That being said, we cannot handicap the First Amendment. However, there should be a responsibility that goes with the exercise of free speech. Yet, free speech cannot be inhibited, or it is not free speech. More often, it is the music of the speech or the tone. “Catch” phrases can move people in the wrong way. What in the military they refer to as “motivational language”.
The 75 year old sheriff was exercising his free speech when he was describing the toxic environment of Arizona. The radio entertainers that spew out the hostility on a daily, if not hourly basis are no doubt poisoning a lot of minds. You would like to think the people he is referring to are widely acknowledged as entertainers. But, I’m not sure.
I know who the sheriff is talking about, but I make an effort to avoid listening to them. However, I purposely listened to several after the shooting. I wanted to see if I could find an contriteness or any acknowledgement of the validity of the sheriff’s assessment of the environment in Arizona, as well as the rest of the country. For the most part I saw and heard the “bowing of the back” and desperately scratching at every sentence. Is this what their audience would expect form them ?
The first reason I don’t listen to the political voices of the air waves is because I don’t have any confidence in them; either “left” persuasion or “right”. They portray both philosophies poorly, as I have understood them. But, they are entertainers and entertainers attract an audience any way they can to keep the paychecks on time. That is, the unscrupulous ! So, the entertainers can tune their rhetoric to fit and satisfy their audience. Above all, the try to convince their listeners there is a mortal enemy, and only they and their microphone can save them from this enemy.
The amazing thing to me is that they can hold an audience. Some broadcasters do exude anger. That’s undeniable. Many listeners are Bible-believers. Yet, scripture says to avoid angry people (Proverbs 22). Also, most of them are rude,pompous, and almost universally ill-informed. I could tolerate a lot of eccentrics if I could just get accurate and worthwhile information.
Right-wing broadcasters, especially, borrow from conservatives and Republicans. Of course, it is hard to define Republicans nowadays, but calling them conservatives is a real stretch. We are not talking about a William Buckley, James Kilpatrick, or David Lawrence here. Those boys produced a rational, even-tempered dialogue; and thus the emergence of modern conservatism. No name-calling, screaming in the microphone and all the nonsense from them. To the Republicans discredit, they have not repudiated these broadcasters.
The radio and television clowns might not be responsible for Tucson. But, someone, somewhere, is being misguided by their propaganda and could be proselytized into an unrealistic view of his country. No, they’re not off the hook.