I believe my first introduction to a shock jock was when I heard Howard Stern on the radio years ago. I didn't listen for very long simply because I thought he was nothing more than an attention-seeking windbag. Apparently, there are many people in our society who love attention-seeking windbags. I'm not one of them. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being entertained. However, most shock jocks or political commentators given a platform are doing something much more dangerous than entertaining.
Just this past weekend, Bill Moyers Journal took a closer look at some of these commentators who are given many different outlets to spew their hate-filled opinions while inciting violence. Here are a few quotes from those who have been given a platform from the Moyers' program transcript:
BILL O'REILLY: In the state of Kansas, there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5 thousand. [...] Dr. George Tiller, known as Tiller the baby killer [...] Tiller aborts thousands of babies, pretty much for any reason [...] I wanted George Tiller, Tiller the baby killer, going, "Hey! I can make more money killing babies now!" [...] That a man like that could openly operate in the U.S.A. is troubling, to say the least. [...] Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands. [...] I wouldn't want to be these people if there is a judgment day.
MICHAEL SAVAGE, THE MICHAEL SAVAGE SHOW: Liberalism is, in essence, the HIV virus, and it weakens the defense cells of a nation. What are the defense cells of a nation? Well, the church. They've attacked particularly the Catholic Church for 30 straight years. The police, attacked for the last 50 straight years by the ACLU viruses. And the military, attacked for the last 50 years by the Barbara Boxer viruses on our planet.
GLENN BECK: I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out of him. Is this wrong?
Yes, Glenn, it's wrong and it's unsettling that you need to ask that question.
These men have a vast audience and, sadly, they tend to cheer on these kinds of comments. Yes, I believe in freedom of speech, but when that speech is irresponsible, we need to take a closer look at what it does to a democratic nation. Unfortunately, they aren't required to do much more than give license to their listeners to hate and keep their minds closed and mouths opened. It was funny when Archie Bunker did it, but that was a sitcom and by the end of each show, there was usually an opposing albeit enlightening point of view.
Without a doubt, these commentators have a lot of listeners; if they didn't, sponsors wouldn't be paying to air these programs. But we are a rubber-necking society, one that likes the sensational. However, those who hide behind a microphone and arrogantly slash their fellowman for a differing opinion without any chance of an intelligent dialogue are far from being fair and balanced. In other words, they set themselves up to be both judge and jury. When is it going to stop, though? When are we going to get back to wanting to know what is going on in the world without the dog and pony show, one that is nothing more than a distraction from what is really happening?
Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe these men aren't as harmful as I believe them to be, but was it just a coincidence that Jim David Adkisson, the murderer of congregants from a church in Tennessee, owned books by O'Reilly, Savage, Beck, as well as others who think the "liberals" should be killed. Yes, killed. These commentators pronounce daily that liberalism is compromising America, yet they tend to forget the definition of democracy. Opinion is one thing, but stirring vehemence toward one's fellow man is something else altogether. Aren't we better than that?
If you missed this week's Bill Moyers Journal, check it out here: