See What Happens When You Portray Liberals as Dangerous and Insane Vermin?
By Lee Russ
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 09:07 PM
I used to electronically converse with a born again Christian who used a retrospective definition of âChristian.â In his view, people who did bad things could never be Christians, because Christians donât do bad things. That little loop of illogic seems to run deep through right wingers, whether they be Christian or other. So letâs talk about good old Mr. Adkisson, who just went berserk in that Unitarian Universalist (UU) church in Tennessee.Jim David Adkisson is reported to have shot seven people, killing two so far, because he couldn’t find a job, his food stamps were being cut, and liberals have ruined the country. There has also been some mention of his anger toward organized religion based on having been forced to attend church as a child.
Forget for a minute that his precious food stamps wouldn’t exist at all if it were up to Adkisson’s fellow right wingers, and forget for a minute that it is big business and their conservative supporters who have elevated the “free market” to the level of a God which must be worshipped at the expense of the interests of ordinary citizens in making a living and having a life. Forget for a minute that shooting up a UU church because you resent having been forced to attend a different church is especially absurd; if there’s any religion that won’t force you to attend, UU is it.
Let’s talk about the hatred of liberals. And let’s talk about the fact that Mr. Adkisson’s personal library included The O'Reilly Factor, by the one and only Shilll O'Reilly; Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, by Michael (what gay pictures?) Savage; and Let Freedom Ring, by Sean Vannity. And let’s freely acknowledge that Mr. Adkisson appears to have been pretty deeply disturbed, and to have been deeply disturbed long before he ever encountered the literary talents of those three authors.
If you feed a disturbed person a distorted and angry view of a specific group like, oh, let’s say liberals, if you pound away day after day and hour after radio broadcast hour that this group is vermin, slime, devious, destructive of all that is good and pure, that they are, in fact, either destructively insane or the very embodiment of evil, do you not bear some speck of the responsibility for a madman violently attacking this group? Not even a smidgen of responsibility?
The endless portrayal of liberals as the root of all American evil serves the same purpose that portraying Jews in the same light served in Nazi circles. Dehumanize. Desensitize. Rev up the rage then rev it up some more until a good portion of the populace considers this scapegoat to be the source of not only all their own problems, of all the evil in the entire world. And spare me the right wing’s knee jerk objection that I’ve just equated them to the Nazis. Any reasonably intelligent person without an agenda knows that I did no such thing.
But you know that The Right is Never Wrong. Just ask them. Better yet, listen to the silence. Think that any of the rabble rousers are going to be up in arms about this demonization of liberals that played a role in directing the insane Mr. Adkisson’s rage in a specific direction, in a specific manner?
Think Fox News is all atwitter with outraged discussion of the fact that Mr. Vannity once said “I’ll tell you who should be tortured and killed at Guantanamo - every filthy Democrat in the U.S. Congress.” (6/15/05 Hannity & Colmes). Is the Free Republic world aghast that Mister (I use the term loosely) Savage actually titled his poison-pen tome “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder?”
If the subject comes up at all in those circles, it will be only to wag their fingers knowingly and sadly shake their heads that “liberals” could be so craven as to try to blame poor Mike and Bill and Sean when anyone can see that Mr. Adkisson was just a poor lost soul. No connection at all between insulting, smearing and demonizing people or institutions and the resulting acts of a Tim McVeigh or an Eric Rudolph or a Jim Adkisson.
Never mind that these same folks somehow see glowing red connections between the contents of a movie or a song or a book and the behavior of anyone who has seen, listened to, or read the work. And never mind that they would loudly and angrily sing a very different tune if some progressive commentators wrote books urging people to violence against the conservatives and some poor nut job went out and randomly gunned down people attending the CPAC meeting.
No, I’m sure the Always Right will examine themselves thoroughly and pronounce themselves innocent once again.
