Mason Tvert, our own Michael Moore

Editor: If you define a Michael Moore as someone who practices political provocation, lacks manners, and dishes it out but can't take it, Denver's own Mason Tvert, pot prophet and McCain hater, would seem to qualify. So our contributor Jim Krefft can testify from experience. He writes: My War with Mason Tvert

Standing up for conservative values means more than just voting for conservative candidates. It also requires the backbone to debate and stand up to fringe radically liberal elements in a respectful but decisive manner. I thought about this during a recent go-round with Mason Tvert, the leading advocate for legalized marijuana in Colorado.

Several weeks ago Mason Tvert and minions launched the website as a rather tasteless advocacy for marijuana and against consumable alcohol. The website features a number of unproven claims against prospective First Lady Cindy McCain and is strange in its singling out of one of the only women in the beer industry. Among them are claims that Mrs. McCain is a drug dealer due to her ownership of Hensley & Company, an Arizona beer distributor, and the statement that she “makes millions of dollars dealing a drug far more harmful then marijuana”.

Disturbingly, the site also calls for patrons to download and print out wanted posters of Cindy McCain for display in public locations. Finally, the site asks for people to sign a petition so that: “…Our country should not punish adults for simply making the rational, SAFER choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol for relaxation and recreation.” Some of these themes seemed in error to me so I called Mason Tvert to ask about them. What happened next is the purpose of this writing.

After leaving a question on Tvert’s machine, I received a call from him. After a rather heated exchange he claimed that I was the only person in America who felt this way about the website. I was about to respond that this was unprovable when Mason hung up on me, saying he didn’t “have time for this.” If you’re wondering why someone who has control of his own schedule would call someone else and then hang up on them, then you’re thinking like me. In general it is not proper phone or debate etiquette to hang up on someone when you yourself are the initiator of the conversation.

So I then wrote Mason asking him for a discussion of both debate etiquette and phone manners. He responded once but has since declined to comment on my inquiries on the subject. By email he informed me: “When you made it clear your sole purpose was to argue and not to discuss anything relevant whatsoever, I came to the conclusion that the discussion was not worth my time.” After a few more ideological grenades Mason informed me that he felt that “You heard this message, hence I consider the effort successful.” I think this is a shame. By ducking discussion and ignoring proper debate procedures, Mason discredits his own movement and his as yet evident message. Moreover, by being rude, and displaying bad phone manners he brings up serious questions about himself as a political advocate. I hope Mason reads this writing and I hope he accepts my challenge to a debate on phone manners, etiquette and the responsibilities of a political advocate.

In this political season we are often faced with those who disagree with us or those who disparage things that we hold dear. I for one look forward to such times, and certainly think that it is free debate and respectful conversation that has made this country what it is today. A good debate is important not just for the people but for the issues themselves and even more, the fundamental ideas behind those issues. But what happens when the debate stops being respectful? And what does it mean for the ideas, and for America in general, when the debate ceases to be about substance or the people and becomes about raw emotion and personal vanity?