I am responding to an op-ed (Dec. 18) by Los Angeles Times senior editorial writer Michael McGough about recent tweets by President Trump that mocked Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish climate activist.

Trump tweeted that she should work on “her anger management” and “chill.” McGough wrote that although Trump’s tweets were “tacky and mean-spirited,” Thunberg should not receive a “blanket exemption from criticism” since she is a “public figure.” His reasoning makes no sense to me. I agree that our democracy is based on the idea that people can respectfully disagree, and that public figures will be subject to more scrutiny and criticism than other citizens. However, this freedom to criticize has limits.

Trump’s tweets had nothing to do with Thunberg’s ideas – they simply were personal attacks. The strategy is that if someone disagrees with you, just attack their character without substantively responding to their ideas. This strategy is a distraction from looking at the real issue here, which is the rapidly growing climate change crisis that we are all facing.

It’s much easier to demean and insult a courageous teenager or debate questions concerning the criticism of public figures than to actually do the work of addressing climate change.

Walter Novey


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