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OPINION: Monetizing hate

by BRENT REGAN/Common Sense
| December 22, 2023 1:00 AM

Rudyard Kipling’s classic poem “If” begins:

“If you can keep your head when all about you    

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…

…-you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Imagine you have two individuals. One individual holds critical opinions of a group of people and occasionally expresses those opinions in public. Many disagree with those opinions and some are even offended by them.

The second individual makes it their mission to punish people they don’t agree with. They tell exaggerations, half-truths and lies in an attempt to deny someone their livelihood, to drive them from the public square and to banish them from society. 

Now imagine two towns, one populated with mostly the first kind of individual and the other with the second kind. You have a choice to live in one town or the other. Do you chose to live with people who have abrasive opinions or would you rather live in a town where if you say something someone doesn’t like they try to destroy you?

America used to be mostly the first kind of town where free speech meant you would tolerate speech you didn’t like, but in the last 20 years has turned into mostly the second kind where true freedom of speech is dead. An example of this is the perverse obsession freelance writer Daniel Walters has for Dave Reilly, who is also a freelance writer, videographer and former radio talk show host. 

Walters pretends to be a journalist. He is not. A journalist investigates and reports the unbiased Who What Where When and Why of a story and allows the reader to form their own opinion. By his own admission, Walters starts with the opinion he wants to advance and then gathers only those pieces of information that support his opinion and ignores those that don’t. He does this for profit. He monetizes hate. He is not alone.

They like to refer to themselves as Social Justice Warriors but their methods have nothing to do with justice because justice requires the impartial and equal treatment of people under the law where the accused can confront their accuser through a system of due process. 

People like Walters self-righteously assume the roles of accuser, judge, jury and executioner. Not only will they attack citizens they find offensive, they will attack anyone who criticizes their methods, accusing them of conspiring or agreeing with the accused.

They refuse to accept that someone can defend the right of someone to say something without agreeing with what they say. The drafters of The Bill of Rights were inspired by Voltaire who put it this way “I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Immediately after the Boston Massacre the angry crowd was ready and eager to lynch the British soldiers involved. However, one of our Founding Fathers, a leader of the American Revolution and future president, John Adams, answered the call where no other would. Because he believed that justice was essential in a free society he would defend the accused in court. His efforts resulted in their acquittal. Today however, attorneys who defend the “wrong” person are themselves sued, disbarred and possibly incarcerated. 

Years ago Dave Reilly made some posts that were critical of the Israeli government. He had apologized and deleted them. When he ran for office as a KCRCC recommended candidate the posts were dredged up and he was accused of being anti-Semitic and a white supremacist. This claim was amplified in the media. 

Over my lifetime there has been the occasion where I have met or listened to genuinely bigoted people. A common characteristic is that they are eager to talk about their biases as if they were trying to convince you and themselves of their opinions. So when I began receiving calls on the Reilly matter the first thing I did was to call Reilly to get his side of the story. After a lengthy conversation I was convinced that Reilly was not an anti-Semite white supremacist. 

I received calls from people expressing concern about Reilly. I would ask them if they had ever met or talked directly to Reilly and they invariably would say no. I then asked them to call Reilly and would give them his number and told them to call me back if, after their conversation with him they were still concerned. Nobody called me back. 

I also asked the KCRCC Campaign subcommittee to interview Reilly and offer their assessment. They reached the same conclusion. Furthermore, any member of the KCRCC could have asked for a review of the matter. No one did, not even a certain city councilman who is also a member of the KCRCC who years later claimed the KCRCC “refused” to denounce the “white supremacist” when he could have made that motion himself at any time. He did not. 

Nearly half a decade after the alleged offense, Walters dredges up this pig of a story and attempts to put fresh lipstick on it to smear the Idaho Freedom Foundation. IFF’s president, Wayne Hoffman, is Jewish and he interviewed Reilly before putting him under contract to do some videography work. Reilly does not set policy or craft messaging as Walters falsely implies. I believe it is fair to say that Wayne Hoffman’s sensitivity to anti-Semitism is greater than mine so that if he is okay with Reilly, so am I and so should you. 

We see freedom of speech, due process and the rule of law collapsing before our eyes. It is imperative that as citizens, we tolerate speech, demand due process and true justice and not fall victim to the shrieks of the self-anointed wannabe judge, jury and executioners. If we fail it is only a matter of time before people will be “disappeared” or loaded into boxcars… and one of those people will be you.

It’s just common sense.

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Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.