Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Some of Dad's stories

Dad had a ton of stories about his times as a lawyer and as judge. Here's some of the ones I remember best. I wish I could tell them exactly as he did. I had always wanted to whip out the recorder when he was storytelling but never did. He died a year ago today.

Times as a judge

Tree-ing while Drunk

One night, deep in the backwoods of Tuckahoe, a driver swerved off the
road, and wrecked his car. He called in the accident on his cellphone,
and stepped up onto a grassy knoll, where bloodied and bruised, he sat
up against a tree, to wait.

There he waited, and waited.

The State Police didn't arrive until about two and a half hours
later. You have to know that back then and back there that there was
no local police force for miles and miles. The only police responsible
for the area were from the State - and they didn't really get off the
main highway much, and the roads were dark and many were unmarked.

My guess is that they got lost...

Anyway, the state police arrived, and they found that driver, peeing
against that tree, with a bottle of Jack Daniels nearby. He was
happy enough to see everybody until they breathalized him, found an
alcohol content of something rather high, then charged him with driving
drunk and hauled him off to jail, not even bothering to stop in at the

All the way the driver complained that he hadn't started drinking
until after he got bored and as he was in pain, "what else would you
do in the middle of nowhere while you waited for youse guys to arrive"?

He made the same argument in court later, and after looking at the
timestamps between the callin and arrival, Dad agreed with the
defendant that drinking was a good way to spend the rest of that lousy
evening, with his wrecked car, so he let him off.

It utterly infuriated the state cops involved! They thought they had a clean

But, Dad pointed out: that while there were laws against drinking while
in a car, there wasn't a law that applied to drinking while against a

They'd charged the defendant with drunk driving, not drunk tree-ing,
and sufficient time had passed between the driving part and the
tree-ing part to supply reasonable doubt.

Brandishing it

Another time there was a southerner, who had driven up from Texas to visit
his niece in NJ. He blew a red light, and a cop caught him at it and
pulled him over. The cop saw the out of state plates, and ALSO noticed
a rifle in the back seat, so he stepped away from the car carefully -
and did all the things a cop does to keep things cool while a
potential crazy with a gun is in front of you - like calling for backup to
surround the vehicle to get the Texan out. They then bent him over the car
with handcuffs to arrest him for possession of an illegal weapon.

In a pre-trial conference call later the Texan called his lawyer back
home, who simply didn't understand that people in NJ didn't carry rifles
in the back of their pickups 'around heah.

His attorney just didn't get the reason for the bust on the gun
thing. He kept asking:

"Was he brandishing it?"

And the prosecuting attorney went to great lengths to explain the
time of day, the routinue traffic stop, the out of state plates, the
presence of a weapon being illegal without a permit...

"But was he brandishing it??"

And the prosecuting attorney, beginning to turn blue in the face,
would explain the statute, the fact that you simply don't carry guns
in the back seat in NJ, and the guy on the other side of the line
would interrupt and say:

"If he wasn't brandishing it that's fine. What's the problem?"

And the prosecuting attorney would start repeating himself and the
attorney on the other side would start repeating himself and the
conversation kept circling back to the established fact that the Texan
was not indeed brandishing the weapon, that he'd co-operated with
authorities, that he'd made an honest mistake and neither he nor his
attorney still can believe that you can't carry a gun everywhere in
this heah ole USA and...

I don't recall what ultimately happened with this case, but Dad loved
recounting (complete with the southern accents) the adamant disbelief of
both driver and his attorney that someone could get busted for having
an unloaded weapon in his car, in other parts of the country than

"Was he brandishing it??"

Trying pot

Dad spent time in the army after the Korean war, but didn't actually
go anywhere, merely spending 6 years in the reserves.

He worked a variety of odd jobs while he finished his degree,
Cambell's soup in particular.

After graduating he became a lawyer in Ocean City, NJ, and also was
involved in the Cape May County Prosecutors office and the local
municipal court. He lived a really straight and normal life, and
wasn't exposed to a lot of things that happened elsewhere.

I'm not going to say when or where exactly this story happened because
I'm not sure all the "miscreants" are safely retired yet - although
the statute of limitations has certainly run out! - so I'm going to
fudge this story a lot unless someone else wants to come forward
with the whole truth.

But it was the 1960s...

One day there was a bust, and the cop showing off the amount of
marijuana acquired was suddenly called away to do something else.

And there, on the office desk, he'd (accidentally?) left this enormous
bag of pot. Nobody knew what to do with it, it hadn't been checked
in as evidence yet, and yet everyone in the office was so straight and
normal as to having never tried the devils weed, and yet, there it was...

