This is Civil Discourse?

On May 8, the Commonwealth Foundation is hosting an event, LiveFreePA, to celebrate the freedoms government in Washington and Harrisburg are threatening, including personal freedoms such as our rights to alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, as well as our economic freedoms. The day’s activities include breakfast and lunch, live music, participants choice to shoot sporting clays or 3D archery, appearances by candidates for Pennsylvania Governor and US Senate, and a chance to shoot at an old car bearing anti-freedom slogans like “cap & trade”, “socialized medicine” and “bailouts.”

It is the latter that has thrown left-wing bloggers, politician, and pundits into a tizzy. While we viewed is a symbolic gesture – shooting holes in bad ideas, representing what we do with our research (see our 548 research articles online and our 3,588 Policy Blog posts) – they mischaracterize it (as with almost any event championing gun rights) as a call to violence, and contend we would rather shoot at ideas than engage in civil discourse. Here is the civil discourse our critics are offering: refers to the event as one sponsored by “gun nuts.”

Democrat candidate for Governor Joe Hoeffel responded, “Right-wingers have trouble talking straight…I sure hope they can shoot straight.”

Pundit and radio host Alan Colmes refers to us as “right-wing nut jobs,” and expects us to push for the right to bring a cannon to work.

Keith Olbermann labels us among the “worse person in the world”:

Crowds are not expected to be large because to shoot the correct cars, the tea party protesters would have to know how to read.

The blog writes

It might be of benefit to our health and safety if we started accepting these gun nut shoot ups that target political opponents as dangerous as an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.

And from recent emails and news story comments here are some gems:

“I find your lack of knowledge to be an absolute embarrassment to myself and my state of birth.”

“The reckless and yes, childish response to governmental programs you do not like begs the question what would you do to replace them? Good luck in finding answers because that would take responsible leadership something you have not thought about yet. Grow up!”

“No sane person would think that putting Republicans in office in order to steal from tax payers and give to corporations is good for America. You guys are riling people to violence through misinformation, and in my opinion your actions are illegal and morally reprehensible.”

“It only costs $65 to LiveFree in PA. You people are indeed idiots. Try not to get anyone hurt.”

“A perfect event for the nutcases on the right – once again folks are being used by a Republican front calling itself the Commonwealth Foundation. Shoot those cars; feel good about yourselves – beats thinking.”

I am glad so many of our critics want to engage in a debate on these issues.