Politics: The battleground of bigotry

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Politics is an ugly, disorienting business these days. There are two teams – red and blue, Democrat and Republican, my team and your team. It is a polarizing state of affairs. Neither team will acknowledge that the other team has ever done anything positive of note and do everything it can, including distort the truth, to convince people the other side is doing significat damage to society.

It is a culture of misdirection, deceit and lies. Lies, lies, lies, lies. You may or may not know this, but public figures do not benefit from libel protection. Thus, you will read or watch video of outrageous claims made against former President Donald J. Trump or President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Things you know can’t possibly be true, but they are said and repeated, and depending upon the point of view of the listener or reader, it is either an outrageous lie or the gospel truth.

I come under attack from time to time and generally fall back to a philosophy I developed watching my parents react to negative situations and melding those reactions into my own belief system. I am comfortable with who and what I am. If you have a problem with me, with who I am or what I stand for, that’s your problem. I’ve got my own stuff to deal with.

On the other hand, if you want to mess with my people you will have my full attention.

We’ve had three letters in the past two weeks attacking the Tribune and our excellent reporters for their objective, fact-based work. One of those stories addressed a citizen’s complaint of a city official allegedly trying to take retribution against the former political opponent.

If you have read the letters regarding the recent story on Hank Muntzer and Dillon City Councilperson Mary Jo O’Rourke you might believe that Muntzer was the mastermind behind the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. While others have been charged with committing some violent offenses that day, Muntzer has only been charged with misdemeanors. He has been charged (see an update on page 3), and is innocent of those until proven guilty.

When Muntzer first started painting his business in the unique way we are all now familiar with, I stopped in and asked him what it was all about. He got into the QAnon stuff, and talked about currency, the strength of the Trump supporters and other somewhat normal political topics. There was only one odd topic, but nothing like the writer today described.

We have regularly posted updates regarding Muntzer’s journey through the judicial system. If you know anything about Muntzer’s situation, you most likely read it in the Dillon Tribune.

It is important to remember Muntzer is a U.S. citizen and despite what some of our letter writers might believe, he is entitled to his constitutional protected civil rights. As a private citizen of the United States of America he can believe what he wants to belief, express his political philosophy, and can assemble with likeminded people and parade around all he wants. Why that bothers some people so much, I have absolutely no idea, but suspect they just may not be familiar with the great American traditions of free expression and tolerance for others points of view and the First Amendment that’s helped this country remain so free, varied and resilient for over two centuries.

I don’t like the profanity on the side of his van, but I really don’t like people burning the American flag. Both situations fall under the constitutional protected freedom of expression. It does me no good to agonize over either scenario.

There are bigots (people who are utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion) everywhere. People who believe one thing and feel it their right to belittle, mock and libel those with differing views. The “Cancel Culture” or “Woke Movement” attack those they see as bigots, but often practice a sort of bigotry of their own. They accuse people of bias for not parroting their own biases. They would do well to consider something Muntzer said in one of those articles.

“I don’t blame anyone for having a different opinion than me as to what’s really going on, you know, or a different opinion on their beliefs. That’s just the way it is. Without differences, we would have a very boring society,” said Muntzer at the conclusion of a 2021 story on the Jan. 6 incident.

Fox Run Special District Talk about people having a hard time accepting the results of an election. In 2020, the residents in the Fox Run Subdivision voted by a strong majority to pursue a Special Improvement District and pave the roads in their subdivision.

Most people don’t understand the process and think that they somehow deserve paved roads and that the local government will make it happen. These folks knew the obligation – they would have to pay for the project – and presented residents with the information. The residents wanted to make their subdivision a better place and moved forward with a board election and entered into the process.

I assigned a reporter to cover the story and she has done an excellent job of educating the entire county on the process. I felt it important because it is an affluent community and I wanted to show how good people could make good things happen by committing to the project.

Unfortunately, a very small minority that has been against the project from the start has been very successful in throwing a monkey wrench into the works and to this point derailing the hopes of the majority.

A letter writer this week had a problem with a recent story, pointing out the account focused on what he felt was the “sensational” part of the story rather than the “substantial”. It was the minority group that made that element of the story the focus of the meeting.

The reporter has done an excellent job covering the meandering and constant craziness of the story.

J.P. Plutt, a 30-year employee of the Dillon Tribune, is the editor/ publisher of the newspaper.