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Whittle: Is hate-filled rhetoric triggering assassins?

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By DAN WHITTLE

Is the old adage "Words Can Never Harm Me" now hollow of meaning as hollow-nosed assassin bullets attempt to kill American political leaders?

Did something Abraham Lincoln said cause his assassin to fire a bullet into the President's brain?

Did mean words from President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert cause their assassinations?

Did President Trump's or Hillary Clinton's heated campaign rhetoric of 2016 trigger the assassin's bullets into the body of Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, who is fighting for his life as this is being written?

Are todays 24-7 televised political "opinions" to blame for Americans shooting Americans?

Did a question about health-care justify a recent Congressional candidate with slamming a news reporter into the ground?

To date, there's more questions than meaningful solutions.

Are we allowing Washington politicians, corporate moguls and mega media corporations to mount a modern-day Boston Tea Party to toss our Constitution overboard from unique America's ship-load of freedoms?

As a seasoned newspaperman who has worked in multiple nations, nothing compares to America's great freedoms of speech and press.

Can political leaders' feet be held to the fire after they inject hateful rhetoric into our society? Is so, how?

Is it too late for citizens to demand reasonable and responsible leadership in government and the media?

With all the present-day political hate rhetoric, I shouldn't have been shocked by the recent body-slamming of a reporter by a Congressional candidate in Wisconsin. The next day, when body-slammer won election to the Hallowed Halls of Congress, was even more shocking.

If body-slammer cannot handle the pressure of one reporter's question about health care, how will the Congressman-elect emotionally deal with a bevy of reporters daily in Washington with banks of cameras and microphones rolling?

Another bolt of shock rocked me during body-slammers' televised apology, when an off-camera female voiced "You Are Forgiven" instantly as if sanctioning the politicians' assault on a reporter.

Will body-slammer take a gun to the next inquiring reporter?

Will he follow a current American political leader, who bragged during a campaign that he could shoot someone on the street, and still be elected. So far, nothing disproves that hateful claim.



The late Spiro T. Agnew, who bubbled up in national politics as vice president during President Nixon's corrupt administration, was the first national politician in my newspaper career to publicly assault news-gathering professionals as being "Un-American."

Anyone opposed to the Vietnam War was also branded "Un-American" by Spiro.

However, Spiro's political star, after being unleashed on the American press by "I Am Not a Crook" Nixon, was soon to crash and burn.

Was it "Un-American" when the national press confirmed Spiro T. Agnew had taken illegal kickbacks and bribes as Maine's governor. Spiro had to resign the vice presidency to avoid prison. One other American vice president resigned from office, but not due to being a crook.

Is Russia involved in accusing America's major media outlets with putting out "Fake News?"

Nothing is perfect in America's clumsy system of Democracy, but it's the best system of freedoms in mankind history. I cringe, for example, when hearing today's television talking heads spew "opinions" 24/7 instead of facts to America.

When breaking into newspaper journalism back in the 1960s, any reporter caught "slanting" a news story was fired. I'm "old school" because I still believe if you give readers the facts, Americans, with their freedom of staying informed, are smart enough to form their OWN OPINIONS.

When invited to speak to college journalism classes, I use my news media platform to brag about our nation's Consti-tution-guaranteed freedoms of speech and press to young news professionals coming behind my generation.

Like many reporters, editors and publishers, I've had multiple death threats down through the years, most of which came when I was an investigative police reporter. One disgruntled character fired his gun at me, but he was a bad shot.

Did the American and world news media help draw international attention when the Serbs were killing non-Serbs in Europe's genocidal war in Bosnia? I covered that war briefly, as the first journalist in history to accompany brave Tennessee Air National Guard soldiers into an active war zone.

I've seen a lot and been a lot of places. I'm still astonished how inhumane one human can treat another human or how mean one nation can be to another nation.

As a young reporter, I experienced being hosed by a firefighter at a fire scene.

You may find "humor" in that, until you recall the television news showing powerful streams of water used against Americans who wanted to vote in our Democracy as recent as the 1960s. You may also recall when Tennessee iconic newspaperman John Seigenthaler was knocked unconscious while covering the vote protest marches in Alabama. His bravery and standing up for a free press made him into one of the first newspapermen to be inducted into the new Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame.

Being doused with water may be a puny in the great scheme of American journalistic freedom. After the fire fighter seemed sincere in making a public apology, he voluntarily replaced my water-damaged hat with a new snazzy-looking snap-brimmed hat.

The firefighter and I, after getting to know each other after a few cups of coffee, became trusted friends.

Fast forward to the present: Did hate-laced rhetoric being screamed out of Washington cause the extremist to gun down the congressman from Louisiana? Did the news media cause it?

Remove reporters' as watch dog observers over government, I fear politicians like Spiro T. Agnew will become the norm.

I thank God for giving our nation's founders the wisdom to create America's unique Constitution that, to date, guarantees our free

I thank God for this nation's founders who wisely created our Constitution.

Why bring God into it? Like writers of the Bible, without God's divine inspiration, mere modern-day writers are not equipped to create a bastion of personal freedoms like contained in America's unique Constitution.

My old farm Daddy had a standing rule of locking our smokehouse when a person came on our farm bragging how holy they are. In today's world, I'm cautious about politicians plus preachers who brag how great they are.

So far, the Constitution holds.

To date, I've not been gunned down or lost my freedom to print a newspaper or broadcast the news.

Amen!

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