After all, you don’t have to look too hard on the web to find Christians who are aghast that journalists keep portraying people like Eric Rudolph as “Christians.” As one blogger puts it (emphasis added):
Timothy McVeigh was not a Christian. Neither is Eric Rudolph. No, it is the media and left wing types who do all they can to make you THINK that they are Christians. … Eric Rudolph also rejected the Bible, and freely admitted that his decision to become a terrorist was influenced by anti - God philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche (of the “God is dead” fame)!Except that Eric Rudolph’s own written statement clearly and unequivocally states:
I was born a Catholic, and with forgiveness I hope to die one .I would say shame on O’Reilly, Savage, Hannity,& their ilk except I don’t think any one of them is decent enough to know what shame really is.
Ultimately the dude who attacked the UU church was mad at his ex-wife. His attack was an insane expression of the extreme hurt he felt when she divorced him.
His Lib excuse was a smoke screen; -A mask to try and win acceptance for his murderous behavior.
Clearly these "commentators" should be held accountable when they threaten or encourage violence. That being said, the talking heads in the media do their best to confuse the public about what "liberal and conservative" and "right and left" mean. Mr. Russ fits into this category perfectly. First off, he starts his article with a demeaning tone towards christians. Not exactly standing up for individual rights there, Lee. Or is the point that because Adkisson listens to talk radio and misidentifies himself as "conservative" he must be a big dumb christian? Then you go on to confuse fascism with laissez-faire capitalism. The neocon crowd doesn't want a free market, they want government subsidies for oil companies and no bid contracts. Which is amazingly similar to what the neolib crowd wants. Just keep the public convinced that there are only two ways to see the world and a 51% majority is very easy to create, allowing our elected officials free rain over an impotent public. War without end, amen.
First off, he starts his article with a demeaning tone towards christians.
Really? Where? The one Christian--a specific, real, human being--has become all Christians in your reading?
Or is the point that because Adkisson listens to talk radio and misidentifies himself as "conservative" he must be a big dumb christian?
Where in the hell do you get that from what I wrote? And, even more interesting to me, how exactly do you know that he "misidentifies" himself as a conservative?
Then you go on to confuse fascism with laissez-faire capitalism.
What piece did you read, and where can I find it? I'd like to read it and compare it to mine.
You've got three basic points in your comment and nary a one has anything to do with what I wrote.
Great article, it is important to remember that the writer is as much a object of analysis as is the article that is under review.
So, then, as pointed out by Boortz yesterday...(Giving credit where it's due) what you're saying is that if someone has books in their posession when they do anything crazy we should blame the authors?
The Unibomber Ted Kaczynski should be cut loose, and Al Gore should be up on murder charges because he was out in the wilderness with no TV living in a shack just reading and rereading "Earth in the balance".
Virginia Beach, VA
as pointed out by Boortz yesterday...(Giving credit where it's due) what you're saying is that if someone has books in their posession when they do anything crazy we should blame the authors
I expect that level of analysis from Boortz. That makes sense to you? That really seems to be what I'm saying?
That's an absurd reading of my piece, and the usual deliberate propagandization by Boortz.
If a nut job goes out and kills 10 people while he has a copy of "Plumbing for Dummies," no, it's safe for all to say that the book didn't have anything to do with the multiple murders.
If a nut job goes out and shoots seven people while he has copies of books by three different authors, all of whom have endlessly demonised and dehumanized the very group from whom the nut job chose his victims, and at least two of the authors have specifically indicated that these victims deserve to be killed, and the nut job leaves a letter indicating that he thinks of these victims in the same way as they have been endlessly portrayed by the authors, yeah I have to think that the authors bear some responsibility.
Add in the fact that I think these authors are noting more than opportunists spewing hate and inciting both hatred and violence as a way of maing money, and I have to question the character of the nation in which they operate (and which treats them as respectable members of the media), the audience which buys the product and supplies the authors with money, and the business people who peddle the invective through broadcast and publishing.
None of the responses from the bellicose right--and certainly not the one from Boortz--is at all surprising. It's exactly what any reasonably aware and objective person would expect based on their past behavior. As I said in the original piece, "If the subject comes up at all in those circles, it will be only to wag their fingers knowingly and sadly shake their heads that 'liberals could be so craven as to try to blame poor Mike and Bill and Sean when anyone can see that Mr. Adkisson was just a poor lost soul." Because The Right is Never Wrong.
