FREE SPEECH, HATE SPEECH, & LYINGSunday, May 23rd, 2010
Author Tony De Maio
I have been listening to Air America recently. I find the station to be most interesting and amusing, perhaps fascinating. On the national level, I find it to be the poster child of “hate radio”—perhaps the epitome of it. I also find it to be vulgar and crass. Phrases such as, “All Republicans should be sent straight to Hell;” “…is a worthless human being;” “Kiss my sweet fat ass” (to a caller); “French kiss my ass;” “He has his nose up Bush’s ass;” and “How I hate those bastards;” (referencing conservatives) are quite common.
The other day, I was listening to a local Air America station as the host and a guest were discussing how conservative talk shows were really “hate speech”. The guest was reporting with apparent glee and pride how he believed he got Mike Savage removed from a local radio station by calling the advertisers and telling them “What they were supporting.”
I called in to the show and asked the host if I could report some “hate speech” quotes I had heard on the radio. I stated that if I got too crass, just tell me and I would stop, but don’t cut me off. I then reported the above quotes (and others) and said, “Now, THAT’S hate radio. Can you guess the shows that said them?” They made the obvious guesses—Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and Savage. I replied, “Actually, they came off Air America from the Ed Schultz Show, the Rhandi Rhodes Show, and the Mike Malloy Show.”
There was dead silence for a few seconds, then the guest said, “Well, we are so far behind, we’ve got to catch up.” and made other attempts to justify the speech they had just admitted was “hate speech”. I commented that folks that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
I subsequently wrote to the host (essentially) the following:
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, I was a student at a major university. I was walking across the campus and noticed a commotion outside the administration building. Apparently, a non-student was being arrested for trespassing, and was “imprisoned” in a police car. He had been distributing flyers and had refused to leave the campus. Four or five other students were blocking the police car from moving by standing in front of it and behind it. A curious crowd was gathering to see what was happening.
This incident escalated into a very traumatic period for the University. It became known as the “Free Speech Movement”, which morphed into the “Filthy Speech Movement”. To those of us that were there, neither title was appropriate. (It was quite instructive for me to watch a bumbling administration attempt to use appeasement to placate the students. Each time the administration “gave in”; the students would demand more.) Eventually, it “blew over”; the fiction that it was the “birth of the free speech movement” stuck. (Note: Mario Salvio later repudiated his role in the farce that originally had little to do with “Free Speech”, which was but a convenient rallying cry and slogan.)
A few events occurred during this period that escaped the news media. One such event was a scholarly article published by a professor (Arthur Jensen) on “The Heritability of Human Intelligence” which appeared in the Harvard Educational Review. If you recall that period (the heyday of the “Civil Rights” movement), the notion that intelligence could be “inherited” was blasphemy. The students demonstrated (rioted?) and wanted Jensen’s job. They got it—even though he had tenure. During one of the demonstrations, I asked one of the rioters, “What about academic freedom?” The reply was, “Bigots don’t get academic freedom.” I asked, “Have you read his article?” The reply was, “I don’t read trash.” I dismissed this fellow student as an aberration. It was a mistake. (Ironically, Jensen went to Harvard—a “promotion”.)
A few weeks later, Madam Diem (the wife of the Vietnam President/Dictator) was scheduled to give a talk. The students demonstrated (rioted?) and shouted her down. I asked one of the rioters, “What about Freedom of Speech?” The reply was, “Murderers don’t get free speech.” I dismissed this fellow student as an aberration. It was a mistake.
Subsequently, George Lincoln Rockwell (American Nazi Party) was scheduled to give a speech. There were demonstrations. Rockwell began his speech in the gym. Immediately a segment of the audience began shouting him down. He could not go on. I asked one of the rioters, “What about Freedom of Speech?” The reply was “Nazis don’t get free speech.” I dismissed this fellow student as an aberration. It was a mistake.
It appears my fellow students have grown up. They now occupy positions of power—talk show hosts, columnists, web masters, editors, and even legislators. Folks who engage in “hate speech” do not get “Free Speech” and must be silenced—unless they hate the right things; then “hate speech” is legitimate—even encouraged. (I queried the host that if I were to call the Air America advertisers with my quotes in order to get Air America silenced, would I be involved in “restricting free speech” or “curtailing hate talk”. I received no answer to that query.)
I pointed out in my letter that the left was perfectly capable of “silencing” one of “their own” if they got out of line, and gave as an example the president of Harvard (Lawrence Summers) who was vehemently chastised (and subsequently resigned) for stating that there “might be” inherent differences between men and women with regard to mathematics ability. It is well known what the left did to Zel Miller, Joe Lieberman, and Arlen Specter.
I continued in the missive to ask why the left wishes to silence opposition. I asked, “What is it they fear?” and, “ Why do they believe that it is perfectly acceptable to shut down and/or shout down the folks that disagree with them, but yell ‘free speech’ for those that agree with them—no matter how hateful the speech is?” The reply was, “You have some good points.”
