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Nov. 25 2009 - 2:27 pm | 12 views | 1 recommendation | 10 comments

Very sorry for the Sparkman family – not so much for my post on Sparkman’s death

Yesterday, investigators in Kentucky indicated that the death of Bill Sparkman was the result of a suicide designed to look like a murder. If correct, Sparkman did this knowing that the insurance policies he took out would not have paid off on a suicide.

I’ve watched in the hours since this news broke as right-wing websites and writers have attacked, with great pleasure, those of us who had something to say about Bill Sparkman’s death at the time when it appeared that his death was the result of murder.

In an effort to ‘rig’ the playing field so that nobody who wrote a piece deemed undesirable could possibly come out looking sincere, the right-wing media has demanded not only apologies from publications such as Think Progress and Huffington Post, along with writers such as Andrew Sullivan and myself , but have been quick to point out that any ‘qualified’ apology wherein a writer may acknowledge having been wrong about some aspects while standing by remaining points expressed, simply would not count .

Apparently, nothing short of a confession of total, abject failure in these pieces will satisfy them.

I’ve watched as Sullivan and others have responded by apologizing where they believed it to be appropriate while defending the points of their arguments that remain, in their opinions, completely valid. Not surprisingly, because these writers didn’t writhe in pain to the satisfaction of their accusers, none of the right-wing writers have been satisfied with their responses.

Now, it’s my turn.

Despite my admittedly incendiary title, “Send the Body to Glenn Beck,” I can find absolutely nothing in my piece that requires an apology.

Sorry, right-wing writers – in point of fact, I went out of my way to caution against a rush to judgment on the cause or Mr. Sparkman’s death. Here is exactly what I wrote:

While it would be inappropriate to pre-judge the motive behind the murder before the FBI finishes its work, it stretches the imagination to interpret the inscription on the dead man’s chest so as to suggest that the killer(s) fed Mr. Sparkman a good meal before ending his life.

Is there anything untrue in that statement? It does, indeed, stretch the imagination to conceive of Mr. Sparkman doing this to his body and then killing himself – even if it has turned out to be the case.

I’ve re-read my piece a dozen times this morning in the desire to do the right thing. I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. Believe me, I get lots of practice.

But I cannot find anything that I wouldn’t write again – with the exception of the title. And any regret I feel towards the title is based on it not making any sense in light of what we now know.

If the title offended Mr. Beck, then he shall remain offended.

To say that I feel any remorse or have so much as an iota of concern for the feelings of the man who went on national television and called the President of the United States a racist would simply be a lie. The truth is that I don’t give a rat’s posterior about Glenn Beck’s feelings and I’m quite sure he would feel the same about mine. If he was offended by my title – and he is the only one who would have standing to be so offended- so be it. If that’s ungentlemanly or in bad form, even the most fervent conservative would have to see the irony of concerning myself with gentlemanly behavior when addressing the subject of Mr. Beck.

To those so gleefully criticizing because they found what they think is an opportunity to jump down the throats of writers and publications of whom they do not approve , I propose that they might actually want to read what I wrote, in its entirety. I know this requires intellectually honest intent – quite a push for people who have spent better than a year twisting reality into the most negative interpretation humanly possible – but why not give it a shot? You may not like or agree with what I wrote, but there is nothing in the piece that I wouldn’t write this very day – leaving out the name Sparkman and replacing it with the endless stream of hate-crime victims that have been harmed or worse by the very things and people discussed in that article.

So, trash away gang, but no apology will be forthcoming from this page.


2 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 10 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    It’s quite humurous to see grown adults act like children. So-called professional journalists such as Keith Olberman, Rachel Maddow, Norah O’Donnel, etc. like to say ridiculous things regarding Beck, O’Reilly…well pretty much anyone who works at Fox News. But I rarely hear the people at Fox News mention any of these people. So one side of the debate focuses on issues and upholds their professionalism while the other side…well, they’re like Rick Ungar. Just to clarify to Mr. Ungar (because he might not understand) that’s not a compliment. Otherwise, Happy Thanksgiving.

    • collapse expand

      Not to worry. I got that it wasn’t a compliment. But I’m not sure I would agree that the folks at Fox News never have anything bad to say about Olbermann, et al.
      And Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      Where to start? We could begin with the Fox inspired reasoning that these people are commentators, not journalists. I would back that one. The difference is, they would have to stay commentators. Therein lies the “Fox” difference. Fox will infer that their talking heads are journalists until someone calls them out on it, and then they become commentators with opinion shows. Once things settle down, they will go back to being journalists. Or at least letting people think they are.

      Next up, let’s run with your point about the Fox “News” team being talked about on these opinion shows. You see it as a mark of being unprofessional, that by not talking about whatever it is you seem to think the issues are, they are failing to do their job. I contend that Fox’s commentators are part of the issues, not through merit, but through their insistence to say the craziest, most asinine things in an attempt to stir controversy. If Olbermann was there for hard news, talking about Beck’s latest break down would be uncalled for. As a commentator with an obvious agenda though, it would be strange for him to not talk about it.

      I suppose my real point is that you are obviously a Fox fan, with all the baggage that implies. Fair enough. I just wonder why, when the people you look to for your news constantly insert themselves into the stories they are supposed to be covering, you can still act shocked when other talking heads bring it up. Yeah it happens. It doesn’t mean they are unprofessional and it doesn’t mean they are automatically wrong. Nice try though.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        My goodness! I think you need to re-read the piece! I’ve been accused of many things but never of being a Fox fan! Indeed, they were one of the news organizations who attacked me on the piece I had initially written. Take another look (and check out the original piece entitled “Send the Body to Glenn Beck”)

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          Sorry about dragging up a perfectly dead piece, but school has kept me busy, and I just now checked in. I was actually directing my comments to James 75, not you Rick. I agree though, if I had gotten that impression about you, I would definitely need to re-read the article. Probably get checked for brain damage too.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    On the one hand, you have the Big Lie -> tell an obvious falsehood so often that people start to believe it. On the other hand, you have the Tiny Truth -> find one completely insignificant error, whether untrue or just debatable, and turn that in to a negation of an actual truth.
    Unfortunately, in these Internet days, the Tiny Truth has become the modus operandi of the echo chamber.
    In this case, your condemnation of a style of rhetoric has been Tiny Truthed by the sentence you self-quote above. Stand tall, bro!

  3. collapse expand

    Sometimes, one can best be evaluated by who counts themselves your opponent. If Glen Beck doesn’t like your writing, that counts as a plus to me. You must be doing something right if you have so enraged the right-wing, nut-case blogosphere.

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    About Me

    I am an attorney in Southern California, and a frequent writer, speaker and consultant on health care policy and politics. To that end, I am active member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Based in beautiful Santa Monica, California, I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to be a contributing editor to True/Slant. I've recently finished a book designed to make the health care debate understandable to the average reader, and expect it to be out in the next five months or earlier. In my 'spare time', I continue to write for television and, occasionally, for comic books.

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