I actually do feel sorry for you if you heard Boortz's comment and thought that it made sense. And certainly if you really do think that Al Gore's writing on the environment is equivalent to O'Reilly, Savage and Hannity.
When wingnuts read anything, it means what they want it to mean, not what the author wanted it to mean.
"I used to electronically converse with a born again Christian who used a retrospective definition of "Christian." In his view, people who did bad things could never be Christians, because Christians don't do bad things. That little loop of illogic seems to run deep through right wingers, whether they be Christian or other. So let's talk about good old Mr. Adkisson, who just went berserk in that Unitarian Universalist (UU) church in Tennessee."
What was the point of bringing this up if not to demean christians? It had nothing to do with the story and Adkisson made quite the point in saying he wasn't a christian.
"Forget for a minute that his precious food stamps wouldn't exist at all if it were up to Adkisson's fellow right wingers"
A conservative would sell oranges at the side of the road before looting the tax payers for food stamps. Adkisson is a confused crazy person who doesn't want to be part of the "problem".
" and forget for a minute that it is big business and their conservative supporters who have elevated the "free market" to the level of a God which must be worshipped at the expense of the interests of ordinary citizens in making a living and having a life."
Who the hell are you talking about? The talk show schmucks attack "free market" conservatives more voraciously than you do. The Bushie's and their lackies aren't even close to being conservative, unless you think a sixteen year old girl with her first credit card is conservative. These people are fascists. They put big business above the common good, but only the business's they have ties to.
Lee, your articles are biased and inaccurate. Which puts you at the same level as the Hannity's of the world, even if you're on the "other side".
What was the point of bringing this up if not to demean christians?
The point was the mindset of the specific individual I was talking about. Not "Christians". Nowhere do I do disparage "Christians," though you seem to see their disparagement everywhere. The broadest class of Christians that my piece ever addresses is those who are "right wingers." Surely you don't think that all Christians are right wingers? Or do you? Is that another loop of illogic--Christians must be right wingers, so anyone who acted in a way that was not consistent with right wing beliefs can't be a Christian?
I think the point about the mindset actually is necessary to the story, especially since you are engaging in something similar: you know Adkisson isn't a conservative because he's upset about food stamps and no conservative would be upset about food stamps. Not so; a confused conservative would. So would a hypocritical conservative, and a person who was mostly conservative but not "purely" so.
As I said in the piece, this is retrospective reasoning. These guys can consider themselves conservatives, act on their belief that they are conservatives, but you, largely from a retrospective view of their actions, have the unilateral power to decree that they are not conservatives. Very much like the specific Christian I referenced.
Who the hell are you talking about
Good grief, the text you quoted specifically tells you who I'm talking about: "big business and their conservative supporters"
The talk show schmucks attack "free market" conservatives more voraciously than you do
Not in my experience. Which shmucks? And give me examples. Certainly Beck lives & breathes what he claims to believe are free market theories. My impression of O'Reilly & the others is that they takes position after position which has the effect of giving the free marketeers full reign.
Lee, your articles are biased and inaccurate.
This article is Biased, definitely. Nowhere did you hear me claim to be reporting anything objectively. The piece is categorized as "opinion." Did you not notice that?
Which puts you at the same level as the Hannity's of the world, even if you're on the "other side."
Hardly. To make me equivalent to Hannity requires using categories of comparison that are so broad and abstract that they are meaningless. But you're welcome to your personal, biased opinion on the matter.
Typical "liberal"; no one should take responsibility for their own actions. "I'm a victim! I'm not responsible for controlling my emotions!"
How's this one; if you accept the lib excuse then this argument should hold to the same logic. Rape is caused by women's liberation, therefore attractive women in sexy attire should be held responsible. Burka's anyone? The Dem's seem to think so. Just take away peoples liberty so they can have a false sense of security and be miserable in the process. And by the way, control everyone else as well and then no one will ever dissagree!. What a wonderful world it would be....
Michael Savage was a Liberal New York Jew that had so much self hatred he became the opposite of what he was born. He changed his name, became a Christian, and became a Conservative. What scares me is his show is the THIRD most listened to political talk show in America! Anyone that listens to, and believes in the HATE he preaches is an idiot. Every word out of his mouth is meant to incite these morons that pay homage to him. He expresses every idea in a CRUDE manner. There is an old expression, "it takes one to know one". Michael Savage hates Michael Savage.