People went in and out, trying not to notice it. They didn't know to
put it away, or how to find the cop - nobody knew who he was! or what -
but even touching the bag, moving it one inch - seemed like a
potential crime, so there it sat... all day.

After work, the bag was still there, the cop hadn't come back, and dad
and a few of the people working late got to talking about how odd it
was to make such draconian law against something that was so commonly
used, and what did the stuff do, exactly, and they were young and
foolish and trusted each other enough to finally say - "well, hell,
let's do some research."

Obviously, cookies were needed. So someone went out and bought a bunch
of cookies.

They locked and sealed up under all the doors, put blinds up over
the windows, failed to figure out how to roll a joint (they ended up
using a toilet paper roll), and smoked some. Even over the ever-present
cigarette smoke of the era it stunk up the place, which they didn't
quite expect.

Dad remembers that they laughed a lot, but then they all got very,
very, very paranoid - they were in the law business after all and what
they'd just done carried seriously heavy penalties back then! My god,
what would have happened if someone walked in and seen them red-eyed and huddled
over the cookies!? They'd know! For sure! Their careers would be
ruined! And suddenly they could just smell pot, smell it, everywhere,
it was in everything... So they (casually, they thought) stumbled
around the office, and opened all the windows, turned on all the fans,
and did whatever they could to get the stink out.

And the next morning, the bag was still in exactly the same spot,
only a tiny bit lighter, until someone arranged to get it into evidence.

Everybody remarked on how the stuff in the bag had stunk up the place,
even with the windows open overnight. The miscreants were extremely
discrete that day, and frightened forever-more.

So far as I know that was the only time Dad ever tried pot. Dad
otherwise missed most of the 60s, as best as I can tell. I don't think
he ever even got any secondary smoke. Except for the Simon and
Garfunkle and Beatles records downstairs I played while growing up,
there wasn't a sign of the slightest hippie influence until I showed

Over the years we argued drug legalization a lot. I switched my
viewpoint a half dozen times, his was always the opposite. To this day
I don't know what he really thought, and I'm not going to put up
what I learned from that debate here as it detracts from the story above.

You gotta keep your numbers up

Periodically Trenton would send down a bright-eyed and bushy tailed
young bureaucrat to explain to Dad that he wasn't convicting enough
people, wasn't throwing enough people in jail compared to the other
districts, and that he "had to get his numbers up". Dad would pretend
to listen, patiently, and then find a way to boot him or her out the
door, so he could get on with keeping a human aspect to the law.

Dad enjoyed giving a first time offender a big scare about jail, but
if there was adequate support at home or a treatment program, that was
generally the way his sentencing ran.

Every year, it was always a different "kid" showing up with the same
message, and every year Dad found more creative ways to avoid them.

Dad was a judge in Ocean City and Tuckahoe for over 20 years, and never
did get his numbers up.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Eulogy - "Extra Innings"

Dad's memorial service was on Sept 9th, 2012. Something like 100 people showed up. Bev Taht, Dick Ely, Roy Gillian, Dick Kabot, and several other people spoke. Several people asked me to put up what I said, so, here it is.

Hi. I'm Mike Taht, Ron's oldest son. Actually, I go by "Dave", now.

I see that a goodly percentage of those here knew him as "Mike", and the rest knew him as "Ron".

I just knew him as "Dad".

When I was in my twenties, Dad had a nearly fatal accident. I thought I'd have to be writing this eulogy then. I got writers block. Bad. I'm very lucky in that I got to put off writing this stuff down for a really long time.

Growing up, my dad wasn't real big on my infatuation with computers, and kept encouraging me, gruffly, to "go outside!"

Typing? "Secretaries did that.". He had three of them and didn't need any more.

I spent all this time growing up, in both his library, and Ocean City's down on 6th street, with my nose in a book, and wasn't really connected to anything he thought was in the real world... as an example:

Dad taught me to drive, in the Ocean City community center parking lot.

And I was so bad, that he wrote:


on the windshield on the side of the car he was quivering on. But he got through it, and so did I. He handled me, later, driving completely through the garage door, quite calmly, as best as I remember...

Oh, a note on the community center: in High School, when I was swimming in it, every day, I didn't know how hard he'd worked to get it built. And it's really great seeing it now, as it combines two of my favorite places in Ocean City - the pool, and the library.

