I was never accused of having a grand sense of manners or proprieties or protocols, but a few cases in the past few weeks have been bugging me on those grounds.
First up, Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst during Obama’s infomercial before Congress. Wilson apologized to Obama, refused to apologize to the House, and said he considered the matter closed.
To my perspective, he was wrong on both counts.
First up, he should not have had to apologize to Obama. It’s become clear that Obama’s claim at that point was disingenuous, at best — while the bill in question does exclude illegal aliens from coverage, but Democrats had stripped out the enforcement language, making the law toothless. So, while calling Obama a liar was intemerate, it was not inaccurate — and “truth is an absolute defense.”
On the other hand, Wilson did insult the propriety of the House of Representatives. (Please, don’t laugh too much — at one point that actually meant something, and it’d be nice if it did again.) Obama was there as a guest of the Congress, both Houses were in attendance, and it was rude of him to interrupt Obama (who was calling people like Wilson liars at the time) in such a manner.
Ideally, Wilson should have apologized to both Obama and the House for the manner of his remarks, while reasserting the accuracy of them.
(For bonus points, he should have made them together, in a public statement, couched in the liberals’ weasel-worded fashion of “if anyone was offended” non-apology.)
On the other hand, we have the ACORN mess and those fine young folks who caught ACORN employee after ACORN employee on tape giving them advice on how to set up a criminal enterprise. They have been criticized for one of the tapes, where an ACORN employee boasted of having killed her husband. Apparently reporting that without verifying it one way or another is considered bad form.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
While not specifically enshrined in law, it’s a long-standing principle of American jurisprudence that if a private individual has evidence that a crime has been committed, they ought to report it to the police. The young filmmakers had someone on tape confessing to first-degree murder and boasting of getting away with it. They not only had no duty to verify that, but no right — the records that would do so are mostly confidential.
No, the right thing to do was precisely what they did — give the info to the police, and let them figure it out. And they had no obligation to remove it from the video before releasing the whole thing — that ACORN would employ someone who would boast of such a thing, true or not, speaks volumes about their hiring standards.
Then again, I’m hardly Miss Manners. But every now and then, I get overwhelmed by what I consider “common sense.”