An Open Letter to Christopher Mertes

Cross Posted @ Forwardlookout:

Christopher Mertes, managing editor and far right wing idealogue, of the Sun Prairie Star, recently wrote one of the most ridiculous editorials I have seen this side of Christian Schneider. In his editorial, Mertes accuses democrats of hate speech, based on a few different facebook pages and comments.

In mid-November, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual report on Hate Crimes. The FBI defines a hate crime as a crime in which an element of bias is expressed against the victim — whether it is race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin or disability.

What about political preference?

Is it not illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of their political preference? Judicial scholars many disagree, but the human resources folks tell us it is off limits to discuss political beliefs with potential hirees.

So if it is a violation of federal law to discriminate against someone on the basis of political preference, is it not a hate crime to spew hateful language against someone because of their political preference? The FBI is mute on the subject in terms of their 2010 Hate Crime Statistics, which list race as the top motivator in the majority of single-factor hate crimes.

Ok. Thats a huge stretch but I will bite, if discriminating against people based on political beliefs is hate speech, then Mr. Mertes I have the granddaddy of them all here:(emphasis mine)

Fake David Koch: Now, you’re not talking to any of them Democrat bastards are you?
Republican Scott Walker: There’s one guy that’s actually voted with me on a bunch of things that I called on Saturday for about 45 minutes mainly to tell him that while I appreciate his friendship, and his work with us on other things and tell him well, I wasn’t going to budge. Mainly, because he’s about the only reasonable one over there.

It all starts at the top and when the Governor discriminates against everyone who disagrees with him, how can the rest of the state be expected to act? But wait there is more:

Why is it not acceptable to utter the n-word but just as acceptable to hate someone because he or she has different political beliefs than you?

Witness “Scott Walker is a Douchebag,” the Facebook site “liked” by 35,211 “fans” and Facebook pages that include “Dear Republicans, F— you”; “Union Thugs in America” and “Paul Ryan is a Douchebag.”

In discussing a female who appeared on a pro-Walker advertisement, the anti-Walker Facebook page states, “Here is the Walker BLOW! More students no resources, no class aides and with students that have autism, are not getting the education and special needs. Walker’s budget cuts to education…here is a blow of the TRUTH!”

Apologies to those easily offended, but when you see the type of enlightened folk spewing this kind of language everywhere — including Facebook — it makes you wonder — are we institutionalizing hate speech?

WOW. You are really comparing the history of violence and victimhood that African Americans have had to endure to what Republicans in Wisconsin are currently dealing with? I hesitate to even address this ridiculousness but I will. It is nice that you spent some time on facebook as “research” but maybe you should have taken another 5 minutes and you would have found the following: Operation Burn Notice(a true hate group in support of our Governor), Recall Walker Worker Infobase (where they keep tabs on recall volunteers), Run WI Democrats Run, etc… Silly pages on facebook does not prove anything, there is even a facebook page called “Hate it when people look at my ass & mistake me for Kim Kardashian”, I wonder if that will be the subject of Mertes next editorial?

Apologies to those easily offended, but when you see the type of enlightened folk spewing this kind of language everywhere — including Facebook — it makes you wonder — are we institutionalizing hate speech?

What about the Facebook stalkings of the Walker children? Are there no limits?

I am with you Mr. Mertes, I was appalled when the Maciver Institute outed the Governor's children. They have no shame though, so it is not surprising.

We live in a world where people believe they can demonstrate without boundaries to free speech in an effort to constantly demean the duly elected governor of this state, and where doctors who took an oath to heal the sick can get away with a simple slap on the wrist for fabricating sick notes for teachers and state workers instead of being disciplined for abusing their authority.

Yes that is a newspaperman advocating for limits to free speech. Yes that is also Ben Franklin and the rest of our Founders rolling over in their graves.

Certainly if the things being said about Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin were said about Hillary Clinton, there would be editorial after editorial about the lack of civility in politics today.

Think I’m kidding? What about the Facebook page “Michelle Bachmann Sucks” which has 1,418 likes while the “I Demand to See Michelle Bachmann’s High School Diploma” page has 3,061 likes?

Or the “Telling Sarah Palin She’s Full of Crap” Facebook page which has 142,386 likes while the “If Sarah Palin Becomes President in 2012, Then I Hope the World Ends” Facebook page which has 21,322 likes? Or the “Not Voting for Herman Cain” page which has 3,746 likes?

Reading some of the posts on these pages, you’d think Bachmann, Cain or Palin ran over their family pets.

Of course, they have done no such thing. The only thing Cain, Bachmann and Palin have done (besides exhibit some quirky behaviors) is threaten the idea of the Democrat status quo — that is, that women and minorities must be Democrats and tow the liberal party line to be elected, or they’ll be personally smeared and attacked until they have no desire to seek political office.

