Ed Fitzpatrick’s column in today’s Providence Journal is about the public union led attempt to boycott WPRO until they fire John Depetro.
As preamble, I repeat my own take on this brouhaha: I don’t agree with Depetro’s use of those epithets. They were nasty and unnecessary.
However, if Depetro had made his comments about the General Treasurer and not her critics, there would have been no boycott but instead, lots of smirking and quiet head-nodding in certain quarters. (It is fascinating, by the way, that an early rejection of Depetro’s apology came not from a woman but – paternalistically? – from a public union man.) So is the boycott really about protecting women or getting rid of, as Ed Fitzpatrick points out in his column, the state’s loudest critic of public unions?
While union leaders and politicians might be sincerely outraged, it can also be true that a successful boycott would silence one of their loudest, harshest critics.
Fitzpatrick, undoubtedly quoting Katz, carefully indicates that his (Katz’) comments are his own and not those of this blog. But this contributor has no problem at all with his take on the situation.
Justin Katz, managing editor of the conservative blog Anchor Rising-Ocean State Current, said elected officials are not acting in their private capacities.
“That would be the case were they boycotting WPRO as listeners and encouraging their fellow Rhode Islanders to do the same,” said Katz (speaking for himself, not the blog). “This is public officials abusing their privilege and responsibility to keep the public informed in an attempt to starve a private business of the content that constitutes its product. They have a right to interpret their responsibilities so as to allow that. But it isn’t right, and Rhode Islanders should consider it evidence that they aren’t fit for public office.”
The boycott could have a chilling effect, Katz said. “It sends a signal down the line to talk show hosts — or me or you — that if you are thinking of saying anything close to the nebulous line of what’s not sayable, you might be better off softening your criticism or even going with a different topic altogether.”