Dad's chief form of relaxation was to go fishing - no radio, no books, just the open air and ocean. Being a bookworm and music freak myself I had trouble dealing with this. This was before the walkman, so I couldn't entertain myself, musically. You kids with your ipods, you're lucky! I'd look up from wandering around the Ringworld, or from an enormous battle with insectoid aliens vs green women... to see endless ocean and sky, just the same as it was the hour prior, and the hour prior to that, and the hour prior to that.

But he took endless delight in just sitting out in the sun, fishing pole in hand. Whether he caught anything or not didn't matter. He named boat after boat "the Tranquilizer" 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 I think he got up to...

I do remember two fishing trips vividly. One day we were fairly far offshore and an enormous cloud of birds were working, above a huge school of bluefish. We made pass after pass through the birds. All 4 (6?) fishing lines would hit - ALL of them! Every time! and Steve and I had the time of our lives scrambling all over the boat to get to them, and dad had to gaff in fish after fish after fish. And then we'd turn around and do it again! But somehow we missed the birds on one run and ended up going home, even though the boat was no-where near full.

He told me years later, upon me recounting this story, that he just got tired of all the excitement, and steered away.

Another time, we were way, way out in the Atlantic, and a huge storm brewed up, and we had to make a dash for home. In the storm and the rain and the heavy seas we got a little lost, and we ended up trying to get back to Ocean City, through Corson's inlet. At low tide. (I see several of you shuddering at the thought of this. This was like, before GPSes and Corsons wasn't quite as impassible as it is today, but it was close)

I was sitting in the back, facing the engine. And I remember him, in a fishing hat, swivelling his head, back and forth, judging the wave behind and the wave ahead, roaring the boat forward and back, surfing between the troughs, waves crashing over the stern, the bow almost, but not quite porpoising, for an endless couple hours.

He seemed very calm, and in his element.

I was so terrified that I broke the handle off of the seat I was sitting in.

I lost my taste for fishing after that. And gained one for surfing. And I now also enjoy getting out in the endless ocean and sky, far away from everything, life, books, and music, just like he did.

Growing up, seeing Dad make the paper as the county prosecutor was really cool, and it seemed like what he did then was awesome, and I thought maybe I too would one day lead the exciting life of a lawyer, tossing murderers in jail, and stuff like that...

Later on he became a judge, which makes a teenager's life kind of interesting.

One time, I was in the Triton bar, (I'd gone bald early and looked far older than I was) and this big guy with a whole bunch of tattoos came up to me and said:

"You look like Ron Taht's son."

I admitted I was and he said:

"He put me in jail for 3 months!"

And me, I started looking around for the exit. But then the guy said:

"He was fair."

And he bought me a beer.

Dad was fair. No matter what Dad really thought - he'd listen to, and or argue the other side - it was impossible to tell what he really thought most of the time! In fact, Dad taught me critical thinking: Growing up, no matter what I thought on any issue, he was critical of it.

That's a cheap joke. Yea, a lot of his attitude was fueled by a perpetual state of annoyance at the human condition, but a better way to put that is: What a great love of debate and rational thinking he had! He taught me to check my facts, and hone my arguments, and always be open to other opinions.


Oh... I remember growing up in Ocean City: Night in Venice, and the pool parties, and shooting pool in the garage, and a million other things....

But then I went to college, and I came back to find he'd quit smoking and taken up cooking, and was like, thoroughly engaged in stuff I'd never imagined him doing.

"Who are you and what have you done with my dad?"

I was pretty bemused for a very long time about that.


Dad coached my little league baseball team. Mike Schmitt was my hero, besides Dad and I sharing the same first name, I played third base too! I'd stand in front of the TV emulating his batting stance - hold on, let's see if I can still do that - swinging when Schmitty swung - but in the real world I never hit anything bigger than a double. So I blended in a little Pete Rose in my "style". Dad and I spent a couple endless summers doing baseball.

He always had a Phillies game on the TV - but he'd turn off the audio to the TV and turn the radio to Rickie Ashburn and Harry Kalas, calling the game. This was always better than the TV feed - hearing that version of reality sparked my imagination. Later on I got into things like: "the shadow knows", and Prairie Home Companion, PBS, and spoken word and comedy records -

One time somewhere in the 70s we went up to see the Phillies play. It was blowout - by the 6th inning "the bums" were down by like 10 to 1.

So we left.

So we started driving home, and in the eighth inning, the Phils had a huge rally, Mike Schmitt homered twice, and in the 9th, they tied it up. The game went into extra innings - 10th, 11th, 12th - back and forth 12-11, 12-13, 14-13, Schmitt hit another home run, Tug McGraw did some outrageous pitching - the game just kept going on and on.