UGH! More facebook drivel, I guess Mr. Mertes was in the Peace Corps without any access to media during the Clinton years.

“She sounds like a screeching ex-wife.” –Rush Limbaugh(who has experience with ex wives), on Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.” F. James Sensenbrenner on First Lady Michelle Obama.

“How long do you think Sean Hannity’s show would last if four times in one sentence, he made a comment about, say, the president of the United States, and said that he looked like a skinny, ghetto crackhead? Which, by the way, you might want to say that Barack Obama does.” Frequent Fox Contributor and Republican activist Brent Bozell.

These are just some examples, the list is too long to continue.

Now comes the Big Brush off, the false equivalency, 15 word that Mr. Mertes can pretend makes for a fair essay:

Certainly there are plenty of other examples from the other side of the aisle, too.

Well certainly there are plenty of examples Mr. Mertes, and they are far more serious than someone starting a facebook page called “Paul Ryan is a Douchebag”(thanks for pointing me there by the way, I gladly joined. If you check this site you will join also) In case you missed the “plenty of examples’ let me help point the way:

Some of these egregious examples of Republican thuggery start here (with republican Governor Scott Walker discussing adding violence into the protests at the Capitol), to Scott Fitzgerald yelling at one of Mark Miller\'s female staffers so violently she felt the need to call the police for protection, to Justice David Prosser choking a fellow justice who dared disagree with him(FYI Mertes actually published an apology to David Prosser – sorry your hands were around Justice Bradley's throat). . There are also numerous other examples if Mr. Mertes would have done an extra few minutes of research, and all are incredibly worse than anything that he quoted. Lets also not forget Mr. Mertes, that one of your neighbors, Heather Dubois Bourenane, one of the local leaders of the recall movement, received a late night threatening phone call right out of The Sopranos. Surely you are not enough of a partisan hack that you would condone death threats on Sun Prairie residents just because they disagree with you politically.

The point is that hate speech turns into more hate speech. WIBA-AM’s Vicki McKenna recently had her Facebook page shut down because of complaints from people posting negative, demeaning comments on her page who said she was bullying them.

This Vicki Mckenna? The one who called firefighters cowards and threatens boycotts of anyone who does not carry water for Scott Walker? That Vicki Mckenna spews hate speech every day on her radio show and is a bully. Heck she was even banned from Cottage Grove.

When did elections turn into who gets to spew more demeaning complaints, and not about carrying out the wishes of the majority of voters who elect candidates to office?

Well Mr. Mertes if you have been following recent History, I would say it started HERE with Lee Atwater and carried through to THIS and Atwater protege Karl Rove. Do you sense a theme here? Much of this points back to how the republicans run their races to win, and the ends justify the means. No matter how egregious the means are. If you want a more recent and closer to home example, republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, was recently asked by Lori Compas, to stop lying about her and smearing her name, he flat out refused.

Certainly there will be canceled subscriptions as a result of this column — but it’s time to take the hate speech out of political discourse and get back into the arena of ideas.

It is time to take Hate Speech out of the political discourse. It is time for Scott Walker to take a leadership role and denounce it when it happens in support of him. You personally Mr. Mertes, could start by dropping the Kevin Binversie columns in your paper. In case people do not know, Kevin Binversie is a paid republican political consultant who is allowed column space in the Sun Prairie Star and has who advocated shooting recall petitioners and more recently said liberals are looking for someone who “would shoot their own children in the head to be Governor of Wisconsin.” Maybe Mr. Mertes could start by taking the hate speech out of his own paper.

I do not know how many people will cancel their subscriptions, but nice way to martyr yourself. I do know that your credibility was severely damaged with this blatantly partisan column and unless you are just auditioning for a job with WPRI, will be very hard to restore.


Jeff Simpson


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9 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Christopher Mertes

  1. I’d note that when I called Mertes to tell him I thought he should drop Kevin Binversie as a contributor to the Star, he sounded very concerned about what Binversie had written. At the time I didn’t know Mertes was considered by some to be a far right wing ideologue, given that I live 200 plus miles north of Sun Prairie.

    So Mertes may have been feigning concern? Say it ain’t so, Chris. Show your integrity and make a public display of dropping Binversie in the name of restoring civil political discourse.

  2. I’m a paid Republican consultant? Wow. I must not be receiving those checks.

    Jeff, could you help a brother out since you seem to know my sources of income better than I do?

    1. What, didn’t RoJo pay you for the time you spent fetching coffee and doing “research?”

      Unless you did that for free, you certainly would seem to qualify as a paid Republican consultant.

  3. Personally, I find it fair game to criticize anyone for anything that is not out of their control. Obviously race, sex, origin, disability. Less obvious to conservatives sexual orientation. Religion and politics, being personal choices, seem perfectly fair game to me.

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