Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hate Crime: When it's not even a question...

Sara, over at Orcinus, has already said much of what I wanted to.

Adkisson, who murdered two people--and tried to murder more, and wanted to die a martyr to his cause--has been sentenced to rot in prison for the rest of his life, without parole, and without even a shadow of a hint of remorse.

I'd call that justice.

I came to a final parting of the ways with the death penalty back during the trial of Timothy McVeigh. It's not that he didn't deserve it; hell, if anyone has, he did. But executing him gave him the way out that he wanted. He didn't have to wake up for decades and face himself in a mirror, the man who backed a truckload of explosives up to a building with a bunch of children in it. That's what anti-government, anti-liberal, conservative "heroes" look like in America; people who blow up buildings full of kids and shoot up churches with kids performing on stage.

More than once, I've seen people urge that such scum should be executed--publicly. I've seen the demands for proof that it was really a hate crime, and insistence that this wasn't what "real" conservatives do.

Well, Adkisson's letter makes it clear. He wrote one page under the header "Know This If Nothing Else," and his first statement is that this was a hate crime. He acted out of hate, and reading the letter it's clear where the ideas and wording of that hate came from--straight off of right wing talk radio. So let's call that what it is--hate radio, just like Radio Rwanda was; urging hatred of liberals. Too strong, you think? Nah. We have expressions from Michael Reagan that he'll pay for the bullets of anyone who shoots a liberal, and Goldberg about taking a baseball bat to people who criticize him, Buchanan and others. How much clearer does it need to be than an offer to pay the costs of committing the murder of the people you're preaching hatred against?

Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Savage, Reagan, Goldberg, Hannity, Coulter... hatemongers, inciters of murder--who proclaim their deep religious ties and are embraced by right wing religionists.

But a little more about Adkisson and his letter, since it's a spotlight into the dank hole that he and McVeigh (and others) crawl out of. It states it's a hate crime, that it was a political protest (that, incidentally, make it terrorism--by definition), and that it was symbolic (the people he shot at and killed were surrogates for the Supreme Court Justices and politicians who he really wanted to kill--the folks that hate radio fulminates against and that right wing religion has been praying to see die.

Still think Radio Rwanda is an analogy too far? You're wrong. Radio Rwanda called for people to go and kill the cockroaches--and Tutus were massacred. Adkisson's been listening to American Hate Radio--and what he heard is what he wrote, that liberals are a pest like termites, and should be killed.

There's nothing there to compromise with. Nothing to be bipartisan with.

Free speech? Sure. But that doesn't mean that it's entitled to consequence-free broadcasting; the airwaves belong to The People, and are to be used in the public interest. Urging hatred of other people, urging their murder--that's not in the public interest.


DremeMynd said...

This was very powerful. Thank you.

Oemissions said...

It is my premise that when A coalition government Accord was proposed and then signed here in Canada, our government in power, the Conservatives used hate media to rally people against it.
They shouted about the dangers of "socialists" and "separatists".

UUbuntu said...

I came across your blog from the UU Blogs website (both of ours were picked up there), and found it interesting that we saw so many of the same parallels as that of the Interahamwe in Rwanda in the 1990s as to that which motivated Adkisson, and his overall desire to kill die for his "cause".

My entry on the subject is here

His manifesto specifically gives thanks to the police officer who kills him. He looked forward to dying as a hero in the eyes of his "superiors", and probably sees his capture -- alive -- as a failure in his overall mission.

Thank you for writing this.

Michael Price said...

The airwaves do not belong to the people, either by right or de facto. De facto they belong to the government which can confiscate spectrum at any time. This means in effect it has total censorship power over broadcast medium, just like in a dictatorship, which is what you want. You want to be able to destroy a business if it says something you don't like. You want broadcasting not to be "consequence-free", in other words "Watch what you say.".
The airwaves do not belong to the people by right because they neither created them nor homesteaded them. They have no more right to control it than they have to control a gold mine they didn't dig or buy.

ogre said...

Michael, it's arrogant--and obnoxious--to tell me what I "want."

The broadcast spectrum is viewed as a limited resource (which it is), that no one has any right to, as an individual. The notion that getting there first (homesteading) creates a right is really rather amusing. And childish, I'd say. Why would we scramble the law to protect the first people to snatch up the spectrum? What's their right? It's there, and it's a limited resource. Since no one knew it was there before (or had any use for it), it got treated as public property; we license it out to broadcasters.

