Public Comment

Commentary: Don’t Shoot the Messenger

By Alexander Mac Donald
Friday September 08, 2006

As I live in San Francisco, I rarely read the Daily Planet, but an article in the Chronicle last week sent me scurrying to google your web page and read in the Aug. 8 issue the simplistic idiocies of Kurosh Arianpour in his diatribe against the Jews of all times and places. I wanted to be certain that they are as ill-informed, hateful, and stupid as the critics of the Daily Planet allege—they are—but no more hateful and stupid than the demands that Ms. O’Malley apologize for having published his ignorant nonsense, even as she published theirs.  

It does seem to me that criticism should be directed against the message rather than the messenger, even in these parlous times. We know where punishing the messengers leads, but for those too young to know, Bush and Cheney and the media whores of the radical and sectarian right give instructive lessons. It is a pity that friends and partisans of Israel take the bait, fell into the trap, and attempt to intimidate a media outlet with their justly outraged fulminations. The world is full of Arianpours. They persuade only themselves, for their hatred is largely self-referential. Publishing their diatribes and slanders only exposes them. Silencing them dignifies them and may even make some of us forget that they are around and active.  

O’Malley is to be praised for holding her nose and letting us look the enemy in the face. Her critics, at least those who demand an apology for her audacity, should be ashamed, for they expose themselves as censorious authoritarians who arrogate to themselves the power to control what the rest of us may say and read, or not. It is good, then, that O’Malley published them, too.  


Alexander Mac Donald is a San Francisco resident.