I am not an attorney, nor a jurist, but I have to wonder: How will all this play when it comes to a civil action?
Rush Limbaugh: "I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus -- living fossils -- so we will never forget what these people stood for."
Ann Coulter: "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee. ... That's just a joke, for you in the media."
"This free speech thing is a canard. ... How about not letting traitors teach at universities? Yes, I realize I've just proposed firing the entire Harvard faculty. These institutions can be shaken -- look at Dan Rather. He's out. Or, as I look at it, one down, two to go. We're going to need a much bigger trophy case for all these stuffed heads."
"Some liberals have become even too crazy for Texas to execute, which is a damn shame. They're always saying -- we're oppressed, we're oppressed so let's do it. Let's oppress them."
Melanie Morgan: "A great deal of good could be done by arresting Bill Keller having him lined up against the wall and shot."
Ann Coulter: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."
Bill O'Reilly: "Where does George Soros have all his money? Do you know? Do you know where George Soros, the big left-wing loon who's financing all these smear [web]sites, do you know where his money is? Curaao. Curaao. They ought to hang this Soros guy."
These persons get away with saying or publishing such for a simple reason: this appeases the party in power, of course, who are using texts from both Hitler and Mussolini on how to brainwash the public into believing their sputum as "fact", when such is otherwise. It is quite simple: Make up an "enemy of the state" and point this out repeatedly. Orwell is now idling at 3,400 RPM, yes.
Is such speech criminal? Varies with location, yes. Not all states have such laws.
But...the biggie? Civil suit activity. I can already see a pretty nasty civil suit coming after the criminal trial, and a sharp attorney may attach these statements of O'Reilly, Hannity, et al and walk away with a big settlement. Possible?
Think about it: you scream "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre. A month or so later, a process server is at the door, you're served. The complaint reads that YOUR actions caused others grievous harm, and they want a few mill to mend. Right? Wrong? Nope, just the average day in Murrica, after all, if you can sue McDonald's for the coffee thing and win, well, shit, what else is possible?
Oh well. See you in court!
Rape is caused by women's liberation, therefore attractive women in sexy attire should be held responsible. Burka's anyone? The Dem's seem to think so. Just take away peoples liberty so they can have a false sense of security and be miserable in the process. And by the way, control everyone else as well and then no one will ever dissagree!.
If truth is what you love, you must not have much love. Your entire comment is pretty much a cut and paste of the propaganda from the far, ranting right.
Just adding to Visitor's description of Michael Savage, there are also pictures allegedly of Savage indicating he's pretty gay. He denies the pictures are of him, but has never to my knowledge sued or threatened to sue people who say otherwise. Very unSavage-like if he really thinks the pictures aren't of him.
Six: A civil action would be very tough to win, especially in the legal climate that prevails in the U.S. right now. It would, however, be tempting to sue both the authors of the encouragement to violence and the business people that profit from its publication and broadcast. There's always some slim chance of winning, the publicity on who these people really are would be helpful, and, if nothing else, it would cost some truly ugly people a good piece of change.
With any luck, the Southern Poverty Law Center will get interested. They've had pretty good luck with suits against the KKK and their white power allies (though those were easier cases than this one would be).
As I said, attorney I am not, but cases like Rice V. Paladin may show some legal precedent, again, I am not sure, but to me, if said suit can be filed, there exists hope that a similar suit can be brought against O'Reilly, Coulter, et al.
We shall see what we shall see.
Any right-wing commentators or radio shows that promote disloyal, anti-Administration dissent should be closed down and the speakers arrested! With the new administration in place, we can no longer be distracted or undermined by any kind of disloyalty. It is the duty of everyone to report anything that detracts, undermines, or even distracts from the efforts of the current administration to carry out its mandate. Eventually we will need to provide for re-education centers such miscreants can be sent to, until they realize the error of their ways! Of course those who are incorrigible will be dealt with in a much more "final" manner!