Saturday, December 15, 2007

Let the Debate Begin!

To go unnoticed is a blogger's nightmare. So ambivalence was my initial reaction to certain angry readers' comments received yesterday concerning my blog on the announcement of Lt. Col. Andrew Horne's Democratic candidacy to challenge Senate Republic Leader Mitch McConnell.

The harshest note, from a reader named GUSTO, concluded (verbatim): "Joining the Boys Scouts to stisfy Mommys ego is not been as patriotic as serving voluntarily the ARMED FORCES AND IN COMBAT. "

Whew!

For the record, we do support mothers and the Boys Scouts, but before getting too far into substance, here are some rules of engagement:

This site welcomes any and all comments, regardless of political persuasion, other than words of profanity or libel. Unlike the Lexington Herald-Leader's chopping-block approach to McConnell's letters to the editor, this site prints the substance of reader's comments in their entirety within reason.

There are several reasons for this policy. For one thing, society generally gets better results if all sides have the opportunity to debate vigorously with each other before any action is taken.

That, for example, is why the filibuster is so important for the U.S. Senate: this legislative tool ensures that everyone's views are taken into account. As a result, when a bill is enacted into law, it has broad bipartisan support and does not reflect simply the narrow agenda of the party then in power. That is particularly relevant in today's Senate, in which Democrats hold only a razor-thin majority.

Another, more fundamental, reason why free and open dialogue is important is that it is consistent with the First Amendment. A canard of some of McConnell's critics has been that he is "unpatriotic" because he opposes legislation banning the burning of the American flag. McConnell was also criticized for challenging the constitutionality of so-called campaign finance "reform" legislation. In fact, McConnell's stands on these issues demonstrate that he is a highly principled defender of the First Amendment.

More than any other person on Capitol Hill, McConnell's record with respect to his left-wing critics comports with the statement attributed to Voltaire that "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Apropos is McConnell's protection of the rights of free speech for those with whom he strongly disagrees -- whether it be flag burners or, more recently, the left-wing Demo-blogs and the MoveOn.org types who use unregulated, big money to spew forth their froth.

Finally, readers' comments are important because they may, of course, show me or another blogger to be wrong -- or they may prove the points of the blog. The latter outcome happened yesterday. I'll explain in another entry to be posted later.

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