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The Abatis v. the Times and Prose

April 20, 2009

I mentioned Friday that the Beaver County Times actually published my letter to the editor concerning their baseless attacks against talk radio.  The letter was an abridged version of this post and can be read here. ( I take no blame for the letter’s headline – that was the editor’s doing.)  There were three comments to the letter.  They read as follows:

CarlDavidson wrote on Apr 20, 2009 12:20 PM:

” That’s interesting. When i hear the name of the right wing talker Michael Savage, who thinks Hannity is too wimpy, ‘Socio-path’ is a term that comes right to the top of my list to describe him.
But you’re ignoring the substantive point. The ‘big lie’ claim from the right is that Obama is going to seize all the guns and ammo of law-abiding citizens, and this wanna-be neo-Nazi believed it.
Do you assert and believe it? Or do you think that hyperbole has to be reigned in? Where do you stand? ”

zippy wrote on Apr 19, 2009 8:29 PM:

” I hope that some of you get to hear the station promo that one station in the region is running for the Michael Savage show. They take a snippet of Savage talking about how the majority of immigrants to America are “non-white” and how these “non-whites” hate white America. Listen to that and write in about how these shows are not unintentionally intentionally spreading ahte and divisiveness in society. This is a “positive” promo to get you to listen to this goof, btw, not an attack against his show. ”

W Horter wrote on Apr 19, 2009 10:36 AM:

” Mr Charlton, I see you don’t agee that words, vicious words at that, have no consequence. You have your right to that opinion, but I disagree, we can have a much more civilized conversation, and a much more civil crew of radio commentators. There is no need for the hatred and such that comes from Savage, or I guess Quinn although i can’t say I’ve ever heard the guy.
But if words truly have no consequence, why is corporate america spending so much promoting their right wing agenda? Surely some sort of cost benifit analycis is at work here? More than half of corporate customers are progressive, yet they cling to only promoting rightwingnut mouthpieces like Limbaugh and Savage. “

I responded to the first two (earlier time stamp) letters with a comment in the paper.  We’ll see if they print it.  In case not, I wrote:

Mr. Horter,

What I don’t agree with is your claim that I believe words have no consequence. I ask you to tell us what line in my letter made that assertion.

The point I was making was that the Times and JD Prose inferred that right-wing talk radio should take responsibility for the actions of Mr. Poplawski and his ilk, as if J.D. has definitive proof that Poplawski was influenced by the likes of Savage, Quinn, etc. But there’s been no reporting of such a connection. Prose’s article took a tragic event and used it as fodder for a tirade against talk radio even though no causative relationship had been established.   That’s poor journalism.

Zippy and Carl,

Of all the radio hosts Mr. Prose mentioned Savage definitely goes over the top. I certainly don’t and won’t listen to his show. But still – name one proven terrorist act that occurred specifically because of undue influence exerted by Savage (since by far he’s the worst of the bunch in your mind.)

So, on to Mr. Davidson.   First, Carl claims that Mr. Poplawski believed the Obama Administration was going to confiscate all our weapons and the fear that would happen drove Poplawski to his actions.  From what we’ve learned from sources that researched the subject, as opposed to the Times, that seems to be true.  But as I wrote before we’ve not seen a link to Savage (since Carl focused on him) and Poplawski.  All we’ve heard is that Poplawski frequented neo-Nazi web sites.  So, Carl wishes to use this tragedy to throttle the first amendment rights of talk radio hosts not because they’ve actually instigated anything but because Mr. Davidson doesn’t like what Savage says.  He wants to “reign in the hyperbole.”

I wonder though who decides what is a true threat and what is hyperbole in Carl Davidson’s world?  I don’t like what Bill Press says.  Nor do I care for the verbal equivalent of projectile vomiting that typically emanates from the likes of Keith Olberman, Al Franken, Randi Rhodes, or Janeane Garofolo.  Can we force  them to stop talking?  I hope not.  I’d hate to believe that we so blithely would toss aside the first amendment so that our public speech becomes less inflammatory, regardless of who’s wielding the flame thrower.

I happen to take our freedoms more seriously than do Carl Davidson or JD Prose.  One would think that JD, supposedly a journalist who owes his livelihood to those freedoms, would put a bit more thought into his positions.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. carldavidson permalink
    April 21, 2009 7:24 am

    I’m not for limiting anyone’s speech by the state, save for the laws of libel and the rather high bar of shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. I called for counter-speech, and the BCT editorial was a good example. Any ‘reigning in’ I hoped would be voluntary and a matter of common sense, from people on all points on the political spectrum. A good number agreed with me, some didn’t. I’m a defender of the 2nd amendment myself, for protection against home invaders and fascists, free-lance or otherwise. But I draw the line a weapons where I have to pull a trigger to fire a round. Fully automatic weapons the government has the responsibility to severely restrict, in my book, and most gun owners, and almost all police, agree with me. And Obama has no intention of moving into my parameters. The claim that he does is all right-wing hype that, as we see, has unintended consequences.