And Dad and I were yelling and screaming in the car - at every twist of the plot - me: "oh, man, we should go back", dad saying "oh no, it will be over soon" - the 13th,14th, 15th innings went by - as did Cherry Hill and Absecon - Kallas and Ashburn oscillating between astonishment, outrage, and excitement - at every twist and turn.

The game continued all the way home and then some. We ended up sitting outside the house, listening to it until Mike Schmitt homered again in the 19th inning, at like 2 AM, to win it.

It was the most fun I'd ever had in a car, until I passed puberty.

Now... The weirdest thing about this memory is that it isn't true - this game never took place!

I went looking for it, on the internet, and the game that I remember, where Schmitty hit 4 home runs, happened at Wrigleys field, and it only went for 10 innings, not 19. If that really was the game, it would explain why it took so long to get home... But I remember this game and trip and the radio and the experience with Dad so vividly that I can only conclude that it took place in some alternate universe that only he and I shared.

We moved to Tuckahoe, I hit college, and I moved to California. And I took all those useless typing skills and turned them into a career helping build the internet. And I wasn't much of a part of dad's life for a very long time. Every time we did get together though, he always had one, gruff, question:

"How's work?"

And I'd have to explain why I wasn't working, or what I was doing, if I was, and in either case he usually didn't get it. "Another startup? Why don't you work for IBM"? You've been fixing the internet and gave the technology away for free? Again?" But he'd help out, every time I got in trouble.

What I did was pretty weird to him, really, until he retired, and computers became a part of his life, and then he started getting it. In the last year, though, as his health began to fail, he started writing stuff down, pounding away at the keyboard with two fingers, with what he really thought.

And I ended up editing his stuff - and I had a chance to help him out for change. And while he was (finally!) writing from conviction... I found myself instinctively arguing the other side - whatever it might be! Just because, that's what he'd taught me to do.

He'd finish up a piece and email it to me, and expect me to turn it around over night. By the time the 15th piece rolled around I found myself wishing for the good old days where a writer had to print out what he'd written, lick a stamp, mail off the darn thing and then wait weeks or months for a reply.

I didn't realize that he was in a hurry.

I taught him everything I knew about writing, a couple of my best tricks, in a couple months... And that was wonderful, to bring things around full circle to share a bit of my world, and...

While I think he had an awful lot left to say... I'm really, really, really glad his game went into extra innings.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIP, Ron, we will miss you

Ronald Lewis "Mike" Taht, of Ocean City, NJ, passed away the morning of June 5th, 2012, after a brief illness. He spent his last days in the company and comfort of his family.

Ronald was born March 17, 1936 to William Taht and Gladys Bloomer of Audubon, NJ. He is predeceased by parents and his brother William. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Beverly, by his brother Kenneth, sister-in-law Janet, sons Michael ("Dave") and Stephen, daughter-in-law Carolyn, granddaughter Natalie, nieces Laura and Linda, nephews Bill (Eileen), Brian (Linda),Ken(Wendy), and their children.

Ronald went to college at Rutgers, Camden, graduating with a degree in law. He served as a reservist between the Korean and Vietnam wars. Partnering with Robert K Bell in his real estate law practice in Ocean City, Ron was also county prosecutor for Cape May, and later served as the Municipal court judge for Ocean City, as well as later, Tuckahoe, NJ. He was instrumental in getting Ocean City’s community center built, as well as helping preserve the heritage of Ocean City.

He loved to fish, and golf, and was a marvelous chef. He loved fine wine and a good debate. After his health began to fail he started writing down his experiences, and had his opinions published both here on his blog and in the Cape Coral News-Press.

We will have two celebrations of his life in the coming months, the first will be in Ocean City sometime this summer, and in Ft Myers later this fall.

Dave notes: I will be keeping Dad's blog open for new posts for a (long) while to publish bits of his backlog as time allows. Please feel free to add your memories of him via the comments below on this post.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ron at Hope Hospice

My father has been battling various illnesses for the last year - In January he got a heart stent and most recently he underwent an amazing valve replacement operation - but after that he started falling apart and has been mostly hospitalized for the past month.

He has been moved to Hope Hospice and he's not expected to recover.

I found his piece on the Affordable Health Care Act in his drafts folder tonight.

I saw that he'd tried to post that piece to his blog, typing with his two fingers, but the technology defeated him, and me, his editor, was buried on something else, not paying attention, and he never got around to asking me to fix it.

So I just fixed it up and posted it.

