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Calvin Freiburger

How to Demonize Tea Partiers with Polls, Part 2

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Posted on April 15 2010 1:28 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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On March 30, Kathy Shaidle demolished a bogus poll purporting to show that the Tea Party movement is dominated by nuts.  Today, the New Mexico Independents Matthew Reichbach proclaims that another poll exposes tea partiers as having an affinity for anti-government violence:

A nationwide New York Times/CBS News poll released yesterday finds that a majority (53 percent) of tea party supporters are “angry about the way things are going in Washington,” most (63 percent) watch Fox News, and they are more than twice as likely (53 to 24 percent) as the general public to say they believe that the network’s commentary shows, such as those hosted by Glen Beck and Sean Hannity, are “news” rather than “entertainment.” In addition, they are significantly more likely (24 to 16 percent) to say that it is “ever justified to take violent action against the government.”

Anger + Violence = OH, NO!  TEABAGGERS ARE CRAZY!  Well, looks like the science is settled…

This is lame, even by lefty standards.  For one thing, 24% isn’t nothing, but it’s hardly a groundswell — why isn’t the headline, “79% of Tea Partiers believe violent action against government is ‘never’ justified“?

For another, the poll did not ask whether the current government’s actions justified such violence, nor did it ask what circumstances would justify violence.  To say that taking up arms against government may be theoretically appropriate isn’t extreme, and shouldn’t even be controversial – I know we don’t teach natural law theory in public schools these days, but I would hope that even journalists are at least somewhat familiar with a little thing called the American Revolution, and a document called the Declaration of Independence.

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