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In Defense of Invective and Name-Calling (Against Rob Kall)

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Duluth, MN (OpEdNews) February 23, 2011: As an idealistic teenager (at the age of 16), I wrote an op-ed piece   for my high school newspaper in 1961 endorsing President John F. Kennedy's call in his inaugural address to ask not what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country. As it turns out, I have found any number of ways to serve my country by denouncing and protesting against various practices within the country and in its foreign endeavors.


As a young man, I was passionately opposed to the legal discrimination against blacks in certain parts of the United States, and I traveled by bus from St. Louis to Montgomery, Alabama, to join Martin Luther King's march on the state capitol. Later on, I served my country by devoting ten years of my life to teaching inner-city black youth under open admissions in postsecondary education.


As a young man, I was also opposed to the war in Vietnam, as were many other young Americans at the time. I participated in marches protesting that war.


As a result of my anti-war passion earlier in my life, I was also opposed to the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq that President George W. Bush initiated, both of which tragically continue to this day. Because many other young people were also passionately opposed to the war in Vietnam, I have never understood why the now older versions of those same people are not evidently opposed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Perhaps Rob Kall can explain this puzzling inconsistency to me.


Rob Kall has some good things to say in his February 19th article "How Angry Are You? Time to Channel and Say It Smartly."


I have no objection to expressing political anger smartly. I have no objection to his call for participation in demonstrations such as the recent demonstrations in Wisconsin.


I have no objection to his advice against venting: "We can't waste our time venting." Right.


But I am not so sure about the second part of his sentence. "We can't waste our time venting or calling right wingers names." In a following sentence he says, "We must not call names."


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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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