I further went on to state that I did not believe the Constitution of the United States spoke to the issue of “hate speech”—that it was only concerned with “free speech”—in particular, free political speech; and by implication a “search for the truth”, or “academic freedom”.
It is strange to me that the tactic of “do it, then accuse your opponents of doing it”—even though they did not do so has been so effective. (A classic example is the Democrats using the filibuster to block nominees while simultaneously claiming that the Republicans are “obstructionists”.) After I “sandbagged” the host and the guest, not only did they try to justify the hate speech, they then stated that they heard the same language on mainstream right wing radio. Being retired, I listen to a fair amount of talk shows as I work around the house and in my travels. NEVER have I heard such language on the shows they referenced (Limbaugh, et al). The worst I’ve heard is an occasional “hell” or “damn”. While such language as quoted heretofore is rampart on Air America, the left continues to make the claim of “hate radio” with respect to “their opponents”. They repeat the claim over and over, louder and louder, and shriller and shriller; and I’m sure THEY BELIEVE IT!
On the other hand, perhaps they do NOT believe it. I went on to write:
“I almost proposed a bet to your guest. Each of us will put up $100 to be given to a charity of choice of the other. If your guest can find ONE instance of Limbaugh using the word ‘bastard’ in a pejorative manner on his show in the last 3 months, then your guest wins. We could make the same bet about Hannity—and/or O’Reilly. I would be somewhat hesitant to make that bet about Savage, but probably would do so. I could also make the bet with respect to any of the talk show hosts aforementioned (Limbaugh, et al) telling a caller to ‘kiss my ass’. “
My proposal was not accepted. Indeed, I received no response/acknowledgement to it.
As previously stated, I am surprised (and somewhat appalled) that the tactic of “do it, then accuse your opponent of doing it” has worked so effectively. Not only does the tactic appear to have worked with “hate speech”, it also appears to have worked with the word/act “lying”.
“Fraud” is one of the more difficult crimes to prove. In order to prove “fraud”, one must not only show that the accused bilked the victim, but that he knew better—i.e. he lied. (E.g., Selling worthless stock is not a crime—unless it can be proven that the seller KNEW the stock was worthless.) Proving “lying” is quite difficult, since it is impossible to look inside the mind of the con man and determine what he knew. To show he lied, one must be able to prove that he knew what he was saying was false. Quite difficult! Consequently, most fraud is prosecuted under some other statute.
Thus, to correctly state that someone lied, you must show he knew what he was saying was not true. In order to assert, “Bush lied about the weapons of mass destruction.” One would have to be able to prove that Bush KNEW that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Difficult indeed; perhaps impossible! Yet it is asserted with certainty over and over again; each time a little louder and each time a little shriller. Apparently proof is not the strong suit of the left.
[I might note that to anyone schooled in formal logic, it is a trivial matter to prove that Bush did NOT lie. Consider the statement, “There are Martians in California.” Such a statement cannot be proven false. The fact that no Martians have been found in California simply means that they are “good at hiding themselves”; or, “They left after the statement was made.” The mechanics of proving the statement TRUE are simple—simply find a Martian in California.
In like manner, the statement, “There are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” Cannot be proven false. Since the statement cannot be known to be false, clearly Bush could not have known that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Hence, it is a logical impossibility for him to have been lying, since it was impossible for him to have known what he was saying was false.]
I routinely hear misinformation, distortions, untruths, half-truths, etc. on Air America. I am hesitant to state they are “lying” since to do so would lay claim to information and capabilities I cannot possibly possess—i.e. that I can read the mind of the person making the statements and determine that he knows what he is saying is not true. I seldom hear the accusation of lying attributed to Air America on mainstream right wing radio. I hear such accusations routinely (almost continuously) on left wing radio applied to the right. One left wing talk show host has a regular feature on it. In listening to it, I find it to be predominately incorrect and/or untrue.
It is my opinion that the tactic of “do it, then accuse the enemy” WAS quite effective. Recent history has shown a steady increase in the number of conservative legislators and governors and a president elected by a comfortable majority of the popular vote. The left continues to use the same tactics in spite of these increases. (E.g. “Bush lied;” “The Republicans want to destroy Social Security;” The Republicans want to poison the water and pollute the air;” “The country is a theocracy;” “Bush is a traitor;” “Bush is a drunk;” “Bush is stupid;” “Bush is a dope addict;” “The tax cuts are for the rich;” “Bush went AWOL;” “The war is about oil.”)
It appears that the left has not learned from the story of “The little boy who cried wolf.” Until they do, they will be forced to stand by helplessly and lament, “The people are not voting their own self interest.” when “The People” may well be doing just that. That ALSO cannot be known—but it CAN be ASSERTED. Unsubstantiated assertion is something the left does well.