Friday, January 14, 2011

Limbaugh Whine: "I Haven't Been To Tucson In 20 Years ..." This Sign For His Show Was There 2 Days Ago

Is this GUN IMAGERY, the incessant drumbeat of Hate talk against what he calls the "Democrat Party"— all of this, ALL OF IT, ABSOLUTELY HARMLESS FREE SPEECH? How can anyone be so sure? The wingnuts claim ALL of the GUN INCIDENTS since President Obama took office have absolutely no correlation to right wing HATE SPEECH, SIGNAGE, INCENDIARY GUN RHETORIC, even as some of the deranged gun killers specifically mentioned NAMES on the Right as influences. Byron Williams and Richard Poplawski have been cited here. But to listen to the wingnuts, it's as if these violent, deranged gunmen existed in a kind of hermetic bubble before committing their heinous crimes. In fact, their hatred, anti-government phobias, and apocalyptic paranoia didn't suddenly emerge out of thin air. Here are a few clues for the deliberately clueless on the Right:
"That's three violent incidents in the past two years, perpetrated by people who were angry about gun control, abortion, or the work of liberal nonprofits. Two of them specifically targeted a person or organization that had been singled out by a Fox commentator. Fallen on emptiness, you say."

Oops ... we missed one. Jim D. Adkisson opened fire at a Unitarian church, because he thought it was "liberal," killing two people and injuring seven. In  his four-page "manifesto" he said this was a "symbolic killing" and "(w)ho I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate, + House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the Mainstream Media. But I knew these people were inaccessible to me." Goldberg is the right wing Fox pundit who wrote this book:

Gee, I wonder where Adkisson got his twisted ideas about liberals and the media: "Inside the house, officers found "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by talk show host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly." And can anyone say with absolute certainty that Jared Lee Loughner, a Tucson resident, never, ever saw this sign with the bullet holes and the "STRAIGHT SHOOTER" reference to Rush? Limbaugh makes his living demonizing liberals and the Democratic Party — might this sign with the bullet holes glamorizing "straight shooter" Limbaugh have affected Loughner's psyche? One thing, at least, is certain: It was part of the gunman's world, the local milieu to which he was exposed.

The wingnuts make a big show of assigning blame and "personal responsibility" for these acts of GUN MAYHEM to deranged, mentally ill individuals. But they reject the fact that their own Dickensian policies of  slashing and neglecting mental health services contributed to the marginalization of our mentally ill population. Unless the mentally ill are insured, their care is inadequate and spotty at best. And even then, many insurance policies will not cover mental illness.

Worse, when these killers are deemed (legally) "sane" enough to stand trial, right wing media still rejects any responsibility for inciting, provoking, influencing, nudging (a Beck word) gun violence because, unlike the so-called "mainstream media," Fox and Hate radio have little or no journalistic standards and practices. One reason much of this gun violence is underreported in the MSM may be that in their editorial meetings editors will err on the side of caution; they do not want to overly publicize an act of gun violence by a madman that could encourage more violence or copycats.

It's understandable; journalists in the MSM frequently police themselves and will apply standards of fact and accuracy to what is published. This is standard journalistic practice, one that is largely nonexistent in Right wing media. Hate radio has minimal standards; a host must say something really outrageous — the "n" word, for example — to be sanctioned. Rush Limbaugh, with his $38 million annual salary, is a corporation unto himself. The fact that the Tucson sign was taken down by his parent radio network after it was publicized is itself unusual. Glenn Beck is given free rein by Roger Ailes to say just about anything he wants. It's ultimately about ratings, not about standards or facts or, heaven forbid, the truth.

No one is saying these individuals should be muzzled. But as Sherrif Clarence Dupnik of Pima County said: For "people in the radio business and some people in the TV business ...  to try to inflame the public on a daily basis 24 hours a day, seven days a week has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with."

When Fox CEO Roger Ailes said, "I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that," he was conceding Dupnik's point. Reluctantly. Closing the barn door after the horse had fled. False equivalence regarding the "other side" notwithstanding, still — Ailes conceded the "argument."

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