Sunday, June 14, 2009

Shutting Down Free Speech

It is always interesting to read the comments section following an article addressing a political topic. There is a lot of finger pointing and name calling from both sides of the aisle. However, there seems to be an increased amount of rancor from the left. Consider a few recent entries I collected:
  • "All conservative blabbermouths believe they're sensible, etc. They spread fear and hate."
  • A response to an ad mistakenly posted calling for the assassination of Obama: "When the man is caught I hope they do a complete profile on him. I'll bet he listens to Limbaugh and KKKlannity and FOX!!!!!!!!!!"
  • "I hate Fox News because of their conservative lies. Bill has viewers because they want to believe his lies and they feed on Fox and conservative radio hatred."
  • "The GOP has become the party of no ideas and of hate."
  • "We need to rid this country of Christian extremists."
  • In response to the recent murder of abortion doctor George Tiller: "What does it take for you freaks to understand that an innocent man was killed because Billy O'Reilly was raised to be a jerk by jerks?"
The rhetoric has been raised to a new level by an op-ed column by Paul Krugman posted in Friday's (June 12) New York Times titled The Big Hate. Though Krugman is not as rancorous as some of the comments above, it carries far more weight because it was posted as a commentary in one of the nation's most prestigious newspapers.
Krugman: "Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment."

Where is this "right-wing" extremism being fed by the conservative media and political establishment? Every conservative, right wing, pundit I have listened to recently has condemned the recent shooting of Dr. Tiller and the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. These murders are the acts of individuals who went off the deep end. No one has provided any evidence that they are the product of Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly. In fact, the gunman at the Holocaust Museum had committed bizarre acts long before Limbaugh and O'Reilly became political commentators. On the other hand, why hasn't the left wing media decreed the recent murder of a military recruiter by a Muslim extremist?
Krugman: "And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased."

What? Krugman stated here that I and many of my associates have joined the "black-helicopter crowd." What is his point?
Krugman: "Exhibit A for the mainstreaming of right-wing extremism is Fox News’s new star, Glenn Beck. Here we have a network where, like it or not, millions of Americans get their news — and it gives daily airtime to a commentator who, among other things, warned viewers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be building concentration camps as part of the Obama administration’s 'totalitarian' agenda (although he eventually conceded that nothing of the kind was happening)."

Being a regular listener of Glenn Beck, I heard the discussion regarding the FEMA camps. Krugman had it totally wrong. Beck was responding to reports of such camps. Not believing that such camps exist, he had a guest on his show to debunk the whole thing. Apparently, Krugman is trying to spin a tale to garner support for his belief that such commentors should be shut down. Admittedly, Beck is passionate about his beliefs. He is passionate about America and its potential for doing good. He is passionate about the Constitution and the government set up by our Founding Fathers. I've never heard him encourage violence. In fact, Beck goes out of his way to encourage people to work within the law.
Krugman: "When Mr. Limbaugh peddles conspiracy theories — suggesting, for example, that fears over swine flu were being hyped 'to get people to respond to government orders' — that’s a case of the conservative media establishment joining hands with the lunatic fringe."

I did not hear this the broadcast to which Krugman refers. However, having listened to Rush off and on since early in 1992, I suspect that Krugman has also taken Limbaugh out of context. Rush Limbaugh is a commentator on political news. He often goes out of his way to debunk conspiracies. In fact, if something he says sounds fishy, it's probably because he got it out of the mainstream media and is using it as an example of the kind of thing put out there by the media. Like Beck, Limbaugh is passionate about America and the ability of the individual to succeed and live the American dream. Has Limbaugh lived the perfect life? No. He has encountered challenges faced by many Americans, and much more, and has risen above those challenges. That is a story unto itself.
Krugman: "Yes, the worst terrorist attack in our history was perpetrated by a foreign conspiracy. But the second worst, the Oklahoma City bombing, was perpetrated by an all-American lunatic. Politicians and media organizations wind up such people at their, and our, peril."

Is Krugman trying to pin the attack in Oklahom City on conservative talkers? Again, there has been no evidence presented that McVey or Nichols were influenced by the conservative movement. These were evil men who had a chip on their shoulder. Additionally, the full story of Oklahoma City has never been told by the mainstream media (see The Third Terrorist by Jayna Davis).

It appears that Krugman is trying to shut down the discussion of ideas in this country if they do not happen to agree with his view. He paints people like Limbaugh, Beck, and O'Reilly as dangerous individuals who need to be stopped. Unfortunately, I think the real hate is coming from Krugman. Who knows what his kind of speech will cause left-wing nut jobs do?

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