I don't think that anything should be consequence-free. That does not mean that I want the government to come in and be the arbiter of consequence. In the event that speech violates a law, sure. And after looking at what Radio Rwanda meant to Rwanda, I think that there are clearly reasonable limits; much as I venerate free speech, I don't think it is an unalloyed good--the classic example being falsely crying "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

Speech that urges and encourages violence within a community isn't a good thing, and there's no reason that a society should tolerate it. If it violates the law, then the legal penalties really ought to be imposed, and harshly. If it doesn't, then I'd urge people to take things into their own hands--by which I absolutely do not mean any form of violence, but rather boycotting and the like. Particularly in a time like this, with stations and the corporations owning them (I'm looking at Clear Channel right now, teetering under its ill advised debt load...) are vulnerable. Boycotting their advertisers would be more likely now to get a reaction than ever from the advertisers, and that, in turn, will be more of a stimulus to the broadcaster than in normal times.

Of course, if you really have such a Randian view of the airwaves, the alternative is that those of us who find hate radio intolerable simply put together facilities to jam those frequencies. After all, those using them now don't have any more claim to the spectrum than we do... except... oh yeah, the government licensed the use of that part of the spectrum to them.

Which means that they've accepted that the government--which, in this country, means the people as the sovereign--has the right to regulate them and their use of the airwaves in return for guaranteeing that they can use the resource (essentially) exclusively. (After all, they didn't dig it, nor could they homestead it.)

In effect, we own it. We can license it, or not. We can deny the license, or revoke it for violations of the regulations--which include using the airwaves for the public good.

The notion that hate radio is in any manner in the public interest is absurd and risible.

Mikecampbelly2k said...

Ogre - Whom elected you the arbitrator of the "public interest?" The left has CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, The New York Times and the other 95% of the print media in this country. Why no calls for "balance" in the name of the "public interest" with regards to those media outlets? The left may learn one thing out of all this call for censorship - the frog is getting ready to jump out of the ever-hotter pot. The frog being the traditonal value, conservative, productive, independence-loving American citizen that holds right-wing talk radio in high esteem. cloak your calls for censorship any way you want to Ogre - there will be a swift backlash if it's carried through. How violent will it get? That's up to how stupid the left acts. make your snide remarks - Wal mart can't keep ammunition in stock - just call your local store. Better people than me fought 230 years ago - maybe it's our turn.

ogre said...

Better people indeed, Mike. Including at least one of my great-great-greats...

Thanks for making my point about how conservatives debate. Bereft of ideas other than hate radio fist waving, your answer, like Adkisson's, is to shoot those who know actual facts and can out-reason you.


(Feel free to look up some of the history on how effective it was to murder people like Martin Luther King...)

"The left has..." baloney. I suspect that you haven't seen the graphs showing that, even though it's editorially skewed so hard to the right that the rudder's jammed and it's running in circles, FOX actually has the highest ratio of Democrats to Republicans (still favoring the GOP, though) of any broadcaster. Ah yes, CNN... so liberal (not).

Who elected me? I never claimed to be--but I'm perfectly comfortable making the assertion (as an absolute) that it is never in the public interest to have anyone on radio or TV calling for attacks on, or the murder of, any other group of Americans. Period. Ever.

No calls for balance? I'm all for balance--but not when it veers to calls for open hostility. That's not balanced. (I speak in the mentally balanced sense.)

Oh, I'm so proud of you independence-loving Americans who were utterly willing to see the Constitution's rights protections shredded so that you could posture tough, and feel safe while people were tortured in our names. Oh yeah. There's a traditional American value. Productive? I suppose that the evidence of that being associated with conservatism would be easy--we'll just look at the economic vigor of the South, then? Oh, wait, gee... that's right; states like California and Massachusetts and New York ship money into the economy of those states to keep them afloat.

Feeling mocked? Good. Wouldn't want you to miss it.

Politically, conservatism is utterly bankrupt. Waving your fists, railing against the high tide of liberalism, and threatening to follow in Adkisson's footsteps is only proof of it. If you want to persuade people, you're going to have to have better ideas, better policies and persuasive arguments. Democracy doesn't come from the barrel of a gun--and you'll find that plenty of liberals are quite able to respond to you if all you have left is violence (as Adkisson found--which is why he gets to rot in prison, rather than being a pseudo-martyr for a morally and intellectually bankrupt movement).

ogre said...

P.S. Mike, it's "Who," not "Whom."