My father could afford the best in health care for himself, but he fought hard, for it, here, because he wanted the best in health care for everyone.

He wanted a better society, one safer for women, and for people to remember the lessons of the Great Depression, and the truths of the recent recession.

I'm trapped in California and can't make it there until Saturday. I have so much enjoyed seeing my dad blossom as a writer, this past year was the first time since I was a boy where we could collaborate, rather than argue. And his joy when he could finally get all of his thoughts published, uncut, was overwhelming, as was mine, in his.

He has so many stories left in him to tell, that I only half remember.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The affordable health care act

On March 23rd2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. On that date there were 50 million Americans without medical insurance. Insurance companies were permitted to refuse coverage for preexisting conditions. Insurance companies could place limits on how much they would spend in a year and over the life of the policy. Children were eliminated from coverage under their parent’s policies when they graduated from college or became independent while the act allows children to stay on their parent’s policy until they are 26 whether they were independent or not. Millions of seniors still can’t afford the drugs they need despite Medicare part D. The ACA gradually eliminates the doughnut hole until it disappears in 2020. These problems and a great many more were addressed in this Act.

This law was opposed by Republicans and supported by Democrats. The Act Passed in the house on March 21st 2010 by a vote of 219 to 212 and while 34 Democrats voted against the bill, not one Republican voted for it. The Senate passed the bill with 58 Democrats and two independents voting for it while all 39 Republicans voted against it.

From its introduction until today the Republicans have attacked the bill.

They started with death panels although there weren’t any.

Then they said it would increase the deficit even though the bipartisan CBO found that it would reduce the deficit by 50 billion dollars over 10 years. The Republicans don’t talk about the various revenue raising measures that the Act contains including a surcharge on our richest 0.3%.

Next they said that it will eliminate jobs although once again the CBO found that it would have very little effect on employment.

Lastly they argued that because the ACA requires everyone to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty (The Individual Mandate), that it is unconstitutional. It is interesting that the act was designed in accordance with the suggestions of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and many Republican legislators when they were fighting Clinton’s attempt to provide universal health care in the 90’s.

Now 26 states have brought a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the act. It is no surprise that every one of these states is controlled by Republicans. I think back over all the major legislation that has been passed in my lifetime (I go back to the 40’S) and cannot think of one that was not adopted with some bipartisan support.

The Civil Rights Acts and Medicare received broad bipartisan support.

Even the Bush tax cuts of 2001 had substantial Democratic support. While only 2 Democrats voted for the tax reconciliation Act of 2003 it would not have passed without their support.

It is hard to believe that not one Republican member of the House or Senate found this law to be in the best interest of the people. I believe their unanimous and organized attacks were instead an attempt to gain political advantage at the expense of the people.

Now the question is before the Supreme Court. These nine ladies and gentlemen are supposed to decide based on the law. Does anyone believe they will? Beginning with their decision in Bush V Gore the majority on this court has demonstrated its loyalty to the Republicans who appointed them. In Citizens United the court extended the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections as free speech by corporations (overruling two prior decisions) which generally support Republicans. Once again the Republican appointees voted the Republican way.

The Court’s approval rating has fallen to 46% while its disapproval rating has climbed to 40%. I wonder what it will be if it finds the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional?

That decision will leave 50 million Americans without health care insurance. It will leave those with preexisting conditions without coverage. It will leave many of our children and more of the poor without medical care, and seniors will continue to struggle to pay for their medicine, without the help provided by the ACA.

How can so many people fail to recognize the importance of this legislation to so many struggling Americans?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Republican War on Women

The Republicans seem to be waging a war on women.

First they tried to cut the federal contribution to Planned Parenthood, the largest health care provider to poor women. Then they attacked the Obama administration for requiring employers to provide health insurance which includes contraception for women. They have introduced legislation in the house which would permit any company to deny access to no cost birth control regardless of religious affiliation.

The Republicans in Virginia have introduced a bill that will require a women to have inter vaginal ultrasound before having an abortion and a bill which would provide that life begins at conception (more on this story later)

Arizona is in the process of passing a law requiring women to advise their employer why she needs contraception (which must be for something other than preventing pregnancy) before their health insurance will provide it.

Pa. has passed a law requiring not only an ultrasound but also requiring her Dr to explain what it shows while keeping it in her sight lines The Republican governor said it didn’t compel her to see it because “she could always shut her eyes”. 

Now they are trying to stop Congress from passing the Violence against Women Act. This is basically the same bill that was approved with bipartisan support in 1995 and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. In 2005 it passed the Senate unanimously. Why did they like it then but not now?

