Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Freedom of speech is unfortunately protective of stupidity...

There are a couple of disturbing stories sliding under the radar this week due to the focus on Japan... and rightfully so. The world should collectively be reaching out to the island nation with acts of compassion and vows of action to support whatever they might need to regroup. The devastation is crippling. The images horrifying. Just last night watching replayed news footage of the tsunami making landfall, I realized what we were actually watching was real people dying in captured moments from last week's events.

The 3-year old was sitting in the floor staring up at the television, then suddenly got up without a word and ran back into the hallway to kick a ball and play. I watched her leave and wondered what was going through her innocent, immature mind. Conversations saved for a later date...

One of the stories I mentioned involves the events in Japan. Apparently, Gilbert Gottfried found the need to poke fun of the situation and tweet a string of very distasteful one-liners. Okay. He's known for his offensive brand of humor, but he's obviously not very bright either (I personally think the two attributes go hand-in-hand).  Gottfried, besides being a washed up comedian, is the voice of the AFLAC duck...let me restate that...was the voice of the AFLAC duck. His employer didn't find the humor being directed at a damaged nation that is, by industry estimates, 25 percent insured with their company. They fired him.

The second story involves another agitating comedian, this one turned demogogue, in Bill Maher. On his show On Real Time, Maher interviewed Congressman Keith Ellison, a muslim from Minnesota, and blasted into him about the Kor'an being a “hate-filled holy book…which is taken very literally by its people.”

Bill O'Reilly (a non-comedic demogogue...well, to a certain degree) called Maher out on the issue last night on his show and said the media was giving Maher a pass because he's a liberal.  O'Reilly claimed when an issue with Islam is sighted by a conservative commentator (i.e Juan Williams of Fox News), they become demonized by the media as intolerant. He also threw in a dig that it also might have been ignored because nobody watches Maher's show...as if that's a relevent point.

So, a liberal agitator is talking bad about Muslims as if he's suddenly Rush Limbaugh, a conservative agitator who also hates Muslims, and is called out by yet another conservative agitator, who hates Muslims too, because he thinks the whole thing is so unfair when compared to Juan Williams, a conservative demogogue, who got into trouble because he's was very clear on the air that he hates Muslims.

Everyone clear?

Of course, all parties involved are standing and spewing their venom-fillled messages while positioned under their First Amendment umbrellas that protects each of them from any censoring repercussions. After all...this is America.

Back to my 3-year old. She will grow up in a loving home. She will develop her own political ideas and principles while living in a conservative environment, guided by Christian values. The importance of both character and education will be stressed to her regularly. She will be taught she is responsible for her words as well as her actions. At some point in the future, she will find her own way out of our home and into the world. She will never be demeaned for thinking independently from me or her mother. She will answer for herself, and only herself,  to God.

I say all that to say this...I would rather any one of my daughters sit and watch the tragedies of life unfold under the guiding, comforting direction of her mother or myself than be subject to the idiotic rantings of political talking heads in the media. Liberal and conservative demogogues alike all have a motive tied to ratings and not enlightenment. To sensationalism and not education. I've blogged before about the dangerous seeds these hypnotist sow.

What troubles me most is the flippant manner in which they throw around the First Amendment to disguise and protect their vile statements. I don't believe our nation's Founding Fathers ever intented for the right of free speech to be protective of indiscriminate, loathesome language aimed carelessly among ourselves. Their focus was on keeping a restrictive government from forming in our new nation. We've twisted and perversed one of our most treasured priviledges into a dichotomy opinion so divisive and polarizing that the resulting political quagmire has incapcitated our ability to effectively govern. To protect and serve the common good.

I'm not a Muslim, and I don't agree with the basis of that religion.   I'm not a liberal, and I don't agree with the basis of that ideology. I'm not a _________, you could finish that with hundreds, maybe thousands, of things. And while I'm completely free to express my opinion on any opposing point of view to my own here, at home or even in some other form of media, I'm still bound by the principles of common courtesy and decency. There is a self-policing community standard that keeps things neat and orderly...civil...but it seems to be somehow breaking down. That scares me. Just as much as the other end of the spectrum called political correctness scares me when it becomes mutated to an extreme.

How do we get back to some ground of normalcy before this all goes too far? I think it starts by at least discounting the Mahers, Limbaughs, Olbermanns and O'Reillys for what they really are...entertainers. Each one has a motive for what they say and that motive is not the common good or making society better. In the most utopian of scenerios, their job is to find that public raw nerve that provokes emotions (justified or not) which generates attention, thus ratings, and draws sponsorship dollars. Their payday.

For the Gottfried's of the world...the comedians, commentators, talking heads and yes, bloggers, who think anything and everything can be said without consequence because this is the United States, and we have rights...think again. You are liable for what you say, and you will be held accountable when you go too far either in a court of law or the court of public opinion. Both end up being costly when catching up to you...just ask the duck.


David said...

Good job Tony!

I am tired of TV. So the only laughs I get are from Tony C Today. It is not as pathetic as you think. ;)

Keith said...

From MacNeil/Lehrer, to Fox to Bill Maher.... Time to take a deep breath and give the remote control a rest. :) Surf to the Travel Channel for a Man vs Food rerun. More fun and better for the blood pressure.

Take some comfort in the fact that you and Mrs TonyC will have way more influence on your daughters than any talking head!

Anonymous said...

While I do enjoy your informative insight into the current events of the day, I most enjoy your humorous post about every day life.

Hope you have one coming soon!

Tracy said...

As is typical, found your title in itself amusing. Rarely every find Bill Maher amusing; and frequently find him annoying or even down right offensive.