In response to the public outcry this week over the hiring of Torture Memos author John Yoo as a monthly columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, both the paper’s publisher, Brian Tierney, and its editorial page editor, Harold Jackson, issued defenses of Yoo’s hiring that were, well, indefensible.
The NY Times reported:
“What I liked about John Yoo is he’s a Philadelphian,” Mr. Tierney said. “He went to Episcopal Academy, where I went to school. He’s a very, very bright guy. He’s on the faculty at Berkeley, one of the most liberal universities in the country.”
To critics of the hiring, he said, “The most important speech to defend is the speech you hate.”
And sure, we can all agree that free speech = GOOD, even when we don’t agree with said speech’s content. Unless, of course, you’re John Yoo. In a 2001 memo, Yoo actually suggested that free speech and free press were maybe not all that, in the words of Tierney, “important” and worth “defending.”
“First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully,” Yoo wrote, in a memo entitled, “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activity Within the United States.“
Oh. The. Irony.
The Inquirer‘s editorial page editor, Harold Jackson, was less chummy in his own Yoo-pologia, but he wasn’t any more convincing.
For NPR.org, he wrote:
“Adding more conservative commentaries to our mix doesn’t mean we have become right-wing in our editorial positions. It means we aren’t afraid to let people hear what the other side has to say.
We think most of our readers aren’t afraid either.
Our editorial board strives to take distinct positions on every topic we write about. But we also want to make sure our pages present alternative points of view.
That’s the reason we run Yoo.“
Ahh! “Hearing…the other side” and “alternative points of view” also = GOOD (and now let us embrace and sing Kumbaya together), however…
Legally justifying torture is not simply “other” and “alternative,” it’s madness. It goes against reason, logic, ethics, and humanity. And, for the record, we should be afraid of that. We should be very afraid.
Filed under: Brian Tierney, Bush Administration Legacies, Civil Liberties, Harold Jackson, John Yoo, John Yoo Free Speech, John Yoo Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist, Philadelphia Inquirer, Torture, Torture Memos
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