    • April 21, 2009 1:43 pm

      I’m glad you and I are in agreement that there should be an extremely good reason to limit an individual’s speech. I don’t agree that the BCT editorial was a counter-balance to things said by those over the airwaves. I’d welcome hearing (reading) points refuting things being said over the on the air today–that the Administration’s policies will result in higher prices on everyone; that it may have been wrong to have released the “torture” memos; whether there is utility in using techniques that Obama now wants to ban–and so on. There is no proof that things said by those on talk radio, even by the most rabid and virulent on the right, has caused anything along the lines of the heinous acts we saw a couple weeks ago, and yet Prose and the BCT attempted to make that connection.

      You say that Obama has no intention of moving in on personal ownership of weaponry and that the claim that he will is right-wing hype. But that fails to differentiate between the right-wingedness (such a word? :)) of Sean Hannity and Bill Bennet versus the outright hate spewed by neo-Nazi Internet sites. Quinn, Ingraham, and Rush are not saying Obama will take take all our weapons! Their talk didn’t inflence Poplawski. It’s the refusal to make that differentiation that irritated me about Prose’s editorial–his intention to paint all right-wingers with a broad brush and to discredit mainstream talk radio by inferring they’re no different than the sites Poplawski frequented.

      Even though I am writing this blog and have a decidedly right-of-center outlook on most subjects, one of the things that is worrisome to me is that the Internet allows people to selectively pick and choose what news and what opinions they see and hear, so our society is becoming more polarized as time goes on. I’m hoping my blog eventually results in a free exchange of ideas and not a forum just for one side. Please stay around, Carl.

  2. carldavidson permalink
    April 21, 2009 2:30 pm

    I’ll stick around. I’m a case-hardened old red, but I might surprise you from time to time. I’ve enough gggggrandfathers who fought in the American Revolution to make me also a Woody Guthrie patriot with a libertarian streak (I appreciate John Locke, and Amendments 9 and 10), as well as one who tips his hat and raises a fist to the red flag on May Day.

    Lou Dobbs claims Obama want to do away with the 2nd Amendment about every other night. Glenn Beck is the Fox/Talk Radio guy who seems to have had the most influence on Poplawski. I don’t know if he was also into the National Alliance and the ‘Turner Diaries,’ as was Tim McVeigh and his little crew. We know what that cost. The Southern Poverty Law Center does a decent job on tracking violence from the right, and it more than you might think. When we have this MN Congresswoman calling for her base to become ‘armed and dangerous’ against the first Black president, I, for one, do not take it lightly.

    I understand the range of the political spectrum, and the need to make distinctions and the need to encourage diversity and civil discourse.

    Finally, my main worry with Obama is not that he’ll tax us, but whether the taxes are invested wisely. I wouldn’t give a penny to the ‘non-bank banks’ that set themselves up to avoid regulation and gamble in derivatives. They wanted an unfettered free market; let them go down the tubes. But we do have to protect the normal banking system, as well as workers pension funds and the average family’s mortgages. But if I were a business man right now, I’d much prefer a government purchase order over a tax cut, in a heartbeat. Time to assist the demand side, I’d say.

  3. April 21, 2009 8:49 pm

    I haven’t heard anything from Lou Dobbs or the Congresswoman you referenced. I’d be willing to read or hear anything if you could find. I’m sure you and I will have completely different views of the Southern Poverty Law Center. From my perspective I don’t view what they do as “tracking violence” in as much as I deem it inflaming hatred and racial animus. Despite all the progress we’ve made on the racial front Bond and Dees want to make us believe we’re one-half step from a KKK lynching.

    I am worried about Obama and taxes though I agree with your view that the banks (and the car companies) should have gone availed themselves of Chapter 11 protection and reorganization.We have bankruptcy laws for a reason. Up for a conspiracy theory? We (the government) did what was done to allow for future control of those businesses. Why else can banks not not be permitted to return TARP funds?

    But I AM a big 10th Amendment man. And nowhere in the Constitution is there express permission for the federal government to involve itself in 3/4 of what it does. Education, welfare, medicine, retirement planning, and so on are states’ responsibilities. Just my $0.02.

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