisely the discerning attitudes reflected in this survey of which we, as Americans, should be most proud. These views and attitudes are formed only as a result of rigorous debate in a mature democracy.
Rick Thigpen: Huh? Sounds like a Democrat. Mike, you feeling okay?
Torpey: You're right, I am a democrat (small “d”). You'll also be surprised to hear that I'm a “liberal,” at least in the traditional sense. I believe liberty is the primary political value; I believe in freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on the power of government and religion, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy and a transparent government. Today, however, people who believe in these things are called “Conservative Republicans.”
Thigpen: Well then, even the conservative Republican comment recognizes that women and people of color are more sensitive to those offended by the cartoon. That comes from the vast experience of being offended in the media by the intolerance and, oftentimes, the ignorance of other Americans. No law or constitutional amendment can really resolve this intricate question. We Americans leave it to politics and the marketplace to establish our limits on speech and we frankly expect a lot of people to get used to having their feelings hurt. As this recent controversy demonstrates, our solution is not perfect nor is it universal. I guarantee you those numbers change if the insulting images were aimed at Christians instead of Muslims.
Comment by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Academic Associate Michael P. Torpey (J.D., Seton Hall University School of Law). Michael is a former Chief of Staff to Governor Christine Todd Whitman and served as New Jersey Director of Campaign Operations for Bush-Cheney '04. Michael Torpey, Esq., can be reached at 609-394-0888.
Comment by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Academic Associate, Rick Thigpen (J.D., Columbia University Law School). Rick is a former Executive Director of the New Jersey Democratic Party and now a partner in The Strategy Group and is a campaign coordinator for the Essex County Democratic Party. Rick Thigpen, Esq. can be reached at (609) 394-0888.