The act passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee but by a vote along party lines. Not one Republican voted in favor of it. It also sounds like it will be difficult if not impossible to get the 60 votes it will need to pass in the Senate. 

I spent a large part of my working life as a prosecutor and judge in the lower courts. One of the major problems we dealt with was domestic violence. I don’t know how many phone calls I received at 1:00 or 2:00 o’clock in the morning, which seemed to be the time that drunken husbands arrived home to beat up their wife or girl friend. The calls were to determine whether a restraining order should be issued and what the terms of that order should be. This act, in part, provides some support for a battered woman’s struggle to free herself from her violent spouse.

Domestic violence is only one of the issues the Act addresses. It also deals with the problems of rape and sexual assault. The Act provides funding for victim assistance programs like rape crisis centers and hotlines. It also provides legal assistance for victims of violence and provides funding for community violence protection programs.

The Republicans seem to be concerned because the Act extends its protection to gays and lesbians. These people make up 10% of our population and they also deserve protection from violence.

It also grants immunity from deportation to illegal immigrants who report domestic violence. They will not complain if it means that they will be deported.  Do the Republicans believe that these women don’t need and deserve protection?

What has happened to our society? Women in any culture are particularly vulnerable to violence. At one time all men and women recognized the need to protect them.

What has happened to the Republicans?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

To Encourage Civil Discourse

Recently Rush Limbaugh launched a blistering attack on a third year law school student who had dared to defend the Administration’s regulation requiring health insurance policies to include contraception for women. On the first day of his attack Limbaugh called Ms. Fluke a whore and a prostitute. The next day he suggested that she should videotape her sexual encounters so he could watch them and on the third day continued his ugly attack.

Michelle Malkin in her latest editorial defends Mr. Limbaugh. She lists a number of similar attacks by liberal TV and radio commentators on conservatives, including herself. She then concludes that since liberals make such horrible nasty statements about conservatives, Limbaugh should be permitted to use similar language to attack Ms. Fluke.

Fortunately commentators and editorial writers on both the right and the left disagree. They have condemned this attack on this woman. I believe the vast majority find these vile, hateful rants whether by the right or the left, unacceptable.   

On the other hand there are a lot of people who do find this language acceptable.  Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich gave weak responses when asked to comment on Limbaugh’s tirade?  Santorum said that Limbaugh was “an entertainer.” which I guess allows him to viciously attack young women. Santorum is often on stage surrounded by his wife and daughters. I can’t help wondering how entertained he would be if Limbaugh had called any of them sluts and prostitutes for defending their beliefs as Americans.

Cal Thomas (a conservative writer) at a meeting of CPAC, in a feeble attempt at humor, suggested that if Ms. Maddow’s (a liberal talk show host) mother had used birth control the world would be better off. He realized then that a gentleman should never wish someone to be dead or to never have been born. So he called Ms. Maddow, apologized, and offered to take her to lunch. She accepted and later he devoted a column to it and she told the story on her program showing a picture of them together.  She reported that he was an intelligent, interesting man with a great sense of humor and that they had enjoyed their time together. Together they set an example for civil discourse which I hope others will follow.

I am not suggesting that a sincere  apology by Rush to Ms. Fluke would do any good and I am sure lunch wouldn’t be a good idea either. Limbaugh (and he has company on the right and left) is a mean nasty man who has capitalized on his ability to attack those who can’t fight back. Fortunately there are not a lot of Limbaughs in the world.

It would, however, be a breath of fresh air for people like Cal Thomas who, for whatever reason, belittles or attacks someone, to apologize to that person, and for the person attacked to graciously accept that apology.

Ms. Malkin in her column mentions an attack by Ed Schultz on Laura Ingraham. Perhaps we can draw a lesson from how that was handled. MSNBC gave Shultz a week off without pay. Schultz read a sincere apology before his next broadcast, then introduced the man who would take his place that week. I don’t think he has slipped into vile or insulting discourse since.

President of Georgetown University claimed the high ground in this controversy  Even though he disagreed with his student’s position he said “”she provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people. One need not support her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression”. It is a shame that the John DeGioia’s aren’t the ones with radio programs that attract millions of listeners.  

My most interesting friends are those with whom I disagree. They are the ones who challenge me to think. They are also the ones that force me to search for arguments to support my positions. Sometimes I can’t find one.  That does not make me angry. It makes me a better person.

 We all must learn to listen. I am afraid we all know to well how to talk.