Media Literacy

How the Media Persuade: Verbally and Visually


Uncontrolled biases leading to use of pejorative language.

Doug Gamble’s Op-Ed piece calls attention to the issue of "fighting words." These are words, terms, phrases, or racist comments, so egregiously offensive to those to whom they are directed, that they constitute a legal defense for individuals who respond to them aggressively. One does not see them in print as often as one might hear them spoken.

Pejorative language and racial slurs fall into a category of speech called "fighting words." The sensitivity to the utterance of such words was evident in the trial of O.J. Simpson with Mark Furman’s use of what was referred to as "the N-Word." The fact that Furman had in interviews, said the word, "nigger" was used by the defense to undermine his credibility. The unwillingness of both the defense team and the prosecutors to actually say the word speaks to its strength to elicit strong emotional responses.

Call Me a Nazi and I’ll Deck You
Los Angeles Times, January 18, 1998.

By Doug Gamble

As the Democrats dust off their demagoguery to further demonize Republicans in an election year, I propose introducing an element to modern politics as American as the Super Bowl; the good, old-fashioned punch in the nose.

Since the Democrats began their brilliant, Dick Morris-inspired campaign in 1995 to position the GOP as the party of evil, Republicans have been called everything from radicals and extremists to terrorists and Nazis, as if disagreements with Democrats on matters of fiscal and social policy somehow compare with World War II atrocities or mass murder.

Republicans like me have been accused of wanting to starve children and kill the elderly, with emphasis on the word "wanting." Disingenuous Democrats are claiming that harm to kids and seniors would not be the unintended consequences of GOP policies, but that they are the goals. The concept of "well-meaning but misguided" has no place in liberal thinking. Conservatives aren’t merely wrong, we’re wicked. We want to demolish Social Security, devastate Medicare, rape, pillage and plunder.

Liberals always have been ruder than conservatives—have you ever heard of a liberal speaker being booed off the stage at a conservative university?—but the level of Democratic obnoxiousness has risen sharply since the GOP captured Congress. If Kermit the Frog thinks it isn’t easy being green, he should try being Republican in my part of the country, where conservatives are as plentiful as Janet Reno fans at Microsoft.

I’ve been accused of contributing to the Oklahoma City bombing because I listen to Rush Limbaugh, called a fascist for defending Ronald Regain as my political hero, insulted with an obscenity for pointing out Bill Clinton'’ deftness at stealing GOP ideas, called a racist for supporting a pan on preferences and a misogynist for opposing women in combat.

I’m speaking only for myself, but I urge other Republicans to join me in drawing a line in the mud. From now on, if a Democrat calls me a Nazi, I’ll deck him. If a Democrat calls me a racist, I’ll deck him. If a Democrat accuses me of wanting to starve children or kill the elderly, I’ll deck him.

And I’d like to see Republican honor defended in this way on the campaign trail as well. If a GOP candidate is called a Nazi or something just as insulting during a debate, I think he should immediately walk over to the opponent’s podium and challenge him to either take it back or take off his jacket. Republicans should no longer tolerate vile, hyperbolic, personal insults.

Clinton has described Republicans as mosquitoes to be swatted away by Democrats. I’m one mosquito who is prepared to swat back. To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, a punch in the nose in defense of personal honor is no vice and restraint in the face of disgusting insults is no virtue.

Doug Gamble of Carmel, a former humor writer for Presidents Reagan and Bush, now writes for other prominent Republicans.

1.  In the Gamble op-ed article he takes offense at several labels that have been directed towards conservatives and Republicans. Check all that apply, that he mentions: