Why “blood libel” is worth concern

Shmuley Boteach describes why he thinks Sarah Palin Is Right About ‘Blood Libel’ because “Judaism rejects the idea of collective responsibility for murder.”

Despite the strong association of the term with collective Jewish guilt and concomitant slaughter, Sarah Palin has every right to use it. The expression may be used whenever an amorphous mass is collectively accused of being murderers or accessories to murder.

The abominable element of the blood libel is not that it was used to accuse Jews, but that it was used to accuse innocent Jews—their innocence, rather than their Jewishness, being the operative point. Had the Jews been guilty of any of these heinous acts, the charge would not have been a libel.

Murder is humanity’s most severe sin, and it is trivialized when an innocent party is accused of the crime—especially when that party is a collective too numerous to be defended individually. If Jews have learned anything in their long history, it is that a false indictment of murder against any group threatens every group.

To be sure, America should embrace civil political discourse for its own sake, and no political faction should engage in demonizing rhetoric. But promoting this high principle by simultaneously violating it and engaging in a blood libel against innocent parties is both irresponsible and immoral.

If the actual words used in the median and by Palin are the reference, there is little doubt that Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” was accurate and was indeed pertinent as an appropriate emphasis on behavior that needed inspection.

Another take on the same bout of dishonest, and perhaps “irresponsible and immoral” rhetoric is Robert Verbruggen’s advice on How to Write About Firearms, “A guide for liberal columnists who don’t want to sound stupid about guns.” That one also notes some indicative word patterns described in the previous post.

As noted earlier, civility starts with integrity and honesty, not with inhibiting passion. There is a compare and contrast in these examples between the posts and the subject of their content. Listening to their arguments carefully and how it is presented is one way to learn about civility.

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