‘You have cooties’

Published 9:38 am Thursday, May 21, 2015

We have a problem in this country: It is getting more and more difficult to have a civilized debate without the debate becoming personal. It’s as if we have all suddenly become 10 years old and we use “You have cooties” as a debating tactic rather than debating the facts.

How many political debates end up about the debaters and not their ideas? Liberals are childish spendthrifts. Conservatives are selfish and evil people. Both epithets could be true, but that doesn’t detract from their ideas. Skeptics of global warming are labeled “deniers.” Religious objections to same-sex marriage are “bigoted.” Anybody who writes a column and doesn’t slavishly support a local bond issue is accused of only thinking about himself.

Indeed, I wrote a column on April 23 April about the two bond proposals titled, “Yes or No to bond proposals.” The column did not support or oppose either bond issue. Its principal urging was for voters to visit the website of the Niles Community School for more information. It did, as far as I can determine, add to the body of knowledge about the bond proposals because it listed the amounts of money to be spent on each of the main categories of work. No other source did that. It also listed the amount of money not spent directly any category, so-called “soft expenses.”

One critic wrote about me, “He makes baseless personal attacks on our interim superintendent several times, along with our new superintendent who has only been in office a few weeks.”

Gosh. I immediately went back and reread my column. There are no personal attacks on either man. If anybody can find a personal attack about the interim or the new, permanent superintendent in that column, I will happily write a check to their favorite charity.

By the way, the critic did not dispute one fact in my column.

On college campuses, it’s becoming downright dangerous to voice an opinion that isn’t politically correct.

Kirsten Powers, a liberal progressive, recently wrote a book called, “The Silencing. How the Left is Killing Free Speech.” She identifies colleges where speech codes prohibit speech that might offend or make somebody feel threatened. Really! If that’s true, then college is definitely not the place to go to expand one’s horizons or learn about the world outside one’s own little sphere. The students’ cries in the 1960s of “Free speech” have become “No hate speech” or “You’re a bigot!”

It’s a sad day for the land of free speech when our leaders are educated in an environment where freely expressing one’s self could bring serious repercussions.

All this is important because we’re entering another presidential campaign season. If a candidate spends all his or her time criticizing the character of his or her opponent and not the opponent’s ideas, perhaps there is a deficit of ideas in the accuser. We do have very serious problems that cannot be solved by saying, “You have cooties!” The monstrous government debt, foreign policy failures, underemployment in the U.S., and where should the next president lead us are far more important than whether a politician has cooties or not.

Meanwhile back in Niles, this column will never accuse anyone of having cooties even if that person does, there’s proof, and it’s somehow germane to the column.


Michael Waldron is a retired lieutenant colonel, U.S. Army, who was born and raised in Niles. He previously served on the Niles Community School Board of Education. He can be reached at ml.waldron@sbcglobal.net.