Showing posts with label Partisan Hate Speech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Partisan Hate Speech. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


A Letter to the Editor of our local rag asks a simple question. “What’s really behind Trump’s demand for voter information,” asks Mary Oliver of Jensen Beach, Florida. A reasonable question for voters of every persuasion, nevertheless it triggered this online exchange:

“Mary you must be a liberal. Only liberals are afraid of checks on voter Fraud. then you people can't vote numerous times and in different polling places or have your dead relatives vote,” argues Christine Possidente Bilello.

Letters reveal much about people. Mary eats potatoes; Christine knows instinctively they will never see eye-to-eye. Why? Because …

Liberals vote many times ... and have many dead relatives who also vote. Christine never knew a straw man she didn’t like … or a liberal she didn’t hate.  

Mary prefers potatoes; Christine serves ad hominem grits tu quoque.

Look at all the lonely people. Where do they all come from? Do they act like, speak like, or think like you and me? Shall we smash their windows? Deport them to concentration camps? For Christine Possidente Bilello, liberals are la crème de la crème of the crematory.

Here’s how to build a straw man: Thought A collides with Exaggeration B which crashes into Defamation C and smashes into Fallacy D. Following this chain of illogic, Christine is a Nazi.

March 4, 2017: During a Trump rally in Maricopa County, Arizona, attendees chant “Kill Liberals” and “Deport Jews.” Another Trump supporter yells: “I can't wait for the liberal genocide to begin.”

June 13, 2017: Right wing broadcaster Michael Savage warns: “There’s going to be a civil war.”

June 23, 2017: Arch conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of InfoWars infamy says: “I don’t need some coming-of-age deal to kill a bunch of liberals.”

This is how all democracies end, Plato predicted 2,300 years ago. A democracy declines in decadence, succumbs to demagoguery, and ends in tyranny.

I hope these examples of magical thinking offend Christine, because this is how a Straw Man summons the Exterminating Angel.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Church Shooting in Knoxville, a Mutilated Cat in Arkansas

Scanning the headlines this morning for the latest news, this story caught my attention, Arkansas Democrat's cat killed, painted with the word "liberal":

A cat belonging to the family of Jake Burris, an Arkansas Democratic Campaign Manager, was found killed with the word “Liberal” painted on the carcass. Burris and his four children found the cat on their doorstep when they returned home last night. One side of the head had been smashed, an eyeball hanging out of its socket.

Jake Burris is the Campaign Manager for Democrat Ken Aden who is running against incumbent Republican Steve Womack in the 3rd Congressional District, a heavily conservative ward won by Womack with 72% of the vote.

Can the timing of this story be more ironic!  It happened on the same day as this announcement, Gabrielle Giffords will resign from Congress to focus on her recovery.

Let us segue to July 27, 2008: Jim David Adkisson entered a Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, brandishing a shotgun. He killed two people and wounded seven others. While searching Adkisson's house, investigators found three books: The O'Reilly Factor, by Bill O'Reilly; Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, by Michael Savage; and Let Freedom Ring, by Sean Hannity. The motive behind the crime: Hatred of liberals and Democrats.

Let there be no mistake. There is an ugly pattern of rightwing violence that targets liberals and Democrats.  It is born of an undercurrent of rightwing talk radio raised to the level of hate speech. The message is chillingly clear: If you are a liberal or a Democrat, you are demonized as unpatriotic, as an enemy of the state - and therefore undeserving of rights, respect, or protection under law. It is the same kind of inflammatory rhetoric used for centuries to scapegoat minority groups for the failings of society - leading to persecution, ethnic cleansing, murder, death camps, and slavery.

The proper historical reference is blood libel - not in the context used by Sarah Palin to justify herself after the Tucson massacre - but in the truest sense of the term. When partisan speech rises to the level of hate speech, it means the end of civil discourse and the beginning of violence. Eliminationist rhetoric is the signature trait of fascism.

Update (under the fold):

Monday, February 14, 2011

Help Pull the Plug on Glenn Beck

After the shooting rampage in Tucson that left six people dead and thirteen injured, including Congresswoman Giffords, Fox News President Roger Ailes appealed for civility:  “I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast.

Weeks after Tucson, nothing has changed.  If anything, Fox News has turned up the volume on partisan hate speech.  Fevered hysteria and conspiratorial fear mongering on national television are not harmless.

How quickly we forget the lessons of history. The bogeymen of 1930s anti-Semitism that morphed into the bogeymen of 1950s McCarthyism has morphed again into the mainstreaming of Glenn Beck Militia Theater. The message is clear: Glenn Beck wants to extort your silence, and anyone who refuses to capitulate will be targeted and stalked:

Glenn Beck, Self-Appointed "Progressive Hunter"
The poisoned atmosphere unleashed by Glenn Beck and Fox News means any citizen - Democrat, Centrist, or Republican - can be slandered in public and targeted for persecution.  Beck pitches his messages at unhinged misfits who are most likely to act on impulse, and events have shown that violent rhetoric leads to violent acts. There is no plausible deniability that can remove this blood from Beck’s hands:

Murders, shooting sprees, domestic terrorism, private citizens hiding in fear, infamous intimidations and provocations broadcast on national television - all linked to Glenn Beck - enough is enough!  When toxic television threatens public safety, it concerns everyone.  Even prominent Republicans are becoming alarmed:

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum:

Former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner: 

National correspondent for The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg:

It is time to pull the plug on Glenn Beck and serve notice to Fox News that partisan hate speech has no place in a free society. The strongest message you can send is to vote your pocketbook. Write letters to Fox News advertisers; tell them you will no longer patronize their products and services; and keep boycotting sponsors of Fox News until these outrageous partisan witch-hunts have stopped. Removing Glenn Beck from the airwaves will save lives.
    Visit the Drop Fox Website Here
    Visit the Fox News Boycott Website Here
    Visit the Stop Beck Website Here

    Captain Fogg, Sheria, BJ, Octopus, Squatlo, Sue, Nance, TnLib, TomCat, Truth 101, Maleeper, Green Eagle, Kay, Shaw Kenawe, RockyNC.

    UPDATE: To help spread this message, I am placing this article in the public domain, which means anyone may use it freely without credit or attribution. If you want a copy of the complete text (including imbedded links and html code), please send a request via email to Finally, a note of special recognition to The Legendary Spocko who taught us how to take on Big Media by boycotting their sponsors.